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BUT, to remote Northumbria's royal Hall,
Where thoughtful Edwin, tutored in the school
Of sorrow, still maintains a heathen rule,
Who comes with functions apostolical?
Mark him, of shoulders curved, and stature tall,
Black hair, and vivid eye, and meagre cheek,
His prominent feature like an eagle's beak;
A Man whose aspect doth at once appall
And strike with reverence. The Monarch leans
Toward the pure truths this Delegate propounds,
Repeatedly his own deep mind he sounds.
With careful hesitation, then convenes
A synod of his Councillors:-give ear,
And what a pensive Sage doth utter, hear!
"Man's life is like a Sparrow, mighty King!
That while at banquet with
your Chiefs you
Housed near a blazing fire
is seen to flit
Safe from the wintry tempest. Fluttering,
Here did it enter; there, on hasty wing,
Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold;
* See Note.
But whence it came we know not, nor behold
goes. Even such, that transient Thing,
The human Soul; not utterly unknown
While in the Body lodged, her warm abode;
But from what world she came, what woe or weal
On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown;
This mystery if the Stranger can reveal,
His be a welcome cordially bestowed!" *
PROMPT transformation works the novel Lore;
The Council closed, the Priest in full career
Rides forth, an armèd man, and hurls a spear
To desecrate the Fane which heretofore
He served in folly. Woden falls, and Thor
Is overturned; the mace, in battle heaved
(So might they dream) till victory was achieved,
Drops, and the God himself is seen no more.
Temple and Altar sink, to hide their shame
Amid oblivious weeds. "O come to me,
Ye heavy laden!" such the inviting voice
Heard near fresh streams; † and thousands, who
In the new Rite, the pledge of sanctity,
Shall, by regenerate life, the promise claim.
NOR Scorn the aid which Fancy oft doth lend
The Soul's eternal interests to promote:
Death, darkness, danger, are our natural lot;
And evil Spirits may our walk attend,
For aught the wisest know or comprehend;
Then be good Spirits free to breathe a note
Of elevation; let their odors float
Around these Converts; and their glories blend,
The midnight stars outshining, or the blaze
Of the noonday. Nor doubt that golden cords
Of good works, mingling with the visions, raise
The Soul to purer worlds: and who the line
Shall draw, the limits of the power define,
That even imperfect faith to man affords?
PRIMITIVE SAXON CLERGY.*
How beautiful your presence, how benign,
Servants of God! who not a thought will share
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine!
Such Priest, when service worthy of his care
Has called him forth to breathe the common air,
Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine
:- happy are the eyes that meet
The Apparition; evil thoughts are stayed
At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat
A benediction from his voice or hand;
Whence grace, through which the heart can understand,
And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.
Aн, when the Body, round which in love we clung,
Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail?
Is tender pity then of no avail ?
Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
From this sad source have
Rites that console the Spirit, under grief
Which ill can brook more rational relief:
Hence, prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung
For Souls whose doom is fixed! The way is smooth
For Power that travels with the human heart:
Confession ministers the pang to soothe
In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start.
Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care,
Of your own mighty instruments beware!
LANCE, shield, and sword relinquished, at his side
A bead-roll, in his hand a clasped book,
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 cloistered 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,
their own perennial bower.
METHINKS that to some vacant hermitage
My feet would rather turn, - to some dry nook
Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook
Hurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage,
Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage
In the soft heaven of a translucent pool;
Thence creeping under sylvan arches cool,
Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage