Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
Monk’s Song (from The Roman)
By Sydney Dobell (1824–1874)
THERE went an incense through the land one night,
Through the hushed holy land, when tired men slept.
[Interlude of music.    
The haughty sun of June had walked, long days,
Through the tall pastures which, like mendicants,
Hung their sere heads and sued for rain: and he        5
Had thrown them none. And now it was high hay-time,
Through the sweet valley all the flowery wealth
At once lay low, at once ambrosial blood
Cried to the moonlight from a thousand fields.
And through the land the incense went that night,        10
Through the hushed holy land when tired men slept.
It fell upon the sage; who with his lamp
Put out the light of heaven. He felt it come
Sweetening the musty tomes, like the fair shape
Of that one blighted love, which from the past        15
Steals oft among his mouldering thoughts of wisdom.
And SHE came with it, borne on airs of youth;
Old days sang round her, old memorial days;
She crowned with tears, they dressed in flowers, all faded—
And the night-fragrance is a harmony        20
All through the old man’s soul. Voices of eld,
The home, the church upon the village green,
Old thoughts that circle like the birds of Even
Round the grey spire. Soft sweet regrets, like sunset
Lighting old windows with gleams day had not.        25
Ghosts of dead years, whispering old silent names
Through grass-grown pathways, by halls mouldering now.
Childhood—the fragrance of forgotten fields;
Manhood—the unforgotten fields whose fragrance
Passed like a breath; the time of buttercups,        30
The fluttering time of sweet forget-me-nots;
The time of passion and the rose—the hay-time
Of that last summer of hope! The old man weeps,
The old man weeps.
His aimless hands the joyless books put by;        35
As one that dreams and fears to wake, the sage
With vacant eye stifles the trembling taper,
Lets in the moonlight—and for once is wise.

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