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POEM: MARY OF MAGDALA
Mary of Magdala came to bed;
There were no soft curtains round her head;
She had no mother to hold of worth
The little baby she brought to birth.
Mary of Magdala groaned and prayed:
"O God, I am very much afraid;
For out of my body, by sin defiled,
Thou biddest me make a little child.
"O God, I have turned my face from Thee
To that which the angels may not see;
How can I make, from my deep disgrace,
A child whose angel shall see Thy face?
"O God, I have sinned, and I know well
That the pains I bear are the pains of hell;
But the thought of the child that sin has given
Is like the thought of the airs of Heaven."
Mary of Magdala held her breath
In the clutch of pain like the pains of Death,
And through her heart, like the mortal knife,
Went the pang of joy and the pang of life.
"We two are two alone," said she,
"And we are two who should be three;
Now who will clothe my baby fair
In the little garments that babies wear?"
There came two angels with quiet wings
And hands that were full of baby things;
And the new-born child was bathed and dressed
And laid again on his mother's breast.
"Now who will sign on his brow the mark
To keep him safe from the Powers of the Dark?
Who will my baby's sponsor be?"
"I, the Lord God, who died for thee."
"Now who will comfort him if he cry;
And who will suckle him by and bye?
For my hands are cold and my breasts are dry,
And I think that my time has come to die."
"I will dandle thy son as a mother may;
And his lips shall lie where my own Son's lay.
Come, dear little one, come to me;
The Mother of God shall suckle thee."
Mary of Magdala laughed and sighed;
"I never deserved a child," she cried.
"Dear God, I am ready to go to hell,
Since with my little one all is well."
Then the Son of Mary did o'er her lean.
"Poor mother, thy tears have washed thee clean.
Thy last poor pains, they will soon be done,
And My Mother shall give thee back thy son."
Frozen grass for a bearing bed,
A halo of frost round a woman's head,
And pious folks who looked and said:
"A drab and her brat that are better dead."
Turn to the next chapter: POEM: THE HOME-COMING