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All hearts are stirred,—but chiefly her's who knee
In silent homage there. She lifts her face
To Heaven, but still her milk-white veil conceals
Its features from the view. Her form of
Through its dim shadowy foldings, you may trace,
Fine as those curves of beauty in the skies
Which speak of Hope when storms are near, a
, and cha The clouds of dark despondency. All eyes Are fixed upon her, now, in pity or surprise.
For, hark! In measured tones, the convent-bell
Booms heavily on the ear. With stooping brow-
As mindful of the duty its deep knell
Proclaims,--and voice sweet as the musical flow
Of desert waters, she repeats the vow
That shuts her from the world. In accents mild,
The father questions, if the words that now
Are registered on high, are unbeguiled
By circumstance, or wish unstable, vain, or wild ?
She answers him : ' They are.'—'Tis well, he cries,
And from the altar takes a golden ring,
And, gently bidding the young vestal rise,
"Tis fixed upon her finger.—Then they fling
The snow-white veil aside ; but ere they bring
The last black ensign of the awful rite,
In shroudless beauty stands that lovely thing-
A delicate star soft beaming on the sight,
As Hesper, when he breaks from curtaining clouds of
O'er her white brow her wandering hair descends
In rich unbraided rings ;-a coronal
Of lilies, wreathed amid each cluster, lends
An added grace; and, as at evening's fall
Day struggles with the annihilating pall
That darkness would shed o'er it, so the gleam
Of her transparent forehead shines through all
The chesnut curls that shadow it :-
:-So stream With tremulous light the rays that from her deep eyes
Her's is that nameless loveliness that sinks
On the beholder's heart; and if he seeks,
Whilst his full glance her blaze of beauty drinks,
To know where lurks the charm which thus bespeaks
His passionate admiration ;-if in cheeks
Of rose or ruby lips-or violet eyes !
It is in vain !—Not in the separate streaks
Of that rich bow of gathered beauty lies
The spell of power, but in its full united dyes.
She looks around :-upon her delicate lips
A smile of melancholy sweetness plays;
But soon a passing thought, in dark eclipse,
Hath veiled it from the view ;-and now they raise
Once more to Heaven the pealing notes of praise.
Her eye grows brighter ;-on her cheek a flush
Of deeper crimson mantles, and her gaze
With holy zeal upturns, as the full rush
Of the loud organ's tones grows gathering gush on
And now she joins the choir, whose voices swell,
Swell and subside, then rise, and sink again,
Like ocean's billows when the winds rebel,
And surge on surge prevails. Sudden the strain
Hath ceased; as when upon the watery plain
The oil of peace is poured, and the waves glide
Untroubled on their way.
I list in vain !
Hushed is, at length, that wild and witching tide;
And organ, harp, voice, lute, have into silence died.
The sable veil is brought ;-the prayer is said ;-
The silken tress and lilied wreath removed ;
And sighs are heaved, and silent tears are shed
By friends around, so loving and beloved.
Ah! who could view this last sad rite unmoved !
Youth, beauty, virtue, in their earliest prime,
Treading the threshold of a home unproved;
Where bigot forms are hallowed but by time,
And filial duty ends, and love becomes a crime !
Yet she is firm, and with unfailing voice
Pours forth the final hymn ; and it would seem,
Taught by some secret instinct to rejoice,
That she hath 'scaped the worldling's chequered
Religion, now, must be the only theme
On which her heart may dwell. Life's darkest ills
Can ne'er again disturb the peaceful stream
Of her sweet thoughts, delayed Hope's withering chills, Ambition's glittering gauds, nor Passion's thousand
Wake discord on her mind's melodious lyre,
The convent's portal passed. Perchance her heart
Hath been too fiercely chastened in the fire
Of love's deep phantasies,-until the smart
Bade her all bleeding from the strife depart,
And seek nepenthe in a fate like this.
What marvel then, if no big tear-drops start!
If schooled in sorrow thus she bends submiss !
Since whatsoe'er her doom, to that it must be bliss.