To A Nun
Please God, forsake your water and dry bread,
And fling the bitter cress you eat aside.
Put by your rosary. In Mary’s name leave chanting creeds
To mildewing monks in Rome.
Spring’s at work in gardens bright with sun,
Springtime’s not made for living like a nun.
Your faith, my fairest lady, your religion,
Shows but a single face of love’s medallion.
Slip on this ring and this green gown, these laces –
The wood is furnitured with resting places.
Hide in the birch tree’s shade; upon your knees
Murmur the mass of cuckoos, litanies
Of spring’s green foliage. There’s no sacrilege
If we find heaven here against the hedge.
Remember Ovid’s book and Ovid’s truth –
There’s such a thing as having too much faith.
Let us discover the shapes, the earthly signs,
Of our true selves, our souls, among the vines.
For surely God and all his saints above,
High in their other heaven, pardon love.