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                                    Sleep, dearest One,
                                    Oh! sleep awhile
            Securely on Thy mother’s breast!
            To-night no evil shall Thy peace molest:
            Brave angels guard Thee, faithful shepherds run
            To kneel in quiet watch. Ah! my own Son,
            My helpless Babe, let slumbers deep beguile
        Thy sense into forgetfulness! My Jesu, sleep!

                                    How still the night!
                                    The virgin snow
            Hushes to silence every sound.
            The awestruck cattle even, that surround
            Thy cradle, scarcely stir. The soft moon’s light
            Lies quiet o’er the world, enrobed in white
            For its Redeemer’s birthday. Clear and low
        Thy lullaby, my Jesu, all creation breathes!

                                    Sleep, Dearest, sleep!
                                    Thy mother’s arm
            Is round Thee, and Thy mother’s eyes
            Watch o’er Thy yielding to the new surprise
            Of that strange spell Thy love itself doth keep
            For Thy beloved. All Thy being steep
            This Thy first mortal night in slumber’s calm!
        Refuse not, O my Jesu, Thine own anodyne!

                                    See, His eyes close,
                                    He yields at length,
            As any infant! Warm and flushed,
            My Darling nestles closer! All is hushed:
            With one faint sigh He sinks into repose
            Complete! But, ah! no mortal prescience knows
            What presences of beauty and of strength
        Encompass Thy pure soul, my Jesu, in its home!



                                    And must it be
                                    Indeed—that fate,
            Foretold upon the awful morn,
            When Gabriel spake, and on my soul was borne
            God’s grace unutterable, o’ershadowing me?
            Oh! is there naught can save the agony,
            The shame, that here my spotless Babe await?
        Is there no price save this, my Jesu, may prevail?

                                    Nay, but, O Lord,
                                    I yield my being
            Obedient to Thy purpose. Shake
            My soul in very fragments, only take
            My uttermost oblation! Be Thy word
            Wholly accomplished, though the bitter sword
            Drive through my quivering heart its anguish, seeing
        My Child, my Love, my God, my Jesus, crucified!

                                    Thus in her soul
                                    Our Lady prayed
            On that first Christmas night:
            Whereon the Eternal sped from realms of light
            To us, that sat beneath the dire control
            Of hell and darkness. O great God, Thy whole
            Creation cried to Thee, and Love delayed
        No longer, nor withheld its priceless sacrifice!

                                                                                                SELWYN IMAGE

MLA citation:

Image, Selwyn. “Ancilla Domini.” The Pageant, 1897, pp. 196-197. Pageant Digital Edition, edited by Frederick King and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021.