But the grass grows again when in majesty and mirth,
On the wing of the spring, comes the Goddess of the Earth;
But for man in this world no springtide e’er returns
To the labours of his hands or the ashes of his urns!
Two favourites hath Time—the pyramids of
And the old mystic temples of our own dear isle;
As the breeze o’er the seas, where the halcyon has its nest,
Thus Time o’er Egypt’s tombs and the temples of the West!
The names of their founders have vanished in the gloom,
Like the dry branch in the fire or the body in the tomb;
But to-day, in the ray, their shadows still they cast—
These temples of forgotten gods—these relics of the past!
Around these walls have wandered the Briton and the
The captives of Armorica, the cavaliers of Spain—
Phoenician and Milesian, and the plundering Norman Peers—
And the swordsmen of brave Brian, and the chiefs of later years!
How many different rites have these gray old temples
To the mind what dreams are written in these chronicles of stone!
What terror and what error, what gleams of love and truth,
Have flashed from these walls since the world was in its youth?
Here blazed the sacred fire, and, when the sun was
As a star from afar to the traveller it shone;
And the warm blood of the victim have these gray old temples drunk,
And the death-song of the druid and the matin of the monk.
Here was placed the holy chalice that held the sacred
And the gold cross from the altar, and the relics from the shrine,
And the mitre shining brighter with its diamonds than the East,
And the crosier of the pontiff and the vestments of the priest.
Where blazed the sacred fire, rung out the vesper
Where the fugitive found shelter, became the hermit’s cell;
And hope hung out its symbol to the innocent and good,
For the cross o’er the moss of the pointed summit stood.
There may it stand for ever, while that symbol doth
To the mind one glorious vision, or one proud throb to the heart;
While the breast needeth rest may these gray old temples last,
Bright prophets of the future, as preachers of the past!
Sad eyes! why are ye steadfastly gazing
Over the sea?
Is it the flock of the ocean-shepherd grazing
Like lambs on the lea?—
Is it the dawn on the orient billows blazing
Sad heart! why art thou tremblingly beating—
What troubleth thee?
There where the waves from the fathomless water come greeting,
Wild with their glee!
Or rush from the rocks, like a routed battalion retreating,
Over the sea!
Sad feet! why are ye constantly straying
Down by the sea?
There, where the winds in the sandy harbour are playing
Child-like and free,
What is the charm, whose potent enchantment obeying,
There chaineth ye?