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What various habits, various tongues beset
The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice !--
How many centuries did the sun go round
From Mount Alburnus to the Tyrrhene sea,
While by some spell rendered invisible,
Or, if approached, approached by him alone
Who saw as though he saw not, they remained
As in the darkness of a sepulchre,
Waiting the appointed time! All, all within
Proclaims that Nature had resumed her right,
And taken to herself what man renounced ;
No cornice, triglyph, or worn abacus,
But with thick ivy hung, or branching fern,
Their iron-brown o'erspread with brightest verdure!
From my youth upward have I longed to tread
This classic ground.—And am I here at last?
Wandering at will through the long porticoes,
And catching, as through some majestic grove,
Now the blue ocean, and now, chaos-like,
Mountains and mountain-gulfs, and, half-way up,
Towns like the living rock from which they grew?
A cloudy region, black and desolate,
Where once a slave withstood a world in arms.
The air is sweet with violets running wild,
'Mid broken sculptures and fallen capitals;
Sweet as when Tully, writing down his thoughts,
Sailed slowly by two thousand years ago,
For Athens,—when a ship, if north-east winds
Blew from the Pastan garden, slacked her course.
The birds are hushed awhile; and nothing stirs,
Save the shrill-voiced cigala flitting round
On the rough pediment to sit and sing;
Or the green lizard rustling through the grass,
And up the fluted shaft with short quick motion,
To vanish in the chinks that time has made.
In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
Seen at his setting, and a flood of light
Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries,
(Gigantic shadows, broken and confused,
Across the innumerable columns flung)-
In such an hour he came, who saw and told,
Led by the mighty Genius of the Place !
Walls of some capital city first appeared,
Half razed, half sunk, or scattered as in scorn ;-
And what within them? what but in the midst
These Three in more than their original grandeur,
And, round about, no stone upon another?
As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear,
And, turning, left them to the elements.
'Tis over; and her lovely cheek is now
On her hard pillow—there, alas, to be
Nightly, through many and many a dreary hour
Wan, often wet with tears, and (ere at length
Her place is empty, and another comes),
In anguish, in the ghastliness of death;
Hers never more to leave those mournful walls,
Even on her bier.
'Tis over; and the rite
With all its pomp and harmony is now
Floating before her. She arose, at home
To be the show, the idol of the day;
Her vesture gorgeous, and her starry head-
No rocket, bursting in the midnight sky,
So dazzling. When to-morrow she awakes,
She will awake as though she still was there-
Still in her father's house; and lo, a cell,
Narrow and dark, nought through the gloom discerned-
Nought save the crucifix and rosary,
And the gray habit lying by, to shroud
Her beauty and grace.
When on her knees she fell,
Entering the solemn place of consecration,
And from the latticed gallery came a chant
Of psalms, most saint-like, most angelical,
Verse after verse sung out, how holily,
The strain returning, and still, still returning,
Methought it acted like a spell upon her,
And she was casting off her earthly dross;
Yet was it sad and sweet, and ere it closed,
Came like a dirge. When her fair head was shorn,
And the long tresses in her hands were laid,
That she might Aling them from her, saying—“ Thus,
Thus I renounce the world and worldly things ?”
When, as she stood, her bridal ornaments
Were, one by one removed, even to the last,
That she might say, flinging them from her,—“Thus,
Thus I renounce the world !” When all was changed,
And as a nun, in homeliest guise she knelt,
Veiled in her veil, crowned with her silver crown,
Her crown of lilies, as the spouse of Christ,
Well might her strength forsake her, and her knees
Fail in that hour; well might the holy man,
He, at whose foot she knelt, give, as by stealth
('Twas in her utmost need; nor while she lives
Will it go from licr, fleeting as it was),
That faint but fatherly smile, that smile of love
Like a dream, the whole is fled;
And they, that came in idleness to gaze
Upon the victim dressed for sacrifice,
Are mingling with the world; thou in thy cell
Forgot, Teresa! Yet among them all
None were so formed to love and to be loved,
None to delight, adorn ; and on thee now
A curtain, blacker than the night, is dropped
For ever! In thy gentle bosom sleep
Feelings, affections, destined now to die;
To wither, like the blossom in the bud,
Those of a wife, a mother; leaving there
A cheerless void, a chill as of the grave,
A langour and a lethargy of soul,
Death-like, and gathering more and more, till Death
Comes to release thee. Ah! what now to thee,
What now to thee the treasures of thy youth?
How still the Morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labour, hushed
The plough-boy's whistle, and the milk-maid's song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with fading flowers,
That yester-morn bloomed waving in the breeze.
The faintest sounds attract the ear—the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating, midway up the hill.
Calmness seems throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas,
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale ;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-sunk glen ;
While from yon lowly roof, whose curling smoke
O’ermounts the mist, is heard, at intervals,
The voice of psalms, the simple song of praise.
SCOTTISH SABBATH EVENING.
Ou SCOTLAND! much I love thy tranquil dales;
But most on Sabbath eve, when low the sun
Slants through the upland copse ; ’tis my delight,
Wandering and stopping oft, to hear the song
Of kindred praise arise from humble roofs ;
Or, when the simple service ends, to hear
The lifted latch, and mark the gray-haired man,
The father and the priest, walk forth alone
Into his garden plat, or little field,
To commune with his God in secret prayer-
To bless the Lord that, in his downward years,
His children are about him: sweet, meantime,
The thrush, that sings upon the aged thorn,
Brings to his view the days of youthful years,
When that same aged thorn was but a bush.
Nor is the contrast between youth and age
To him a painful thought; he joys to think
His journey near a close-Heaven is his home.
More happy far that man, though bowed down,
Though feeble be his gait, and dim his eye,