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A LEGEND OF TOLEDO, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Far down below the christian captives pine
Last Line: Is on the cross, salvation's blessed sign.
Subject(s): Charity; Philanthropy

FAR down below the Christian captives pine
In dungeon depths, and whoso dares to bring
Assuagements for their wounds, or food, or wine,
Must brave the fiercest vengeance of the King.

Richly is spread above the royal board,
The palace windows blaze with festal light,
And many a lady, many a Moorish lord,
The morning's triumph celebrate at night.

But could they all without remorse or fear
Feast, as though on earth were to be found
No hunger to appease, no want to cheer,
No dark and hopeless places underground?

Neither of knight nor captain is it told
That he was shamed at heart to do this thing;
One only was there, pitiful and bold —
A maiden, daughter of this impious King.

Three times the beauteous messenger of grace
She, passing to the dungeon from the hall,
Shone like an angel in that gloomy place,
And brought relief to some, and hope to all.

But envious eyes were on her, and her sire,
Upon her way, encountering unawares
Her passing thither the fourth time, in ire
Bids show what hidden in her lap she bears.

Thus, willing to condemn her in the sight
Of all, he spake: she tremblingly obeyed,
When, if old legends speak the truth aright,
Flowers filled her lap, — those only it displayed:

Roses and pinks and lilies there were found,
Marvel to her and them who saw the same;
All sweetest flowers that grow from earthly ground,
But nothing that might bring rebuke or blame.

Whatever is sown in love—the lowliest deed—
Shall bloom and be a flower in Paradise;
Yet springs not often from that precious seed
Harvest so prompt as this before our eyes.

But afterward how rescued from the court,
And from a faith which cannot save or bless,
To far-off hermitage she made resort,
A saintly dweller in the wilderness,

Her story, pictured on a cloister wall
In old Toledo, gives us not to know:
This only there appears, and this is all
We need to ask, whether of weal or woe —

That unto her who was in mercy bold,
Was given the knowledge of a faith divine;
For there in death we see her, and her hold
Is on the Cross, salvation's blessed sign.

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