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When a spent traveller dared intrude
Upon their awful solitude-
He was a young and fair-haired boy,
Unfit for aught but ease and joy ;
His eyes of deep and melting blue
For love and pity seemed to sue ;
His beautiful and sunny hair
Waved in long ringlets on the air ;
Though travel-soiled and worn was he
He seemed a child of royalty ;
Disordered was his rich attire,
Half quenched his eye of gentle fire,
And signs of tears and deep distress
Dimmed his surpassing loveliness.
And in what covert at that hour
Shall he his body hide,
For whom till then imperial power
Had every want supplied ?
He bent him to the ground in prayer To God who seeth every where ; He cried to him to aid a child Belated in the gloomy wild ; To guard with watchful care the fate Of one so weak and desolate. Nor rose that prayer unheard on high, Nor wanted angel succour nigh ; For pure and holy was the boy, And well saints' love might he enjoy. Their strength upbears him on his way, Their heavenly tones around him play, To his rapt ears the night-winds bring A rich melodious whispering. Thus, inly praying, on he fared, Girt round with his angelic guard,
Till a lone cell before him stood;
Hewn from the rock in that deep wood-
The gate an easy entrance gave,
He boldly pressed within the cave :
Why starts the child? What vision there
Bursts on his sight
Of mingled awe, and reverent fear,
And grave delight?
A dying man before him lay
Dressed in a hermit's coarse array;
He lay like one in tranquil rest,
Arms meekly crossed upon his breast;
A silver lamp above him swung ;
A crucifix before him hung;
It seemed he knew his hour was nigh,
And laid him down in prayer to die.
And, oh delight! around his bed,
And softly bending o'er his head,
To soothe his pains, a radiant band
Of angel forms was seen to stand ;
He heard their voices sweet and tender ;
He saw their soft and chastened splendour ;
In certain hope, and joyful faith,
He sunk into the arms of death.
The boy stood still-he scarce could deem
But that he saw a lovely dream;
He feared lest breath of his should scare
A vision so unearthly fair ;
When a grave man all clothed in white,
Whose garments shone with heavenly light,
Moved forth, and on the trembling child
His deep full eyes he fixed;
And when he spoke, his accents mild
Were love and pity mixed.
“ Fear not," he said, “I know of thee,
And thy strange mournful history;
Thy days, although a prince's son,
In one sad stream of sorrow run.
Thou hadst one friend—thy sainted mother,
But thy heart never found another.
Thy sire's despite, thy step-dame's hate
Have left thee lone and desolate ;
And young thou sail'st a stormy sea,
With noue, save God, to comfort thee :
And now, my child, with heart forlorn,
With limbs by cruel scourgings torn,
Thou leavest thy unnatural home
A houseless fugitive to roam,
Till thou canst find some narrow cell,
Where thou an anchorite may'st dwell,
And spend a holy lonely life,
Far from injustice, pain, and strife.
But pause--for not to thee is given
This easy lot by righteous heaven;
Nor should'st thou shrink or fly from trial,
That were a poor weak self-denial."
Then, too, the choir broke out-
6 Full soon, full soon the toil is done;
In faith and meekness hie thee on ;
Banish repining doubt.”
“ Aye—banish doubt," the grave man said; “ Live like this saintly hero dead;
A statesman bold and sage was he,
And high renowned for chivalry ;
And, aye, amid the careless court
He bore a thoughtful mind;
For holy solitude's resort
His soul in secret pined ; Yet not till duty's call had ceased, His mind, from wordly toils released, Was free to seek this calm recess Of self-chastising loneliness. So leave not thou thy high estate, Nor strive to escape thy cruel fate : Though now no influence thou may'st own, Yet heaven hath marked thee for a throne; And hence thou canst not sinless fly These mighty cares, these duties high ; Nor till thy realm is surely set, And peace and joy are firmly met, May'st thou thy perilous state resign For stern retirement's calm divine.”
" And must I bear, so young and lorn, My step-dame's hate, my father's scorn ? And must I leave this blessed spot,
Nor live a hermit now?
How shall I bear my hard, hard lot,
O holy angel ! how !”
“ Nay, nay, fair child, thou art not left
Alone, and of all aid bereft;
When harsh and cruel threats affray thee,
God's arm is
at hand to stay thee ; And angel bands around, above, Watch all thy ways with sleepless love.
Keep thou thy faith still pure and bright,
Fight against sin a manful fight,
And thy clear eyes
shall visions see,
To fill thy soul with holy glee.
All sights and sounds, by night and day,
Shall signs of heaven to thee convey ;
The sunbeam, and the silver moon,
The gurgling fount, the breeze of noon,
The shadows flickering in the woods
Shall speak of seraph multitudes,
All bent to work their Lord's high will,
All bent to guard the good from ill,
And aye, or by the day divine,
Or by the deep midnight,
The air that circles thee shall shine
With calm supernal light."
“ But time runs slow, and life is long,
And wearier seems through pain and wrong,
While all flies swift and peaceful here ;
O holy saint ! indulge my prayer !
I long to soar this world above,
Change grief for bliss, and hate for love-
All dull and gross my mortal birth,
All dim my ears and eyes,
I fain would leave the pains of earth
For joys of paradise."
“ Fair pilgrim on life's thorny way,"
The calm majestic voice did say,
“ Life's years, to those who think aright,
Fly like a vision of the night.
The world's a shadow. Time, at best
A moment in the eternal rest.