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PERPETUAL LIGHT

"Ah, do not turn to me that face which is no longer of this world!... There are enough angels to serve the mass in Heaven! Have pity on me, who am only a man without wings, who rejoiced in this companion God had given me, and that I should hear her sigh with her head resting on my shoulder!... the bitterness like the bitterness of myrrh... And for you age is already come. But how hard it is to renounce when the heart is young!"

"THE TIDINGS BROUGHT TO MARY"

PERPETUAL LIGHT

A Memorial.

BY

WILLIAM ROSE BENÉT

..that we may be able to arrive with pure minds at the festival of perpetual light. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. --_Oremus._

DEDICATION

TO KATHLEEN AND MARGARET

Think of no verse when you read this, But think of her alone And her enduring benefice, Sunlight on stone.

For day is stone and night is stone Save she has made them bright, Now she knows all that may be known Of day and night.

Courage like hers we have from her, Strength to be straight and brave, And noble memories that recur And heal and save.

By her clear eyes, by her pure brows, We take the Sign, And kneel within her Father's house-- And yours and mine.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The first eleven poems in the section entitled, "Before" originally appeared in my first volume, "Merchants from Cathay" published by the Century Company. This volume is now out of print and I hold the copyright. The three poems following these originally appeared in my second volume, "The Falconer of God and Other Poems." For permission to reprint a few of the remaining poems I have to thank the editors of _Reedy's Mirror, The Bang, The Lyric, The Madrigal_, The Sun Dial _(New York Evening Sun), Everybody's Magazine, The Century Magazine_, and "Books and the Book World" (New York Sunday Sun). For the group, "The Long Absence" in the section entitled, "After," I owe thanks to _The Yale Review_.

CONTENTS

FOREWORD

BEFORE The Snare of the Fowler Thwarted Utterance The Song of Her "Always I Know You Anew" The Rival Celestial The Tamer of Steeds Love in Armor Wardrobe of Remembrance The Second Covenant Dedication to a First Book The Shadowed Road Love in the Dawn "Had I a Claim to Fame?" The One Dream and Deed A Taper of Incense To Purity Atonement The Adoration Talisman Recognition The Silver Hind Aristeas Relates His Youth Man Possessed Miniature Death Will Make Clear Sunlight And a Long Way Off He Saw Fairyland In Time of Trouble Anomaly The Lover Judgment Unforgotten The Pale Dancer Premonition

AFTER Introductory Poem The Long Absence By the Counsel of Her Hands Strength Beyond Strength Que Sais-Je? Ebb-Tide Coward Aquilifer The Woman Pervigilium Time Was The Masters When Children The Retreat Sealed

FOREWORD

TERESA FRANCES THOMPSON, who also bore my name by marriage, died on January 26, 1919. This verse is published to her memory, because I wish to keep together the poetry she occasioned and enable those who loved her--and they were a great many-to know definitely what she was to me.

I think that is the truth. This is the only means I have at present of acknowledging publicly the vast debt I owe to her.

As I turn these poems over--if they are even to be called poems--I realize that they can never begin to express what her personality was. The earliest ones were written by a boy who was in love, and the latest by a man who has suddenly stepped into the dark. Those between are fragments from the days when we were struggling along together at the everyday tasks and outside interests and dreams that possessed us. The war entered our lives to change them in September, 1917. The poem, "Man Possessed," was written within sound of her actual voice, the others all in absence from her at various times and in moods made strange by absence.

And yet this is all I have at present to give in her memory. But I hold by these because--though they are poor, freakish fragments as far as any real expression of her is concerned--they were made for her.

It is even harder to express in bald prose a personality that had so many sides, so many varying strengths, such inner sight and yet such a forthright splendid intelligence. I have tried once to round it into periods--and have destroyed the attempt. It is my hope that the sister to whom she was devoted with an attachment altogether unusual to most of us will write of her.

If I merely recount the outlines of her life, it loses her. To say that her girlhood was given up to an intense and whole-souled devotion to the life of Christ as taught by the Roman Catholic Church will not even trace the outlines of that great spiritual adventure. But there, in the word "adventure," is a dim ideograph of what she found in life. Every day was an adventure to her with the hope of accomplishing something over and above mere routine and the pursuit of pleasure. And she used to say to me that her life had simply been a series of experiments into which she had put her whole heart, and in which she had always failed. But, of course, she never failed.

She wrote me while I was stationed at Washington:

"I am so very glad of your Sunday experience. I wish that I might have shared it with you, but I almost did, since we were at Mass there and walked across that green together.... No one else might be impressed by it, but you _know_. When I first thought of a convent I was about sixteen, and I did not go until I was twenty-one. During that time I had the habit of pretending when I went to sleep that I was


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