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They drank to the soul of Witlaf,
They drank to Christ the Lord, And to each of the Twelve Apostles,
Who had preached his holy word.
They drank to the Saints and Martyrs
Of the dismal days of yore,
They remembered one Saint more.
And the reader droned from the pulpit,
Like the murmur of many bees, The legend of good Saint Guthlac,
And Saint Basil's homilies;
Till the great bells of the convent,
From their prison in the tower, Guthlac and Bartholomæus,
Proclaimed the midnight hour.
And the Yule-log cracked in the chimney,
And the Abbot bowed his head,
But the Abbot was stark and dead.
Yet still in his pallid fingers
He clutched the golden bowl, In which, like a pearl dissolving,
Had sunk and dissolved his soul.
But not for this their revels
The jovial monks forbore,
We must drink to one Saint more !"
By his evening fire the artist
Pondered o'er his secret shame; Baffled, weary, and disheartened,
Still he mused, and dreamed of fame.
'Twas an image of the Virgin
That had tasked his utmost skill ; But alas ! his fair ideal
Vanished and escaped him still.
From a distant Eastern island
Had the precious wood been brought ; Day and night the anxious master
At his toil untiring wrought;
Till, discouraged and desponding,
Sat he now in shadows deep, And the day's humiliation
Found oblivion in sleep.
Then a voice cried, “Rise, 0 master!
From the burning brand of oak Shape the thought that stirs within thee !”
And the startled artist woke,
Woke, and from the smoking embers
Seized and quenched the glowing wood; And therefrom he carved an image,
And he saw that it was good.
O thou sculptor, painter, poet !
Take this lesson to thy heart : That is best which lieth nearest ;
Shape from that thy work of art.
It was Autumn, and incessant
Piped the quails from shocks and sheaves ; And, like living coals, the apples
Burned among the withering leaves.
Loud the clamorous bell was ringing
From its belfry gaunt and grim; 'Twas the daily call to labor,
Not a triumph meant for him.
Not the less he saw the landscape,
In its gleaming vapor veiled; Not the less he breathed the odors
That the dying leaves exhaled.
Thus, upon the village common,
By the school-boys he was found ; And the wise men, in their wisdom,
Put him straightway into pound.
Then the sombre village crier,
Ringing loud his brazen bell, Wandered down the street proclaiming
There was an estray to sell.
And the curious country people,
Rich and poor, and young and old, Came in haste to see this wondrous
Winged steed, with mane of gold.
Thus the day passed, and the evening
Fell, with vapors cold and dim; But it brought no food nor shelter,
Brought no straw nor stall, for him.
Patiently, and still expectant,
Looked he through the wooden bars, Saw the moon rise o'er the landscape, Saw the tranquil, patient stars ;