The Eve of Saint Agnes

by Malcolm Massiah

‘Twas on the eve of St Agnes’ Day,
When young virgin’s minds fly astray;
Stacey lay her body bare
To January’s freezing air.

She cast her liquid ebon eyes,
Up to the boundless starry skies,
Hoping to find in that heavenly place,
The image of her true love’s face.

Would he be fair with eyes of blue,
And would he swear to love her true;
Or dark haired and romantic be
Her man for all eternity?

Then floating on the icy air
She heard the haunting midnight bell,
Clutching firm her silver pins,
Her Paternoster she begins.

After saying her wistful prayers,
Naked in the midnight air;
Mischievous Morpheus kissed her lids,
And into deep slumbers Stacey slid.

She heard her heartbeat pounding loud,
And found herself on cloistered clouds;
Gracefully gliding ‘gainst her will,
T’wards a speck of light that drew her near.

Along the cool sequestered vale,
Floating like a phantom there,
Stacey heard a soothing song
From some unseen celestial throng.

The dreadlocked virgin’s slender form
To the radiance mysteriously drawn,
Trembled in a naked fear
As from her eyes shed pearls of tears.

A glowing warmth came from that light
Of incandescent radiance bright,
That magnetised the virgin maid
Who prayed on that St Agnes Day.

Stacey felt her heart descending
As she travelled never-ending,
Along the perfumed Elysian aisle,
To the lamb-like juvenile:
There went Stacey for the grace
Of Agnes, and her true-love’s face.

When she reached the virgin girl,
Whom sword in hand greeted her,
Stacey cast her dark eyes down,
To the nimbus golden ground.

The mortal virgin’s quest was told,
To Agnes midst her ovine fold;
Traversed she had through time and space,
For a virgin’s glimpse of her true-love’s face.

Agnes waved her sword and the scene was changed:
Stacey was midst a grassy glade,
With Agnes and her flock of sheep
Upon a Caledonian heath.

“Your truelove’s face cannot be seen,
Not e’en in your wildest dreams;
But Wolfius shall guide the side
Of the groom which ye shall bride.

You’ll meet him when the skies are grey,
But t’will seem as if ever May;
For gazing in his hazel eyes
You’ll find a demi-Paradise.

He’ll have a noble brow as if ‘twere a kings,
His body be bathed in highland springs;
And petalled are those crimson lips
Your own sweet mouth someday shall kiss.

He’ll be a bonny hero, bold and brave,
Virile, manly, young but sage;
With a candid mind and a heart of ruth,
He’ll make all your dreams come true.

But, ye virgin, of little faith,
Fortune’s spun her wheel of fate;
Until ye find him ye shall be,
Endlessly plagued by dreams.”

Stacey gazed in grim surprise
Into the martyred maiden’s eyes;
Agnes swung her sacred sword
And Stacey dropped down through a hole.

Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground,
Stacey tumbled ever down
Through profoundest, darkest deep
Recesses of spellbound sleep.

Now she sank in outer space,
Dreaming of her true-love’s face;
Stacey writhed in scintillation
Through a million constellations.

Sinking down through several spheres,
Her ebon eyes streamed with tears;
Then she heard a sudden crack
Ere all her senses all went black.


Born in Bristol, England, December 1960. Debut at Avon Poetry Festival Bristol 1988. Resident Poet, Bristol Evening Post 1998.

Last updated June 15, 2015