The Dying Nun
Let the air blow in upon me
Let me see the midnight sky,
Stand back, sisters, from around me
God, it is so hard to die.
Raise my pillow up by Martha
Sister Martha, you were kind
Come and stand along beside me
E'er I leave you all behind
Hold my hand, so cold and frozen,
Once they were so soft and white,
And this ring that...from me (once taken from me?)
Clasped my finger once so tight
Little ring they thought so worthless
Thought they'd let me keep it there
Only a plain golden circlet
With a lock of Douglas' hair.
O, my father, O my mother
Can you not forget the past?
When you hear a stranger tell you
How your stray lamb died at last.
And of all that once did love me
Who will weep when I am dead?
Only you, O sister Martha
Keep your watch around my bed.
Sister Martha, sister Martha
You were kinder than the rest,
Raise my head and let me lean it
While I live upon your breast.
I was thinking of some music
That I heard long, long ago
O, how sweet the nuns were singing
In the chapel soft and low.
But a strain of Heaven music
Breaks the solemn midnight dream
And I hear the modigals (madrigals?) feeling
And I seem to float with Him.
Douglas, Douglas, I am coming
Where you are I too will rest
Freed at last, I come, my dearest
Death gives back your little cleft.
Sister Martha, are you near me,
Has the moon gone down so soon?
O, the cell is cold as winter
Though I know that it is June.
Sister, your white bed lying
Sleeping in the dimly light
Though your dreams come true, my vision
Clara dies alone tonight.
From the Max Hunter Collection
Collected from Mrs. Laura McDonald, Springfield, AR 1958