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THE prayers are o'er: why slumberest thou so


Thou voice of sacred song?

Why swell'st thou not, like breeze from mountain


High o'er the echoing nave,

The white-rob'd priest, as otherwhile, to guide,
Up to the altar's northern side?—

A mourner's tale of shame and sad decay

Keeps back our glorious sacrifice to-day :

The widow'd spouse of Christ: with ashes crown'd,
Her Christmas robes unbound,

She lingers in the porch for grief and fear,

Keeping her penance drear.

O is it nought to you? that idly gay,

Or coldly proud, ye turn away?

But if her warning tears in vain be spent,

Lo, to her alter'd eye the Law's stern fires are lent.

Each awful curse, that on Mount Ebal rang,

Peals with a direr clang

Out of that silver trump, whose tones of old
Forgiveness only told.

And who can blame the mother's fond affright',
Who sporting on some giddy height

Her infant sees, and springs with hurried hand
To snatch the rover from the dangerous strand?

But surer than all words the silent spell
(So Grecian legends tell)

When to her bird, too early scap'd the nest,
She bares her tender breast.

Smiling he turns and spreads his little wing,
There to glide home, there safely cling.

So yearns our mother o'er each truant son,
So softly falls the lay in fear and wrath begun.

Wayward and spoil'd she knows ye: the keen blast

That brac'd her youth, is past:

The rod of discipline, the robe of shame

She bears them in your name:

b Alluding to a beautiful anecdote in the Greek Anthology, tom. ii. 180.

ed. Jacobs. See Pleasures of Memory, p. 133.

Only return and love. But ye perchance

Are deeper plung'd in sorrow's trance:

Your God forgives, but ye no comfort take


ye have scourg'd the sins that in your conscience ache.

O heavy laden soul! kneel down and hear

Thy penance in calm fear:

With thine own lips to sentence all thy sin;
Then, by the judge within

Absolv'd, in thankful sacrifice to part

For ever with thy sullen heart,

Nor on remorseful thoughts to brood, and stain

The glory of the Cross, forgiven and cheer'd in vain


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