Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MONKISH LEGEND, by PHOEBE CARY



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A MONKISH LEGEND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Beautiful stories, by tongue and pen
Last Line: Cannot tire of love!
Subject(s): Monks


BEAUTIFUL stories, by tongue and pen,
Are told of holy women and men,
Who have heard, entranced in some lonely cell,
The things not lawful for lip to tell;
And seen, when their souls were caught away,
What they might not say.

But one of the sweetest in tale or rhyme
Is told of a monk of the olden time,
Who read all day in his sacred nook
The words of the good Saint Austin's book,
Where he tells of the city of God, that best
Last place of rest.

Sighing, the holy father said,
As he shut the volume he had read:
"Methinks if heaven shall only be
A Sabbath long as eternity,
Its bliss will at last be a weary reign,
And its peace be pain."

So he wandered, musing under his hood,
Far into the depths of a solemn wood;
Where a bird was singing, so soft and clear,
That he paused and listened with charmed ear;
Listened, nor knew, while thus intent,
How the moments went.

But the music ceased, and the sweet spell broke,
And as if from a guilty dream he woke,
That holy man, and he cried aghast,
"Mea culpa! an hour has passed,
And I have not counted my beads, nor prayed
To the saints for aid!"

Then, amazed he fled; but his horror grew,
For the wood was strange, and the pathway new;
Yet, with trembling step, he hurried on,
Till at last the open plain was won,
Where, grim and black, o'er the vale around,
The convent frowned.

"Holy Saint Austin!" cried the monk,
And down on the ground for terror sunk;
For lo! the convent, tower, and cell,
Sacred crucifix, blessed bell,
Had passed away, and in their stead, Was a ruin spread.

In that hour, while the rapture held him fast,
A century had come and passed;
And he rose an altered man, and went
His way, and knew what the vision meant;
For a mighty truth, till then unknown,
By that trance was shown.

And he saw how the saints, with their
Lord, shall say.
A thousand years are but as a day;
Since bliss itself must grow from bliss,
And holiness from holiness;
And love, while eternity's ages move,
Cannot tire of love!





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