Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Scotland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII.  1876–79.
Lincluden Abbey
To the Ruins of Lincluden Abbey
Ascribed to Robert Burns
YE holy walls, that still sublime
Resist the crumbling touch of Time,
How strongly still your form displays
The piety of ancient days.
As through your ruins hoar and gray—        5
Ruins, yet beauteous in decay—
The silvery moonbeams trembling fly,
The forms of ages long gone by
Crowd thick on Fancy’s wondering eye,
And wake the soul to musings high.        10
Even now, as lost in thought profound,
I view the solemn scene around,
And pensive gaze with wistful eyes,
The past returns, the present flies;
Again the dome, in pristine pride,        15
Lifts high its roof, and arches wide,
That, knit with curious tracery,
Each Gothic ornament display;
The high-arched windows, painted fair,
Show many a saint and martyr there;        20
As on their slender forms I gaze,
Methinks they brighten to a blaze;
With noiseless step and taper bright,
What are yon forms that meet my sight?
Slowly they move, while every eye        25
Is heavenward raised in ecstasy:—
’T is the fair, spotless vestal train,
That seeks in prayer the midnight fane.
And hark! what more than mortal sound
Of music breathes the pile around?        30
’T is the soft-chanted choral song,
Whose tones the echoing aisles prolong:
Till thence returned they softly stray
O’er Cluden’s wave with fond delay;
Now on the rising gale swell high,        35
And now in fainting murmurs die:
The boatmen on Nith’s gentle stream
That glistens in the pale moon’s beam,
Suspend their dashing oars to hear
The holy anthem, loud and clear;        40
Each worldly thought awhile forbear,
And mutter forth a half-formed prayer.
But as I gaze, the vision fails,
Like frost-work touched by southern gales;
The altar sinks, the tapers fade,        45
And all the splendid scene ’s decayed.
In window fair the painted pane
No longer glows with holy stain,
But through the broken glass the gale
Blows chilly from the misty vale.        50
The bird of eve flits sullen by,
Her home these aisles and arches high.
The choral hymn, that erst so clear
Broke softly sweet on Fancy’s ear,
Is drowned amid the mournful scream        55
That breaks the magic of my dream:
Roused by the sound, I start and see
The ruined, sad reality.

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