Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SAINT MAY: A CITY LYRIC, by JOSEPH ASHBY-STERRY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SAINT MAY: A CITY LYRIC, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: St. Aloys the great is both mouldy and grim
Last Line: Oh, where is a saint like my charming st. May?
Subject(s): Saints

ST. ALOYS THE GREAT is both mouldy and grim,
Not knowing the road there, you'll long have to search
To find your way into this old city church;
Yet on fine Sunday mornings I frequently stray
There to see a new saint, whom I've christened St. May.

Of saints I've seen plenty in churches before—
In Florence or Venice they're there by the score;
Agnese, Maria—the rest I forget—
By Titian, Bassano, and brave Tintoret:
They none can compare, though they're well in their way,
In maidenly grace with my dainty St. May.

She's young for a saint, for she's scarcely eighteen,
And ne'er could wear peas in those dainty bottines;
Her locks are not shaven, and 'twould be a sin
To wear a hair-shirt next that delicate skin;
Save diagonal stripes on a dress of light gray,
Stripes ne'er have been borne by bewitching St. May.

Then she's almost too plump and too round for a saint,
With sweet little dimples that Millais might paint;
She has no mediæval nor mortified mien,
No wimple of yellow, nor background of green,
A nimbus of hair throws its sunshiny ray
Of glory around the fair face of St. May.

What surquayne or partlet could look better than
My saint's curly jacket of black Astracan?
What coif than her bonnet—a triumph of skill—
Or alb than her petticoat edged with a frill?
So sober, yet smiling—so grave, yet so gay,
Oh, where is a saint like my charming St. May?

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