The end was a splashed flourish of ink.

Hark! In the passage is heard the clink of armour, the tread of a heavy man.

The door bursts open and standing there, his thin hair wavering

in the glare of steely daylight, is my Lord of Clair.

Over the yawning chimney hangs the fog. Drip--hiss--drip--hiss--

fall the raindrops. Overhead hammers and chinks the rain which never stops.

The velvet coverlet is sodden and wet, yet the roof beams are tight.

Overhead, the coronet gleams with its blackened gold, winking and blinking.

Among the rushes three corpses are growing cold.


In the castle church you may see them stand,

Two sumptuous tombs on either hand

Of the choir, my Lord's and my Lady's, grand

In sculptured filigrees. And where the transepts of the church expand,

A crusader, come from the Holy Land,

Lies with crossed legs and embroidered band.

The page's name became a brand

For shame. He was buried in crawling sand,

After having been burnt by royal command.

The Book of Hours of Sister Clotilde

The Bell in the convent tower swung.

High overhead the great sun hung,

A navel for the curving sky.

The air was a blue clarity.

Swallows flew,

And a cock crew.

The iron clanging sank through the light air,

Rustled over with blowing branches. A flare

Of spotted green, and a snake had gone

Into the bed where the snowdrops shone

In green new-started,

Their white bells parted.

Two by two, in a long brown line,

The nuns were walking to breathe the fine

Bright April air. They must go in soon

And work at their tasks all the afternoon.

But this time is theirs!

They walk in pairs.

First comes the Abbess, preoccupied

And slow, as a woman often tried,

With her temper in bond. Then the oldest nun.

Then younger and younger, until the last one

Has a laugh on her lips,

And fairly skips.

They wind about the gravel walks

And all the long line buzzes and talks.

They step in time to the ringing bell,

With scarcely a shadow. The sun is well

In the core of a sky

Domed silverly.

Sister Marguerite said: "The pears will soon bud."

Sister Angelique said she must get her spud

And free the earth round the jasmine roots.

Sister Veronique said: "Oh, look at those shoots!

There's a crocus up,

With a purple cup."

But Sister Clotilde said nothing at all,

She looked up and down the old grey wall

To see if a lizard were basking there.

She looked across the garden to where

A sycamore

Flanked the garden door.

She was restless, although her little feet danced,

And quite unsatisfied, for it chanced

Her morning's work had hung in her mind

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