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But chief, 't were sweet to think such life (Though but escape from fortune's strife), Something most matchless, good, and wise, A great and grateful sacrifice; And deem each hour to musing given, A step upon the road to heaven.
Yet him whose heart is ill at ease Such peaceful solitudes displease : He loves to drown his bosom's jar Amid the elemental war: And my black Palmer's choice had been Some ruder and more savage scene, Like that which frowns round dark Lochskene. (6) There eagles scream from isle to shore; Down all the rocks the torrents roar; O'er the black waves incessant driven, Dark mists infect the summer heaven; Through the rude barriers of the lake, Away its hurrying waters break, Faster and whiter dash and curl, Till down yon dark abyss they hurl. Rises the fog-smoke white as snow, Thunders the viewless stream below, Diving as if condemn'd to lave Some demon's subterranean cave, Who, prison'd by enchanter's spell, Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell. And well that Palmer's form and mien Had suited with the stormy scene, Just on the edge, straining his ken To view the bottom of the den, Where, deep deep down, and far within, Toils with the rocks the roaring lion; Then, issuing forth one foamy wave, And wheeling round the Giant's Grave, White as the snowy charger's tail, Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.
The merry seamen laugh'd to see
Furrow the green sea foam.
II. 'T was sweet to see these holy maids, Like birds escaped to green-wood shades,
Their first flight from the cage,
Their wonderment engage.
With many a benedicite ;
And would for terror pray;
Reard o'er the foaming spray:
Marriot, thy harp, on Isis strung, To many a Border theme has rung: Then list to me, and thou shalt know Of this mysterious Man of Woe.
I. Tre breeze, which swept away the smoke,
Round Norham Castle rollid,
As Marmion left the hold.
It freshly blew, and strong,
It bore a bark along.
As she were dancing home ;
IV. Black was her garb, her rigid rule Reform'd on benedictine school; Her cheek waz pale, her form was spare ; Vigils, and penitence austere, Had early quench'd the light of youth, But gentle was the dame in sooth.
Though vain of her religious sway,
Monk-Wearmouth soon behind them lay,
V. Nought say I here of Sister Clare, Save this, that she was young and fair; As yet a novice unprofess'd, Lovely and gentle, but distress'd. She was betroth'd to one now dead, Or worse, who had dishonour'd 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 wither'd bloom.
VI. She sate upon the galley's prow, And seem'd to mark the waves below; Nay, seem'd so fix'd her look and eye, To count them as they glided by. She saw them not-'t was seeming allFar other scene her thoughts recal, A sun-scorch'd desert, waste and bare, Nor wave, nor breezes, murmur'd there; There saw she, where some careless hand O'er a dead corpse had heap'd 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.!
IX. The tide did now its flood-mark gain, And girdled in the saint's domain; For, with the flow and ebb, the stile Varies from continent to isle ; Dry-shod, o'er sands, twice every day, The pilgrims to the shrine find way; Twice every day, the waves efface Of staves and sandalld feet the trace. As to the port the galley flew, Higher and higher rose to view The castle with its battled wall, The ancient monastery's hall, A solemn, huge, and dark-red pile, Placed on the margin of the isle.
VII. Lovely, and gentle, and distress dThese charms might tame the fiercest breast: Harpers have sung, and poets told, That he, in fury uncontrollid, 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 liet bowl and knife, Against the mourner's harmless life. This crime was charged gainst those who lay Prison'd in Cuthbert's islet gray.
Built ere the art was known,
To emulate in stone.
VIII. And now the vessel skirts the strand Of mountainous Northumberland; Towns, towers, and halls, successive rise, And catch the nuns' delighted eyes.
XI. Soon as they neard his turret strong, The maidens raised Saint Hilda's song, And with the sea-wave and the wind, Their voices, sweetly shrill, combined,
And made harmonious close ;
According chorus rose :
From Cuthberi's cloisters grim; Banner, and cross, and reliques there, To meet Saint Hilda's maids they bare ; And, as they caught the sounds on air,
They echoed back the hymn.
To hale the bark to land;
And bless'd them with her hand.
XIV. Nor did Saint Cuthbert's daughters fail To vie with these in holy tale ; His body's resting-place, of old, How oft their patron changed, they told; (11) How, when the rude Dane buro'd their pile, The monks fled forth from Holy Isle ; O'er northern mountain, marsh, and moor, From sea lo sea, from sliore to shore, Seven years Saint Cuthbert's corpse they bore. They rested them in fair Melrose ;
But though, alive, he loved it well,
For, wond'rous tale to tell !
Downward to Tilmouth cell.
Hail'd him with joy and fear;
Looks down upon the Wear.
But none may know the place,
Who share that wondrous grace.
All through the holy dome,
eye, The stranger sisters roam ; Till fell the evening damp with dew, And the sharp sea-breeze coldly blew, For there even summer night is chill. Then, having strayed and gazed their fill,
They closed around the fire;
A theme that ne'er can tire
XV. Who may his miracles declare ! Even Scotland's dauntless king, and heir
(Although with them they led Galwegians, wild as ocean's gale, And Lodon's knights, all sheathed in mail, And the bold men of Teviotdale),
Before his standard fled. (12) 'T was he, to vindicate his reign, Edged Alfred's falchion on the Dane, And turn'd the Conqueror back again, (13) When, with his Norman bowyer band, He came to waste Northumberland.
