Poems by Sr Raymond Whyte

East London Convent Jubilee
January 14th 1883 – January 14th, 1908

“The years have gone – full twenty and five –
What have we got to show
For the months and weeks and days of them all?
Look back! We hardly know.
There were hours of work and hours of prayer:
One day so like another.
Where is the record? Sisters, say
What can we bring this Jubilee Day
To our loving Spouse and Brother?”

Ah, peace! He knows He has worked beside,
Has counted each step you’ve taken,
Each act, each word, each cross that tried,
The trust that was never shaken,
The loving service so freely dealt
To His little ones for His sake,
The daily bracing of spirits brave
Though soul or heart might ache.
God your Father the Record hath;
And when death shall set you free,
In the Courts of the Blest shall the work be known,
And the workers hear His sweet “Well done!”
As He gladly welcomes each of “His Own”
To the endless Jubilee!

This was the lesson brought to me
By the solemn time of a Jubilee.
I give it, dear girls, in my turn, to you:
Trust me, the future will warrant it true.
O’er rough ways and smooth – as Companion and Guide –
God, your Father, keeps pace beside.
Your nearest and dearest may fail you; but yet
God your Father, can never forget.

Cherish this lesson: cling to His side,
Who will never betray you, whate’er may betide.
Be true to your Birthright: and bright tho’ your “Star”
On earth may be shining, ah! Brighter by far
Will the rays of the Stars that shall crown you be
In the Jubilee of Eternity!


“My Love is a Garden Enclosed”

(Cant. IV. 12)
Loretto Day, December 10th 1910

Long centuries ago, the Hebrew wise,
Son of the Poet-King, the Shepherd-Seer,
Looked down Time’s vista with prophetic eyes
Upon a humble home of God most dear,
Where dwelt unknown, ‘mid those the great despise.

A maiden spotless, sinless, without peer.
She was that Garden closed to all but One
Whose “Fiat” gave her life – Immaculate!
And He – stupendous marvel! – from His Throne
In highest Heav’n to share our fallen state
At her sweet “Fiat” came. And Mary’s Son
In Naz’reth cot slept, laboured, prayed, drank, ate.

Lived just as any other son of earth.
Years passed: the Orient in His love grew cold,
Scorned Christ e’en in the country of His birth.
The Holy House had been destroyed or sold:
But Angles raised that cot of priceless worth,
And reverently – so is the story told –

Bore it – the “Santa Casa” – over sea
And over land, first to Dalmatia’s shore
Thence to Loretto. From fair Italy
The “Santa Casa” wanders forth no more.
There love and faith make joyous Jubilee;
There pilgrims gather from the wide world o’er.

And our Loretto? ‘Tis Loretto Day:
Heart speaks thro’ lips and eyes to other heart” –
Our Feast! What shall an old Loretan say
To you, dear ones, who bear to-day the part
That erst was mine? To you girls, bright and gay,
Young souls unspoiled by this world’s sin and art?

One wish for both! Be our Loretto still
God’s closed Garden and His Pleassuance sweet!
Be’t each Loretan’s glory to fulfil
God’s bidding with a steadfastness complete;
True, loyal, docile to His Sovereign Will!
This be Loretto’s pride, till all Loretans meet,
A joyous band, love-crowned, at His and Mary’s Feet.


My Goodbye

God bless thee! And sweet Mary
Keep thee in all thy ways.
Such is the prayer my heart
This hour of parting prays.

God bless thee – Mary keep thee –
Our Mother undefiled –
True, pure and staunch and loyal,
Her namesake and her child.

When dark temptation hovers
And the foe would work thee ill
God and sweet Mary keep thee,
Unharmed and scatheless still.

When the world smiles brightest on thee
And strives thy heart to woo
To the heart that broke on Calvary
God and Mary keep thee true.

When self-love seeks to drag thee
To earth’s sordid level down
May God and Mary whisper
To thy heart “No cross, no crown.”

So I trust thee, my own Mary,
To this mother sweet and mild;
And till we meet I pray
“Dear God and Mary, bless my child.”


