« PreviousContinue »
Wherein the blessed crucifix was hung,
To which all nations then would bend the knee, And bow themselves to pray in deep idolatry.
Like mighty billows, ages have rolled past,
And with them, urged by a resistless fate,
Nations and creeds into oblivion cast;
Behold, how changed this country's poor estate,
By Reformation rendered desolate ;
For Scottish thrones would once a glory wear,
And every turret on its mountain-height,
Or sunk in shady glen its banners bear,
But these have passed away, like meteors through the air.
Scotland hath fallen-and in evil hour
The band of mad ambition hath laid waste
Her palaces and courts ; usurping power
And blinded slaves of bigotry effaced
The records of her greatness ; they have chased
The eagle from its eyrie ; wherefore none
In mute suspense may pause when they have traced
These fallen ruins, where, with grass o'ergrown,
A mournful tale is told on every crumbling stone.
Those city-gates have been, and are unhinged
The castle crushed upon its throne-like steep-
And the great sea into its base infringed
Hark! how the angry billows dashing sweep
Around the craigs ; and with convulsive leap
The tempest of their surge is shivering sent
Against the caverned walls : thus hath the deep-
In how few years ?-
—a fearful inroad bent, And burst the channels of its cliff-girt continent.
Beneath the shadow of the sweeping wave
The relics of a chapel yet remain *,
And even like a slumberer in the
Scattered amidst the rocks, its ruined fane
Is sunk full deep below the watery plain :
The foamy voice of ocean swells its dirge :-
There learn how thrones, and shrines are reared in vain
By human hands ; for still the hungering surge
Is battling for more prey from rocky verge to verge.
* Those acquainted with St Andrew's are probably aware that the Chapel which was connected with Cardinal Beaton's castle is now a complete ruin on the beach, the fragments of which can only be seen at very low water. On this part of the coast the encroachment of the sea is very manifest, as the Castle and Chapel appear at one time to have stood a considerable distance from the shore.— See Grose's Antiquities ; Notes to Jamieson's Cuvier, &c.
'Tis midnight, and the moon is rising bright:
Enter the old cathedral's crumbling wall,
And by the soft reflection of its light
Survey the lengthened aisle, and pillar's fall ;
Sunk in their glory 'neath the weedy pall
On which the church-yard dews, like tear-drops gleam ;
There broods the night-bird in his roofless hall-
Through each unwindowed arch the pale stars beam, And all appears sublime-the pageant of a dream !
The golden gate, whose mutilated form
Hath, like a cliff the waves have lashed in vain,
Outlasted winters of impetuous storm,
Uplifts itself withal in proud disdain ;
So stand on Eygpt's simoon-trodden plain
The awe-inspiring records of the past ;
And thon shalt aye a monument remain,
Though the drear space betwixt thy portals vast
Gives entrance only now to the unbridled blast.
No more the vestal throng, or white-robed choir,
Shall pass thy threshold to the house of prayer ;
No more Devotion, clad in meek attire,
Before the eye of heaven kneel suppliant there ;-
Anthems, nor incense fill the listening air ;-
No mortal step these churchyard ruins tread,
Save when some mournful train in deep despair,
Bearing the pall around the bier-borne dead, Follow unto the grave some well-beloved head.
Stupendous stones there moulder into dust-
Their columned strength, like very weeds uptorn ;-
Gone is the altar of that blessed trust
For which the pains of martyrdom were borne,
penance worn : The bigot-not the heathen multitudeHath trampled thus all holiness to scorn,
As the Chaldean's impious fire subdued The lovely temple that on holy Sion stood.
Here, like the Roman *, for a moment pause
To gaze on ruin; the sepulchral gloom,
And mist of desolation ; all that awes
And overwhelms; for this hath been the doom
Of men and nations ; Thebes, Troy, and Rome-
Amidst the greatness of their storied claim,
Have passed, like fitting phantoms to the tomb,
And thus will perish, like a dying flame,
The loftiest stars that light the firmament of fame.
* Marius over the ruins of Carthage.
The curtains of the night are far dispread,
And round its throne revolving worlds appear;
Now would the soaring soul aspire to read
The mysteries of heaven; beset with fear
Within our gloomy tabernacle here
Hope's fading lamp slow wastes, from day to day;
Yet-shall the veil be rent—a future year
Summon from out the grave its vanquished prey, When these frail wrecks are swept like ocean-foam away.
It is recorded of Henry the First, that after the death of his son,
Prince William, who perished in a shipwreck off the coast of Normandy, he was never seen to smile.
The bark that held a prince went down,
The sweeping waves rolled on;
And what was England's glorious crown
To him that wept a son ?
He lived-for life may long be borne,
Ere sorrow break its chain ;-
Why comes not death to those who mourn?
He never smiled again!