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MONASTERY OF OLD BANGOR.
The oppression of the tumult — wrath and scorn —-
The tribulation — and the gleaming blades·
Such is the impetuous spirit that pervades
Alluding to the victory gained under Germanus. - See
†The last six lines of this Sonnet are chiefly from the prose of Daniel; and here I will state (though to the Readers whom this Poem will chiefly interest it is unnecessary) that my obligations to other Prose Writers are frequent,-obligations which, even if I had not a pleasure in courting, it would have been presumptuous to shun, in treating an historical subject. I must, however, particularise Fuller, to whom I am indebted in the Sonnet upon Wicliffe and in other instances. And upon the acquittal of the Seven Bishops I have done little more than versify a lively description of that event in the Memoirs of the first Lord Lonsdale.
Ethelforth reached the convent of Bangor, he perceived the Monks, twelve hundred in number, offering prayers for the success of their countrymen: if they are praying against us,' he exclaimed, they are fighting against us;' and he ordered them to be first attacked: they were destroyed; and, appalled by their fate, the courage of Brocmail wavered, and he fled from the field in dismay. Thus abandoned by their leader, nis army soon gave way, and Ethelforth obtained a decisive conquest. Ancient Bangor itself soon fell into his hands, and was demolished; the noble monastery was levelled to the ground: its library, which is mentioned as a large one, the collection of ages, the repository of the most precious monunents of the ancient Britons, was consumed; half-ruined walls,
song of Taliesing; -Ours shall mourn
The unarmed Host who by their prayers would turn
The sword from Bangor's walls, and guard the store
Of Aboriginal and Roman lore,
And Christian monuments, that now must burn
To senseless ashes. Mark! how all things swerve
From their known course, or vanish like a drear;
Another language spreads from coast to coast;
Only perchance some melancholy Stream
And some indignant Hills old names preserve,
When laws, and creeds, and people all are lost
A BRIGHT-HAIRED company of youthful Slaves,
Beautiful Strangers, stand within the Pale
Of a sad market, ranged for public sale,
Where Tiber's stream the immortal City laves⚫
ANGLI by nanie; and not an Angel waves
His wing who seemeth lovelier in Heaven's eye
Than they appear to holy Gregory;
Who, having learnt that name, salvation craves
For Them, and for their Land. The earnest Sire,
His questions urging, feels in slender ties
Of chining sound commanding sympathies ;
DE-IRIANS he would save them from God's IRE;
Subjects of Saxon ÆLLA― they shall sing
Glad HALLElujahs to the eternal King!
FOR ever hallowed be this morning fair,
Blest be the unconscious shore on which ye tread,
And blest the silver Cross, which ye, instead
Of martial banner, in procession bear;
The Cross preceding Him who floats in air,
The pictured Saviour!- By Augustin led,
They come and onward travel without dread,
Chanting in barbarous ears a tuneful prayer,
Sung for themselves, and those whom they would free!
Rich conquest waits them: -the tempestuous sea
Of Ignorance, that ran so rough and high,
And heeded not the voice of clashing swords
These good men humble by a few bare words,
And calm with fear of God's divinity.
gates, and rubbish, were all that remained of the magnificent edifice." See Turner's valuable History of the Anglo-Saxons. The account Bede gives of this remarkable event, suggests a most striking warning against National and Religious prejudices.
Taliesin was present at the battle which preceded this desolation.
BUT, to remote Northumbria's royal Hall,
Where thoughtful Edwin, tutored in the school
Of Sorrow, still maintains a heathen rule,
Who comes with functions apostolical?
Mark him, of shoulders curved, and stature tall,
Black hair, and vivid eye, and meagre cheek,
His prominent feature like an eagle's beak;
A Man whose aspect doth at once appal
And strike with reverence. The Monarch leans
Tow'rd the pure truths this Delegate propounds,
Repeatedly his own deep mind he sounds
With careful hesitation, then convenes
A synod of his Counsellors: - give ear,
And what a pensive Sage doth utter, hear:
"Ye heavy laden!" such the inviting voice
Heard near fresh streams‡, — and thousands, who ro
In the new Rite- the pledge of sanctity, Shall, by regenerate life, the promise claim.
NOR scorn the aid which Fancy oft doth lend
The Soul's eternal interests to promote:
Death, darkness, danger, are our natural lot;
And evil Spirits may our walk attend
For aught the wisest know or comprehend;
Then be good Spirits free to breathe a note
Of elevation; let their odours float
Around these Converts; and their glories blend,
Outshining nightly tapers, or the blaze
Of the noon-day. Nor doubt that golden cords
Of good works, mingling with the visions, raise
The soul to purer worlds: and who the line
Shall draw, the limits of the power define,
That even imperfect faith to Man affords?
