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Poetry of Joyce Kilmer
Trees and Other Poems

St. Alexis, Patron of Beggars

We who beg for bread as we daily tread
 Country lane and city street,
Let us kneel and pray on the broad highway
 To the saint with the vagrant feet.
Our altar light is a buttercup bright,
 And our shrine is a bank of sod,
But still we share St. Alexis' care,
 The Vagabond of God.

They gave him a home in purple Rome
 And a princess for his bride,
But he rowed away on his wedding day
 Down the Tiber's rushing tide.
And he came to land on the Asian strand
 Where the heathen people dwell;
As a beggar he strayed and he preached and prayed
 And he saved their souls from hell.

Bowed with years and pain he came back again
 To his father's dwelling place.
There was none to see who this tramp might be,
 For they knew not his bearded face.
But his father said, "Give him drink and bread
 And a couch underneath the stair."
So Alexis crept to his hole and slept.
 But he might not linger there.

For when night came down on the seven-hilled town,
 And the emperor hurried in,
Saying, "Lo, I hear that a saint is near
 Who will cleanse us of our sin,"
Then they looked in vain where the saint had lain,
 For his soul had fled afar,
From his fleshly home he had gone to roam
 Where the gold-paved highways are.

We who beg for bread as we daily tread
 Country lane and city street,
Let us kneel and pray on the broad highway
 To the saint with the vagrant feet.
Our altar light is a buttercup bright,
 And our shrine is a bank of sod,
But still we share St. Alexis' care,
 The Vagabond of God!