Sky-roof’d and bare and deep in dewy sod,
Still ’tis the house of God!
Beauty by desolation unsubdued:—
And all the past is here,
Thronging with thought this holy solitude.
I see the taper-stars, the altars gay;
And those who crouch and pray;
The white-robed crowd in close monastic stole,
Who hither fled the world
To find the world again within the soul.
Yet here the pang of Love’s defeat, the pride
Of life unsatisfied,
Might win repose or anodyne; here the weak,
Armour’d against themselves,
Exchange true guiding for obedience meek.
Through day, through night, here, in the fragrant
Their hours are struck by prayer;
Freed from the bonds of freedom, the distress
Of choice, on life’s storm-sea
They gaze unharm’d, and know their happiness.
Till o’er this rock of refuge, deem’d
—This palace of the poor,
Ascetic luxury, wealth too frankly shown,—
The royal robber swept
His lustful eye, and seized the prey his own.
—Ah, calm of Nature! Now thou hold’st
Thy sweet and silent reign!
And, as our feverish years their orbit roll,
This pure and cloister’d peace
In its old healing virtue bathes the soul.
1539 is the year when the greater monasteries, amongst which Fountains in Yorkshire held a prominent place, were confiscated and ruined by Henry VIII.
The tiny creeper; Certhia Familiaris; the smallest of our birds after the wren. It belongs to a class nearly related to the woodpecker.
White-robed; The colour of the Cistercian order, to which Fountains belonged.
SIR HUGH WILLOUGHBY
Two ships upon the steel-blue Arctic
When day was long and night itself was day,
Forged heavily before the South West breeze
As to the steadfast star they curved their way;
Two specks of man, two only signs of life,
Where with all breathing things white Death keeps endless strife.
The Northern Cape is sunk:
and to the crew
This zone of sea, with ice-floes wedged and rough,
Domed by its own pure height of tender blue,
Seems like a world from the great world cut off:
While, round the horizon clasp’d, a ring of white,
Snow-blink from snows unseen, walls them with angry light.
Now that long day compact of many
Breaks up and wanes; and equal night beholds
Their hapless driftage past uncharted bays,
And in her chilling, killing arms enfolds:
While the near stars a thousand arrowy darts
Bend from their diamond eyes, as the low sun departs.
Or the weird Northern Dawn in idle
Mocks their sad souls, now trickling down the sky
In many-quivering lines of golden spray,
Then blazing out, an Iris-arch on high,
With fiery lances fill’d and feathery bars,
And sheeny veils that hide or half-reveal the stars.