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To My Neighbor

I lift you higher,
lift you out
of your body cells
stuffed with anxiety
of your past -
an evil load that smells.

I'll fill each cell
with love and joy
that makes the
angels dance.
You'll glide through earthly
filth and stench -
a spiritual trance.

From your youth filled eyes,
your hands
and feet,
a holy peace shall flow,
so you and I
be filled with grace -
let us be still
and know.

William Hermanns


Seelentränen sind Gedichte,
rot mit Herzblut aufgeschrieben,
tiefem Menschenleid zum Ruhm,

Lies sie still in reinem Lichte,
frei von Trieben:
Du betrittst ein Heiligtum.

Wilhelm Hermanns

William Hermanns


Contact / Kontakt

William Hermanns


Mary and the Mocker

Mary and the Mocker by William Hermanns (Our Sunday Visitor, 1953)

      Fulton Sheen's Preface  Apology to Mary    Poem Mary & Mocker 

  Maria und der Spötter

Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. published the booklet in the 1st through 3rd Editions under the title Mary and the Mocker and included the poem Mary and the Mocker (P034).

Our Sunday Visitor then published the 4th Edition under the title Mary Converts Her Mocker, and added the outstretched priestly garbed arm in a welcoming gesture to the cover illustration, but left out the poem Mary and the Mocker that spanned 18-pages and was dear to the poet author.  You can see the poem below.

In 1962 the booklet with poem was translated into German, Maria und der Spötter, and published by Credo Verlag in Wiesbaden.  In1979 the author made his own translation of the poem into German and wrote a new introduction and forword in German, which can be see on its own page on this website. 

Preface to Mary and the Mocker, ed. 1 to 4
By Most Reverend Fulton J. Sheen, DD.

Natus ex Maria Virgine:-"Born of the Virgin Mary:'

Such is the Creed's simple affirmation of the temporal origin of the humanity of Christ, whose Divine Nature as the Son of the living God is eternal. But if Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, is horn of Mary, it is true in a lesser degree that every true Christian who is a member of the Body is
also born of her.

The author, who saw his people burned like holocausts in the fiery furnace, and who had dragged himself from shell-hole to shell-hole in the mucky mire of the Western front as all hell broke loose overhead, came to see that in some way pain can not only sear and embitter a soul, but also purify it, so that in its denuded and de-materialized state, it will reach out through a Cross to Him Who hangs upon it.

To such a soul, the Message of Fatima has a heartrending appeal for it reveals that suffering and pain are tied up with guilt, not necessarily in the same person, but in the world. As it takes the blood of a healthy person transfused into the veins of an anemic to cure him of that condition, so it takes the prayers of the healthy members of Christ's Mystical Body to save the guilty of the world. Fatima merely reproclaimed the injunction of St. Paul: "Bear ye one another's burdens."

The corrupted nature of humanity can be compared to a sponge, in the sense that it is a mixture of being and nothingness. The more good a man does, the more he increases his Godlikeness and being. The more evil he does, the more he annihilates himself from God, which means he gets closer to nothing.

Evil is like the holes in that sponge; it is a non-plenitude, a void. If the "sponge" exists, it is because of the parts that are still solid, for man never ceases to have being and immortality.

Evil is not being; it is the corruption of being, a disorder, an eccentricity; the privation of being. Sin is an action; suffering is its reaction. We create sin by a free act within, but the resulting chaos, and crises, and wars strike us from the outside.

To avert these external manifestations of the sins of the world, Our Blessed Mother at Fatima asked that the good souls graft intensified spirituality on others, as physicians might graft skin on those who are burned.

Holiness is uncompromising with evil, and yet it bears all things patiently. Combined with heroic efforts toward purity, the good have an unlimited pity toward evil. God desires not the death of the sinner, Scripture tells, but that the sinner be converted from the evil of his ways and live. This is the clarion call of Mary at Fatima.

Saddened, but not despairing of evil, the good can make up for the bad. Since the moderm evil is interior, it will take a spiritual interiorization of lives to make amendment and to that high summons, the trumpet of Our Lady sounds!

