Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920.  1920.
 
The Dancer in the Shrine
 
Amanda Benjamin Hall
 
 
I AM a dancer. When I pray
I do not gather thoughts with clumsy thread
Into poor phrases. Birds all have a way
Of singing home the truth that they are birds,
And so’ my loving litany is said        5
Without the aid of words.
I am a dancer. Under me
The floor dreams lapis lazuli,
With inlaid gems of every hue—
Mother o’ pearl I tread like dew,        10
While at the window of her frame
Our Lady, of the hallowed name,
Leans on the sill. Gray saints glare down,
Too long by godliness entranced,
With piety of painted frown,        15
Who never danced—
But Oh, Our Lady’s quaint, arrested look
Remembers when she danced with bird and brook,
Of wind and flower and innocence a part,
Before the rose of Jesus kissed her heart        20
And men heaped heavy prayers upon her breast.
She watches me with gladness half confessed
Who dare to gesture homage with my feet,
Or twinkle lacy steps of joy
To entertain the Holy Boy;        25
Who, laughing, pirouette and pass,
Translated by the colored glass,
To meanings infinitely sweet.
And though it is not much, I know,
To fan the incense to and fro        30
With skirt as flighty as a wing,
It seems Our Lady understands
The method of my worshipping,
The hymns I’m lifting in my hands—
 
I am a dancer—

  Contemporary Verse
        35
 

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