Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PALA; CHAPEL OF SAN LUIS REY DE FRANCIA, by AMELIA WOODWARD TRUESDELL



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PALA; CHAPEL OF SAN LUIS REY DE FRANCIA, by            
First Line: Here is brooding silence broken by the ground quail's warning cry
Last Line: Like death's signet art thou set on shrines which must be his at last!
Subject(s): Missions & Missionaries


Here is brooding silence broken by the ground quail's warning cry,
When he watches young flock feeding, breast white-ringed and proud crest high;

Plain-robed mother, through the sages, speeds her brood with cunning feet,
Then uplifts with whir pretentious far from safe leaf-hid retreat.

Here the flocks of blackbirds rising, whiz upon the morning air;
Far aloft the shy deer listens; to his covert bounds the hare;

Here the Pala—Sparkling Water—springs forth with immortal birth,
Down the cañon greedy quicksands drink it from the thirsty earth;

And the natives fear to gather roots from near the living spring,
Lest from genii that dwell there curse of drought the act should bring.

Here the time-defying olive to the morn its slim leaves turns,
And in colors of the sunset, all its burnished silver burns.

Still pomegranates spread their blossoms, strangled by the tall weeds rank,
And the fruited Aztec cacti grow against th' adóbe bank;

Here the princely aloe raises penciled tree-top 'gainst the sky,
Rugged leaves, like faithful subjects, round their monarch abject lie.

And the rudest mural paintings decorate the dismal hall;
Wings of bats by cross and chalice; palms beside the arrows tall;

One old tarnished copper censer lies upon the gaping floor,
And the few poor churchly treasures wait within yon creaking door;

Down this weird barbaric chamber flames the Virgin's silver dress,
As a ray of morn to wand'rers lost in some dim wilderness.

Sometimes now a godly father tells a mass in this rude hut;
Loose the rite on savage natures! dry husk on time-hardened nut!

Still their wizard incantations tell they at the mortal hour;
From the priest to wild magician, turn they for the healing power.

O'er them stands a belfry tower, winter-stained and dark with moss;
On its crest one bird-brought cactus grows around the broken cross.

Lonely ruined tower of Pala! dark with shadows of the past!
Like Death's signet art thou set on shrines which must be his at last!





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