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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 enquiring 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 had 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 Aaliza 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:

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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! There face by face, and hand by hand, The Claphams and Mauleverers stand; And, in his place, among son and sire, Is John de Clapham, that fierce Esquire, — A valiant man, and a name of dread, In the ruthless wars of the White and Red; — Who dragged Earl Pembroke from Banbury church, And smote off his head on the stones of the porch! Look down among them, if you dare; Oft does the White Doe loiter there, Prying into the darksome rent; Nor can it be with good intent: — So thinks that Dame of haughty air,

Who hath a Page her book to hold,
And wears a frontlet edged with gold.
Well may her thoughts be harsh; for she
Numbers among her ancestry
Earl Pembroke, slain so impiously!

That slender Youth, a scholar pale,
From Oxford come to his native vale,
He also hath his own conceit:
It is, thinks he, the gracious Fairy,
Who loved the Shepherd Lord to meet
In his wanderings solitary;
Wild notes she in his hearing sang,
A song of Nature's hidden powers;
That whistled like the wind, and rang Among the rocks and holly bowers. 'Twas said that she all shapes could wear;And oftentimes before him stood, Amid the trees of some thick wood, In semblance of a lady fair, And taught him signs, and shewed him sights, In Craven's dens, on Cumbria's heights;

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