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Methinks she passeth by the sight,
As a common creature might:

If she be doomed to inward care,
Or service, it must lie elsewhere.
-But hers are eyes serenely bright,

And on she moves - with pace how light!
Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste
The dewy turf with flowers bestrown;
And thus she fares, until at last
Beside the ridge of a grassy grave

In quietness she lays her down ;
Gently as a weary wave

Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died,

Against an anchored vessel's side;

Even so, without distress, doth she

Lie down in peace, and lovingly.

The day is placid in its going,
To a lingering motion bound,
Like the river in its flowing -
Can there be a softer sound?
So the balmy minutes pass,
While this radiant Creature lies
Couched upon the dewy grass,
Pensively with downcast eyes.

When now again the people rear

A voice of praise, with awful cheer!
It is the last, the parting song;

And from the temple forth they throng-
And quickly spread themselves abroad-
While each pursues his several road.
But some, a variegated band,

Of middle-aged, and old, and young,
And little children by the hand
Upon their leading mothers hung,

Turn, with obeisance gladly paid,
Towards the spot, where, full in view,
The lovely Doe of whitest hue,

Her sabbath couch has made.

It was a solitary mound;

Which two spears' length of level ground

Did from all other graves divide :

As if in some respect of pride;

Or melancholy's sickly mood,
Still shy of human neighbourhood;
Or guilt, that humbly would express
A penitential loneliness.


"Look, there she is, my Child! draw near; She fears not, wherefore should we fear?

She means no harm;" — but still the Boy,
To whom the words were softly said,
Hung back, and smiled and blushed for joy,
A shame-faced blush of glowing red!
Again the Mother whispered low,
"Now you have seen the famous Doe;
From Rylstone she hath found her way
Over the hills this sabbath-day;
Her work, whate'er it be, is done,

And she will depart when we are gone;
Thus doth she keep from year to year,
Her sabbath morning, foul or fair."

This whisper soft repeats what he

Had known from early infancy.

Bright is the Creature — as in dreams

The Boy had seen her — yea more bright;

But is she truly what she seems?

He asks with insecure delight,

Asks of himself - and doubts - and still

The doubt returns against his will:
Though he, and all the standers-by,
Could tell a tragic history

Of facts divulged, wherein appear

Substantial motive, reason clear,

Why thus the milk-white Doe is found Couchant beside that lonely mound; And why she duly loves to pace The circuit of this hallowed place. Nor to the Child's inquiring mind Is such perplexity confined: For, spite of sober truth, that sees A world of fixed remembrances Which to this mystery belong, . If, undeceived, my skill can trace The characters of every face, There lack not strange delusion here, Conjecture vague, and idle fear,

And superstitious fancies strong, Which do the gentle Creature wrong.

That bearded, staff-supported Sire, (Who in his youth hath often fed Full cheerily on convent-bread,

And heard old tales by the convent-fire, And lately hath brought home the scars Gathered in long and distant wars)

That Old Man-studious to expound

The spectacle hath mounted high

To days of dim antiquity;

When Lady Aäliza mourned

Her Son, and felt in her despair,
The pang of unavailing prayer;
Her Son in Wharf's abysses drowned,
The noble Boy of Egremound.

From which affliction, when God's grace
At length had in her heart found place,
A pious structure, fair to see,

Rose up this stately Priory!

The Lady's work, but now laid low;

To the grief of her soul that doth come and go,

In the beautiful form of this innocent Doe:

Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain
A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,

Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright;
And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light.

Pass, pass who will, yon chantry door; And, through the chink in the fractured floor Look down, and see a griesly sight;

A vault where the bodies are buried upright!

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