The Failure’s Friend

“Weary the days!” I murmured;
“Long doth the waiting seem;
Is there no place for the failures?”
Then I slept and dreamed a dream.

Woke – with the lesson ringing
In this poor sad heart of mine:
“The Friend of the failures is Christ our Lord;
Their Home is His Heart divine!”

R.Y. D.

At Benediction

(Written for a Past Pupil who is a Nun)
I see but the snowy disc

In the Monstrance crystal ring;
But the eye of Faith sees throned there
My love’d Lord and King!
And low and sweet
At His pierced feet
Doth my heart her “Credo” sing.


“Ite ad Joseph”

Written for the Girls of St Joseph’s Boarding-School,
for St Joseph’s Feast, 1911

“Go ye to Joseph,” the Monarch said,
As the suppliant thousands poured
Through the length and breadth of the stricken land
To his gran’ries richly stored.
“Go ye to Joseph: my treasures vast
“Are all in his trusted hand;
“I have chosen him Prince and Lord of my house,
“And Ruler of this my land.”

And the famishing crowds to Joseph came,
And he gave them of Egypt’s store,
From the garnered wealth that the bounteous earth
In the years of plenty bore.
And the land was saved from the famine curse,
For he gave with gen’rous hand;
And Joseph’s name in every home
Was blessed through the rescued land.

The centuries passed; and the world lay prone
In the grip of a sorer need
Than the famine that swept over Egypt old:
Was there none to help or heed?
From the blissful heights of His glorious heaven
Its pitying King looked down;
And He said: “I will forth to My perishing world,
“And make its cause Mine own.

“I will make Me a home in a Virgin’s breast
“That never hath sin defiled;
“We will ‘go to Joseph”, My Mother and I –
“His Spouse and his Foster-Child.”
And our Saint o’er the House of Nazareth ruled,
As Joseph o’er Egypt broad:
Prince of God’s Heaven: yea, greater far:
Ruler of Christ, his God!

Dear Girls, your home is a “holy house”,
St Joseph its Ruler too,
For Jesus and Mary each heart to hold
Docile and strong and true.
Can I offer you on this festal day
More loving a wish – more kind –
Than my soul’s strong prayer: may the hurrying years
Still closer and firmer bind.

St Joseph’s hold on each loyal heart
Through all life’s devious ways,
To hold you for us, for Mary, for God,
True, through life’s chequered days!
As Easter fills the old home each year,
May we find – please God, we will! –
St Joseph’s Girls, though your heads grow white,
Living the “Veritas” still!


Jubilee Ode

The poem appended was written for the Jubilee Concert at Maris Stella Convent, East London to celebrate Msgr. Kelly’s Silver Jubilee and beautifully rendered by one of the children.
June 24th 1885

“And Jesus, looking on the young man, loved him.”
A youth there stood where the ways divide,
Pure-souled, high-hearted, and eager-eyed;
There was life to be lived, but the world was wide:
Where should he drain his chalice?
The world did woo, and her voice was sweet:
There were crowns for the winning for those whose feet
Should turn where her broad and shining street
Led away ‘twixt mart and palace.
But he shook his head, and his smile was cold;
For the pure of heart do the touchstone hold,
That transmutes into ashes her gems and gold;
And he turned him aside from her wooing
“Praebe Mihi cor tuum!” “Sequere Me!”
He starts – on the steep, strait right-hand way
The Master stands, as He stood on that day
When His Cross wrought sin’s undoing.

Cross-laden, thorn-crowned; one slender hand
Raised in a gesture of meek command;
And the young man knew his life-work planned
By a Love that is past revealing.
Heart calleth to heart as deep to deep:
“Wilt thou follow?” Yea, Lord, so Thy grace me keep,
“I will follow Thee e’en to Calvary’s Steep!”
At the Master’s Feet he is kneeling.

