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



By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

(From Idyls of the King)

QUEEN GUINEVERE had fled the court, and sat

There in the holy house at Almesbury

Weeping, none with her save a little maid,

A novice: one low light betwixt them burned

Blurred by the creeping mist, for all abroad,

Beneath a moon unseen albeit at full,

The white mist like a face-cloth to the face

Clung to the dead earth, and the land was still.


“You know me, then, that wicked one, who broke

The vast design and purpose of the King.

O shut me round with narrowing nunnery-walls,

Meek maidens, from the voices crying ‘Shame.’

I must not scorn myself: he loves me still.

Let no one dream but that he loves me still.

So let me, if you do not shudder at me

Nor shun to call me sister, dwell with you,

Wear black and white, and be a nun like you,

Fast with your fasts, not feasting with your feasts,

Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at your joys,

But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites;

Pray and be prayed for, lie before your shrines,

Do each low office of your holy house,

Walk your dim cloister, and distribute dole

To poor sick people, richer in His eyes

Who ransomed us, and haler too than I,

And treat their loathsome hurts and heal mine own,

And so wear out in almsdeed and in prayer

The sombre close of that voluptuous day,

Which wrought the ruin of my lord the King.”

She said: they took her to themselves; and she

Still hoping, fearing, “Is it yet too late?”

Dwelt with them, till in time their Abbess died,

Then she, for her good deeds and her pure life,

And for the power of ministration in her,

And likewise for the high rank she had borne,

Was chosen Abbess, there, an Abbess, lived

For three brief years, and there, an Abbess, past

To where beyond these voices there is peace.