Renaissance England hardly missed her.
Cromwell broke the great stone wheels,
Trod their glass to coloured grit
And gave her lands to the fallow deer.
An early sun through clear windows
Lit the beds of their married bishops.
The winter of the King's Bible
Was spiced with Galilean spring.
In summer blue whose fingers made
Bright wheels in the knot gardens.
Queen of Heaven, she filled the dark
Hawthorn lanes that smell of death
With circling stars and the crescent moon.
And when I came to this shrine of lights
Kneeling to what my Protestant conscience
Told was a pagan image-
Isis or Proserpina.
But my true self was heart-sick
Of preachment without empathy,
Held back from self-forgetting prayer
By fear of the Sistine Chapel god,
And I loved her, as I still do,
Mistress, mother, my wise sister,
Walsingham Mary whose garden is
That fearsome wheel of coloured fires.