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[63] Like one who, from some desert shore,
     Doth home's green isles descry,
And, vainly longing, gazes o'er
     The waste of wave and sky;

So from the desert of my fate
     I gaze across the past;
Forever on life's dial-plate
     The shade is backward cast!

I've wandered wide from shore to shore,
     I've knelt at many a shrine;
And bowed me to the rocky floor
     Where Bethlehem's tapers shine;

And by the Holy Sepulchre
     I've pledged my knightly sword
To Christ, His blessed Church, and her,
     The Mother of our Lord.

Oh, vain the vow, and vain the strife!
     How vain do all things seem!
My soul is in the past, and life
     To-day is but a dream!

In vain the penance strange and long,
     And hard for flesh to bear;
The prayer, the fasting, and the thong,
     And sackcloth shirt of hair.

The eyes of memory will not sleep,—
     Its ears are open still;
And vigils with the past they keep
     Against my feeble will.

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Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

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