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Would chatter with the cold, and all my beard
Was tagg'd with icy fringes in the moon, I drown'd the whoopings of the owl with sound
Of pious hymns and psalms, and sometimes saw
An angel stand and watch me, as I sang. Now am I feeble grown; my end draws nigh;
I hope my end draws nigh: half deaf I
So that I scarce can hear the people hum About the column's base, and almost blind, And scarce can recognise the fields I know;
And both my thighs are rotted with the dew;
Yet cease I not to clamour and to cry, While my stiff spine can hold my weary head,
Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the stone,
Have mercy, mercy: take away my sin.
O Jesus, if thou wilt not save my soul, Who may be saved? who is it may be
Who may be made a saint, if I fail here? Show me the man hath suffer'd more
For did not all thy martyrs die one death? For either they were stoned, or crucified, Or burn'd in fire, or boil'd in oil, or sawn In twain beneath the ribs; but I die here To-day, and whole years long, a life of death.
Bear witness, if I could have found a way (And heedfully I sifted all my thought) More slowly-painful to subdue this home Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate, I had not stinted practice, O my God.
For not alone this pillar-punishment, Not this alone I bore: but while I lived In the white convent down the valley there, For many weeks about my loins I wore The rope that haled the buckets from the well,
Twisted as tight as I could knot the noose;
I bore, whereof, O God, thou knowest all. Three winters, that my soul might grow to thee,
I lived up there on yonder mountain side.
My right leg chain'd into the crag, I lay Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones; Inswathed sometimes in wandering mist, and twice
Black'd with thy branding thunder, and sometimes
Sucking the damps for drink, and eating not,
Except the spare chance-gift of those that came
To touch my body and be heal'd, and live: And they say then that I work'd miracles, Whereof my fame is loud amongst man
Cured lameness, palsies, cancers. Thou, O God,
Knowest alone whether this was or no. Have mercy, mercy! cover all my sin. Then, that I might be more alone with thee,
Three years I lived upon a pillar, high Six cubits, and three years on one of twelve;
And twice three years I crouch'd on one that rose
Twenty by measure; last of all, I grew
May match his pains with mine; but what of that?
Yet do not rise; for you may look on me, And in your looking you may kneel to God.
Speak! is there any of you halt or maim'd? I think you know I have some power with Heaven
From my long penance: let him speak his wish.
Yes, I can heal him. Power goes forth from me.
They say that they are heal'd. Ah, hark! they shout
'St. Simeon Stylites.' Why, if so,
And lower voices saint me from above.
Whole Lents, and pray. I hardly, with slow steps,
With slow, faint steps, and much exceeding pain,
Have scrambled past those pits of fire, that still
Sing in mine ears. But yield not me the praise :
God only thro' his bounty hath thought fit, Among the powers and princes of this world,
To make me an example to mankind, Which few can reach to. Yet I do not say
But that a time may come — yea, even now,
Now, now, his footsteps smite the threshold stairs
My brows are ready.
Nay, draw, draw, draw nigh. So I Christ!
'Tis gone: 'tis here again; the crown!
So now 'tis fitted on and grows to me, And from it melt the dews of Paradise, Sweet! sweet! spikenard, and balm, and frankincense.
Ah! let me not be fool'd, sweet saints: I trust
That I am whole, and clean, and meet for Heaven.
Speak, if there be a priest, a man of
Among you there, and let him presently Approach, and lean a ladder on the shaft,
And climbing up into my airy home,
But thou, O Lord, Aid all this foolish people; let them take Example, pattern: lead them to thy light.
THE TALKING OAK.
ONCE more the gate behind me falls;
I see the moulder'd Abbey-walls,
Beyond the lodge the city lies,
For when my passion first began,
Ere that, which in me burn'd, The love, that makes me thrice a man, Could hope itself return'd;
To yonder oak within the field
For oft I talk'd with him apart, And told him of my choice, Until he plagiarised a heart,
And answer'd with a voice.
Tho' what he whisper'd under Heaven
But since I heard him make reply
Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,
Say thou, whereon I carved her name, If ever maid or spouse,
As fair as my Olivia, came
To rest beneath thy boughs.—
'O Walter, I have shelter'd here
'Old Summers, when the monk was fat,
'Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence,
'And I have seen some score of those
'And all that from the town would stroll,
Till that wild wind made work In which the gloomy brewer's soul Went by me, like a stork :
'The slight she-slips of loyal blood, And others, passing praise,