Xavier Donald MacLeod, Our Lady of Litanies, 1861. pgs. 167-9.

“WHAT is wisdom?” asked the Scholar,
“What its nature? Where its source?
Whence derived this mighty force
Of our yearning to attain it ?”

Weary days and silent midnights
Saw his piercing eye explore
All the wealth of written lore,
Saved from the decay of ages.

And he dug the fields of science,
Seized, rejected theories;
And for all his toil at these,
Gained and lost self-satisfaction.

Up amid the circling planets
Soared his spirit, groping blind
Mid their glories, and his mind
Fell, unsatisfied, from starland.

Sought the unrevealing ocean,
Strove to fathom that immense;
Guessing, pondering till the sense
Perished in those lone abysses.

Mined into the very centre
Of the immemorial earth,
Calculated, weighed the worth
Of the geologic strata.

Then combined all, then denied all:
Searched all sources ‘neath the sun
And, his painful labor done,
Found himself no whit the nearer.

Near his cottage dwelt a sculptor,
A laborious tranquil man;
Whose whole course of being ran
In his still Art’s stillest channel.

And it used to please the Scholar,
There to sit and while an hour,
And to watch the plastic power
Of the sculptor’s nimble fingers.

‘T’was an image of St. Mary
With a look you may have seen,
Distant, upward and serene,
As if filled with thoughts unearthly.

Sweeping downward from the shoulder,
Folds of heavy drapery, thrown
In to masses, formed a throne
Of the curved arm and the bosom.

Here should sit the Infant Saviour,
With that look of joy sublime
Inward, and defying time.
Which we see in Raphael’s Sixto.

Sedes Sapientiae – The Virgin of Louvain,
Nicolaas De Bruyne, 1442

Then the Scholar, smiling, careless,
Not irreverent, said, “And pray,
How are we to call this clay?
Is it Mater Dolorosa?

“Or Madonna della Croce ?
How dost name the holy Maid ?”
But the sculptor simply said,
“‘Tis our Lady, Seat of Wisdom!”

O’er his brow there passed a shadow,
Through his heart a pang there shot.
‘Many a source I’ve tried, but not
This one. Is this then the true one?”

Then from thought he passed to praying,
Learned his own strength to distrust;
And when humbled into dust,
Found what he so long had sought for.

He found light through blessed Mary,
And in Sacred Wisdom knew
God Himself, and that the true
Human Wisdom is God’s service.