Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ON THE SAME OCCASION

            Oh! gather whencesoe'er ye safely may
            The help which slackening Pity requires;
            Nor deem that he perforce must go astray
            Who treads upon the footmarks of his sires.


          WHEN in the antique age of bow and spear
          And feudal rapine clothed with iron mail,
          Came ministers of peace, intent to rear
          The Mother Church in yon sequestered vale;

          Then, to her Patron Saint a previous rite
          Resounded with deep swell and solemn close,
          Through unremitting vigils of the night,
          Till from his couch the wished-for Sun uprose.

          He rose, and straight--as by divine command,
          They, who had waited for that sign to trace                 10
          Their work's foundation, gave with careful hand
          To the high altar its determined place;

          Mindful of Him who in the Orient born
          There lived, and on the cross his life resigned,
          And who, from out the regions of the morn,
          Issuing in pomp, shall come to judge mankind.

          So taught 'their' creed;--nor failed the eastern sky
          'Mid these more awful feelings, to infuse
          The sweet and natural hopes that shall not die,
          Long as the sun his gladsome course renews.                 20

          For us hath such prelusive vigil ceased;
          Yet still we plant, like men of elder days,
          Our christian altar faithful to the east,
          Whence the tall window drinks the morning rays;

          That obvious emblem giving to the eye
          Of meek devotion, which erewhile it gave,
          That symbol of the dayspring from on high,
          Triumphant o'er the darkness of the grave.
                                                              1823.


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