James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 20

St. Agnes’ Eve

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

  • St. Agnes was a Roman Virgin and Martyr 12 or 13 years of age, who was beheaded in the reign of Diocletian.

  • DEEP on the convent-roof the snows

    Are sparkling to the moon:

    My breath to heaven like vapor goes:

    May my soul follow soon!

    The shadows of the convent-towers

    Slant down the snowy sward,

    Still creeping with the creeping hours

    That lead me to my Lord:

    Make Thou my spirit pure and clear

    As are the frosty skies,

    Or this first snowdrop of the year

    That in my bosom lies.

    As these white robes are soil’d and dark,

    To yonder shining ground;

    As this pale taper’s earthly spark,

    To yonder argent round;

    So shows my soul before the Lamb,

    My spirit before Thee;

    So in mine earthly house I am,

    To that I hope to be.

    Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,

    Thro’ all yon starlight keen,

    Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,

    In raiment white and clean.

    He lifts me to the golden doors;

    The flashes come and go;

    All heaven bursts her starry floors,

    And strews her lights below,

    And deepens on and up! the gates

    Roll back, and far within

    For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,

    To make me pure of sin.

    The sabbaths of Eternity,

    One sabbath deep and wide

    A light upon the shining sea—

    The Bridegroom with his bride!