Francis Turner Palgrave

At Fountains


Blest hour, as on green happy slopes I lie,
  Gray walls around and high,
While long-ranged arches lessen on the view,
  And one high gracious curve
Of shaftless window frames the limpid blue.

--God's altar erst, where wind-set rowan now
  Waves its green-finger'd bough,
And the brown tiny creeper mounts the bole
  With curious eye alert,
And beak that tries each insect-haunted hole,

And lives her gentle life from nest to nest,
  And dies undispossess'd:
Whilst all the air is quick with noise of birds
  Where once the chant went up;
Now musical with a song more sweet than words.

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 air,
  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 secure,
  --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 again
  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.

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