2d Monk. Well spoken, Legate! Easier asked than answered.
Ger. Not so, for on the moment, from the crowd
Sprang out a gay and gallant gentleman
Well known in fight and tourney, and aloud
With sobs and blushes told, how he long time
Had wallowed deep in mire of fleshly sin,
And loathed, and fell again, and loathed in vain;
Until the story of her saintly grace
Drew him unto her tomb; there long prostrate
With bitter cries he sought her, till at length
The image of her perfect loveliness
Transfigured all his soul, and from his knees
He rose new-born, and, since that blessed day,
In chastest chivalry, a spotless knight,
Maintains the widow’s and the orphan’s cause.
1st Monk. Well done! and what said Conrad?
Ger. Oh, he smiled,
As who should say, ‘’Twas but the news I looked for.’
Then, pointing to the banners borne on high,
Where the sad story of her nightly penance
Was all too truly painted—’Look!’ he cried,
’’Twas thus she schooled her soft and shuddering flesh
To dare and suffer for you!’ Gay ladies sighed,
And stern knights wept, and growled, and wept again.
And then he told her alms, her mighty labours,
Among God’s poor, the schools wherein she taught;
The babes she brought to the font, the hospitals
Founded from her own penury, where she tended
The leper and the fever-stricken serf
With meanest office; how a dying slave
Who craved in vain for milk she stooped to feed
From her own bosom. At that crowning tale
Of utter love, the dullest hearts caught fire
Contagious from his lips—the Spirit’s breath
Low to the earth, like dewy-laden corn,
Bowed the ripe harvest of that mighty host;
Knees bent, all heads were bare; rich dames aloud
Bewailed their cushioned sloth; old foes held out
Long parted hands; low murmured vows and prayers
Gained courage, till a shout proclaimed her saint,
And jubilant thunders shook the ringing air,
Till birds dropped stunned, and passing clouds bewept
With crystal drops, like sympathising angels,
Those wasted limbs, whose sainted ivory round
Shed Eden-odours: from his royal head
The Kaiser took his crown, and on the bier
Laid the rich offering; dames tore off their jewels—
Proud nobles heaped with gold and gems her corse
Whom living they despised: I saw no more—
Mine eyes were blinded with a radiant mist—
And I ran here to tell you.
1st Monk. Oh, fair olive, Rich with the Spirit’s unction, how thy boughs Rain balsams on us!
2d Monk. Thou didst sell thine all— And bought’st the priceless pearl!
1st Monk. Thou holocaust of Abel, By Cain in vain despised!
2d Monk. Thou angels’ playmate Of yore, but now their judge!
Ger. Thou alabaster,
Broken at last, to fill the house of God
With rich celestial fragrance!