Sin, man may deny, but he cannot deny the effects of sin. He may ridicule the law of gravitation, but if he throws himself from the pinnacle of the temple, he is not free to escape the effects of that denial.

Mary, of all women, knew what guilt and sin really are, for she saw the effects of them in her Divine Son. Only the innocent, like Mary, know evil; never the sinner, for sin becomes so much a part of the sinner, that he is not always able to see its deformity, just as a feverish patient can become so burned with fever, that he may imagine he is healthy.

Standing beneath the foot of the Cross, this woman saw war, egotism, greed, hate, bigotry, lust, written on the hands and feet of her Divine Son. On His Body was written the biography of man's rebellion against God. She saw pride plaiting thorns, and unholy loves piercing a side, and blasphemy feeding lips with gall, and avarice nailing hands. The memory of what happened on that day, she could never forget.

And now 1900 years later, that Woman who stood at the foot of the cross, re-appears in the world, to say that her Son is being re-crucified in those who love Him; therefore, pray, atone, expiate.

This author, a non-Catholic, came to the full cognizance of the mystery of man's redemption in Christ through a Woman, whom he at first thought as less than a woman, until through grace there dawned the full vision that she is the Ciborium that on Christmas Day held the Host, Who is the Guest of the world, the Son of the Living God, and that through her a man can be reborn. Our Lord said that unless we are reborn, we cannot live in His Kingdom. But can a man be reborn without a woman? Natus ex Maria Virgine.

See the pdf of Mary and the Mocker (Prose)

PDF Mary & Mocker (Prose)

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                                      Apology to Mary
                                 by William Hermanns
               [as Introduction to Mary and the Mocker]

I could rather have believed that the earth would open under my feet to swallow me, than that I, a student of the Bible, who had searched for the one Truth all my life, explored Judaism and Protestantism, traced out the Metaphysics of Sweden borg, believed in Christian Science, studied Hindu Scriptures and the Koran; in short, I, who had searched for an answer to my religious hunger, everywhere except in Catholicism- for education and prejudice forbade me to do so should end my forty years wandering through a religious desert by writing an Apology to Mary.  

In May 1949, the rector of St. Patrick's Church, in San Jose, CalifOrnia, Monsignor Edward J. Maher, asked me to visit his church where the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, sculptured by a renowned Portugnese, was on exhibition. When I arrived, the church was already overcrowded.

Ushered to a reserved seat, I became momentarily conscious of the eyes of my neighbors as if I were an intruder; and a woman, as I learned later, promptIy proceeded to the sacristry to tell the priest of the presence of a Communist, because I had not genuflected when entering the pew. Indeed, at that time the local newspapers contained headlines about Communistic conspiracies in our country, but in my case the priest assured her tbat Monsignor Maher had invited guests of other faiths, and that there was no danger of my harming the statue.

Meanwhile, in the church, the ceremonies unfolded with organ, choir, and sermon. Although I participated, sitting. kneeling, and standing again witIl tI,e congregation, I could not overcome an uneasiness, a sligbt confusion. Was this inner sensation the aftermath of the stir caused by my arrival, or the foreboding of things to come? ....

Excerpt, see the pdf of Mary and the Mocker (Prose)

PDF Mary & Mocker Prose

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Mary and the Mocker

Navigation by Poem Section (set ~ every 100 lines.) 

1 2 3 4 5 6


            Mary and the Mocker
In memory of the miracle of Fatima, October 13, 1917

The tale of Fatima? I laugh and weep!
A lady mantled in white clouds that glistened
Like muslin blanched and moist with morning balm,
Appeared amid the branches of a tree
And spoke to three small children tending sheep.
The shade to which these poor in spirit listened
Brought forth a craze. Gone is the pastoral calm
Of Fatima; gone forest peace and glee.

