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Candlemas Poetry

Candlemas Poetry

The Presentation in the Temple
Mary's Purification
Candlemas (by John D. Boyd. S.J.)
Simeon's Prophecy
Candlemas (by Francesca)
The Purification (from Menaion)
Purification of the Blessed Virgin
Our Lady of Doves
The Offering (A Song of Simeon)

Simeon holding Jesus in the Temple as Mary stands next to them

The Presentation in the Temple

To be the mother of her Lord-
What means it? This, a bleeding heart!
The pang that woke at Simeon's word
Worked inward, never to depart.

The dreadful might of sin she knew
As innocence alone can know:
O'er her its deadliest gloom it threw
As shades lie darkest on the snow.
Yet o'er her sorrow's depth no storm
of earth's rebellious passion rolled:
So sleeps some lake no gusts deform
High on the dark hills' craggy fold.

In that still glass the unmeasured cliff,
With all its scars and clouds is shown:
And, mellowed in that Mother's grief,
At times, O Christ, we catch Thine own.

– Aubrey De Vere


Mary's Purification

Out went the stupid to wash the snow,
To cleanse the lily of Christ.
Wouldn't you think that they all should know
The pearl who couldn't be priced? Wiser to purify the crystal stone,
To call the tulip unclean,
Than to wash the rose that God's hand had sown,
Young Mary, the innocent Queen.

– Sister M. Bernetta, O.S.F.
Robert, Cyril.
Our Lady's Praise In PoetryPoughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.



Beewise we gather our wax all year
From bramble sorrow and thistle tear, Briar sadness and spine of pain:
Bitter flowers that bloom again! But deadest winter brings a day
When thorns have lovelier bloom than May; When candles are fashioned and lit by One
Who fashioned her wax to be lit by the Sun, Then watched her Candle burn: the price
Of sin-consuming sacrifice. Today she shares the Flame anew
To make us priest-and-victim too.
And Mary-mothered flames and Flame
Live their sacrificial Name.

– John D. Boyd S.J. The Sign - February 1947


Simeon's Prophecy

How still she stood that day,
As one apart,
Hearing the jagged words
That tore her heart.
But when the Child was still,
And Joseph slept,
She turned her face away,
And wept, and wept.

– Sister St. Francis, S.S.J.
Robert, Cyril.
Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.



The Mother brings her Candle
To the Temple of Desire,
In wax of flesh and weakness
But soul-wick full of fire!
A light to pierce the darkness,
Redemption for our race,
The gift of expiation
Before our Father's face!
A flame of contradiction
To tyrant, Gentile, Jew,
But holocaust for ages,
Each dawn will see anew!
O take your Candle, Mary,
Too soon you'll suffer loss
In Love's great conflagration
On the altar of the Cross!

– Francesca, Franciscan Magazine, February 1960


The Purification

Sion, thy bridal-bower prepare
To harbor Christ thy monarch there;
And greet thou Mary maid, for why
She is the gateway to the sky,
And eke, as it is plainly shown,
Is made a cherubimic throne.
The King of Glory she doth seat,
A cloud of light this virgin sweet,
That bears the Son in flesh from far
That as before the Morning-Star.
Him in his arms took Simeon old.
And testified to all, "Behold
The Savior of the world," he saith,
"This Bairn is Lord of life and death."

– St. Cosmas (D. 760)
Thérèse, M.
I Sing of a Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947.


 Purification of the Blessed Virgins

May we have leave to ask, illustrious Mother,
Why thou dost turtles bring
For thy Son's offering,
And rather giv'st not one lamb for another? It seems that golden shower which th'other day
The forward faithful East
Poured at thy feet, made haste
Through some devout expence to find its way. O precious poverty, which canst appear
Richer to holy eyes
Than any golden prize,
And sweeter art than frankincense and myrrh! Come then, that silver, which thy turtles wear
Upon their wings, shall make
Precious thy gift, and speak
That Son of thine, like them, all pure and fair. But know that heaven will not be long in debt;
No, the Eternal Dove
Down from his nest above
Shall come, and on thy son's dear head shall sit.
Heaven will not have Him ransomed, heaven's law
Makes no exception
For lambs, and such a one
Is He: a fairer Lamb heaven never saw. He must be offered, or the world is lost:
The whole world's ransom lies
In this great sacrifice;
And He will pay its debt, whate'er it cost. Nor shall these turtles unrepayed be,
These turtles which today
Thy love for Him did pay:
Thou ransom'dst Him, and He will ransom thee. A dear and full redemption will He give
Thee and the world: this Son,
And none but this alone
By His own death can make His Mother live.

– Joseph Beaumont (1616-1699)
Thérèse, M.
I Sing of a Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947.


Our Lady of Doves

'Tis not the robin I hear today,
The robin with breast of red;
Ah, long the day since he fled away
From the fields now lying dead!
'Tis not the thrush nor the nightingale,
Nor the lark that soars above;
But under the eaves in the wintry gale
I list to the cooing dove. O dove at rest on the rooftree high,
O dove on the earth below,
'Tis little ye know what ye tell to me
Of doves of the long ago!
For I close my ears to the city's roar,
And dream I am far away,
To stand at the mighty Temple's door
On the Presentation Day. And I see the Mother with tender Child
A mother, yet maiden, too
Who stands in the ranks of the sin defiled,
As Jehovah bade her do
A penny dove for a holocaust,
And a penny dove for sin,
Ah, cooing doves from the cages tossed,
What blessedness ye win! For I see the blood of each gentle bird
Poured out the stones upon,
While the wondrous prophecies are heard
From Anna and Simeon.
Ah, Mother of God, in the Temple dim,
Who seest each bleeding dove,
I know thou art seeing the blood of Him,
Thine own little Bird of love!

O dove at rest on the rooftree high,
O dove in the city street,
I hark to the sound of your cooing cry,
And I find it wondrous sweet.
Ah, spring may come with the robin's trill
And the thrush's roundelay,
But never a bird my soul to thrill
As the doves of Candlemas Day.

Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


The Offering (A Song of Simeon)

Old Man, you've sown the years
longing for the harvest, hoping
for the green shoot to appear.
Fragrant with perfection, He is here:
wanting to be purified, waiting
to be crucified.

And His mother, offering her Lamb,
gives Him to your open arms
so you can finally die in peace
knowing that the Promised One is born.
In gratitude you will whisper
that her heart will break.

– Eve Forti


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