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THE

WHITE DOE OF RYLSTONE.

CANTO FIRST.

FROM Bolton's old monastic tower
The bells ring loud with gladsome power;
The sun is bright; the fields are gay
With people in their best array
Of stole and doublet, hood and scarf,
Along the banks of crystal Wharf,
Through the Vale retired and lowly,
Trooping to that summons holy.
And, up among the moorlands, see
What sprinklings of blithe company!
Of lasses and of shepherd grooms,
That down the steep hills force their way,
Like cattle through the budded brooms; .
Path, or no path, what care they?
And thus in joyous mood they hie
To Bolton's mouldering Priory. .

-What would they there ? — Full fifty years That sumptuous Pile, with all its peers, Too harshly hath been doomed to taste The bitterness of wrong and waste : Its courts are ravaged; but the tower Is standing with a voice of power,

That ancient voice which wont to call
To mass or some high festival ;
And in the shattered fabric's heart
Remaineth one protected part;
A rural Chapel, neatly drest,
In covert like a little nest;
And thither young and old repair, .
This Sabbath-day, for praise and prayer.

Fast the church-yard fills ;-anon Look again, and they all are gone; The cluster round the porch, and the folk Who sate in the shade of the Prior's Oak ! And scarcely have they disappeared Ere the prelusive hymn is heard :With one consent the people rejoice, Filling the church with a lofty voice! They sing a service which they feel : For 'tis the sunrise now of zeal, And faith and hope are in their prime In great Eliza's golden time.

A moment ends the fervent din, And all is hushed, without and within ; For though the priest, more tranquilly, Recites the holy liturgy, The only voice which you can hear Is the river murmuring near. - When soft!- the dusky trees between, And down the path through the open green, Where is no living thing to be seen; And through yon gateway, where is found, 1 Beneath the arch with ivy bound, Free entrance to the church-yard ground;

And right across the verdant sod
Towards the very house of God;
-Comes gliding in with lovely gleam,
Comes gliding in serene and slow,
Soft and silent as a dream,
A solitary Doe!
White she is as lily of June,
And beauteous as the silver moon
When out of sight the clouds are driven
And she is left alone in heaven;
Or like a ship some gentle day
In sunshine sailing far away,
A glittering ship, that hath the plain
Of ocean for her own domain.

Lie silent in your graves, ye dead ! Lie quiet in your church-yard bed! Ye living, tend your holy cares ; Ye multitude, pursue your prayers ; And blame not me if my heart and sight Are occupied with one delight ! 'Tis a work for sabbath hours If I with this bright Creature go: Whether she be of forest bowers, From the bowers of earth below; Or a Spirit, for one day given, A gift of grace from purest heaven,

What harmonious pensive changes
Wait upon her as she ranges
Round and through this Pile of state,
Overthrown and desolate!
Now a step or two her way
Is through space of open day,

Where the enamoured sunny light
Brightens her that was so bright;
Now doth a delicate shadow fall,
Falls upon her like a breath,
From some lofty arch or wall,
As she passes underneath :
Now some gloomy nook partakes
Of the glory that she makes, -
High-ribbed vault of stone, or cell
With perfect cunning framed as well
Of stone, and ivy, and the spread
Of the elder's bushy head ;
Some jealous and forbidding cell,
That doth the living stars repel,
And where no flower hath leave to dwell.

The presence of this wandering Doe
Fills many a damp obscure recess
With lustre of a saintly show;
And, re-appearing, she no less
To the open day gives blessedness.
But say, among these holy places,
Which thus assiduously she paces,
Comes she with a votary's task,
Rite to perform, or boon to ask ?
Fair Pilgrim! harbours she a sense
Of sorrow, or of reverence ?
Can she be grieved for quire or shrine,
Crushed as if by wrath divine ?
For what survives of house where God
Was worshipped, or where Man abode ;
For old magnificence undone ;
Or for the gentler work begun
By Nature, softening and concealing,
And busy with a hand of healing, —

For altar, whence the cross was rent, Now rich with mossy ornament, Or dormitory's length laid bare, Where the wild rose blossoms fair; And sapling ash, whose place of birth Is that lordly chamber's hearth? - She sees a warrior carved in stone, Among the thick weeds, stretched alone A warrior, with his shield of pride Cleaving humbly to his side, And hands in resignation prest, Palm to palm, on his tranquil breast : Methinks she passeth by the sight, As a common creature might: If she be doomed to inward care, Or service, it must lie elsewhere. - But hers are eyes serenely bright, And on she moves — with pace how light ! Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste The dewy turf with flowers bestrown; And thus she fares, until at last Beside the ridge of a grassy grave In quietness she lays her down; Gently as a weary wave Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died, Against an anchored vessel's side ; Even so, without distress, doth she Lie down in peace, and lovingly.

The day is placid in its going,
To a lingering motion bound,
Like the river in its flowing-
Can there be a softer sound?
So the balmy minutes pass,
While this radiant Creature lies

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