Behold the peasants! She has promised them
A mighty miracle this noon. Through narrow
Streets rough feet wear down the cobble stones,
Run to the fields, sweep off the grazing flock.
“Tis she," they shout: "Mary of Bethlehem!"
And running, pray as though their blood and marrow
Were madly boiling in their veins and bones.
No power drives me hence unless to mock.

"Tell them" she said, "through my Immaculate Heart
The world must pray. If men persist in offending
My Son Divine, more tragic wars will come."
And then, before the unwashed shepherds’ feet
The apparition cleft the earth apart.
The children saw within the chasm, bending
And twisting men aflame.—Hail! Heathendom:
Your cult will flourish at our Lord's defeat!

The heresay tale is but a marble tomb—
Outside, carved angels; inside, death black-hooded.
But were this wraith warm flesh and blood, that spoke
Five times then I will say: Come, Mary, send
A flash through the latticed window of my room;
Clothed in a cloud, draw near from yonder wooded
Ascent in the East; then in your glittering cloak
Grace my abode and speak: "Tis I, my friend."

You will not come. Man's reason frightens you.
You chose to rise before the wistful faces
Of children gathering woodsticks by a cave
Or guarding sheep beneath the Holly-trees.
Now Woman, mark my vow: If it be true,
You are the Mediatrix of all graces.
Give me a sign, rise from your Bible grave,
And I'll believe, fall humbly to my knees.

You will not come. You know, Hell lost its sting
And Heaven its delight since science wrested
The miracles from God* How bright, how tall,
Man in his aureole; it dims your circling light!
You will not come, you stay where angles sing;
You know earth must be earth, and man be tested
By evil first. Be grateful for his fall,
Because it moves your grape and saving might.

You never came. Yet man will swear you came.
Note how the noblemen in guilded coaches
Draw near to bow submissively and pray
Before the gaze of an illiterate mob.
Should not a God, who sees this, blush with shame?
Woe Portugal! Medieval night approaches;
All nature mourns, the skies are cold and gray;
Your trees and houses drip and sigh and sob.

Mark how the sinners grasp a saving straw
Held out by Rome in form of Jesus’ Mother.
Is God, who reason gives, a charlatan,
Works wonders so that reason be suppressed?
I say: Let God be God and Nature's Law
Be Law. Pray to the one,respect the other.
God is in Nature as the mind in man.
Alas! These people act as though possessed.

Note how bare feet, then hobnailed boots, then mules,
Then pushcarts pass my door. What, am I dreaming?
There stops a lad, who says the Rosary
And stares at me with large impertinent eyes.
Away! Go hence with Mary's praying tools!
I step outside. Are hidden powers scheming?
A clash of voices roars and wars in me:
Go to the meadow! - No! Ignore those lies!

Long threads of rain sew Heaven to the Earth.
The clouds and tree tops float and push each other, .
Roofs swell and screen my view into the street;
I cannot breathe; the air is thick and hard.
Yes, is it Mary's myth or heathen mirth?
Is Satan in the urchin's eye to smother
My soul? I close the door. I run to meet
That glistening woman and her shepherd guard.

But I shall make a virtue of my urge.
The endings of my nerves shall be a plummet
To probe the searing depth of ecstasy.
All that 1 see and hear shall be the show
Of shame. Oh pen, you often were the scourge
For spineless men. Come strike now from her summit
That shining lady. Mock, uproot her tree,
And fill the world with laughter and with woe!
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Come, write, my pen! Oh, shall I hail or hiss?
I pass a woman that two soldiers carry
On a litter. Beads in hand, she breathes her prayers.
Is not the land at war? Here are her sons
To give their lives for empty sham or bliss.
Now a procession kneels and makes me tarry.
Ahead waves Mary's flag. Oh snare of snares!
A girl converts all these to monks and nuns!

I leave the road: I run, I fall, I jump.
Each field and mound beset by stony girdles;
Each step I take, clay glues me to the path:
My feet are flies in spider webs, yet I
Advance. Now knotted trees crowd in a clump,
Now clutching thistles mass in thorny hurdles.
This country, Nature created in her wrath
To make hands callous and brains peasant-sly.

