From “The Ballad of the White Horse” by G.K. Chesterton. In a desperate hour, King Alfred has a vision of Our Blessed Lady and asks her this:
When our last bow is broken, Queen,
And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?
She answers paradoxically:
I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?
After many losing fights, King Alfred is granted one more vision:
And when the last arrow,
Was fitted and was flown,
When the broken shield hung on the breast,
And the hopeless lance was laid at rest,
And the hopeless horn was blown,
The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For our Lady stood on the standards rent
As lonely and as innocent
As When between white walls she went
In the lilies of Nazareth.
One instant in a still light,
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was queen most womanly–
But she was queen of men.
Over the iron forest
He saw Our Lady stand;
Her eyes were sad withouten art,
And seven swords were in her heart–
But one was in her hand.