Today is the feast of St. Agnes, of course; thus the first two. The first is a very slight re-draft, the second new. St. Emerentiana, the friend who was stoned to death for praying at St. Agnes's tomb, has her feast day on the 23rd. They were both about fourteen years old, of course, and lived in the fourth century.
A Poem of St. Agnes
The little lambs on heaven's field
remind me of a girl who fought
against the darkness, for the fair,
whose heart was free from trembling fear,
who would not falter, did not fail,
but held her ground against the foe.
"I faithful stay to Spouse and Friend,
my Jesus; I am truly free
with him," she said, her voice not faint.
And then she bent her head, with faith
exposed her neck. The death-stroke fell.
Agnes and Emerentiana
The world in rage will not endure
a girl who hears a higher call;
to blood it turns a prayer pure
and destines her to velvet pall.
And should a girl on girl depend
to keep her image in her heart,
the world will hate as well her friend,
for friendship is the purest art.
It hates the pure; such will not bend,
through grace transcending scripted part.
Then sword will fall, or stones descend --
they yet unconquered meet their end.
The world, this ship,
around the harbor sails
as sun and ships of heavy war
protect it from the gale.
The winds all blow in silent curves
by enchantment of a star:
thus roundly round the sailing goes
until the final war.
We take two turns to learn one truth:
therein the tragedy of youth.
We write our best, but smear the page:
therein the tragedy of age.
The azure-plaited naiads swim
beneath the falling water's foam;
the stars that grace the evening dim,
of finest-watered adamant,
reflect in eyes like ponds of blue --
and yet they are less fair than you.