James Montgomery

Dale Abbey

A solitary arch in the middle of an open meadow, and a small oratory more ancient than the monastery itself,—now the chapel of ease for the hamlet,—are alone conspicuous of all the magnificent structures which once occupied this ground. The site is about five miles northeast from Derby.


THE GLORY hath departed from thee, Dale!
Thy gorgeous pageant of monastic pride,—
  A power that once the power of kings defied,
Which truth and reason might in vain assail,
In mock humility usurped this vale,
  And lorded o’er the region far and wide;
  Darkness to light, evil to good allied,
Had wrought a charm, which made all hearts to quail.

What gave that power dominion on this ground,
Age after age?—the Word of God was bound!—
  At length the mighty captive burst from thrall,
O’erturned the spiritual bastile in its march,
And left of ancient grandeur this sole arch,
  Whose stones cry out, “Thus Babylon herself shall fall.”

More beautiful in ruin than in prime,
  Methinks this frail yet firm memorial stands,
  The work of heads laid low, and buried hands:
Now slowly mouldering to the touch of time,
It looks abroad, unconsciously sublime,
  Where sky above and earth beneath expands:
  And yet a nobler relic still demands
The grateful homage of a passing rhyme.

Beneath the cliff yon humble roof behold!
Poor as our Saviour’s birthplace; yet a fold,
  Where the good shepherd, in this quiet vale,
Gathers his flock, and feeds them, as of old,
  With bread from heaven:—I change my note;—all hail!
  The glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, Dale!

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