Gaunt fades the twilight, nearly gone, a weary world wearing thin
Since last the unremembered sun smiled upon the land below,
And sluggish sinks the eventide, smothering all warmth and light,
Until, at last, the gloom of night entrenches there, deep and low.
Dreaming, doubting, mortals slumber in a dreary town below,
Wakeless they since long ago.

Yet far above that town at rest ascends a mount upon whose crest
A terrible, tremendous beast stands as wakeless ages go.
He a constant watch is keeping as the town below is sleeping,
Studied glacial eyes unblinking, firmly fixed on earth below
With a gaze no man possesses nor can mortal strength bestow.
Still the darkness grows and grows.

Like no creature men are dreaming, stands that beast resplendent, beaming,
Horn of light, like crystal, gleaming, and his mane as white as snow.
Stands he still, no strength abating, patiently the time awaiting,
For that chosen hour waiting which no mortal man can know;
He alone discerns that hour which no man can tell or know,
Gaze fixed on the town below.

Presently, a figure starting out for where the clouds are parting,
From the drowsing town departing, to the forest does she go.
Her kindred slumber unaware that this young maiden, soft and fair,
Is slowly drawing near to where mortals walked so long ago.
Now, beholding stars and planets and the moonlight’s gentle glow,
To the forest does she go.

See the beast, his vigil ending, to the lower realm descending,
Cloud and gloom his radiance rending, to the forest there below.
Forth from mountain heights proceeding, to that forest he is speeding.
No traverse his course impeding, races he to where he goes.
Now he presses through the thickets, hoofbeats trampling brush below,
Heaving, sighing as he goes.

Pausing, then, that fearsome titan, in the foliage waiting, hiding,
Till at last he spies our maiden entering a glade and, lo,
Whom hunters dare not track or snare, now timid ’mid the cool night air,
The mighty beast, she draws him there, for her beauty charms him so.
On tender earth his dread hooves fall heavy as a mallet’s blow;
Sweat bedews the turf below.

His wild heart is fiercely beating; warrior’s eyes her gaze are meeting,
As he stands in wordless greeting, peering deep into her soul.
She no stain or fault is hiding, she no treachery abiding,
Now upon the grass alighting, bids him lie down there, and so,
Carefully he lies beside her, horn of light and mane of snow
Cradled in her arms below.

Now midnight’s silent hour has passed, and in his lady’s dear embrace
The beast has closed his eyes at last, head upon her lap below.
Slowly, weary night is ending; see the sun his throne ascending,
Golden rays from heaven sending warmth and morrow’s pleasant glow.
What grand new day he ushers in, its like not seen since long ago:
Mortals stirring here below!

 

Rev. Dylan Schrader is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, MO and a doctoral student of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America.

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