4th stanza: What does “in vacant mood” mean? “In pensive mood?” “Inward eye?”
How does this inward eye make bliss for us in solitude?
What feelings did the thought of what he saw awaken in the heart of the poet?
What changed the wanderer’s loneliness, as told at the beginning of the poem, to gayety, as told towards the end?
Commit the poem to memory.
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hos’ tile en dowed’ tu’ mult ac’ o lyte ep’ i taph grav’ i ty com’ bat ants pref’ er ence a maz’ ed ly ath let’ ic Vi at’ i cum in her’ it ance cem’ e ter y re tal’ i ate un flinch’ ing ly ir re sist’ i ble un vi’ o la ted con temp’ tu ous ly
At the time our story opens, a bloody persecution of the Church was going on, and all the prisons of Rome were filled with Christians condemned to death for the Faith. Some were to die on the morrow, and to these it was necessary to send the Holy Viaticum to strengthen their souls for the battle before them. On this day, when the hostile passions of heathen Rome were unusually excited by the coming slaughter of so many Christian victims, it was a work of more than common danger to discharge this duty.
The Sacred Bread was prepared, and the priest turned round from the altar on which it was placed, to see who would be its safest bearer. Before any other could step forward, the young acolyte Tarcisius knelt at his feet. With his hands extended before him, ready to receive the sacred deposit, with a countenance beautiful in its lovely innocence as an angel’s, he seemed to entreat for preference, and even to claim it.
“Thou art too young, my child,” said the kind priest, filled with admiration of the picture before him.
“My youth, holy father, will be my best protection. Oh! do not refuse me this great honor.” The tears stood in the boy’s eyes, and his cheeks glowed with a modest emotion, as he spoke these words. He stretched forth his hands eagerly, and his entreaty was so full of fervor and courage, that the plea was irresistible. The priest took the Divine Mysteries, wrapped up carefully in a linen cloth, then in an outer covering, and put them on his palms, saying—
“Remember, Tarcisius, what a treasure is intrusted to thy feeble care. Avoid public places as thou goest along; and remember that holy things must not be delivered to dogs, nor pearls be cast before swine. Thou wilt keep safely God’s sacred gifts?”
“I will die rather than betray them,” answered the holy youth, as he folded the heavenly trust in the bosom of his tunic, and with cheerful reverence started on his journey. There was a gravity beyond the usual expression of his years stamped upon his countenance, as he tripped lightly along the streets, avoiding equally the more public, and the too low, thoroughfares.