I Sought on Earth a Garden of Delight
by George Santayana
I sought on earth a garden of delight,
Or island altar to the Sea and Air,
Where gentle music were accounted prayer,
And reason, veiled, performed the happy rite.
My sad youth worshipped at the piteous height
Where God vouchsafed the death of man to share;
His love made mortal sorrow light to bear,
But his deep wounds put joy to shamèd flight.
And though his arms, outstretched upon the tree,
Were beautiful, and pleaded my embrace,
My sins were loth to look upon his face.
So came I down from Golgotha to thee,
Eternal Mother; let the sun and sea
Heal me, and keep me in thy dwelling-place.
Santayana, of course, is best known for his philosophical work. Santayana was an agnostic, and regarded the Catholic faith in which he was raised as false in the strict sense, but he had a favorable view of it on what might be called aesthetic grounds and held that it was an accurate symbolism of important facts of human life.