Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
The Mass
By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
WITH naked foot, and sackcloth vest,
And arms infolded on his breast,
  Did every pilgrim go;
The standers-by might hear uneath,
Footstep, or voice, or high-drawn breath,        5
  Through all the lengthened row:
No lordly look, nor martial stride,
Gone was their glory, sunk their pride,
  Forgotten their renown;
Silent and slow, like ghosts, they glide        10
To the high altar’s hallowed side,
  And there they knelt them down:
Above the suppliant chieftains wave
The banners of departed brave;
Beneath the lettered stones were laid        15
The ashes of their fathers dead;
From many a garnished niche around,
Stern saints and tortured martyrs frowned.
And slow up the dim aisle afar,
With sable cowl and scapular,        20
And snow-white stoles, in order due,
The holy Fathers, two and two,
  In long procession came:
Taper, and host, and book they bare,
And holy banner, flourished fair        25
  With the Redeemer’s name.
Above the prostrate pilgrim band
The mitred Abbot stretched his hand,
  And blessed them as they kneeled;
With holy cross he signed them all,        30
And prayed they might be sage in hall,
  And fortunate in field.
Then mass was sung, and prayers were said,
And solemn requiem for the dead;
And bells tolled out their mighty peal,        35
For the departed spirit’s weal;
And ever in the office close
The hymn of intercession rose;
And far the echoing aisles prolong
The awful burden of the song,—        40
While the pealing organ rung;
  Were it meet with sacred strain
  To close my lay, so light and vain,        45
  Thus the holy Fathers sung:—

That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner’s stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?        50
When, shrivelling like a parchèd scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead!
Oh! on that day, that wrathful day,        55
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be THOU the trembling sinner’s stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away!

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