« PreviousContinue »
Now from yon black and funeral yew,
“When men my scythe and darts supply,
Why then thy flowing sable stoles, Deep pendent cypress, mourning poles, Loose scarves to fall athwart thy weeds, Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds, And plumes of black, that, as they tread, Nod o'er the escutcheons of the dead?
Nor can the parted body know,
Far in a wild, unknown to public view,
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight, To find if books or swains report it right (For yet by swains alone the world he knew, Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew), He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore, And fix'd the scallop in his hat before ; Then with the sun a rising journey went, Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass; But when the southern sun had warm'd the day, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; His raiment decent, his complexion fair, And soft in graceful ringlets waved his hair. Then near approaching, “ Father, hail!" he cried, And hail, my son," the reverend sire replied;
Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd,
Now sunk the sun; the closing hour of day
At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day, Along the wide canals the zephyrs play: Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep, And shake the neighbouring wood to banish sleep. Up rise the guests, obedient to the call : An early banquet deck'd the splendid hall; Rich luscious wine a golden goblet graced, Which the kind master forced the guests to taste. Then, pleased and thankful, from the porch they go, And, but the landlord, none had cause of wo; His cup was vanish'd: for, in secret guise, The younger guest purloin'd the glittering prize.
As one who spies a serpent in his way, Glistening and basking in the summer ray, Disorder'd stops to shun the danger near, Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear;
So seem'd the sire, when, far upon the road,
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds,
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew; The nimble lightning, mix'd with showers, began, And o’er their heads loud rolling thunders ran. Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain, Driven by the wind, and batter'd by the rain. At length some pity warm'd the master's breast ('Twas then his threshold first received a guest); Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care, And half he welcomes in the shivering pair; One frugal fagot lights the naked walls, And Nature's fervour through their limbs recalls : Bread of the coarsest sort, with eager wine (Each hardly granted), served them both to dine; And when the tempest first appear'd to cease, A ready warning bid them part in peace.
With still remark the pondering herniit view'd, In one so rich, a life so poor and rude ; “ And why should such,” within himself he cried, “ Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ?" But what new marks of wonder soon took place In every settling feature of his face,
When from his vest the young companion bore
But now the clouds in airy tumult fly!
While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom
Now night's dim shades again involve the sky, Again the wanderers want a place to lie, Again they search, and find a lodging nigh, The soil improved around, the mansion neat, And neither poorly low nor idly great : It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind, Content, and not to praise, but virtue kind.
Hither the walkers turn with weary feet, Then bless the mansion, and the master greet: Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise, The courteous master hears, and thus replies;
“ Without a vain, without a grudging heart, To him who gives us all I yield a part ; From him you come, for him accept it here, A frank and sober, more than costly cheer.” He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread, Then talk of virtue till the time of bed, When the grave household round his hall repair, Warn'd by a bell, and close the hours with prayer.
At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil, the dappled morn arose; Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept Near the closed cradle where an infant slept,