Friday, September 9, 2016

Poems on Reims Cathedral


RHEIMS
AT THE RUINED CATHEDRAL
COVER your face, Humanity, and weep,
     Considering your sorrow and your shame
Where things are writ to keep the eyes from sleep,—
Where sacrilege and horror records keep
     To blemish your fair name!

Hate here betrayed itself, too blind to see,
     Striking with venom at its own heart's core—
Hate, that destroys with dull barbarity
What Time, though long it toil and patiently,
     May not again—ah, not again restore!

The generations yet unborn shall feel
     This wrong to Beauty, and lament her loss:
Here royal kings, unhappy ghosts, shall steal
Through ruins where no carillon shall peal,
     Nor altar gleam, nor Christ bend from the cross.

And evermore, haunting this woeful shade,
     Clothed in white armor a loved wraith shall come;
And here, where she a King and Nation made,
Shall talk again with angels, unafraid,
     Although her sweet, accusing lips be dumb.
"Rheims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.


THE SMILE OF REIMS
"The smile," they called her,—"La Sourire"; and fair—
   A sculptured angel on the northern door
   Of the Cathedral's west façade—she wore
Through the long centuries of toil and care
That smile, mysteriously wrought and rare,
   As if she saw brave visions evermore—
   Kings, and an armored Maid who lilies bore,
And all the glories that had once been there.
How like to thee, her undefeated Land!
   Wounded by bursting shells, a little space
      Broken she lay beneath her ancient portal;
But lifted from the earth with trembling hand,
   Victorious, still glowed upon her face
      Thy smile, heroic France, love-given and immortal!
"The Smile of Reims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (2 June 1917).

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