Have not the valleys fig trees, fragrant palms,
And rosebush-hedges fit for theater boxes -
The whole, a charming stage for comedy?
Why, Mary, lure us here through miles of mud?
Why make us sing your praise with hymns and psalms
In back hills fit for bats and owls and foxes?
Why choose you as your throne a small holm tree?
And as your courtiers, youth of peasant blood?

No answer: yet the wind wafts sounds to me.
I have approached the rim. Beneath; there stretches
The wonder-meadow, now a yellow pit,
Each blade of grass stamped deep into the mire.
More fools are here than drops are in the sea.
Umbrellas build a somber roof. Some wretches
Make their lodgings in a tree, and others sit
Like gypsies under rocks, beside a fire.

Nearby a crowded tent. The mother cooks;
They came with dog and donkey for the blessing.
For days they stood to gape into the skies.
Perchance the lady moves the sun toward noon
While it is night? The human longing brooks
No dangling in the air, and prayers are pressing
Which the poor in spirit pray. Look how their eyes
And mouths are opened for the heavenly boon!

Keep your mouths agape, ye guileless flock!
She'll hasten hither over rainbow bridges.
Lo, there a cloud! Can you not see her come
With loaves and fishes in her basket? Lo!
She lays it down; like Moses, smites a rock:
A quenching spring spouts from the caverned ridges.
O miracle! O sweet delirium!
Loaves, fishes multiply and waters flow!

Nay, close your mouths! The powers of nature plot;
Winds drove her cloud away. Ah, nature! Hunger
Will be more hungry, thirst more thirsty, fear
More filled with fear, the longer people pray
For miracles. Go, leave this evil spot!
Go home fanatic; home, you marvel monger: -
They chant their beads. What discord for my ear!
What insult for my eye: I shall not stay!

But now my eyes are riveted on a scene
Of Bible days, the surging crowd, a portal.
Comes there the King? Behold! A boy, two girls.
The girls wear white communion veils with crowns
Of flowers. The taller walks - a little queen.
Two women kiss her hands. Is she not mortal?
They plead - for what? A cure? The crowd now swirls
And throngs. Jacinta weeps while Lucy frowns.

Why should I leave? I’11 drink this cup of shame;
Descend the slope to watch the blinded people.
Will they soon go to fetch their widow's mite?
Return to build a church on highest crest?
None saw the heavenly Dame who five times came,
But soon her face in stone will grace the steeple.
Are there still men of reason? Come, unite!
Cut apron strings of slavery—protest!

I reach the meadow, struggle through the throng.
A woman tolls her beads, as though her mumbling
Could bribe the Lord. What teachings! How un-manned
Is man where guilt is trained. How dignified
That men who serves as his own Judge. Among
These pawns I walk a king of kings; they stumbling
O’er sins of old. Sackcloth and .ashes brand
Your lot. Your guilt, as Hell, is deep and wide.

I pass a gentleman, my boyhood friend.
He is more priestly than a priest, more jealous
Than a zealot. Once, I remember well
I found St. Francis’ picture slipped within
My book. Willed he to save or willed he to offend?
Now he came here to testify, this jealous
Defender of the Faith, the citadel
Of Mary. Knows she not he loved to sin?
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He sees me, bows his head. Prays he for me?
His words are bubbles of a sound, a tinkling
Brass. I have it on my tongue to shout:
Do you not know a miracle is wrought
To save the saved? For me no clemency.
Besides, your unsought eagerness of sprinkling
Blessed water shows your own soul's inner drought
And sets the snare, in which the devil is caught.

At last, I reach the tree — an upturned broom.
Most twigs are gone: The faithful craved a token.
Close by the trunk, the little shepherds stand:
How pitiful the girls in dripping veils
Like wilting flowers in October gloom.
A boy lies on a cot; his back is broken.
A man emerges with a withered hand.
Woe, Lucy, if today your Lady fails!

