There once the penitents took off their shoes
And then walked barefoot the
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad
The castle of God. Sailor,
you were glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:
Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There’s no
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy
eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species,
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion.
She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
and the world shall come to Walsingham.
Ashgate Publishing, which produces great and very expensive academic studies, has this book, Walsingham in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity edited by Dominic Jones and Gary Fredric Waller. Ashgate's website offers this introduction to the text.
Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, who converted to Catholicism but fell away from the Church in the 1940s.