Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SANCTUARY, by JEAN BAILEY



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SANCTUARY, by            
First Line: In the quiet of the convent garden close
Last Line: To make her quiet day complete by prayer.
Subject(s): Convents; Sanctuaries


In the quiet of the convent garden close
She sits at her embroidery while her thoughts
Slip through her mind like beads upon a waxen string.
Her face half-hidden by the coif she wears
Is placid as of one who has known pain
So intimately that its recurrence is a thing
Not to be feared but welcomed as relief
From futile questioning of life's significance.
Her blood runs thin and cool in spite of sun
Whose fervent heat has put the day to sleep
In drowsy deep content. Her slender hands
As they move idly through the colored floss
Are marked by delicate criss-cross lines
Which by their very number weight her hands
In infinite weariness. Of all her being
Only her eyes are living; only her eyes
Clear as the rift in the gray clouds at dawn
Show her aware of life. But in them, too,
There is content to be thus stilled in peace
To have no need of answering questions life must ask.

The sweet hushed bells now echo in the garden
As shadows group themselves about her chair.
Rising she passes slowly to the chapel
To make her quiet day complete by prayer.





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