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So have I seen a single snow-drop rise

320 Amid the russet leaves that hide the earth In early spring, so seen it gently bend In modest loveliness alone amid The waste of winter.

By the Maiden's side The Son of Orleans stood, prepared to vouch 325 That when on Charles the Maiden's eye had fix'd, As led by power miraculous, no fraud, Nor juggling artifice of secret sign Dissembled inspiration. As he stood Steadily viewing the mysterious rites,

330 Thus to the attentive Maid the President Severely spake.

any

fiend of Hell Lurk in thy bosom, so to prompt the vaunt Of inspiration, and to mock the power Of God and holy Church, thus by the virtue 335 Of water hallowed in the name of God Adjure I that foul spirit to depart From his deluded prey.”

Slowly he spake And sprinkled water on the virgin's face. Indignant at the unworthy charge the Maid 340 Felt her cheek flush, but soon, the transient glow Fading, she answer'd meek.

“ Most holy Sires, Ye reverend Fathers of the Christian church, Most catholic! I stand before

you

here A poor weak woman; of the

grace vouchsafed, 345 How far unworthy, conscious ; yet though mean, Innocent of fraud, and call’d by Heaven to be

It's minister of aid. Strange voices heard,
The dark and shadowing visions of the night,
And feelings which I may not dare to doubt, 350
These portents make me certain of the God
Within me; He who to these eyes reveald
My royal Master, mingled with the crowd
And never seen till then. Such evidence
Given to my mission thus, and thus confirm'd 355
By public attestation, more to say,
Methinks, would little boot,.. and less become
A silly Maid.”

Thou speakest," said the Priest, “Of dark and shadowing visions of the night. Canst thou remember, Maid, what vision first 360 Seem’d more than fancy's shaping ? From such tale, Minutely told with accurate circumstance, Some judgement might be form'd."

The Maid replied: “ Amid the mountain vallies I had driven My father's flock. The eve was drawing on,

365 When by a sudden storm surprised, I sought A chapel's neighbouring shelter; ruin'd now, But I remember when its vesper bell Was heard among the hills, a pleasant sound, That made me pause upon my homeward road, 370 Awakening in me comfortable thoughts Of holiness. The unsparing soldiery Had sack'd the hamlet near, and none was left Duly at sacred seasons to attend St. Agnes' chapel. In the desolate pile

375 I drove my flock, with no irreverent thoughts, Nor mindless that the place on which I trod

Was holy ground. It was a fearful night!
Devoutly to the virgin Saint I pray'd,

379
Then heap'd the wither'd leaves which autumn winds
Had drifted in, and laid me down upon them,
And sure I think I slept. But so it was
That, in the dead of night, Saint Agnes stood
Before mine eyes, such and so beautiful
As when, amid the house of wickedness, 385
The Power whom with such fervent love she served
Veild her with glory. And I saw her point
To the moss-grown altar, and the crucifix
Half hid by weeds and grass; .. and then I thought
I could have wither'd armies with a look, 390
For from the present Saint such divine power
I felt infused. ... 'T was but a dream perhaps.
And yet methought that when a louder peal
Burst o'er the roof, and all was left again
Utterly dark, the bodily sense was clear 395
And accurate in every circumstance
Of time and place."

Attentive to her words Thus the Priest answer'd :

Brethren

ye

have heard The woman's tale. Behoves us now to ask Whether of holy Church a duteous child 400 Before our court appears, so not unlike Heaven might vouchsafe its gracious miracle ; Or misbelieving heretic whose thoughts, Erring and vain, easily might stray beyond 404 All reason, and conceit strange dreams and signs Impossible. Say, woman, from thy youth Hast thou, as rightly mother Church demands,

Confess'd at stated times thy secret sins,
And, from the priestly power conferr'd by Heaven,
Sought absolution ?”

“ Father,” she replied,
“ The forms of worship in mine earlier years 411
Waked my young mind to artificial awe,
And made me fear my God. Warm with the glow
Of health and exercise, whene'er I pass'd
The threshold of the house of prayer, I felt 415
A cold damp chill me; I beheld the tapers
That with a pale and feeble glimmering
Dimm'd the noon-light; I heard the solemn mass,
And with strange feelings and mysterious dread
Telling my beads, gave to the mystic prayers 420
Devoutest meaning. Often when I saw
The pictured flames writhe round a penanced soul,
I knelt in fear before the Crucifix
And wept and pray'd, and trembled, and adored
A God of Terrors. But in riper years, 425
When as my soul grew strong in solitude,
I saw the eternal energy pervade
The boundless range of nature, with the sun
Pour life and radiance from his flamey path,
And on the lowliest flowret of the field

430 The kindly dew-drops shed. And then I felt That He who form'd this goodly frame of things Must needs be good, and with a Father's name I callid on him, and from my burthen'd heart Pour'd out the yearnings of unmingled love. 435 Methinks it is not strange then, that I fed The house of prayer, and made the lonely grove My temple, at the foot of some old oak

Watching the little tribes that had their world
Within its mossy bark; or laid me down 440
Beside the rivulet whose murmuring
Was silence to my soul, and mark'd the swarm
Whose light-edged shadows on the bedded sand
Mirror'd their mazy sports, .. the insect hum,
The flow of waters, and the song of birds 445
Making a holy music to mine ear :
Oh! was it strange, if for such scenes as these,
Such deep devoutness, such intense delight
Of quiet adoration, I forsook
The house of worship? strange that when I felt
How God had made my spirit quick to feel 451
And love whate'er was beautiful and good,
And from aught evil and deform'd to shrink
Even as with instinct ;. . father! was it strange
That in my heart I had no thought of sin 455
And did not need forgiveness ?

As she spake
The Doctors stood astonish'd, and some while
They listen'd still in wonder. But at length
A Monk replied,

6 Woman, thou seem'st to scorn The ordinances of our holy Church;

460 And, if I rightly understand thy words, Nature, thou say’st, taught thee in solitude Thy feelings of religion, and that now Masses and absolution and the use Of the holy wafer, are to thee unknown. 465 But how could Nature teach thee true religion, Deprived of these? Nature doth lead to sin, But 'tis the Priest alone can teach remorse,

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