Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE YOUNG BROTHER, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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THE YOUNG BROTHER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The tonsures halted. They knelt to pray
Last Line: Christ, bring us all to a merciful end!
Subject(s): Monks; Christianity


The tonsures halted. They knelt to pray
To the rain-stained Virgin beside the way.
Humbly each monk's bald head bent down.
Each fumbled his beads in his rusty gown,
A partridge covey in sober brown!

Young Patrick looked through his fingers spread
And glimpsed at the blue sky overhead.
He spied at the corn-shocks' yellow wealth,
And the keen day cried to his bounding health.
And then if he prayed -- he prayed by stealth.

"Lord Christ, and Peter who keeps the keys,
Save now my soul from holy disease!
Curb the lusts of my flesh, but keep
My full pulse throbbing, awake or asleep,
With merry wonder that will not weep!

"Keep my lungs to drink deep the air,
And mine eyes to delight in these colors rare,
And my muscles satin-smooth, to thrill
To a buoyant heart on a windy hill,
And my prayers like sunset, splendid and still!

"Lord Christ, who strode lithely on land or sea
With meekness and mettle through Galilee,
Glad for the rain and the wind and the sun,
For the songs of birds and bright day begun,
Sanction the prayer of Thy youngest one!

"The birds of the air and the fish of the sea
And the winds of heaven were glad of Thee,
And Thou wert thewed as a stalwart friend,
Enduring strong to the merciful end.
Lord, bring me so to my merciful end!

"In joy, in joy of the open way,
Hearty in speech and the prayers I pray,
Open of countenance day and night,
Not the parchment husk of an anchorite,
But glad in this country's warmth and light!"

The tonsures rose and the old monks passed,
And the rapt and the prayerful, but one rose last
As a boy in beauty, a hart in chase,
An athlete girded to run a race,
With the sunlight full on his eager face.

Long lagged the road till the cloisters rose
Slumbering white in their peaceful close.
The humble of heart may God defend,
But the boy came singing with Christ for friend!
Christ, bring us all to a merciful end!





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