Five thousand came to Christ, but you called here
Ten times that number, braving night and weather,
And far through woods and fields, a wandering horde
That looks for food, they struggle toward a hill
To see your miracle. Have you no fear?
For those who pray together mock together.
O child, forsake your Lady, seek the Lord!
You stand a statue, so transfixed and still.

Have you forgotten, Mary did not come
When Ourem’s mayor confined you three in prison,
Lest your tale afflict the nation faster than
The pest. Or is your future in that cell?
Where truth is not, there is no martyrdom.
If preach you must, go forth, preach: Christ is risen,
Forever Savior he of fallen man.
Let sleep the Virgin and her Miracle!

Two minutes more till noon; no sign is sent.
A mother stares with red eyes at her daughter.
Stares at the people, now falls on her knees
To pray. More dismal is the little oak,
The Lady's chosen throne. Its trunk is bent
And trembles in the storm with weight of water,
As though to say: "No more of prophecies,
If she alights, I'll drench her sparkling cloak."

A wall of mist is settling on the ground;
For dreams and visions Nature has no pity,
Nor do men heed the voice that shouts: "Repent."
The fancy of a child, a fairy tree,
Forebode disaster. Mocking shall abound;
Good men stand near. Their tongues so wise and witty
Are fed with morsels that will soon ferment
The wine of altars for eternity.

I joined this feast of fools? I wonder why?
Is it to hide you three in my compassion?
Was I the devil's tool to follow you,"
Or came I to fulfill an angel's wish,
Bestow on you a blessing Heaven-high?
I know: I kneel not in religious fashion,
To pray with them and make this mud a pew.
I am not weak, not sick, not feverish.

Unborn is man who can forgive my sin.
If pray I must, I pray that my hands, folded
In prayer, become not fists. - Afar the bell
Strikes twelve, "Umbrellas close. The Lady comes!"
Cries Lucy, standing like a heroine.
"Make no mistake, my child," I hear her scolded
By her stern mother. Lo, above me Hell
Descends on wings that roar like beating drums.

Out of the mist, legions of ravens sweep
To cut with caws the tension of this hour;
Black messengers, to bring a benison.
Yet Lucy is unmoved. Her eyes look east
And force all eyes to look. I laugh and weep;
I see no lady leave her azure tower,
Yet Lucy stands as though a new St. John
Hears harps or sees a woman on a beast.

No ray breaks through, the sun hides in the South.
Nowhere a passage for the revelation,
Yet Lucy adds a chapter to the Book.
Come, laugh and weep with me, behold,a child!
Two thousand years are living in her mouth,
A girl of ten, the prophet of the nation!
Unmoved stands Lucy. East her large eyes look,
But the horizon answers grim and wild.

Her vision has been lured into a snare
Much stronger than the bead-string she is holding.
Poor Lucy, poor Jacinta, and you; boy -
The namesake of St. Francis. Soon the crowd
Will move its living walls and crush the air
You prophets breathe. Your loaves and fish are molding;
The devil feigns the Virgin to destroy;
The silent lips that pray can curse aloud.
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Her eyes look east. Is it a dream? I see
A brilliant flash the whole horizon blazes.
Afar, mist gathers to a cloud, soft, pale,
Like ruffled lace, floats quickly through the air,
Sinks toward the meadow, settles on the tree.
The girl's face flushes. Now she smiles and gazes
toward the cloud. She speaks! How strange! Her veil
has dried and shines and gently frames her hair !

Am I not I? Is truth no longer true?
Are eyes to see and ears to hear a wonder?
Is nothing left of reason but a shroud?
Here I am trapped within a pit of clay,
A witness of a mystic rendezvous.—
I see a flash, I hear a clap of thunder,
A cry from Lucy, "Look, she leaves!" The cloud,
Like incense from an altar, floats away.

A lonely branch upon the treetop bends
Now eastward. Is her shining raiment trailing
Over it? Has her departure stopped the rain?
"Look at the sun," cries Lucy, radiant-fair.
Before my eyes the gray horizon rends
its curtain. Clouds roll up unveiling
The sun within a lofty, azure plain;
And glowing fingers reach down through the air.

