THE LEGEND BEAUTIFUL.
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
thou stayed, I must have fled!”
That is what the vision said.
his chamber all alone,
Kneeling on the floor of stone,
Prayed the Monk in deep contrition
For his sins of indecision,
Prayed for greater self-denial
In temptation and in trial;
It was noonday by the dial,
And the Monk was all alone.
as if it lightened,
An unwonted splendour brightened
All within him and without him
In that narrow cell of stone;
And he saw the Blessed Vision
Of our Lord, with light Elysian
Like a vesture wrapped about Him,
Like a garment round Him thrown.
Not as crucified and slain,
Not in agonies of pain,
Not with bleeding hands and feet,
Did the Monk his Master see;
But as in the village street,
In the house or harvest-field,
Halt and lame and blind He healed,
When He walked in Galilee.
an attitude imploring,
Hands upon his bosom crossed,
Wondering, worshipping, adoring,
Knelt the Monk in rapture lost.
“Lord,” he thought, “in Heaven that reignest,
Who am I that thus Thou deignest
To reveal Thyself to me?
Who am I, that from the centre
Of Thy glory Thou shouldst enter
This poor cell my guest to be?”
amid his exaltation,
Loud the convent-bell appalling,
From its belfry calling, calling,
Rang through court and corridor,
With persistent iteration
He had never heard before.
It was now the appointed hour
When alike, in shine or shower,
Winter’s cold or summer’s heat,
To the convent portals came
All the blind and halt and lame,
All the beggars of the street,
For their daily dole of food
Dealt them by the brotherhood;
And their almoner was he
Who upon his bended knee,
Wrapt in silent ecstasy
Of divinest self-surrender,
Saw the Vision and the splendour.
distress and hesitation
Mingled with his adoration;
Should he go or should he stay?
Should he leave the poor to wait
Hungry at the convent gate
Till the Vision passed away?
Should he slight his heavenly guest,
Slight this visitant celestial,
For a crowd of ragged, bestial
Beggars at the convent gate?
Would the Vision there remain?
Would the Vision come again?