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Withering with age, branch'd there its naked roots, And there the melancholy cypress

rear'd

49 Its head; the earth was heaved with many a mound, And here and there a half-demolish'd tomb.

And now, amid the ruin's darkest shade, The Virgin's eye beheld where pale blue flames Rose wavering, now just gleaming from the earth, And now in darkness drown'd. An aged man 55 Sate near, seated on what in long-past days Had been some sculptured monument, now fallen And half-obscured by moss, and gather'd heaps Of wither'd yew-leaves and earth-mouldering bones. His eye was large and rayless, and fix'd full 60 Upon the Maid; the tomb-fires on his face Shed a blue light; his face was of the hue Of death; his limbs were mantled in a shroud. Then with a deep heart-terrifying voice, Exclaim'd'the spectre, “ Welcome to these realms, These regions of Despair, O thou whose steps Sorrow hath guided to my sad abodes ! Welcome to my drear empire, to this gloom Eternal, to this everlasting night, Where never morning darts the enlivening ray, 70 Where never shines the sun, but all is dark, Dark as the bosom of their gloomy King."

64

So saying, he arose, and drawing on, Her to the abbey's inner ruin led, Resisting not his guidance. Through the roof 75 Once fretted and emblazed, but broken now In part, elsewhere all open to the sky,

The moon-beams enter'd, chequer'd here, and here
With unimpeded light. The ivy twined
Round the dismantled columns; imaged forms 80
Of saints and warlike chiefs, moss-canker'd now
And

utilate, lay strewn upon the ground,
With crumbled fragments, crucifixes fallen,
And rusted trophies. Meantime overhead 84
Roar'd the loud blast, and from the tower the owl
Scream'd as the tempest shook her secret nest.
He, silent, led her on, and often paused,
And pointed, that her eye might contemplate
At leisure the drear scene.

He dragg'd her on Through a low iron door, down broken stairs ; 90 Then a cold horror through the Maiden's frame Crept, for she stood amid a vault, and saw, By the sepulchral lamp's dim glaring light, The fragments of the dead.

“ Look here !” he cried, “ Damsel, look here! survey this house of death; O soon to tenant it; soon to increase

96 These trophies of mortality,.. for hence Is no return. Gaze here; behold this skull, These eyeless sockets, and these unflesh'd jaws, That with their ghastly grinning seem to mock 100 Thy perishable charms; for thus thy cheek Must moulder. Child of grief ! shrinks not thy soul, Viewing these horrors ? trembles not thy heart At the dread thought that here its life's-blood soon Shall stagnate, and the finely-fibred frame, 105 Now warm in life and feeling, mingle soon With the cold clod ? thing horrible to think, ..

Yet in thought only, for reality
Is none of suffering here ; here all is peace;
No nerve will throb to anguish in the grave. 110
Dreadful it is to think of losing life,
But having lost, knowledge of loss is not,
Therefore no ill. Oh, wherefore then delay
To end all ills at once !"

So spake Despair.
The vaulted roof echoed his hollow voice, 115
And all again was silence. Quick her heart
Panted. He placed a dagger in her hand,
And cried again, “ Oh wherefore then delay !
One blow, and rest for ever!" On the fiend,
Dark scowld the Virgin with indignant eye, 120
And threw the dagger down. He next his heart
Replaced the murderous steel, and drew the Maid
Along the downward vault.

The damp earth gave A dim sound as they pass'd: the tainted air Was cold, and heavy with unwholesome dews. 125 “ Behold !” the fiend exclaim'd, “ how loathsomely The fleshly remnant of mortality Moulders to clay !” then fixing his broad eye Full on her face, he pointed where a corpse Lay livid; she beheld with horrent look, 130 The spectacle abhorr'd by living man.

“Look here!" Despair pursued, “this loathsome

mass

Was once as lovely, and as full of life
As, Damsel, thou art now. Those deep-sunk eyes
Once beam'd the mild light of intelligence, 135

And where thou seest the pamper'd flesh-worm trail,
Once the white bosom heaved.' She fondly thought
That

t'at the hallow'd altar, soon the priest Should bless her coming union, and the torch Its joyful lustre o'er the hall of joy,

140
Cast on her nuptial evening : earth to earth
That priest consign'd her, for her lover went
By glory lured to war, and perish'd there;
Nor she endured to live. Hal fades thy cheek?
Dost thou then, Maiden, tremble at the tale ? 145
Look here ! behold the youthful paramour!
The self-devoted hero!”

Fearfully
The Maid look'd down, and saw the well-known face
Of Theodore. In thoughts unspeakable,
Convulsed with horror, o'er her face she clasp'd 150
Her cold damp hands: “Shrink not," the phantom

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“ Gaze on!” and unrelentingly he grasp'd
Her quivering arm : “ this lifeless mouldering clay,
As well thou know'st, was warm with all the glow
Of youth and love; this is the hand that cleft 155
Proud Salisbury's crest, now motionless in death, '-.
Unable to protect the ravaged frame
From the foul offspring of mortality
That feed on heroes. Though long years were thine,
Yet never more would life reanimate

160
This slaughter'd youth; slaughter'd for theel for thou
Didst lead him to the battle from his home,
Where else he had survived to good old age:
In thy defence he died : strike then! destroy 164
Remorse with life.”

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The Maid stood motionless, And, wistless what she did, with trembling hand Received the dagger. Starting then, she cried, “ Avaunt, Despair! Eternal Wisdom deals Or peace to man, or misery, for his good Alike design’d; and shall the creature cry, 170

Why hast thou done this ?' and with impious pride Destroy the life God gave?"

The fiend rejoin'd, “ And thou dost deem it impious to destroy The life God gave? What, Maiden, is the lot Assign'd to mortal man ? born but to drag, 175 Through life's long pilgrimage, the wearying load Of being ;, care-corroded at the heart; Assail’d by all the numerous train of ills That flesh inherits; till at length worn out, This is his consummation ! — Think again! 180 What, Maiden, canst thou hope from lengthen'd life, But lengthen'd sorrow? If protracted long, Till on the bed of death thy feeble limbs Stretch out their languid length, oh think what

thoughts, What agonizing feelings, in thạt hour,

185 Assail the sinking heart I -slow beats the pulse, Dim grows the eye, and clammy drops bedew The shuddering frame; then in its mightiest force, Mightiest in impotence, the love of life Seizes the throbbing heart; the faltering lips 190 Pour out the impious prayer that fain would change The Unchangeable's decree; surrounding friends Sob round the sufferer, wet his cheek with tears And all he loved in life embitters death. 194

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