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Or staff more harmless than a shepherd's crook,
The war-worn Chieftain quits the world, to hide
His thin autumnal locks where Monks abide
In cloister'd privacy. But not to dwell
In soft repose he comes. Within his cell,
Round the decaying trunk of human pride,
At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour,
Do penitential cogitations cling;
Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine
In grisly folds and strictures serpentine;
Yet, while they strangle, a fair growth they bring,
For recompense, – their own perennial bower.
But what if One, through grove or flowery mead,
Indulging thus at will the creeping feet
Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
Thy hovering Shade, O venerable Bede!
The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed
Of toil stupendous, in a hallow'd seat
Of learning, where thou heard'st the billows beat
On a wild coast, - rough monitors, to feed
Perpetual industry. Sublime Recluse !
The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt
Imposed on human kind, must first forget
Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use
Of a long life; and, in the hour of death,
The last dear service of thy passing breath!?
MISSIONS AND TRAVELS.
Not sedentary all: there are who roam
To scatter seeds of life on barbarous shores;
Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors
To seek the general mart of Christendom;
Whence they, like richly-laden merchants, come
To their beloved cells:-
or shall we say
That, like the Red-cross Knight, they urge their way,
To lead in memorable triumph home
Truth, their immortal Una? Babylon,
Learned and wise, hath perish'd utterly,
Nor leaves her Speech one word to aid the sigh
That would lament her;- Memphis, Tyre, are gone
With all their Arts, — but classic lore glides on
By these Religious saved for all posterity. 7 He expired dictating the last words of a translation of St. John's Gospel
ALFRED. BEHOLD a pupil of the monkish gown, The pious ALFRED, King to Justice dear! Lord of the harp and liberating spear; Mirror of Princes ! Indigent Renown Might range the starry ether for a crown Equal to his deserts, who, like the year, Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer, And awes like night with mercy-temper'd frown. Ease from this noble miser of his time No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares.8 Though small his kingdom as a spark or gem, Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem, And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime, In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.
HIS DESCENDANTS. WHEN thy great soul was freed from mortal chains, Darling of England ! many a bitter shower Fell on thy tomb; but emulative power Flow'd in thy line through undegenerate veins. The Race of Alfred covet glorious pains When dangers threaten, dangers ever new! Black tempest bursting, blacker still in view! But manly sovereignty its hold retains; The root sincere, the branches bold to strive With the fierce tempest, while, within the round Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive; As oft, 'mid some green plot of open ground, Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom, The foster'd hyacinths spread their purple bloom.
CANUTE. A PLEASANT music floats along the Mere, From Monks in Ely chanting service high, While-as Canàte the King is rowing by: “My Oarsmen," quoth the mighty King, “draw near, That we the sweet song of the Monks may hear!” He listens, (all past conquests and all schemes Of future vanishing like empty dreams,) Heart-touch'd, and haply not without a tear. The Royal Minstrel, ere the choir is still, While his free Barge skims the smooth flood along, Gives to that rapture an accordant Rhyme. 8 Through the whole of his life, Alfred was subject to grievous maladies.
O suffering Earth! be thankful; sternest clime
And rudest age are subject to the thrill
Of heaven-descended Piety and Song.
“ HERE Man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
More promptly rises, walks with stricter heed,
More safely rests, dies happier, is freed
Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
A brighter crown.”. – On yon Cistertian wall
That confident assurance may be read;
And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
Increasing multitudes. The potent call
Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart's desires;
Yet, while the rugged Age on pliant knee
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Where'er they rise, the sylvan waste retires,
And aëry harvests crown the fertile lea.
MONKS AND SCHOOLMEN.
RECORD we too, with just and faithful pen,
hooded Cenobites there are,
Who in their private cells have yet a care
Of public quiet; unambitious Men,
Counsellors for the world, of piercing ken;
Whose fervent exhortations from afar
Move Princes to their duty, peace or war;
And oft-times in the most forbidding den
Of solitude, with love of science strong,
How patiently the yoke of thought they bear!
How subtly glide its finest threads along!
Spirits that crowd the intellectual sphere
With mazy boundaries, as the astronomer
With orb and cycle girds the starry throng.
PRAISED be the Rivers, from their mountain-springs
Shouting to Freedom,“ Plant thy banners here!'
To harass'd Piety, "Dismiss thy fear,
And in our caverns smooth thy ruffled wings!
Nor be unthank'd their final lingerings -
Silent, but not to high-soul'a Passion's ear 9 “Bonum est nos hic esse, quia homo vivit purius, cadit rarius, surgit velocius, incedit cautius, quiescit securiūs, moritur felicius, purgatur citius, præmiatur copio sius."
“This sentence,” says Dr. Whitaker, “is usually inscribed in some conspicuous part of the Cistertian houses."
'Mid reedy fens wide-spread and marshes drear,
Their own creation. Such glad welcomings
As Po was heard to give where Venice rose,
Hail'd from aloft those Heirs of truth divine
Who near his fountains sought obscure repose,
Yet came prepared as glorious lights to shine,
Should that be needed for their sacred Charge;
Blest Prisoners They, whose spirits were at large!
DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES. THREATS come which no submission may assuage, No sacrifice avert, no power dispute; The tapers shall be quench’d, the belfries mute, And, 'mid their choirs unroof'd by selfish rage The warbling wren shall find a leafy cage; The gadding bramble hang her purple fruit; And the green lizard and the gilded newt Lead unmolested lives, and die of age. The owl of evening and the woodland fox For their abode the shrines of Waltham choose: Proud Glastonbury can no more refuse To stoop her head before these desperate shocks, She whose high pomp displaced, as story tells, Arimathean Joseph's wattled cells.
THE lovely Nun (submissive, but more meek
Through saintly habit than from effort due,
To unrelenting mandates that pursue
With equal wrath the steps of strong and weak)
Goes forth, -unveiling timidly a cheek
Suffused with blushes of celestial hue,
While through the Convent's gate to open view
Softly she glides, another home to seek.
Not Iris, issuing from her cloudy shrine,
An Apparition more divinely bright!
Not more attractive to the dazzled sight
Those watery glories, on the stormy brine
Pour'd forth, while summer suns at distance shine,
And the green vales lie hush'd in sober light!
MOTHER! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than th' nnblemish'd Moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mix'd and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!
Nor utterly unworthy to endure
Was the supremacy of crafty Rome;
Age after age to th’arch of Christendom
Aërial keystone haughtily secure;
Supremacy from Heaven transmitted pure,
As many hold; and therefore to the tomb
Pass, some through fire, and by the scaffold some,
Like saintly Fisher, and unbending More.
"Lightly for both the bosom's lord did sit
Upon his throne;” unsoften'd, undismay'd
By aught that mingled with the tragic scene
of pity or fear; and More's gay genius play'd
With th' inoffensive sword of native wit,
Than the bare axe more luminous and keen.
IMAGINATIVE REGRETS. DEEP is the lamentation! Not alone From Sages justly honour'd by mankind; But from the ghostly tenants of the wind, Demons and Spirits, many a dolorous groan Issues for that dominion overthrown: Proud Tiber grieves, and far-off Ganges, blind As his own worshippers: and Nile, reclined Upon his monstrous urn, the farewell moan Renews. Through every forest, cave, and den, Where frauds were hatch'd of old, hath sorrow past, Hangs o'er th’ Arabian Prophet's native Waste, Where once his airy helpers schemed and plann'd 'Mid spectral lakes bemocking thirsty men, And stalking pillars built of fiery sand.
TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. But, to outweigh all harm, the sacred Book, In dusty sequestration wrapt too long,