His “Fiat” was uttered; his choice was sealed.
Full soon at the Altar the Levite kneeled;
“Tue es in aeternum sacerdos!” pealed
Through the listening courts of heaven.
He has chosen the rugged and thorn-strewn road;
For it winds where His Master before him trode;
And he knows it will lead to the Kingdom of God,
And a fadeless crown God-given.

We have been permitted to copy it four our Annual. – Silver Star 1911.

In Memoriam

(On 1st October, 1888, at a picnic at Blue Quarry along the Buffalo River two Convent girls, Molly Ryan and Molly Collins, were drowned while swimming in the Buffalo)
Weep not for them, their lives were short
Like summer days so bright,
Like flowers that live in sunshine gay,
And die before the night.

Weep not for them. They never did feel
The miseries of life.
The baffled hopes, the wintry days,
The bitter, endless strife.

Weep not for them. In Heaven now
With angels do they sing;
All darkness fled from off their brow –
No pain – no suffering.

Weep not for them. Their memory
A shrine shall ever be
Of pleasant thoughts, so calm and pure
Of times that used to be.

Weep not for them. They early died,
Ere sorrow marred their day,
When hearts to them still loving seemed,
Ere friendships fell away.

Weep not for them. But bravely strive
To live life not in vain –
A few short years when death shall come –
You’ll meet in Heaven again.

Side by side, hand in hand
Life had ever found them;
Side by side they’re sleeping now,
The churchyard mould around them.

Hand in hand they strolled at noon
The woods with their laughter ringing;
Ere an hour had passed in death’s fierce grasp
Still hand to hand they’re clinging.

O Woe for the day that broke so fair!
To set in such night of sorrow!
O woe for the broken hearts tonight!
O woe for the darker morrow!
O woe for the young lives rudely snatched
In the midst of youth and pleasure!
O woe for the bright fond hopes laid low!
O woe for our vanished treasure!

Ay, woe for us, who weep those lives,
So lived, so prized, so cherished!
Woe for the stricken hearts whose joy
In those cruel waters perished!
But joy for them – our loved – our lost –
Those young souls freed so early;
Bright blossoms the Reaper culled in their spring –
For his Lord hath loved them so dearly.

And what are we that should bid Him leave
His treasure in our poor keeping?
Or grieve that He loved them so truly and well?
Ah me! ‘Tis a selfish weeping!
Take them, O Lord! They are thine not ours;
But thou Lord canst pardon our sorrow;
Freely we give though our tears will flow –
Thou wilt give us our treasure again we know,
In thine own Eternal morrow.

Sr M Raymond (?)

Sr Raymond Whyte 1858 – 1934

A Sonnet – To Order

(Written for Norah when she left the Convent High School, King William’s Town, 1915)

My dainty Norah laid on me the hest:
“A something of your own to fill this page!”
What shall it be then? Something grave and sage?
Or shall I try my skill at quip or jest?
Shades of the lettered dead! But to suggest
A “nonsense” sonnet – were to wake the rage
Of sleeping kings of song, from Surrey’s age,
Will Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth and the rest!
But truce to trifling! Here’s a thought that none,
Not Milton’s self, nor even ‘Gentle Will’
Could better, tho’ they spent their utmost skill;
Life’s virgin book lies open; you alone
Can fill it Norah! May each page, I pray,
Be such God can approve at Judgement Day!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sent in by Norah Falkiner nee Davis, Springs, Transvaal.

Me thought at the heavenly portal
Was gathered a waiting band.
And the kindly old Janitor, facing them,
Stood, with the keys in hand.
By each of the group was an Angel,
And one by one these spake,
And told of the work their charges
Had done for the Master’s sake.

This one had preached the Gospel,
And thousand souls had won;
St Peter’s kind smile brightened:
That was work like his own!
“Enter”, he said, “my brother!
Within there are preachers enow,
From our “eleven” downward
To make thee at home, I trow!”

And so the tale went onward –
This was an Angel of peace;
That had built schools and churches;
That other had prayed without cease;
This one had lived for the sick and poor;
That for the orphan child;
This for the leper, that in the schools
A whole life long had toiled.
This had lived and died in strife
The Church’s rights to win
From a hostile state; That other had wrought
For the poor lost daughters of sin.
For each and all there was work to show;
For each there were friends ‘mid the blest
Whose lives had passed in the self-same toil,
To “make them at home” with the rest.

