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To a young convert.

Lulled by sweet words and lured by saintly charms,
I see thy weary, wandering steps begin
To enter where the Church spreads wide her arms,
Arms that have clasped their many thousands in.

From turret-windows and from high-arched door
Looks many a face of saint and martyr dear:
“Hail, Eve's lost daughter,1 wanderer now no more!
Earth's chill damp air shall never reach thee here!

“Here Dante, Bayard, Catherine knelt in prayer;
Come in! their great remembrance makes us strong.”
Oh, enter not! for peril haunts the air
Which even the loveliest lips have breathed too long. [85]

Come out upon the mountain tops with me!
See the glad day break o'er their spires of blue!
There lies within those cloisters' tracery
A deadlier poison than in dankest dew.

The Orient sun, that in that templed span
Lit all of beauty saintliest eyes could see,
Still falls in blessing on the humblest man
Who works for freedom with a soul set free.

In vain I thou canst not; yet thy cheeks grow pale
While thy lips smile, and rapture lights thine eyes;
The tender fascinations slow prevail,
And half thy life before the altar dies.

Will it die all? I know not. I can wait.
The free air presses round the cloister door,
And I shall listen at that stern-barred gate
To hear thy sweet voice pray for life once more.


1Hevae filia exul.

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Eve (1)
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