Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Glastonbury Abbey and Wells Cathedral

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Glastonbury Abbey and Wells Cathedral

By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

GLORY and boast of Avalon’s fair vale,

How beautiful thy ancient turrets rose!

Fancy yet sees them, in the sunshine pale,

Gleaming, or, more majestic in repose,

When, west-away the crimson landscape glows,

Casting their shadows on the waters wide.

How sweet the sounds, that, at still daylight’s close,

Came blended with the airs of eventide,

When through the glimmering aisle faint “Misereres” died.

But all is silent now! silent the bell,

That, heard from yonder ivied turret high,

Warned the cowled brother from his midnight cell;

Silent the vesper-chant, the litany

Responsive to the organ!—scattered lie

The wrecks of the proud pile, mid arches gray,

Whilst hollow winds through mantling ivy sigh!

And even the mouldering shrine is rent away,

Where in his warrior weeds the British Arthur lay.

Now look upon the sister fane of Wells!

It lifts its forehead in the summer air;

Sweet o’er the champaign sound its sabbath bells;

Its roof rolls back the chant, or voice of prayer.

Anxious we ask, Will Heaven that temple spare,

Or mortal tempest sweep it from its state?

O, say, shall time revere the fabric fair,

Or shall it meet, in distant years, thy fate,

Shattered, proud pile, like thee, and left as desolate?

No! to subdue or elevate the soul,

Our best, our purest feelings to refine,

Still shall the solemn diapasons roll

Through that high fane! still hues reflected shine

From the tall windows on the sculptured shrine,

Tingeing the pavement! for He shall afford,

He who directs the storm, his aid divine,

Because its Sion has not left thy word,

Nor sought for other guide than thee, Almighty Lord!