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And to his
Relics of long and distant wars, -
That Old Man, studious to expound
The spectacle, is mounting high
To days of dim antiquity;
When Lady Aäliza mourned
Her Son, and felt in her despair
The pang of unavailing prayer ;
Her Son in Wharf's abysses drowned,
The noble Boy of Egremound.
From which affliction, — when the grace
Of God 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!
Look down among them,
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.
Harsh thoughts with her high mood agree,
Who counts 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,
of Nature's hidden powers ;
That whistled like the wind, and rang
Among the rocks and holly bowers.
’T was 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 lowly 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,
Perused, with him, the starry sky;
Or, in their cells, with him did pry
For other lore,
by keen desire
Urged to close toil with chemic fire;
In quest, belike, of transmutations
Rich as the mine's most bright creations.
But they and their good works are fled,
And all is now disquieted, -
And peace is none, for living or dead !
Ah, pensive Scholar, think not so,
But look again at the radiant Doe!
What quiet watch she seems to keep,
Alone, beside that grassy heap !
Why mention other thoughts unmeet
For vision so composed and sweet?
While stand the people in a ring,
Gazing, doubting, questioning;
Yea, many overcome, in spite
Of recollections clear and bright;
Which yet do unto some impart
An undisturbed repose of heart.
And all the assembly own a law
Of orderly respect and awe ;
- they vanish one by one, And, last, the Doe herself is gone.
Harp! we have been full long beguiled By vague thoughts, lured by fancies wild ; To which, with no reluctant strings, Thou hast attuned thy murmurings ; And now before this Pile we stand In solitude, and utter peace : But, Harp! thy murmurs may not cease, A Spirit, with his angelic wings, In soft and breeze-like visitings, Has touched thee, - and a Spirit's hand ;
A voice is with us,
a command To chant, in strains of heavenly glory, A tale of tears, a mortal story!
The Harp in lowliness obeyed ;
And first we sung of the greenwood shade
And a solitary Maid;
Beginning, where the song must end,
With her, and with her sylvan Friend ;
The Friend, who stood before her sight,
Her only unextinguished light;
Her last companion in a dearth
Of love, upon a hopeless earth.
For she it was, this Maid, who wrought
Meekly, with foreboding thought,
In vermeil colors and in gold,
An unblest work; which, standing by,
Her Father did with joy behold,
Exulting in its imagery ;
A Banner, fashioned to fulfil
Too perfectly his headstrong will :
For on this Banner had her hand
Embroidered (such her Sire's command)
The sacred Cross ; and figured there
The five dear wounds our Lord did bear;
Full soon to be uplifted high,
And float in rueful company !
It was the time when England's Queen Twelve years had reigned, a Sovereign dread;