Knowing that it would burn she courted fire;
And who shall wish to chide her heart’s desire?
For when the little altar-rose was sweet
And withering beside the candle heat.
And when she saw a beautiful, white moth –
Its wings drop flaming to the altar-cloth:
Long did she ponder would it not be right
To brave the pain if she but reach the light
And be Love’s fuel as a moth, a rose,
And fall where all earth’s bitter beauty goes.
For beauty runneth out as quick as sun,
Quick as a nun lights candles, one by one
For Vespers; swift as swallow-shadows pass
Or field mice trickle through the flowing grass.
Alas for all the violet petals shed
And all last Summer’s lilies that are dead! –
For hollyhocks, laburnum, marigold
And whatsoever names the flowers hold!
She heard the bells above the convent chime.
She dreamt of that eternal seeding-time
When starry soil and loam of azure field
Would be her substance and her colors yield.
And so the flame became her heart’s desire;
Knowing that it would burn she courted fire –
She who had seen upon the altar-cloth
The rose’s dust, the ashes of a moth!