Richard Monckton Milnes

London Churches

I STOOD, one Sunday morning,
Before a large church door,
The congregation gathered
And carriages a score, --
From one out stepped a lady
I oft had seen before.

Her hand was on a prayer-book,
And held a vinaigrette;
The sign of man's redemption
Clear on the book was set, --
But above the Cross there glistened
A golden Coronet.

For her the obsequious beadle
The inner door flung wide,
Lightly, as up a ball-room,
Her footsteps seemed to glide, --
There might be good thoughts in her
For all her evil pride.

But after her a woman
Peeped wistfully within,
On whose wan face was graven
Life's hardest discipline, --
The trace of the sad trinity
Of weakness, pain, and sin.

The few free-seats were crowded
Where she could rest and pray;
With her worn garb contrasted
Each side in fair array, --
"God's house holds no poor sinners,"
She sighed, and crept away. 

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