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      Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)


    THE nestling church at Ovingdean
        Was fragrant as a hive in May;
    And there was nobody within
        To preach, or praise, or pray.

    The sunlight slanted through the door,
        And through the panes of painted glass,
    When I stole in, alone once more
        To feel the ages pass.

    Then, through the dim grey hush there droned
        An echoing plain-song on the air,
    As if some ghostly priest intoned
        An old Gregorian there.

    Saint Chrysostom could never lend
        More honey to the heavenly Spring
    Than seemed to murmur and ascend
        On that invisible wing.

    So small he was, I scarce could see
        My girdled brown hierophant;
    But only a Franciscan bee
        In such a bass could chant.

    His golden Latin rolled and boomed.
        It swayed the alter-flowers anew,
    Till all that hive of worship bloomed
        With dreams of sun and dew.

    Ah, sweet Franciscan of the May,
        Dear chaplain of the fairy queen,
    You sent a singing heart away
        That day, from Ovingdean.


The above poem can be found in:
  • Noyes, Alfred. Collected Poems. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1913.