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For this, with carving rare and quaint,
She decked the chapel of the saint,
And gave the relique-shrine of cost,
With ivory and gems embost.
The poor her convent's bounty blest,
The pilgrim in its halls found rest.
IV. Black was her garb, her rigid rule Reformed on Benedictine school; Her cheek was pale, her form was spare; Vigils, and penitence austere, Had early quenched the light of youth, But gentle was the dame in sooth; Though vain of her religious sway, She loved to see her maids obey, Yet nothing stern was she in cell, And the nuns loved their Abbess well. Sad was this voyage to the dame;
Summoned to Lindisfarn, she came,
There, with Saint Cuthbert's Abbot old,
And Tynemouth’s Prioress, to hold
A chapter of Saint Benedict,
For inquisition stern and strict,
On two apostates from the faith,
And, if- need were, to doom to death.
Nought say I here of Sister Clare,
Save this, that she was young and fair ;
As yet a novice unprofessed,
Lovely, and gentle, but distressed.
She was betrothed to one now dead,
Or worse, who had dishonoured fled.
Her kinsmen bade her give her hand
To one, who loved her for her land :
Herself, almost heart-broken now,
Was bent to take the vestal vow,
And shroud, within Saint Hilda's gloom,
Her blasted hopes and withered bloom.
She sate upon the galley's prow, And seemed to mark the waves below; Nay seemed, so fixed her look and eye, To count them as they glided by. She saw them not—'twas seeming allFar other scene her thoughts recal,A sun-scorched desart, waste and bare, Nor wave, nor breezes, murmured there; There saw she, where some careless hand O’er a dead corpse had heaped the sand, To hide it till the jackalls come, To tear it from the scanty tomb.See what a woeful look was given, As she raised up her eyes to heaven!
Lovely, and gentle, and distressed-
These charms might tame the fiercest breast:
Harpers have sung, and poets told,
That he, in fury uncontrouled,
The shaggy monarch of the wood,
Before a virgin, fair and good,
Hath pacified his savage mood.
But passions in the human frame
Oft put the lion's rage to shame :
And jealousy, by dark intrigue,
With sordid avarice in league,
Had practised, with their bowl and knife,
Against the mourner's harmless life.
This crime was charged 'gainst those who lay
Prisoned in Cuthbert's islet gray.
VIII. And now the vessel skirts the strand Of mountainous Northumberland; Towns, towers, and halls, successive rise,
And catch the nuns’ delighted eyes.
Monk-Wearmouth soon behind them lay,
And Tynemouth's priory and bay;
They marked, amid her trees, the hall
Of lofty Seaton-Delaval ;
They saw the Blythe and Wansbeck floods
Rush to the sea through sounding woods ;
They past the tower of Widderington,
Mother of many a valiant son ;
At Coquet-isle their beads they tell,
To the good Saint who owned the cell ;
Then did the Alne attention claim,
And Warkworth, proud of Percy's name ;
And next, they crossed themselves, to hear
The whitening breakers sound so near,
Where, boiling through the rocks, they roar
On Dunstanborough's caverned shore;
Thy tower, proud Bamborough, marked they here,
King Ida's castle, huge and square,
From its tall rock look grimly down,
And on the swelling ocean frown;