PRIMITIVE SAXON CLERGY.§
How beautiful your presence, how benign,
Servants of God! who not a thought will share
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine!
Such Priest, when service worthy of his care
Has called him forth to breathe the common air,
Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine
Descended: happy are the eyes that meet
The Apparition; evil thoughts are stayed
At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat
A benediction from his voice or hand;
Whence grace, through which the heart can under
stand; And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.
The early propagators of Christianity were accustomed to preach near rivers, for the convenience of baptism.
Having spoken of the zeal, disinterestedness, and temper. ance of the clergy of those times, Bede thus proceeds: — " Unde et in magna erat veneratione tempore illo religionis habitus, ita ut ubicunque clericus aliquis, aut monachus adveniret, gauden ter ab omnibus tanquam Dei famulus exciperetur. Etiam si in itinere pergens inveniretur, accurrebant, et flexa cervice, vel manu signari, vel ore illius se benedici, gaudebant. Verbis quoque borum exhortatoriis diligenter auditum præbebant." Lib. iii. cap. 26
AH, when the Frame, round which in love we clung,
BUT what if One, through grove or flowery mead,
Indulging thus at will the creeping feet
Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail?
Is tender pity then of no avail?
Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
Thy hovering shade, O venerable Bede!
Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
A waste of hope? - From this sad source have sprung The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed
Of toil stupendous, in a hallowed seat
Rites that console the spirit, under grief
Which ill can brook more rational relief:
Hence, prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung
For souls whose doom is fixed! The way is smooth
For Power that travels with the human heart:
Confession ministers, the pang to soothe
In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start.
Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care,
Of your own mighty instruments beware!
LANCE, shield, and sword relinquished — at his side
A Beed-roll, in his hand a clasped Book,
Or staff more harmless than a Shepherd's crook,
The war-worn Chieftain quits the world to hide
His thin autumnal locks where monks abide
In cloistered privacy. But not to dwell
In soft repose he comes. Within his cell,
Round the decaying trunk of human pride,
At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour,
Do penitential cogitations cling:
Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine
In grisly folds and strictures serpentine;
Yet, while they strangle without mercy, bring
For recompense their own perennial bower.
METHINKS that to some vacant Hermitage
My feet would rather turn to some dry nook
Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook
Hurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage,
Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage
In the soft heaven of a translucent pool;
Thence creeping under forest arches cool,
Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage
Would elevate my dreams. A beechen bowl,
'A maple dish, my furniture should be;
Crisp, yellow leaves my bed; the hooting Owl
My night-watch: nor should e'er the crested Fowl
From thorp or vill his matins sound for me,
Tired of the world and all its industry.
Of learning, where thou heard'st the billows beat
On a wild coast, rough monitors to feed
Perpetual industry. Sublime Recluse !
The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt
Imposed on human kind, must first forget
Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use
Of a long life; and, in the hour of death,
The last dear service of thy passing breath!*
SAXON MONASTERIES, AND LIGHTS AND SHADES
OF THE RELIGION.
By such examples moved to unbought pains,
The people work like congregated bees*;
Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
Where Piety, as they believe, obtains
From Heaven a general blessing; timely rains
Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise,
Justice and peace: - bold faith! yet also rise
The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains.
The Sensual think with reverence of the palms
Which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave;
If penance be redeemablet, thence alms
Flow to the Poor, and freedom to the Slave;
And if full oft the sanctuary save
Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.
Nor leaves her speech one word to aid the sigh
That would lament her;- Memphis, Tyre, are gone
With all their Arts, - but classic Lore glides on,
By these Religious saved for all posterity.
BEHOLD a Pupil of the Monkish gown,
The pious ALFRED, King to Justice dear!
Lord of the harp and liberating spear;
Mirror of Princes! Indigent Renown
Might range the starry ether for a crown
Equal to his deserts, who, like the year,
Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer,
And awes like night with mercy-tempered frown.
Ease from this noble Miser of his time
No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares.*
Though small his kingdom as a spark or gem,
Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem,
And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime,
In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.
CAN aught survive to linger in the veins
Of kindred bodies-an essential power
That may not vanish in one fatal hour,
And wholly cast away terrestrial chains?
The race of Alfred covet glorious pains
When dangers threaten, dangers ever new!
Black tempests bursting, blacker still in view
But manly sovereignty its hold retains;
The root sincere, the branches bold to strive
With the fierce tempest, while, within the round
Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive;
As oft, 'mid some green plot of open ground,
Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom,
The fostered hyacinths spread their purple bloom.
|Do in the supernatural world abide :
So vaunt a throng of Followers, filled with pride
In shows of virtue pushed to its extremes,
And sorceries of talent misapplied.
