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“ But whither would


A poor Man's counsel take;
The Holy Virgin gives to me

A thought for your dear sake; Rest, shielded by our Lady's grace,

And soon shall you be led Forth to a safe abiding-place,

Where never foot doth tread."




The dwelling of this faithful pair

In a straggling village stood, For One who breathed unquiet air

A dangerous neighbourhood; But wide around lay forest ground

With thickets rough and blind; And pine-trees made a heavy shade

Impervious to the wind.

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And there, sequestered from the sight,

Was spread a treacherous swamp,
On which the noonday sun shed light

As from a lonely lamp;
And midway in the unsafe morass,

A single Island rose
Of firm dry ground, with healthful grass

Adorned, and shady boughs.


The Woodman knew, for such the craft.

This Russian vassal plied,
That never fowler's gun, nor shaft

Of archer, there was tried;
A sanctuary seemed the spot

From all intrusion free;
And there he planned an artful Cot

For perfect secrecy.



With earnest pains unchecked by dread

Of Power's far-stretching hand, The bold good Man his labour sped

At nature's pure command ;
Heart-soothed, and busy as a wren,

While, in a hollow nook,
She moulds her sight-eluding den

Above a murmuring brook.

I 20

His task accomplished to his mind,

The twain ere break of day
Creep forth, and through the forest wind

Their solitary way;
Few words they speak, nor dare to slack

Their pace from mile to mile,
Till they have crossed the quaking marsh,

And reached the lonely Isle.



The sun above the pine-trees showed

A bright and cheerful face;
And Ina looked for her abode,

The promised hiding-place;
She sought in vain, the Woodman smiled;

No threshold could be seen,
Nor roof, nor window ;--all seemed wild

As it had ever been.



Advancing, you might guess an hour,

The front with such nice care
Is masked, “if house it be or bower,"

But in they entered are;
As shaggy as were wall and roof

With branches intertwined,
So smooth was all within, air-proof,

And delicately lined :


And bearth was there, and maple dish,

And cups in seemly rows,
And couch-all ready to a wish

For nurture or repose;
And Heaven doth to her virtue grant

That there she may abide
In solitude, with every want

By cautious love supplied.



No queen before a shouting crowd

Led on in bridal state,
E'er struggled with a heart so proud,

Entering her palace gate;
Rejoiced to bid the world farewell,

No saintly anchoress
E’er took possession of her cell

With deeper thankfulness.


“Father of all, upon thy care

And mercy am I thrown; Be thou my safeguard !”—such her prayer

When she was left alone, Kneeling amid the wilderness

165 When joy had passed away, And smiles, fond efforts of distress

To hide what they betray!


The prayer is heard, the Saints have seen,

Diffused through form and face,
Resolves devotedly serene;

That monumental grace
Of Faith, which doth all passions tame

That Reason should control;
And shows in the untrembling frame 175

A statue of the soul,


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'Tis sung in ancient minstrelsy

That Phoebus wont to wear
The leaves of any pleasant tree

Around his golden hair;
Till Daphne, desperate with pursuit

Of his imperious love,
At her own prayer transformed, took root,

A laurel in the grove.


Then did the Penitent adorn

His brow with laurel green ;
And ’mid his bright locks never shorn

No meaner leaf was seen;
And poets sage, through every age,

About their temples wound
The bay; and conquerors thanked the Gods,

With laurel chaplets crowned.



Into the mists of fabling Time

So far runs back the praise
Of Beauty, that disdains to climb

Along forbidden ways;
That scorns temptation ; power defies

Where mutual love is not;
And to the tomb for rescue flies

When life would be a blot.


To this fair Votaress a fate

More mild doth Heaven ordain Upon her Island desolate;

And words, not breathed in vain, Might tell what intercourse she found, 205 Her silence to endear

; What birds she tamed, what flowers the ground

Sent forth her peace to cheer.


To one mute Presence, above all,

Her soothed affections clung, A picture on the cabin wall

By Russian usage hungThe Mother-maid, whose countenance bright

With love abridged the day; And, communed with by taper light, 215

Chased spectral fears away.


And oft, as either Guardian came,

The joy in that retreat
Might any common friendship shame,

So high their hearts would beat;
And to the lone Recluse, whate'er

They brought, each visiting Was like the crowding of the year

With a new burst of spring.


But when she of her Parents thought,

The pang was hard to bear;
And, if with all things not enwrought,

That trouble still is near.
Before her flight she had not dared

Their constancy to prove,
Too much the heroic Daughter feared

The weakness of their love.



Dark is the past to them, and dark

The future still must be,
Till pitying Saints conduct her bark

Into a safer sea-
Or gentle Nature close her eyes,

And set her Spirit free
From the altar of this sacrifice,

In vestal purity.


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