Imágenes de páginas

sheep-shearing, when they are clipt, and their wool woven by some dexterous hand into an archiepiscopal pall or pallium.

If saints and saints' days were not things altogether beyond the pale of human reason, we might wonder how so bitter an enemy to the marriage state, as far as concerned herself, should ever be induced to reveal to curious maids and bachelors the forms of their future partners in wedlock. Yet so it was. "On St. Agnes night," says Aubrey, " take a row of pins and pull out every one, one after another, saying a pater-noster or our father, sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall marry." Fasting however, according to some authorities, was a requisite part of the ceremony, or perhaps if this were observed the pin-sticking might be dispensed with. Thus, in the old comedy of " Cupid's Whirligig," the alderman's daughter Nan tells her friend, that she could find in her heart "to pray nine times to the moone, and fast three Saint Agnes' Eves, so that I might bee sure to have him to my husband." So too Burton: "they'll give anything to know when they shall be married, how many husbands they shall have, by cromnyomantia, a kinde of divination with onions laid on the altar on Christmass Eve, or by fasting on St. Agnes' Eve or night, who shall be their first husband; or by amphitomantia, by beans in a cake, &c., to burn the same."

We cannot close this antiquarian lore more agreeably than by giving some portions of Keats's poem of " The Eve of St. Agnes":—

St . Agnes' Eve 1 Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass.
And silent was the flock in woolly fold.
• •»»••

They told her how upon St. Agnes' Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft ndorings from their loves receive
Upon the honeyed middle of the night,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties lily-white;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline.
* *****

Out went the taper as she hurried in,
Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died:
She closed the door, she panted, all akin
To spirits of the air, and visions wide,
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.

A casement high and triple arched there was,
All garlanded with carven imageries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep damasked wings,
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, with dim emblazonings,
A shielded 'scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.

Full on the casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
As down she knelt for Heaven's grace and boon,
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory like a saint;
She seemed a splendid angel, newly drest,
Save wings, for heaven.
***** *

Her vespers done ******

Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees
In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.


We live in a land of dreams, in sooth,

We dream o'er the flowers in spring!
We dream, when the freshening showers descend,

Like dew from an angel's wing.

Who hath not dreamed in the falling snow—

The soft and slumbrous snow,
That comes from heaven like a dream of light,

Shed over the world below?

Like the pure and peaceful thoughts which come

To the mild but earnest heart: Gentle, and noiseless, and full of light

As angels' tears may start,

To come to earth in purity,

Like all the gifts of God:
Yet, like our purest thoughts of heaven,

Soon borrow the taint of sod.

The loveliest thing is soonest marred—

The purest, soonest stained;
As the sweetest spirit earth e'er saw,

By her lightest pang was pained.

'Tis sad to see the truth that comes

Like the Heaven-sent, stainless snow, Eeveal the print of the ruthless foot,

With its soil of sin and woe.

But the holy sunshine comes to bless,

To renew the tarnished sod; To diffuse the gift of purity,

And call it back to God.

The stains of earth return to earth

As the body returns to dust;
But the snow-mist soars, with the light to heaven,

Like the soul on the wings of trust.

Elizabeth Marianne Sterling.

[graphic][merged small]

St. Bridget.

Bishop Blaise born, 1788.
The wild-goose departs ab. this
Sir Robert Peel b. 1788. [time.
Charles II. died, 1685.
St. Richard of the W. Saxons.
Queen Mary beheaded, 1587.
Birds begin to build.
Queen Victoria married, 1840.
Washington born, 1723.
Lady Jane Grey behead. 1555.
English Revolution, 1688.
Valentine's Day.
Louis XV. born, 1710.
Melanehthon born, 1497.
Michael Angelo died, 1563.
Martin Luther died, 1546.
Vanini burnt, 1619.
Wild swan departs about this
JamesI.(8cot.)mur.l497. [time.
Edward III. 1st Eng. jubilee.
Revolution in Paris, 1848.
St. Ethelbert. (Died, 616.)
The crocus begins to flower.
Bonaparte escapes fr. Elba, 1815.
Sir Christopher Wren d. 1723.
Hare hunting ends.
Whitgit't died.

[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »