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This tragic story cheered us; for it speaks
He serves the muses erringly and ill,
CANTO 1. FROM Bolton's old monastic tower 1 The bells ring loud with gladsome power; The sun is bright; the fields are gay With people in their best array Of stole and doublet, hood and scarf; Along the banks of crystal Wharfe, Through the vale retired and lowly, Trooping to that summons holy. And, up among the moorlands, see What sprinklings of blithe company ! Of lasses and of shepherd grooms, That down the steep hills force their way, Like cattle through the budded brooms; Path, or no path, what care they? And thus in joyous mood they hie To Bolton's mouldering priory.
What would they there?-Full fifty years That sumptuous pile, with all its peers, Too harshly hath been doomed to taste The bitterness of wrong and waste: Its courts are ravaged; but the tower Is standing with a voice of power, That ancient voice which wont to call To mass or some high festival; And in the shattered fabric's heart Remaineth one protected part; A rural chapel, neatly dressed, In covert like a little nest; And thither old and young repair, This Sabbath-day, for praise and prayer.
Fast the churchyard fills;-anon Look again, and they all are gone; The cluster round the porch, and the folk Who sate in the shade of the Prior's Oak. And scarcely have they disappeared Ere the prelusive hymn is heard :With one consent the people rejoice, Filling the church with a lofty voice! They sing a service which they feel: For 'tis the sunrise now of zeal, And faith and hope are in their prime, In great Eliza's golden time.
A moment ends the fervent din, And all is hushed, without and within ; For though the priest, more tranquilly, Recites the holy liturgy, The only voice which you can hear Is the river murmuring near. When soft !—the dusky trees between, And down the path through the open green, Where is no living thing to be seen; And through yon gateway, where is found, Beneath the arch with ivy bound, Free entrance to the churchyard ground, And right across the verdant sod, Towards the very house of God; Comes gliding in with lovely gleam, Comes gliding in serene and slow, Soft and silent as a dream, A solitary doe! White she is as lily of June, And beauteous as the silver moon When out of sight the clouds are driven, And she is left alone in heaven;
Or like a ship some gentle day
Lie silent in your graves, ye dead!
What harmonious pensive changes
Some jealous and forbidding cell,
The presence of this wandering doe Fills many a damp obscure recess With lustre of a saintly show; And, re-appearing, she no less To the open day gives blessedness. But say, among these holy places, Which thus assiduously she paces, Comes she with a votary's task, Rite to perform, or boon to ask? Fair pilgrim! harbours she a sense Of sorrow, or of reverence? Can she be grieved for quire or shrine, Crushed as if by wrath divine? For what survives of house where God Was worshipped, or where man abode ; For old magnificence undone; Or for the gentler work begun By Nature, softening and concealing, And busy with a hand of healing, For altar, whence the cross was rent, Now rich with mossy ornament, Or dormitory's length laid bare, Where the wild rose blossoms fair; And sapling ash, whose place of birth Is that lordly chamber's hearth? She sees a warrior carved in stone, Among the thick weeds, stretched alone; A warrior, with his shield of pride Cleaving humbly to his side, And hands in resignation pressed, Palm to palm, on his tranquil breast :