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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Makepeace Thackeray 1811–63

At the Church Gate


ALTHOUGH I enter not,

Yet round about the spot

Ofttimes I hover;

And near the sacred gate,

With longing eyes I wait,

Expectant of her.

The minster bell tolls out

Above the city’s rout,

And noise and humming;

They ’ve hush’d the minster bell:

The organ ’gins to swell;

She ’s coming, she ’s coming!

My lady comes at last,

Timid and stepping fast

And hastening thither,

With modest eyes downcast;

She comes—she ’s here, she ’s past!

May heaven go with her!

Kneel undisturb’d, fair saint!

Pour out your praise or plaint

Meekly and duly;

I will not enter there,

To sully your pure prayer

With thoughts unruly.

But suffer me to pace

Round the forbidden place,

Lingering a minute,

Like outcast spirits, who wait,

And see, through heaven’s gate,

Angels within it.