The sunbeams seem to hold a magic brush;
The meadow is their canvas. Soon it changes
From yellow to blue-green; to purple, gold.
Each pilgrim wears a rainbow on his head.
Each coat or shawl, now dried, is gleaming plush.
The bush, the rook and distant wooded ranges
Have changing hues. A voice now jphouts, "Behold!
The Miracle! Her promise is not dead!"

It is the gentleman! At me he stares.
Spare your appeals; your looks, sir, make me wary.
Know, today will be a long-ago
Tomorrow, unless the Virgin deigns to stir
My heart, and prove her bead-strings are not snares.
Convert me not, you servile son of Mary;
I know too much man's nature not to know
The Adam in a preacher. Spare me, sir!

Spare me, you people! Your pyramid of songs
will pass as do the rainbows. But your stony
Barren soil remains; so does this pit of clay;
No milk no honey will flow through to fill
Your cup; no prayers will soothe your burning tongues!
O Truth! Make me discern your testimony.
To say, "I saw," is to believe; to say,
"I saw not," is to lie. My lips, be still!

But silence is not sleep, I'll hurry home,
Search through my books, so reason can pour water
Upon the rainbow glow and drown the fake.
Let others shout "Hosanna in the highest!"
My lips be still. Yet, were I dragged to Rome
I'd cry: "Physicians heal a peasant daughter;
She conjures up her mystic creed to make
Men think a meager cloud had mothered Christ."

Like fire and brimstone I would hurl my thought
Against the Vatican, crush the infernal City! As unabashed once Luther stood Before the Diet at Worms, so would my eyes
Pierce through their eyes, my reason fraught
With,Satire lay bare their nocturnal
Conspiracy, tear off their black soutane and hood,
Shout, "Here I stand, I can't do otherwise."

Like that reformer I would look around
And throw the gauntlet in their startled faces:
"Rome, hear!" I'd say, "When man is guest of man,
He goes away as empty as he came.
A heavenly host alone makes him abound.
Your host, cloud wrapped, was but of meager graces.
Man's misery came in a caravan
To feast, but left still hungry, blind and lame.

"I, too, sat down with ills of human kind.
I saw the signs, the rainbow panorama.
I marveled much,and muttered: 'Ah,’and 'Oh,’
But sometimes signs and wonders vex the soul,
Add doubt to doubt in man's all-searching mind.
Perhaps doubt is disease. My inner drama
And tortured quest, wise Mary should foreknow
And say: 'Tis I, my friend, I'll make you whole.'”

Thus I would shake the pillars of the Church,
Make Mary's rose-filled month a dismal season.
But Mary's advocate, in Rome, would ask:
"Vowed she not her appearance on the tree
Three months before to Lucy? Can your search
Put this within the bounds of human reason?"
I'd answer, "Knowledge is the noblest task
Of man, but not the art of prophecy."
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Now I would see Rome's baleful bishop rise:
“’Appear in glory with me,’ he has written,
To share His glory, ears must hear, eyes see.
Believed you this when you stood by the tree?"—
""Rome, hear me!' Wonders better catechise
Than words. Who smites me with his faith be smitten
By my reason. If Mary proves to me
That it was she, then I will bend my knee.

"You know the Devil has all power on earth
But that: to make man better. He will cherish
Miracles and, angel-faced, speak from the tree.
Is Mary full of grace? Let her arise
And give me light to see; I pledge my worth.
So here I stand, and rather will I perish
Than yield. Let earth be opened under me
To swallow me before your pious eyes."

The heavens flare. See how the black soutane
Retreats! I purge with fire the middle ages.
Blest is the man who, burning what has been,
Draws hither what shall be. He is called the Prince
of Progress,—Now, the heavens flare again.
Is nature my ally that storms and rages
Against the power of darkness? Not so. Green
Hills light up, with men that pray and wince.

