Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HOLY DUST, by JULIEN AUGUSTE PELAGE BRIZEUX

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE HOLY DUST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sweeping an ancient chapel through the night
Last Line: With happy lips she kissed each cherished head.
Alternate Author Name(s): Brizeux, Auguste
Subject(s): Christianity

SWEEPING an ancient chapel through the night,
A ruin now, built 'neath a rocky height,
The aged Culm's old wife was muttering,
As if some secret strange abroad to fling.

I brave the tempest, and will do alone
What by my grand-dame in her youth was done,
When at her beck, of Leon's land the pride,
The ocean lion-headed curbed its tide.

Sweep, sweep my broom, until a charm uprear
A force more strong than sighs, more strong than tear;
Charm, loved of heaven, which forces wind and wave,
Though fierce and mad, our children's lives to save.

My angel knows. A Christian true am I,
No pagan, nor in league with sorcery.
Hence I disperse to the four winds of God,
To quell their rage, dust from the holy sod.

Sweep on my broom, by virtues such as these,
Oft through the air I scattered swarms of bees;
And you, old Culm, to-morrow shall be prest,
You and my children three against my breast.

In Enn-tells port meanwhile, the pier along,
Pressed forward, mute, dismayed the anxious throng;
And as the billows howl, the lightnings flash,
And skies, lead-black, to earth seem like to dash,
Neighbours clasped hand to hand, and each one prayed
Through superstition, speechless, while afraid;
Still as the port a sail did safely reach,
All, shouting, hurried frantic to the beach.

Father, is't you? speak father, is it true!
Others--Hast seen my son? My brother, you?
Brave man, the truth whate'er has happened say:
Am I a widow?--Night in such dismay
Dragged 'neath a sky without or moon or star.
Thank God! Meanwhile all boats in safety are,
And every hearth is blazing, all save one,
The Columbans--but that was void and lone.

But you, Culm's wife, still battle with the storm
Fixed on the rocks, your task you still perform.
Towards East, and towards the West, and towards the North,
And South, you cast your incantation forth.

Go, holy dust, 'gainst all the winds to fly!
No sorceress, but a Christian true am I!
By the lamp's light, when I the fire had lit,
In God's own house my hands collected it.

You from the statues of the saints I swept,
And silken flags still on the pillars kept;
And the dark tombs of those their sons neglect,
But you with your white winding sheet protect.

Go, holy dust, to stem the winds depart!
Born beneath Christian feet, thou glorious art.
When from the porch I to the altar sped
I seemed upon some heavenly path to tread.

On you the Deacons and the Priest have trod,
Pilgrims who live, forefathers 'neath the sod;
Wood flowers, sweet grains of incense, saintly bones,
By dawn you will restore my spouse and sons.

She ceased her charm, and from the chapel then
She saw approach four bare-foot fishermen.
The aged dame in tears fell on her knees,
And cried, 'I knew they all would 'scape the seas.'
Then cleansing sand and seaweed o'er them spread,
With happy lips she kissed each cherished head.

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