At length they all had entered
Save one who apart had stood,
With head on his breast bent lowly,
In humble attitude.
To his Angel spake St Peter:
“What hath they charge to bring
That I may bed him enter
Toa the banquet of the King?”

The Angel smiled, but replied not;
Then the lone one raised his head:
“I have loved the Lord and tried to serve.
But in all I have failed”, he said.
“I have nought to show but a shadowed life,
Toil wasted – high hopes belied;
I am only one of earth’s failures.”
And he drooped his head and sighed.

Then out from the open portal
Stepped One with thorn-crowned Head
And wounded Hands; and He stood before
That lonely soul and said:
“The first great Christian Failure
Hung on Calvary’s tree of woe.
For the thirty years behind me, say
What had I then to show?”

“But earth’s false measures of good and ill
Count nought in the Courts above;
God’s bidding was not “Thou shalt succeed”.
But only “thou shalt love!”
Thy God is the Friend of earth’s failures,
His wounded Heart their Home!”
Then He gently grasped the lone one’s hands

“My Father awaits us – Come!”
Then the Angel’s smile was brighter
Than the sun’s most glorious ray;
But the glow on the face of “failure”
Was the light of God’s endless day.
I fain would have questioned St Peter,
But ere ever a word I spoke,
The clash of his keys in the ponderous gate
Startled me so – I woke.


(written for a past pupil in great sorrow)

Cross-lad’n, heart-weary, aching sore, one wept;
“My very soul is numb with agony.
Blind and alone, I stumble on, nor see
Oft, e’en the track where His dear Feet have stept.
I know the path that I must tread is kept
By love, and all is ordered carefully;
Yet, as my world is wrecked and rent from me,
Dazed and stunned, I ask: “Hath His Love slept?””My love! My own!” – His voice spake through the gloom –
“Art thou indeed alone and desolate?
Have I not loved thee e’en to Calvary’s doom?
Can I not lay upon thy love the weight
Of this poor cross, though I myself shall be
Thy Cyrenean, to share its weight with thee?”


The Harvester

Submit yourself to the torture,
Your nerves to the ceaseless rack;
Steel your will to endure it –
See that you look not back.
Strive with the load that crushes,
Hold to the thankless grind:
There are souls going down to the devil
In the world you have left behind.

Bear with the sense of failure,
Of efforts misunderstood;
And the knowledge that other think you –
What you seem to yourself – no good.
Grapple with coward nature
That shrinks from the hidden Cross:
There are souls in the waste out yonder
On the brink of eternal loss.

Hold to the daily duties,
Monotonous, endless, stale,
With never one hour of leisure
To lighten the weary tale.
Fight though the wounds be heart-deep,
Watch though the hours be long:
There are souls that hang in the balance
Of your choice of the right or wrong.

Yes, yours is a death by pin-pricks
Without so much as the name.
Will you share this little with Jesus,
This millionth part of his shame?
Then lift your eyes to the mountains,
Go set your face to the sun:
There are souls to be bought or bartered –
Souls to be lost – or won.

Sr M Raymond (?)

A Thought

Whence are our Crosses? Thou wouldst smoothly know:
In heaven’s high workshops welded, blow on blow.
Yet heed thou this – for much the rede imports –
Within those fact’ries in heaven’s outer courts
No Cross is ever fashioned alone:
Each of a “set” artistic is but one
The Great Artificer in one design
A Cross, a Crown, a Palm doth still combine.
And – for that art divine is art perfect –
These three are framed in harmony correct.
(And sure, His creatures can no wiser thing!)
The Cross at Heaven’s portal we lay down
Shall fix th’ eternal worth of Palm and Crown.


June 24th 1910
“Well done, good and faithful servant”

It’s twenty-five years since that bright June morn,
The dark young head is grey;
But the same high soul – the same true heart
Look out from those eyes to-day.
What do they see – those steady eyes –
As they glance o’er the backward way?

