Catholic Poetry

MAGDALENE IN THE DESERT
By Aubrey de Vere



SAY, who that woman kneeling sole
Amid yon desert bare
The cold rain beats her bosom,
The night-wind lifts her hair—
It is the holy Magdalene,
O listen to her prayer.
“Lord, I have prayed since eventide:
“And midnight now hath spread
“Her mournful pall abroad o’er all
“The living and the dead.
“The stars each moment shine more large,
“Down-gazing from the skies—
“O Father of the sorrowful,
“Turn thus on me Thine eyes!”

Hark, thunder shakes the cliff far off!
The woods in lightning glare; The eagle shivers in her nest,
The lion in his lair: And yet, now trembling and now still, -. She makes the same sad prayer.
“Lord of the sunshine and the storm!
“The darkness and the day!
“Why should I fear if Thou art near?
“And Thou art near alway!
“Thus in the wilderness, Thy Son
“Was tempted, Lord, by Thee:
“He triumphed in that awful strife—
“O let Him plead for me.”

How often must that woman pray ?
How long kneel sighing there ? O joy to see the Holy Cross
Clasped to a breast so fair!— Speak louder, blessed Magdalene, And let me join thy prayer.
“Lord! Thou hast heard my plaints all night;
“And now the airs of morn
“My forehead fan, my temples wan,
“My face, and bosom worn!
“O! o’er my weak and wildered soul,
“Make thus Thy Spirit move;
“That I may feel the light once more,
“And answer love with love!”

Aubrey de Vere, Poems (London: Burns & Lampert, 1855), 185-186

NOTE
Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814-1902) was an Irish poet and literary critic who was one of the most prominent writers of the Victorian era. He was a convert to Catholicism and a friend of many prominent authors, including Blessed John Henry Newman.

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