My Madonna

I haled me a woman from the street,
   Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
I bade her sit in the model’s seat
   And I painted her sitting there.

I hid all trace of her heart unclean;
   I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been
   If the Worst had been the Best.

She laughed at my picture and went away.
   Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
   “’Tis Mary, the Mother of God.”

So I painted a halo round her hair,
   And I sold her and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
   Where you and all may see.

More Poems by Robert W. Service