Home  »  Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse  »  The Guardian Angel

Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Robert Browning (1812–1889)

The Guardian Angel

A Picture by Guercino at Fano

DEAR and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave
  That child, when thou hast done with him, for me!
Let me sit all the day here, that when eve
  Shall find performed thy special ministry,
And time come for departure, thou, suspending        5
Thy flight, may’st see another child for tending,
  Another still to quiet and retrieve.
Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more,
  From where thou standest now, to where I gaze.
—And suddenly my head is covered o’er        10
  With those wings, white above the child who prays
Now on that tomb—and I shall feel thee guarding
Me, out of all the world; for me discarding
  Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door.
I would not look up thither past thy head        15
  Because the door opes, like that child, I know,
For I should have thy gracious face instead,
  Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low
Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together,
And lift them up to pray, and gently tether        20
  Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment’s spread?
If this was ever granted, I would rest
  My head beneath thine, while thy healing hands
Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast,
  Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands,        25
Back to its proper size again, and smoothing
Distortion down till every nerve had soothing,
  And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed.
How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired!
  I think how I should view the earth and skies        30
And sea, when once again my brow was bared
  After thy healing, with such different eyes.
O world, as God has made it! All is beauty:
And knowing this is love, and love is duty.
  What further may be sought for or declared?        35