Gateway to the Classics: In the Days of the Guild by Louise Lamprey
 
In the Days of the Guild by  Louise Lamprey

St. Eloi's Blessing

Clovis the King, proud of his golden thrones,

Granted our Saint broad lands, whereon he should

Build cloisters, work in gold and precious stones

And carve in silver as it might be wood,

And for God's glory—and the King's fair name—

Do miracles with metal and with flame.


So to the world's end, where long-hoarded pelf

Shone forth new-hallowed in the goldsmith's hand,

Saint Eloi's craftsmen, as long since himself,

Were honored where they went in every land,

Yet still his heart was ever ours, and stayed

Here in Limoges, the city that he made.


Then all one night he knelt for us in prayer

At the high altar, suing for this grace,—

That his fine art, in his true people's care,

Should ripen rich as in none other place,

And if gold fail, beauty to our desire

Should we create, out of the earth and fire.


All secret work of dainty orfreny

Couchet in jeweled paternes brightly quaint,

Balass and emeraut, sapphire, all should be

Set in the triptych of the pictured saint,

Or with new dreams of unwrought beauty haunted,

Blend in amail deep hues of light enchanted.


Then vanished all the vision—Saint Eloi

With trembling saw it swallowed up in night.

None may escape the laws of grief or joy,

And when the day is done, then fails the light.

Yet still he prayed—the dragon-darkness fled,

And a new life dawned, risen from the dead.


Soft smoothness like a creamy petaled rose,

Rich roundness like the sun-filled apricot,

Gold garlands twisted by some wind that blows

From what strange land we craftsmen marvel not.

And in this porcelain cup (he said) shall pour

Joy of life, joy of craft, forevermore.


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