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Legends and Lyrics Part 2   By: (1825-1864)

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A Legend of Provence Envy Over the Mountain Beyond A Warning Maximus Optimus A Lost Chord Too Late The Requital Returned "Missing" In the Wood Two Worlds A New Mother Give Place My Will King and Slave A Chant Dream Life Rest The Tyrant and the Captive The Carver's Lesson Three Roses My Picture Gallery Sent to Heaven Never Again Listening Angels Golden Days Philip and Mildred Borrowed Thoughts Light and Shade A Changeling Discouraged If Thou couldst know The Warrior to his Dead Bride A Letter A Comforter Unseen A Remembrance of Autumn Three Evenings in a Life The Wind Expectation An Ideal Our Dead A Woman's Answer The Story of the Faithful Soul A Contrast The Bride's Dream The Angel's Bidding Spring Evening Hymn The Inner Chamber Hearts Two Loves A Woman's Last Word Past and Present For the Future


The lights extinguished, by the hearth I leant, Half weary with a listless discontent. The flickering giant shadows, gathering near, Closed round me with a dim and silent fear. All dull, all dark; save when the leaping flame, Glancing, lit up a Picture's ancient frame. Above the hearth it hung. Perhaps the night, My foolish tremors, or the gleaming light, Lent power to that Portrait dark and quaint A Portrait such as Rembrandt loved to paint The likeness of a Nun. I seemed to trace A world of sorrow in the patient face, In the thin hands folded across her breast Its own and the room's shadow hid the rest. I gazed and dreamed, and the dull embers stirred, Till an old legend that I once had heard Came back to me; linked to the mystic gloom Of that dark Picture in the ghostly room. In the far south, where clustering vines are hung; Where first the old chivalric lays were sung, Where earliest smiled that gracious child of France, Angel and knight and fairy, called Romance, I stood one day. The warm blue June was spread Upon the earth; blue summer overhead, Without a cloud to fleck its radiant glare, Without a breath to stir its sultry air. All still, all silent, save the sobbing rush Of rippling waves, that lapsed in silver hush Upon the beach; where, glittering towards the strand, The purple Mediterranean kissed the land.

All still, all peaceful; when a convent chime Broke on the mid day silence for a time, Then trembling into quiet, seemed to cease, In deeper silence and more utter peace. So as I turned to gaze, where gleaming white, Half hid by shadowy trees from passers' sight, The Convent lay, one who had dwelt for long In that fair home of ancient tale and song, Who knew the story of each cave and hill, And every haunting fancy lingering still Within the land, spake thus to me, and told The Convent's treasured Legend, quaint and old:

Long years ago, a dense and flowering wood, Still more concealed where the white convent stood, Borne on its perfumed wings the title came: "Our Lady of the Hawthorns" is its name. Then did that bell, which still rings out to day, Bid all the country rise, or eat, or pray. Before that convent shrine, the haughty knight Passed the lone vigil of his perilous fight; For humbler cottage strife or village brawl, The Abbess listened, prayed, and settled all. Young hearts that came, weighed down by love or wrong, Left her kind presence comforted and strong. Each passing pilgrim, and each beggar's right Was food, and rest, and shelter for the night. But, more than this, the Nuns could well impart The deepest mysteries of the healing art; Their store of herbs and simples was renowned, And held in wondering faith for miles around. Thus strife, love, sorrow, good and evil fate, Found help and blessing at the convent gate.

Of all the nuns, no heart was half so light, No eyelids veiling glances half as bright, No step that glided with such noiseless feet, No face that looked so tender or so sweet, No voice that rose in choir so pure, so clear, No heart to all the others half so dear, So surely touched by others' pain or woe, (Guessing the grief her young life could not know,) No soul in childlike faith so undefiled, As Sister Angela's, the "Convent Child... Continue reading book >>

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