Through the whole of his life, Alfred was subject to grievous maladies.
WOE to the Crown that doth the Cowl obey !†
Dissension checks the arms that would restrain
The incessant Rovers of the Northern Main;
And widely spreads once more a Pagan sway :
But Gospel-truth is potent to allay
Fierceness and rage; and soon the cruel Dane
Feels, through the influence of her gentle reign,
His native superstitions melt away.
Thus, often, when thick gloom the east o'ershrouds,
The full-orbed Moon, slow-climbing, doth appear
Silently to consume the heavy clouds;
How no one can resolve; but every eye
Around her sees, while air is hushed, a clear
And widening circuit of ethereal sky.
A pleasant music floats along the Mere,
From Monks in Ely chanting service high,
Whileas Canùte the King is rowing by :
'My Oarsmen," quoth the mighty King, "draw near
“That we the sweet song of the Monks may hear!"
He listens (all past conquests and all schemes
Of future vanishing like empty dreams)
Heart-touched, and haply not without a tear.
The Royal Minstrel, ere the choir is still,
While his free Barge skims the smooth flood along,
Gives to that rapture an accordant Rhyme.‡
O suffering Earth! be thankful; sternest clime
And rudest age are subject to the thrill
Of heaven-descended Piety and Song.
THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
THE woman-hearted Confessor prepares
The evanescence of the Saxon line.
Hark! 'tis the tolling Curfew! the stars shine,
But of the lights that cherish household cares
And festive gladness, burns not one that dares
The violent measures carried on under the influence of
Their purposes. Behold, pre-signified,
The Might of spiritual sway! his thoughts, his dreams, Dunstan, for strengthening the Benedictine Order, were a lead-
ing cause of the second series of Danish Invasions. See
↑ Which is still extant.
To twinkle after that dull stroke of thine, !
Emblem and instrument, from Thames to Tyne,
of force that daunts, and cunning that ensnares!
Yet as the terrors of the lordly bell,
That quench, from hut to palace, lamps and fires,
Touch not the tapers of the sacred quires,
Even so a thraldom studious to expel
Old laws and ancient customs to derange,
Brings to Religion no injurious change.
THE COUNCIL OF CLERMONT.
"AND shall," the Pontiff asks, "profaneness flow
"From Nazareth source of Christian Piety,
"From Bethlehem, from the Mounts of Agony
66 And glorified Ascension? Warriors, go,
"With prayers and blessings we your path will sow;
"Like Moses hold our hands erect, till ye "Have chased far off by righteous victory "These sons of Amalec, or laid them low!" "GOD WILLETH IT," the whole assembly cry; Shout which the enraptured multitude astounds! The Council-roof and Clermont's towers reply; "God willeth it," from hill to hill rebounds, And, in awe-stricken Countries far and nigh, Through "Nature's hollow arch" the voice resounds.*
Her blushing cheek, love-vows upon her lip,
And see love-emblems streaming from thy ship,
As thence she holds her way to Palestine.
My Song, (a fearless Homager) would attend
Thy thundering battle-axe as it cleaves the press
Of war, but duty summons her away
To tell how, finding in the rash distress
Of those enthusiast powers a constant Friend, Through giddier heights hath clomb the Papal sway.
REALMS quake by turns: proud Arbitress of grace,
The Church, by mandate shadowing forth the power
She arrogates o'er heaven's eternal door,
Closes the gates of every sacred place.
Straight from the sun and tainted air's embrace
All sacred things are covered: cheerful morn
Grows sad as night-no seemly garb is worn,
Nor is a face allowed to meet a face
With natural smile of greeting. Bells are dumb
Ditches are graves
funereal rites denied;
And in the Church-yard he must take his Bride
Who dares be wedded! Fancies thickly come
Into the pensive heart ill fortified,
And comfortless despairs the soul benumb.
As with the Stream our voyage we pursue,
The gross materials of this world present
A marvellous study of wild accident;
Uncouth proximities of old and new;
And bold transfigurations, more untrue,
(As might be deemed) to disciplined intent
Than aught the sky's fantastic element,
When most fantastic, offers to the view.
Saw we not Henry scourged at Becket's shrine?
Lo! John self-stripped of his insignia: - crown,
Sceptre and mantle, sword and ring, laid down
At a proud Legate's feet! The spears that line
Baronial Halls, the opprobrious insult feel;
And angry Ocean roars a vain appeal.
SCENE IN VENICE.
BLACK Demons hovering o'er his mitred head, To Cesar's Successor the Pontiff spake; "Ere I absolve thee, stoop! that on thy neck "Levelled with Earth this foot of mine may tread." Then, he, who to the Altar had been led,