Anna Hempstead Branch: The Name

The Name

Anna Hempstead Branch

When I come back from secret dreams  In gardens deep and fair, How very curious it seems —  This mortal name I bear.
For by this name I make their bread  And trim the household light And sun the linen for the bed  And close the door at night.
I wonder who myself may be,  And whence it was I came — Before the Church had laid on me  This frail and earthly name.
My sponsors spake unto the Lord  And three things promised they, Upon my soul with one accord  Their easy vows did lay.
My ancient spirit heard them not.  I think it was not there. But in a place they had forgot  It drank a starrier air.
Yes, in a silent place and deep —  There did it dance and run, And sometimes it lay down to sleep  Or sprang into the sun.
The Priest saw not my aureole shine!  My sweet wings saw not he! He graved me with a solemn sign  And laid a name on me.
Now by this name I stitch and mend,  The daughter of my home, By this name do I save and spend  And when they call, I come.
But oh, that Name, that other Name,  More secret and more mine! It burns as does the angelic flame  Before the midmost shrine.
Before my soul to earth was brought  Into God's heart it came, He wrote a meaning in my thought  And gave to me a Name.
By this Name do I ride the air  And dance from star to star, And I behold all things are fair,  For I see them as they are.
I plunge into the deepest seas,  In flames I, laughing, burn. In roseate clouds I take my ease  Nor to the earth return.
It is my beauteous Name — my own —  That I have never heard. God keeps it for Himself alone,  That strange and lovely word.
God keeps it for Himself — but yet  You are His voice, and so In your heart He is calling me,  And unto you I go.
Love, by this Name I sing, and breathe  A fresh, mysterious air. By this I innocently wreathe  New garlands for my hair.
By this Name I am born anew  More beautiful, more bright. More roseate than angelic dew,  Apparelled in delight.
I'll sing and stitch and make the bread  In the wonder of my Name, And sun the linen for the bed  And tend the fireside flame.
By this Name do I answer yes —  Word beautiful and true. By this I'll sew the bridal dress  I shall put on for you.