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"But whither would you, could you, flee?
A poor Man's counsel take; The Holy Virgin gives to me
A thought for your dear sake; Rest, shielded by our Lady's grace, 85
And soon shall you be led Forth to a safe abiding-place,
Where never foot doth tread."
The dwelling of this faithful pair
In a straggling village stood, 90
For One who breathed unquiet air
A dangerous neighbourhood; But wide around lay forest ground
With thickets rough and blind; And pine-trees made a heavy shade 95
Impervious to the wind.
And there, sequestered from the sight,
Was spread a treacherous swamp, On which the noonday sun shed light
As from a lonely lamp; 100
And midway in the unsafe morass,
A single Island rose
Adorned, and shady boughs.
The Woodman knew, for such the craft. 105
This Eussian vassal plied,
Of archer, there was tried;
From all intrusion free; no
And there he planned an artful Cot
For perfect secrecy.
With earnest pains unchecked by dread
Of Power's far-stretching hand, The bold good Man his labour sped 115
At nature's pure command;
While, in a hollow nook,
Above a murmuring brook. 120
His task accomplished to his mind,
The twain ere break of day
Their solitary way;
Their pace from mile to mile,
And reached the lonely Isle.
The sun above the pine-trees showed
A bright and cheerful face; 130
And Ina looked for her abode,
The promised hiding-place;
No threshold could be seen,
As it had ever been.
Advancing, you might guess an hour,
The front with such nice care
But in they entered are; 140
As shaggy as were wall and roof
With branches intertwined,
And delicately lined:
And hearth was there, and niaple dish, 145
And cups in seemly rows,
For nurture or repose;
That there she may abide 150
In solitude, with every want
By cautious love supplied.
No queen before a shouting crowd
Led on in bridal state, E'er struggled with a heart so proud, 155
Entering her palace gate;
No saintly anchoress
"With deeper thankfulness. 160
"Father of all, upon thy care
And mercy am I thrown; Be thou my safeguard!"—such her prayer
When she was left alone,
When joy had passed away,
To hide what they betray!
The prayer is heard, the Saints have seen,
Diffused through form and face, 170
Eesolves devotedly serene;
That monumental grace
That JReason should control;
A statue of the soul.
'Tis sung in ancient minstrelsy
That Phoebus wont to wear The leaves of any pleasant tree
Around his golden hair; 1S0
Till Daphne, desperate with pursuit
Of his imperious love,
A laurel in the grove.
Then did the Penitent adorn 185
His brow with laurel green;
No meaner leaf was seen;
About their temples wound 190
The bay; and conquerors thanked the Grods,
With laurel chaplets crowned.
Into the mists of fabling Time
So far runs back the praise
Along forbidden ways;
Where mutual love is not;
When life would be a blot. 200
To this fair Votaress a fate
More mild doth Heaven ordain Upon her Island desolate;
And words, not breathed in vain, Might tell what intercourse she found, 205
Her silence to endear; What birds she tamed, what flowers the ground
Sent forth her peace to cheer.
To one mute Presence, above all,
Her soothed affections clung, 210
A picture on the cabin wall
By Russian usage hung— The Mother-maid, whose countenance bright
With love abridged the day; And, communed with by taper light, 215
Chased spectral fears away.
And oft, as either Guardian came,
The joy in that retreat
So high their hearts would beat; 220
And to the lone Recluse, whate'er
They brought, each visiting Was like the crowding of the year
With a new burst of spring.
But when she of her Parents thought, 22.5
The pang was hard to bear;
That trouble still is near.
Their constancy to prove, 230
Too much the heroic Daughter feared
The weakness of their love.
Dark is the past to them, and dark
The future still must be,
Into a safer sea—
And set her Spirit free
In vestal purity. . 240