Where am I? Not before the judgment seat?
I travailed on my thoughts, now Rome has vanished.
O thoughts! More than a mighty Miracle
You awe me. With a thousand arms you reach
Into the world to pull all saints and sinners to my feet!
I have not left the meadow with its banished
Children of Eve: The poor, the infidel,
The sick. But they have changed! Does sunlight bleach?

The trees, the hills turn pale, the rainbows pass.
The sun draws slowly back her glowing fingers.
The lucent canvas of the meadow sinks
Beneath an endless bulging yellow crust.
The sun is covered by a milky glass.
Par on the highest crest one sunbeam lingers
To paint red marks like footprints. Now it shrinks
Between gray shadows, trailing clouds of dust.

The last faint beam is wound as on a spool:
The sun now starts to wheel;—turns fast, and faster!
The more I feel the sun, the more I freeze.
Am I still I? I touch my hands and head,
Life is too short to make of me a fool,
Too long to have not reason as my master.
Can Nature change her laws, and swirl and squeeze
The sun out of its orb like seething lead?

The sun throws its mad movements into man:
Eyes search for eyes, dart to the hills, the heavens,
Where help does dwell. Alas! No Lord of Hosts
Says to the sun: "Stand still!" Sinks this strange pit
Into the Hell that Lucy saw? I scan
The ground beneath my feet: Tis fear that leavens
The human lump and makes it food for ghosts.
Behind each eye, a specter seems to sit.

The people cringe, each heart tolls its own knell,
I stand among them like a solitary
Intruder. Strange. My stature seems to grow, -
The sun so white, unbearable to me.
The people pray. A voice like a clanging bell
Rings harshly in my ear: "Hail Mary!"
It's Lucy's voice. But now the sun turns slow,
Turns slower, sets its light upon the tree.

Can I still trust my eyes? The sun now halts, -
Looks down, - distorted like a dragon preying
With a gleaming eye, out of the dark.
My blood stands still. The giant face
Scans me in wrath. - It swirls and somersaults.
Cold drafts are flowing through the air and weighing
My breath with icy mists. There is a spark!
The sun tears loose and tumbles into space.

Some people throw their hands high toward the sky.
And try to break the impact of the falling
Sun; the others kneel and beat their breasts.
Toward Lucy women push and children creep.
I feel I am too tall. The roving eye
Of the sun peers down at me:—Should I be crawling?
Is this the place to find my rest of rests?
Is this the hour to beat my breast and weep?

Jacinta, Lucy, Francis kneel beneath
The tree, with rosary in hand. Their endless
"Hail Mary" hovers over my bowed head.
"The Virgin keeps her promise," someone cries.
What promise, I should like to know? A wreath?
No one here I could ask. I feel so friendless.
Another question, too, fills me with dread:
Is it the man, his soul, or guilt that dies?
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Was it a sin to say: "Come, Mary, send
A flash through my latticed window, or from yonder
Mountain clothed in clouds, draw near and speak:
‘Tis I, my friend?’ Whom heaven sends will come
With heavenly signs. Will you not now extend
Your sign to me and warm my heart with wonder?
You do not want my death. You are so meek and good.
Undo the doubt that makes me numb."

A little flash, a word—in vain I ask.
The dreadful sun draws near—not wondrous Mary!
What lured me here? That rosary lad? What tore
Me from my room? Almighty, could it be!
The flash - the sun - my mocking wears the mask
Of death, damns me, writes my obituary.
The sun - my reason seeps from every pore,
Despair flows in. The Sun - Her sign for me!

Oh, could I pray? The sun bounds to and fro,
Draws nearer, nearer. All of them are lying,
Sobbing prayers. Is this my final tryst?
Is it too late to pray? The sun begins
To race, to jump toward me. No place to go;
Around me men and mud. I sink down crying;
"Let me not die, O God, not die, O Christ,
Let me not die, O Mary, in my sins!"

                                         William Hermanns [P034]
                                                                                     1954,  Rev. 7/25/1985

Mary and the Mocker

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