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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Lincluden Abbey

To the Ruins of Lincluden Abbey

By Ascribed to Robert Burns

YE holy walls, that still sublime

Resist the crumbling touch of Time,

How strongly still your form displays

The piety of ancient days.

As through your ruins hoar and gray—

Ruins, yet beauteous in decay—

The silvery moonbeams trembling fly,

The forms of ages long gone by

Crowd thick on Fancy’s wondering eye,

And wake the soul to musings high.

Even now, as lost in thought profound,

I view the solemn scene around,

And pensive gaze with wistful eyes,

The past returns, the present flies;

Again the dome, in pristine pride,

Lifts high its roof, and arches wide,

That, knit with curious tracery,

Each Gothic ornament display;

The high-arched windows, painted fair,

Show many a saint and martyr there;

As on their slender forms I gaze,

Methinks they brighten to a blaze;

With noiseless step and taper bright,

What are yon forms that meet my sight?

Slowly they move, while every eye

Is heavenward raised in ecstasy:—

’T is the fair, spotless vestal train,

That seeks in prayer the midnight fane.

And hark! what more than mortal sound

Of music breathes the pile around?

’T is the soft-chanted choral song,

Whose tones the echoing aisles prolong:

Till thence returned they softly stray

O’er Cluden’s wave with fond delay;

Now on the rising gale swell high,

And now in fainting murmurs die:

The boatmen on Nith’s gentle stream

That glistens in the pale moon’s beam,

Suspend their dashing oars to hear

The holy anthem, loud and clear;

Each worldly thought awhile forbear,

And mutter forth a half-formed prayer.

But as I gaze, the vision fails,

Like frost-work touched by southern gales;

The altar sinks, the tapers fade,

And all the splendid scene ’s decayed.

In window fair the painted pane

No longer glows with holy stain,

But through the broken glass the gale

Blows chilly from the misty vale.

The bird of eve flits sullen by,

Her home these aisles and arches high.

The choral hymn, that erst so clear

Broke softly sweet on Fancy’s ear,

Is drowned amid the mournful scream

That breaks the magic of my dream:

Roused by the sound, I start and see

The ruined, sad reality.