Where the Pelican Builds
and Other Poems

To the Virgin Mary

Mary Hannay Foott

MOTHER of Him we call the Christ,
    No halo round thy brows we paint,—
Incense and prayer we offer not,
    Nor mind to title thee as saint.

And yet, no woman’s name,—of all
    With honour from the ages sent,—
Mary, is aureoled like thine,
    With love and grief and glory blent!

Oh wisely was it that He chose,—
    Who the unwritten future reads,—
To teach the after-world, through thee,
    What cherishers Messiah needs.

Thou heard’st the angel’s prophecy,—
    The tidings which the shepherds brought,—
Anna and Simeon praising God,—
    And saw’st that star the Wise Men sought!

Ah, who of us could bear,—like thee,—
    With meekness, God’s triumphal light;
Then,—still believing,—with His Charge,—
    At midnight take an exile’s flight?

Throughout the Son’s long helplessness
    His good was to thine own preferred;
May we so serve; and still, like Thee,
    Stand back to let His voice be heard!

Dispenser once of earthly things,
    Thy Best-Beloved thou didst see;
God’s hands for others blessing-full,—
    Could we be poor and glad like thee?

Soul-pierced with sword-like agony,—
    Not felon’s taunt nor soldier’s jest;
Beside the God-forsaken Cross,
    Could drive thee from it like the rest.

Christ’s banner thou alone didst hold
    In face of all His foes displayed;
Valiant through all defeat,—and but
    Heart-stricken that He was betrayed.

Ah, Mary! Could we stand, like thee,
    Steadfast; and watch the vowed depart;
And grieve for their defection less
    Than for the Saviour’s wounded heart?

How must the God,—who favour set
    On David once and kingly Saul,—
And yet foresaw their wanderings,
    And loved them through and after all—

How must He seal the prophecy,
    Declaring thee forever blest,
Whose whole life showed thy worthiness
    Of that pure Child thine arms had pressed!

O single-hearted one to kiss
    The lifeless and dishonored head,
Fondly as when its baby brow,
    By angel wings was canopied!

O self-forgetful, to rejoice
    For that Heaven’s entrance had been found
By the Beloved: thou content
    Thenceforth, alone to close life’s round!

In the bright future,—sure, though far,—
    Again, as once, the wide air rings
With praise to Christ!—Thy vigil ends,
    Meek daughter of a hundred kings!

Virgin, may we partake thy joy,
    When Heaven and loyal earth shall lay
At the pierced feet of David’s son
    A crown He will not put away!

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