If the rapid wingbeat makes us joyous

If the rapid wingbeat makes us joyous,
seeing the whirring flight of falcons cleaving
the air as they escape their masters who
love only themselves, their food, and plunder,

so the mind now delights to gaze upon
eleven thousand winged warriors,
women armed with palms and wreaths, as they search
so gladly for a different kind of prey,

And afterwards knowing the love they sought,
assured, what joy they knew among angels
these eleven thousand wary virgins,

so let us praise the acts, hope, and harvest
of women, and, though the doer is God,
in this intense light even their laughter.

From B S2:30:192; first printed Tordi 3:38; MSs L, V2 (Ve2?). A sonnet on the legend of St Ursula; see Jacobus Voragine, Golden Legend. It was a popular subject for illustration; VC is in a brilliantly-lit space, perhaps a church, looking at a picture. Key

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