O Madonna, pure and holy,
From sin’s dark stain ever free,
Refuge of the sinner lowly,
I come–I come to thee!
Now with wreaths of sinful pleasure
Yet my tresses twined among;
From the dance’s giddy measure,
From the idle jest and song.
See! I tear away the flowers
From my perfumed golden hair,
Closely tended in past hours
With such jealous, sinful care;
Never more for me they blossom,
Not for me those jewels vain:
On my arms or brow or bosom,
They shall never shine again.
Dost thou wonder at my daring
Thus to seek thy sacred shrine,
When the sinner’s lot despairing,
Wretched–hopeless–should be mine?
To the instincts high of woman
Most unfaithful and untrue;
Yet Madonna, hope inspires me,
For thou wast a woman too.
Evil promptings, dark-despairing,
Whisper: “Leave this sacred spot;
Back to sinful joys, repairing,
In them live and struggle not!”
But a bright hope tells that heaven
May by me e’en yet be won,
That I yet may be forgiven,
Mary, by thy spotless Son!
Yes! I look on thy mild features,
Full of dove-like, tender love–
Once the humblest of God’s creatures,
Now with Him enthroned above!
Every trait angelic breathing
Sweetest promises of peace;
And the smile thy soft lips wreathing
Tell me that my griefs shall cease.
Soft the evening shadows gather
But no longer shall I wait,
I will rise and seek the Father,
For it is not yet too late;
And when earthly cares oppress me,
When life’s paths my bruised feet pain;
Hither shall I come to rest me,
And new strength and courage gain!