The Circle of Affection and Other Pieces in Prose and Verse

by Duncan Campbell Scott


 

Ode on the Centenary of

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

May 1920


 

SPIRIT OF TENDERNESS, throned where you dwell,
Bring Hope and Mercy from their starry places,
Compassion with her touch ineffable,
And all the gentle group of kindred graces
To flood this day with joy,
5
To crown this name
With halo of pure flame.

See the frail, lovely lady with the lamp,
Flitting about the cots, through the dim spaces,
Where, sheltered from the piercing frost and damp,

10
The soldiers lie with worn, untroubled faces!
They see her light shine on,
Her shadow fall
With healing over all.

A deep heart, and a mighty storm-like will,

15
To clear the air of gloom and wavering visions,
Resolved on pity, determined to fulfil
To the bright last the least of her decisions!
And now her steady light,
The shadows furled,
20
Floods the whole world.

Wherever anguish breaks the human nerve,
And pain cries out from ward or home or camp,
Where the trained watcher comes to soothe and serve,
There flits the lovely lady with the lamp,

25
There Florence Nightingale
Supplies the need,
Implicit in the deed.