Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Miscellaneous Poems.
II. St. Valerie
By Lætitia Elizabeth Maclean (1802–1838)
 
RAISED on the rocky barriers of the sea,
Stands thy dark convent, fair St. Valerie!
Lone like an eagle’s nest, the pine-trees tall
Throw their long shadows on the heavy wall,
Where never sound is heard, save the wild sweep        5
Of mountain waters rushing to the deep,
The tempest’s midnight song, the battle-cry
Of warring winds, like armies met on high,
And in a silent hour the convent chime.
And sometimes, at the quiet evening time        10
A vesper song—those tones, so pure so sweet,
When airs of earth and words of heaven do meet!
Sad is the legend of that young Saint’s doom!
When the Spring Rose was in its May of bloom
The storm was darkening; at that sweet hour        15
When hands beloved had reared her nuptial bower,
The pestilence came o’er the land, and he
  With whom her heart was, died that very morn—
Her bridal morn! Alas, that there should be
  Such evil ever for affection born!        20
She shrank away from earth, for solitude
  Is the sole refuge for the heart’s worst pain;
Life had no ties,—she turned her unto heaven,
  And on the steep rock reared her holy fane.
It has an air of sadness, as just meet        25
For the so broken heart’s last lone retreat!
A portrait here has still preserved each charm:
I saw it one bright evening, when the warm
Last glow of sunset shed its crimson ray
Over the lovely image. She was fair        30
As those most radiant spirits of the air
Whose life is amid flowers! like the day,
The golden summer day, her glossy hair
Fell o’er a brow of Indian ivory;
Her cheek was pale, and in her large dark eye        35
There was a thought of sorrow, and her brow
Upon one small snow hand leaned pensively,
As if to hide her tears;—the other pressed
A silver crucifix upon her breast.
I ne’er saw sadness touching as in thee        40
And thy lorn look, oh fair St. Valerie!
 
 
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