Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A LITTLE SISTER OF THE POOR, by ERNEST DE CHABOT

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First Line: Good little sister, whom nought can stay ...'
Last Line: Is far away from this lowly spot.'

'GOOD little Sister, whom nought can stay,
Sun, nor rain, nor storm, nor snow:
Pale and weary, where dost thou go?'
'For those who are dying I go to pray,
I go to beg of the rich and the glad,
For virtue and vice, for the sick and the sad.

'For the aged whose brow is bent and worn,
For the rosy child with teeth so white,
For the widow who grieves o'er the past, forlorn,
For those whom the finger of God doth smite,
For all who struggle in grief's dark flood,
For mourners alike, or bad or good.

'For the love of God some gift I claim
From those who in riches and splendour live;
I blush not, shudder not, feel no shame,
I stretch out my hand, and the wealthy give.
For my own alms I give my heart,
The only treasure I have to impart.

'I am mother to orphans in distress,
And in the cup of their bitterness
Some drops of honey I try to pour;
I bend the sick little cradle o'er
Of the poor little one who shall be
An angel in heaven to plead for me.

'And I hear beside my humble bed
The heavenly wings pass o'er my head
Of the Angel of holy Charity,
Who carries me far this earth above,
And in Angel realms, of celestial love,
Teaches me what the secrets be.

'Of the old and the wretched the child am I;
For often, alas! all family
Is wanting to age and unhappiness;
By my soul outpoured is their want replaced,
For God says to me, "Poor woman, haste,
Go--I give you to their distress."

'And when old age and childhood are
At eventide by my tender care
Wrapt in quiet and joyous sleep,
Then am I happy; and the Blest Maid
Mary, to whom my prayers are said,
Fails not in slumber mine eyes to steep.'

'No pity your choice, but my envy hath,
For of your life the hidden path
Is watered with tears the poor have shed;
I love you with reverence deep, and fear,
And I kiss the stone as a relic dear
That hallowed has been by your maiden tread.'

'If pale my brow o'er-soon appears;
If I must die ere twenty years;
Poet, my friend, you must pity me not.
To suffer, no servant of Christ deplores;
It is God's will, and my life, like yours,
Is far away from this lowly spot.'

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