THE incense at the altar slowly burns
Swayed in the silver censer to and fro ;
Around the crucifix it coils and turns,
The brows of saints it wreathes with misty glow.
And tremulous petitions, long drawn out,
Beneath the lofty arches faint away ;
To weary eyes the candles round about
Heave as they flicker with their pallid ray.
The sacred columns, grey and mouldering,
Support a veil that stirs with voiceless sobs.
Beneath it, like the incense smouldering,
A woman’s darkened heart in anguish throbs.
Consumed within the censer now, and burned,
The incense through the boundless ether soars.
What Matter was to Fragrance sweet is turned—
The cleansing fire its purity restores.
Nor shall that woman’s smouldering heart be freed,—
Saved from its cold and adamantine shell,—
Till it is melted, tried, and cleansed indeed,
Till the pure flames shall all its dross expel !
Armenian legends and poems by Zabelle C. Boyajian and Aram Raffi, London & New York, 1916.