A monk, to meditation given
And holy communings with heaven,
Had long and most devoutly pray'd—
Feeling such boon his faith would aid—
That Heaven would unto him accord
An actual vision of the Lord.
At last Heaven heard him; for one day
While in his lonely cell he lay,
Heavy of heart, because afraid
He had presumptuously pray'd,
His cell flash'd up with sudden light,
And shew'd to his astonish'd sight
A glorious Presence, who with smile
Most winning greeted him, and, while
He shrunk abash'd, said graciously,
''Why art thou troubled? It is I !"
But, hark! there is the convent-bell
Pealing the hour, when from his cell
The monk must go to serve and bless
The sons and daughters of distress,
Who, every day at noontide, wait
For alms before the convent-gate.
Untimely summons! Shall he stay
T' enjoy the vision, or obey
The call which bids him haste to glad
The poor with benison and bread?
He hesitates—he fain would stay,
But conscience beckons him away,
Reminding him that unto men
Duty comes first, and pleasure then;
And so, though not without regret
And the desire to linger yet,
He quits the Presence, and repairs
To where the poor await his cares.