The puny child who knows he can have but little love,
When by chance upon his face he feels a kind glance rove,
Reddens and bravely smiles, determined not to cry.
So in this wicked world the orphans and those passed by,
The penniless, those without joy that learning or humor lends,
As they do without everything, do equally without friends.
The poor are seldom confiding, yet a man can gain their heart.
He has only to treat them kindly, to honor them without art.
Take then this glance, this handclasp, O beggar, but trust me not!
Soon I shall be with my own sort and you will be forgot.
Only of friends more poor need a poor woman not be wary.
Wherefore, my burdened sister, draw near and look upon Mary!
Poor woman, whose husband drinks and whose children are far from strong,
When you have no money for rent and death seems delayed too long,
Ah, when everything fails you and misery presses you ill,
Come to the church and look on the Mother of God, and be still!
Whatever injustice we bear, though our lot seem worse than all other,
Yet when the children are sick, it is harder to be their Mother!
So, uncomplaining and hopeless, look upon her who is there,
Like a poor man finding a poorer, and each at the other stare!
Paul Claudel, translated from the French by Sr. Mary David, S.S.N.D.
Lentfoehr, Therese, editor. I Sing of a Maiden. New York: Macmillan Company, 1947.