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Methinks she passeth by the sight,

As a common creature might:

If she be doomed to inward care,

Or service, it must lie elsewhere.

But hers are eyes serenely bright,

And on she moves—with pace how light?

Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste

The dewy turf with flowers bestrown;

And thus she fares, until at last

Beside the ridge of a grassy grave

In quietness she lays her down;

Gently as a weary wave

Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died,

Against an anchored vessel's side;

Even so, without distress, doth she

Lie down in peace, and lovingly.

The day is placid in its going, To a lingering motion bound, Like the river in its flowing— Can there be a softer sound? So the balmy minutes pass, While this radiant creature lies Couched upon the dewy grass, Pensively with downcast eyes. When now again the people rear A voice of praise, with awful cheer! It is the last, the parting song; And from the temple forth they throng— And quickly spread themselves abroad— While each pursues his several road. But some, a variegated band, Of middle-aged, and old, and young, And little children by the hand Upon their leading mothers hung,

Turn, with obeisance gladly paid,
Towards the spot, where, full in view,
The lovely doe of whitest hue,
Her Sabbath couch has made.

It was a solitary mound;
Which two spears' length of level ground
Did from all other graves divide:
As if in some respect of pride;
Or melancholy's sickly mood,
Still shy of human neighbourhood;
Or guilt, that humbly would express
A penitential loneliness.

"Look, there she is, my child! draw near;
She fears not, wherefore should we fear?
She means no harm;"—but still the boy,
To whom the words were softly said,
Hung back, and smiled and blushed for joy,
A shamefaced blush of glowing red I
Again the mother whispered low,
"Now you have seen the famous doe;
From Rylstone she hath found her way
Over the hills this Sabbath-day:
Her work, whate'er it be, is done,
And she will depart when we are gone!
Thus doth she keep from year to year
Her Sabbath morning, foul or fair."

This whisper soft repeats what he
Had known from early infancy.
Bright is the creature—as in dreams
The boy had seen her—yea, more bright;
But is she truly what she seems?
He asks with insecure delight,

Asks of himself—and doubts—and still
The doubt returns against his will:
Though he, and all the standers by,
Could tell a tragic history
Of facts divulged, wherein appear
Substantial motive, reason clear,
Why thus the milk-white doe is found
Couchant beside that lonely mound;
And why she duly loves to pace
The circuit of this hallowed place.
Nor to the child's inquiring mind
Is such perplexity confined:
For, spite of sober truth, that sees
A world of fixed remembrances
Which to this mystery belong,
If, undeceived, my skill can trace
The characters of every face,
There lack not strange delusion here,
Conjecture vague, and idle fear,
And superstitious fancies strong,
Which do the gentle creature wrong.

That bearded, staff-supported sire,
(Who in his youth hath often fed
Full cheerily on convent-bread,
And heard old tales by the convent-fire,
And lately hath brought home the scars
Gathered in long and distant wars)
That old man—studious to expound
The spectacle—hath mounted high
To days of dim antiquity;
When Lady Adeliza mourned
Her son, and felt in her despair,
The pang of unavailing prayer;
Her son in Wharfe's abysses drowned,

The noble boy of Egremound.

From which affliction, when God's grace

At length had in her heart found place,

A pious structure, fair to see,

Rose up—this stately priory!

The lady's work,—but now laid low;

To the grief of her soul that doth come and go

In the beautiful form of this innocent doe:

Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain

A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,

Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright;

And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light.

Pass, pass who will, yon chantry door; And, through the chink in the fractured floor Look down, and see a griesly sight; A vault where the bodies are buried upright! There, face by face, and hand by hand, The Claphams and Mauleverers stand; And, in his place, among son and sire, Is John de Clapham, that fierce esquire, A valiant man, and a name of dread, In the ruthless wars of the White and Red; Who dragged Earl Pembroke from Banbury church, And smote off his head on the stones of the porch I Look down among them, if you dare; Oft does the white doe loiter there, Prying into the darksome rent; Nor can it be with good intent;— So thinks that dame of haughty air, Who hath a page her book to hold, And wears a frontlet edged with gold. Well may her thoughts be harsh; for she Numbers among her ancestry Earl Pembroke, slain so impiously!

That slender youth, a scholar pale, From Oxford come to his native vale, He also hath his own conceit: It is, thinks he, the gracious fairy, Who loved the Shepherd Lord to meet In his wanderings solitary: Wild notes she in his hearing sang, A song of Nature's hidden powers; That whistled like the wind, and rang Among the rocks and holly bowers. 'Twas said that she all shapes could wear; And oftentimes before him stood, Amid the trees of some thick wood, In semblance of a lady fair; And taught him signs, and showed him sights, In Craven's dens, on Cumbrian heights; When under cloud of fear he lay, A shepherd clad in homely gray, Nor left him at his later day.

And hence, when he, with spear and shield

Rode full of years to Flodden field,

His eye could see the hidden spring,

And how the current was to flow;

The fatal end of Scotland's king,

And all that hopeless overthrow.

But not in wars did he delight,

This Clifford wished for worthier might:

Nor in broad pomp, or courtly state:

Him his own thoughts did elevate,—

Most happy in the shy recess

Of Barden's humble quietness.

And choice of studious friends had he

Of Bolton's dear fraternity;

Who, standing on this old church tower,

In many a calm propitious hour,

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