Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
Spain: Escurial (Escorial), the
The Escorial
Martha Perry Lowe (1829–1902)
I LOVE the solemn awe that broods around
This spot, so wondrous in its solitude:
’T is grave, e’en as the ancient faith that walked
In high austerity throughout the land;
’T is still, as if the many hundred monks        5
Who lie beneath my feet had e’en but now
To Mary said their prayer, and, one by one,
Crept down below unto their rest in death;
’T is cold and calm as was the iron front
Of him, its king, who built him here a house,        10
Where, with his bosom-friend Remorse, he came,
And, in her dread companionship, grew pale
With looking on the blackness of his soul,
And pondering how best to meet his God;
’T is awful, with its royal dead, who lie        15
In chill magnificence.
                    The mountains gray,
Wherein the Escorial sits, breathe o’er her like
Ascetics rude. The very hedgerows dare
Not seek in graceful longing the glad sky,
But their young shoots are disciplined unto        20
A goodly sanctity.
                But, ah! behold
The pages of the ancient manuscripts,
With History’s morning twilight, gold and red!
We of the more advancing day have paled
The horizon of our books, as of our lives;        25
And in the broad, clear beams of Learning’s sun,
We know not the old age’s intensity.
The streaks of opening glory then burned in
A deeper coloring to all her thought.
Poor Philip! I can see thee now, within        30
The narrow room near by the chapel, where,
Midst all thy mortal pains, thy gaze was fixed
Upon the altar, while thy dying bed
Was quivering in the mighty organ’s roll.
Thy worship’s pageantry moved daily o’er        35
Thy glazing eye: like him who walks the night
In dreams, thou seeing wert, and seeing not.
Ah! better he, the pure in heart, who makes
His bed beneath the open dome of stars,
And seeth God, the great High Priest, perform        40
The ritual of the world, and, on the voice
Of answering Nature, passeth unto heaven!

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