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And scarce their foam the pebbles shook, But murmur'd meekly as the brook. The winds were pillowed on the waves, The banners drooped along their staves, And, as they fell around them furling, Above them shone the crescent curling; And that deep silence was unbroke, Save where the watch his signal spoke, Save where the steed neighed oft and shrill, And echo answer'd from the hill, And the wide hum of that wild host Rustled like leaves from coast to coast, As rose the Muezzin's voice in air In midnight call to wonted prayer; It rose, that chanted mournful strain, Like some lone spirit's o'er the plain : 'Twas musical, but sadly sweet, Such as when winds and harp-strings meet, And take a long unmeasured tone, To mortal minstrelsy unknown. It seem'd to those within the wall A cry prophetic of their fall : It struck even the besiegers' ear With something ominous and drear, An undefined and sudden thrill, Which makes the heart a moment still, Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed Of that strange sense its silence framed ; Such as a sudden passing-bell Wakes, though but for a stranger's knell.
NORMAN ABBEY. To Norman Abbey whirl'd the noble pair, An old, old monastery once, and now
Still older mansion, of a rich and rare
Mixed Gothic, such as artists all allow
Withal : it lies perhaps a little low,
Crown'd by high woodlands, where the Druid oak Stood, like Caractacus in act to rally
His host, with broad arms'gainst the thunder-stroke; And from beneath his boughs were seen to sally
The dappled foresters-as day awoke
Broad as transparent, deep, and freshly fed
In currents through the calmer water spread Around: the wild fowl nestled in the brake
And sedges, brooding in their liquid bed : The woods sloped downwards to its brink, and stood With their green faces fix'd upon the flood. Its outlet dash'd into a deep cascade
Sparkling with foam, until again subsiding Its shriller echoes-like an infant made
Quiet sank into softer ripples, gliding Into a rivulet, and thus allay'd,
Pursued its course, now gleaming, and now hiding Its windings through the woods ; now clear, now blue, According as the skies their shadows threw. A glorious remnant of the Gothic pile, fapart
(While yet the church was Rome's) stood half In a grand arch, which once screen'd many an aisle.
These last had disappeared—a loss to Art: The first yet frown'd superbly o'er the soil,
And kindled feelings in the roughest heart, Which mourn'd the power of time's or tempest's In gazing on that venerable arch.
(march, Within a niche, nigh to its pinnacle,
Twelve saints had once stood sanctified in stone; And these had fallen, not when the friars fell,
But in the war which struck Charles from his When each house was a fortaliceas tell [throne,
The annals of full many a line undone, The gallant Cavaliers, who fought in vain For those who knew not to resign or reign. But in a higher niche, alone, but crown'd,
The Virgin Mother of the God-born child, With her son in her blessed arms, look'd round,
Spared by some chance when all beside was spoil'd ; She made the earth below seem holy ground.
This may be superstition, weak or wild,
Shorn of its glass of thousand colourings,
Streaming from off the sun like seraph's wings, Now yawns all desolate : now loud, now fainter,
The gale sweeps through its fretwork, and oft sings The owl his anthem, where the silenced quire Lie with their hallelujahs quench'd like fire. But in the noontide of the moon, and when
The wind is winged from one point of heaven,
There moans a strange unearthly sound, which then
Is musical a dying accent driven Through the huge arch, which soars and sinks again.
Some deem it but the distant echo given Back to the night wind by the waterfall, And harmonised by the old choral wall; Others, that some original shape, or form
Shaped by decay perchance, hath given the power (Though less than that of Memnon's statue, warm
In Egypt's rays, to harp at a fixed hour) To this grey ruin, with a voice to charm.
Sad, but serene, it sweeps o'er tree or tower : The cause I know not, nor can solve; but such The fact :-I've heard it,-once perhaps too much. Amidst the court a Gothic fountain play'd,
Symmetrical, but deck'd with carvings quaintStrange faces, like to men in masquerade,
And here perhaps a monster, there a saint: The spring gush'd through grim mouths, of granite
And sparkled into basins, where it spent (made, Its little torrent in a thousand bubbles, Like man's vain glory, and his vainer troubles. The mansion's self was vast and venerable,
With more of the monastic than has been Elsewhere preserved: the cloisters still were stable,
The cells too and refectory, I ween: An exquisite small chapel had been able,
Still unimpair'd, to decorate the scene; The rest had been reformed, replaced, or sunk, And spoke more of the baron than the monk. Huge balls, long galleries, spacious chambers, join'd
By no quite lawful marriage of the Arts,
Might shock a connoisseur ; but when combined
Form'd a whole which, irregular in parts,
At least of those whose eyes are in their hearts.
To silken rows of gay and garter'd Earls,
And Lady Marys blooming into girls
And Countesses mature in robes and pearls :
Were there, with brows that did not much invite The accused to think their Lordships would determine
His cause by leaning much from might to right; Bishops who had not left a single sermon;
Attornies-General, awful to the sight, As hinting more (unless our judgments warp us) Of the “ Star Chamber” than of “ Habeas Corpus.” Generals, some all in armour, of the old
And iron time ere Lead had ta’en the lead ; Others in wigs of Marlborough's martial fold,
Huger than twelve of our degenerate breed ; Lordlings, with staves of white or keys of gold;
Nimrods, whose canvas scarce contain’d the steed; And here and there some stern high patriot stool, Who could not get the place for which he sued. But ever and anon, to soothe your vision, Fatigued with these hereditary glories,