Must menial service do :(8)
Saint Hilda's priest ye slew.»--
The lovely Edelfled; (9)
When holy Hilda pray'd.
XVI. But fain Saint Hilda's nuns would learn, If, on a rock, by Lindisfarn, Saint Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame The sea-born beads that bear his name : (14). Such tales had Whitby's fishers told, And said they might his shape behold,
Aud hear his anvil sound; A deadend clang,-a huge dim form, Seen but, and heard, when gathering storm
And pight were closing round. But this, as tale of idle fame, The nups of Lindisfarn disclaim.
XVII. While round the fire such legends go, Far different was the scene of woe,
Where, in a secret aisle beneath,
Than the worst dungeon cell;
Io penitence to dwell,
Of feeling, hearing, sight,,
Excluding air and light,
As reach'd the upper air,
Bemoan'd their torments there.
And he, that ancient man, whose sight
Whose look is hard and stern,-
And, on her doublet-breast,
Lord Marmion's falcon crest.
That tied her tresses fair,
Jo ringlets rich and rare.
To that dread vault to go. Victim and executioner Were blind-fold when transported there. In low dark rounds the arches hung, From the rude rock the side-walls sprung; The grave-stones, rudely sculplared o'er, Half sunk in earth, by time half wore, Were all the pavement of the floor; The mildew drops fell one by one, With tinkling plash, upon the stone. A cresset,' in an iron chain, Which served to light this drear domain, With damp and darkness seem'd to strive, As if it scarce mighat keep alive; And yet it dimly served to show The awful conclave met below.
XXI. When thus her face was given to view (Although so pallid was her hue, It did a ghastly contrast bear To those bright ringlets glistering fair), Her look composed, and steady eye, Respoke a matchless constancy. And there she stood, so calm and pale, That, but her breathing did not fail, And motion slight of eye and head, And of her bosom, warranted That neither sense nor pulse she lacks, You might have thought a form of wax, Wrought to the very life, was there: So still she was, so pale, so fair.
On iron table lay;
By the pale cresset's ray:
She closely drew her veil ;
And she with awe looks pale :
Such as does murder for a meed; Who, but of fear, knows no controul, Because his conscience, seard and foul,
Feels not the import of his deed; One, whose brute feeling ne'er aspires Beyond his own more brute desires. Such tools the Tempter ever needs, To do the savagest of deeds; For them no vision'd terrors daunt, Their nights no fancied spectres haunt; One fear with them, of all most base, The fear of death,-alone finds place. This wretch was clad in frock and cowl, And shamed not loud lo moan and howl, His body on the floor to dash, And crouch, like hound beneath the lash; While his mute partner, standing near, Waited her doom without a tear.
Such high resolve and constancy,
In form so soft and fair.
XXIII. Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek, Well might her paleness terror speak; For there were seen in that dark wall Two niches, narrow, deep, and call; Who enters as such griesly door, Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more. In each a slender meal was laid, Of roots, of water, and of bread: By each, in benedictine dress, Two haggard monks stood motionless; Who, holding high a blazing torch, Show'd the grim entrance of the porch : Retlecting back the smoky beam, The dark-red walls and arches gleam. Hewn stones and cement were display'd, And building-tools in order laid.
Successless might I sue:
Vain are your masses too.
But, did my fate and wish agree, Ne'er had been read, in story old, Of maiden true betray'd for gold,
That loved, or was avenged, like me!
Of some foul crime the stain ;
Or thought more grace to gain, If, in her cause they wrestled down Feelings their nature stroye to own. By strange device were they brought there, They know not how, and knew not where.
To speak the chapter's doom,
Alive, within the tomb : (17) But stopp d, because that woful maid, Gathering her powers, to speak essay'd. Twice she essay'd, and twice in vain; Her accents might no utterance gain; Nought but imperfect murmurs slip From her convulsed and quivering lip: "Twixt each attempt all was so still, You seem'd to hear a distant rill
"Twas ocean's swells and falls; For though this vault of sin and fear Was to the sounding surge so near, A tempest there you scarce could hear,
So massive were the walls.
Whose faith with Clare's was plight,
Their oaths are said,
Their lances in the rest are laid,
De Wilton to the block !"
Say, was Heaven's justice here?
Beneath a traitor's spear.
And light came to her eye,
By autumn's stormy sky;
And arm'd herself to bear ;It was a fearful sight to see
XXIX. « Still was false Marmion's bridal staid; To Whitby's convent fled the maid,
The hated match to shun. * Ho! shifts she thus l' King Henry cried ; * Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
If she were sworn a nun.' One way remain'd- the king's command Sent Marmion to the Scottish land: I linger'd here, and rescue plann'd
For Clara and for me: This caitiff monk, for gold, did swear, He would to Whitby's shrine repair,