Fankal Abbey. A Poem
Where blooming Cockan rears her bounteous head,
Embower'd in verdant shades of deep repose,
And, gently murmuring o'er its rocky bed,
The winding Wear in wild meanders flows;
The ruins of an ancient Abbey stand,
Destroy'd by time's inexorable hand.
Here, may the proud, licentious young and gay,
A most instructive, useful lesson find;
They tell, thus all things hasten to decay,
Thus leave the relics of their pomp behind:
Far more than words, the solemn fragments shew
The empty vanity of all below.
Where once the venerable fabric rose,
Its mould'ring columns lie in broken heaps
O'er the once marbled floor the bramble grows,
And round the pillars twining ivy creeps:
The dusky isles, forsaken and forlorn,
O'ergrown with moss, and shagg'd with horrid thorn.
Here, solemn silence holds her awful reign,
Save when the stock-dove cooing thro' the grove,
In concert with the water's fretful strain,
In piteous accent mourns her absent love;
Or when nocturnal glooms obscure the skies,
The boding raven croaks, the screech owl cries.
Then timid fancy, overcome with fear,
Sees hideous spectres dart across the gloom:
Hears from the vaults loud shrieks, and groans most drear,
And solemn voices from the hollow tomb:
Combining horrors chill the vital blood,
And stop the progress of the crimson flood.
Avaunt ye airy phantoms of the brain!
Chimera's dire! imagination's brood!
'Tis your's alone to haunt the guilty train,
Whose sanguine hands are bath'd in human blood;
Undaunted virtue rears aloft her head,
For conscious innocence has nought to dread.
Here once, with solemn grandeur, o'er the flood
Its lofty spires projecting many a shade,
Magnificent the sacred mansion stood,
By stern and gloomy superstition sway'd;
Her legends, to the consecrated shrine,
Imputing miracles and power divine.
Here, e'er the lark's shrill matin wak'd the morn,
Rous'd by th' accustom'd solemn sounding bell,
Each visionary, pensive sage forlorn,
Left the retirement of his cloister'd cell;
Whilst the deep organ's bold majestic sound,
And vocal choir, the echoing walls rebound.
Here, by the midnight taper's glimmering light,
Th' enthusiastic pale recluses pray'd;
Or when bright Cynthia gilded gloomy night,
Romantic, stroll'd along the moon-light glade:
Here, whilst the thoughtless world regardless slept,
Their orisons, and solemn vigils kept.
On yonder spot the sacred altar stood,
Whence fragrant columns of ascending smoke,
From incense burning to the hallow'd rood,
Mingled with vivid flames, incessant broke:
Here, tutelary saints in painting shone,
And worshipp'd martyrs stood engrav'd in stone.
But now, O pleasing thought! how chang'd the scene,
Since Reformation, with her cheering smile,
Diffus'd around her principles benign,
And banish'd superstition from our isle;
Disperst the mists that veil'd our mental sight,
And plac'd religion in her native light.
As when the sun, refulgent lamp of day,
Ushers abroad his oriental light,
Phantoms and shadows fly before his ray,
And seek a shelter in the shades of night;
So Reformation, by her influence bright,
Dispels the gloom of intellectual light.
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