One of your cousins fell
Last evening, and I did rush, weeping to the
To the Dogwood Tree
And saw among the grass the
Small robin breast breathing heavily
And looked up
From where he fell
Wondering at the distance between
Frail nest so far above me
And the emerald grass beneath,
And took the poor thing in my hands
And prayed for death,
For mine? Or his?
I could not bear the frenzied agitation
Of his last breath.
Childhood ‘neath the Dogwood tree.
I did not know then of Thy Saints;
The Maiden’s leap from Beaurevoir,
From Tower to the earth below
Was like the little robin’s flight
Yet cushioned by Thy Holy straw.
And at Massabielle,
Thy Shepherdess amid the grass
While looking up
Thy Maid Immaculate,
Thy Mother’s grace.
From all the wildflowers of Lisieux,
Where orchids glory on the field
There too, Thy favored one was small and chaste.
How Long Time Passes
Beneath the tree.
Ah, then, anon,
Most tender rest.
For then I saw it only coupled in my hands,
Small Robin, silent,
Fallen from the nest.
I did not know its soul was Thine,
Communing, holy and unbound
Caught up at last in Paradise..
And now, Beloved,
I have found
That even in the chapels
Of a thousand distant towns
My prayers look back to reach you,
Long, long into morning.
Holy chrisms, kisses, prayers
Meet everlastingly from palm to palm,
That love untangled by the Fates
Transposes love beyond the gates.
All poor, forgotten, mute hymns silent here
Sing unrestrained in Heaven as the angel’s heirs.
Kathryn Forrester-Thro, Oblate of St. Benedict
Poet Laureate Emerita of Virginia
Poet Laureate Clan Forrester Society
Foundress, Mary’s Joy Catholic Ministry
Notes on Kathryn Forrester-Thro’s poem:
Ode to a Skylark
Ode to a Skylark is a poetic pas de deux, combining her original Ode, from her book, The Glass Harp, a Poem of Easter,
with others of her poetic works.
“Lark, one of your cousins fell last evening,” At the age of five, the author witnessed the falling of a robin, and its agonizing death, from the Dogwood tree in the front yard of her Alexandria, Virginia home.
Alluding to the following saints
“The Maiden’s leap from Beaurevoir,” refers to Saint Jean d’Arc, the “Maid of Orleans” whose famous leap from her cell at Beaurevoir after her capture by Lionel de Wandomme in 1429 did not end with her freedom, but led to her trial, execution by fire, and later canonization. Ironically, straw may have saved her from her fall from the tower, but was also used to light the pyre of her execution. Her last words on earth were calling on the name of Jesus as a cross was held before her eyes.
And the author’s patron saints
“And at Massabielle, Thy Shepherdess amid the grass” alludes to
St. Bernadette (Nee’ Soubirous,) viewing Our Lady, The Blessed Virgin Mary, whom she knew only at first as “The Immaculate Conception.” Saint Bernadette, peasant girl, seer, discoverer of the sacred site at Lourdes where miracles continue to this day,
remains an inspiration to all.
“From all the Wildflowers of Lisieux.” Saint Therese of Lisieux, of “The Little Way,” and famed Doctor of the Church. This patron saint of missionaries saw God’s love of all souls, those glorious and those humble, as He loves the flowers of the field just as He loves the rarest orchids. St. Therese is the author of The Story of a Soul.
Kathryn took the baptismal name of Therese upon entering the Catholic Church as a convert in 2004, later becoming an Oblate of St. Benedict, at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Norfolk, founding “Mary’s Joy.”
“Holy chrisms, kisses, prayers, meet everlastingly from palm to palm,”
is an allusion to Shakespeare’s Juliet, who speaks chastely to Romeo of the proper use of hands for prayer:
…”and palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss.”
Poet’s archival #01101011skylark
Some of the author’s works, family albums and letters are archived at
The Library of Virginia, Richmond