A rugged pathway, boulder-strewn,
Threading the mountain-side;
Crosses and Losses, and storm and cloud,
And briars and thorns beside;
But every step an upward one,
And never a backward stride.

And many and fair are “the brighter things”
By that backward glance revealed:
Many a the stricken hearts consoled,
And the wounded spirits healed;
Many the sheep to the fold restored,
That had wandered far afield.

And many the souls the jewels rare
Of the Master’s loving Heart –
The souls of the young, unspoiled and pure,
Kept safe by his gentle art;
Patiently tutored in life’s wide ways
To safely bear their part.

And he looks about as he stands to-day
So far up the mountain road,
And round him, with love’s bright fearlessness,
A host of children crowd.
And the sweetest sound in their father’s ears
Methinks is their greeting loud.

When the smiling world so long ago
Wooed with her siren lay,
‘Mid the crowns she proffered, say – was there one
Like the crown that is his to-day?
The priceless crown of the children’s love
That will still be his for aye.

As we knelt this morning, old and young,
And our fervent hearts outpoured,
In the noble home his zeal has raised
For his Eucharistic Lord,
The prayer we prayed, and will daily pray.,
Runs not into many a word;

“God bless him! God love him more day by day!
“God spare him for years to us yet!”
That is the prayer of his people’s hearts,
The prayer we shall never forget.
What we owe to him only God can know,
So will we pay our debt.

And now we will offer our Father dear,
One wish, and I have done;
May you say with truth when at last you stand
At the foot of the “Great White Throne,
“Of those Thou hast given me, I have lost,
“I thank Thee, dear God, not one!”


A Child’s Question

“Twas the morn of a day in the closing year –
A day that was passing fair;
And I sat in the shade of the grand old rocks
That the ebbing tide left bare.
My beautiful darling lay stretched at my feet,
Face down on the gleaming sands,
With his fair head raised, while the golden curls
Strayed wild o’er the chubby hands.

How I loved him! My sunny-haired, blue-eyed boy,
With his merry, yet thoughtful face
So childish and bright, yet so calm and grave,
And his easy, boyish grace.
My book lay beside on a shelf of rock,
Unopened, unheeded to-day;
I had neither eyes nor a care for aught
But the child at my feet that lay.

Sudden the golden head was turned,
And thoughtful eyes sought mine;
A problem was dimming the violet depths
That wont like stars to shine.
“Nanna,” the boy said earnestly,
“What’s in the water inside?
“Why does it jump on the rocks like that?”
And he glanced again towards the tide.

The simple query perplexed me quite;
I paused to find reply;
And again the sweet, insistent voice
Repeated the “Nanna, why?
“Why do the waves jump up like that?
“And why don’t they run up here?
“Who makes them jump and tells them to stop?
“Who’s inside, Nanna dear?”

As I looked on the eager, questioning face,
I felt that I dared not pause;
And yet, could the Child-mind grasp the truth,
Should I speak of “The Great First Cause?”
“Dearest, ’tis God makes the waters jump,
“And tells them how far to rise.”
A pause; he looked out to sea again;
Then “Nanna, but – God’s in the skies!”

Wondering, I gazed; had I heard aright?
This child of three little years
Could he reason and question thus? And my heart
Was filled with boding fears
But I lifted the boy to my knee, and then,
While he lovingly nestled there,
I told in the simplest words I knew
How God is everywhere.

In silence he listened the while I spoke;
And then when my tale was done,
He answered no word, but a sigh of relief
And a thoughtful “Oh” alone
Told that the lesson was fully learned,
And the baby mind at rest.
And the light crept back to the violet eyes,
As he leaned his head on my breast.

The old year died, and the new was scarce
One moon upon its way,
When those eyes were lit by the radiance
Of God’s eternal day.
The Shepherd had folded my darling safe
From earthly stain or care.
But I know I am shrined in his heart as of old;
That he prays for “Nanna” there.