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The breeze, which swept away the smoke,
Round Norham Castle rolled,
When all the loud artillery spoke,
With lightning-flash, and thunder-stroke,
As Marmion left the Hold.
It curled not Tweed alone, that breeze;
It freshly blew, and strong,
Where, from high Whitby's cloistered pile, Bound to Saint Cuthbert's Holy Isle,
It bore a bark along.
Upon the gale she stooped her side,
As she were dancing home;
Furrow the green sea-foam. Much joyed they in their honoured freight; For, on the deck, in chair of state, The Abbess of Saint Hilda placed, With five fair nuns, the galley graced.
'Twas sweet to see these holy maids,
Their first flight from the cage,
For all to them was strange and new,
Their wonderment engage.
One eyed the shrouds and swelling sail,
With many a benedicite;
One at the rippling surge grew pale,
And would for terror pray;
Then shrieked, because the sea-dog, nigh,
His round black head, and sparkling eye,
Reared o'er the foaming spray ;
Perchance, because such action graced
Her fair-turned arm and slender waist.
Light was each simple bosom there,
The Abbess was of noble blood,
But early took the veil and hood,
Or knew the world that she forsook.
Fair too she was, and kind had been
As she was fair, but ne'er had seen
Nor knew the influence of her eye ;
Love, to her ear, was but a name,
The deadliest sin her mind could reach,
Was of monastic rule the breach;
And her ambition's highest aim,
To emulate Saint Hilda's fame.
For this she gave her ample dower,
To raise the convent's eastern tower ;
For this, with carving rare and quaint,
With ivory and gems embost.
Black was her garb, her rigid rule
Reformed on Benedictine school;
Her cheek was pale, her form was spare ;