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Her stately gates beneath their arches sweep With silver keys, in twilight's failing hour Were peaceful closed: upon its rocky steep, Majestically firm, her castle tower Bore Scotland's banner, and the badge of power Her country's cross, Saint Andrew's, there installed; To such rank pageants then would nations cower, Nor dream that like Jerusalem enthralled, Their citied strength would be—so suddenly unwalled.
Then on those battlements the sun arose,
Darting its rays as from a fiery shield,
Whose blaze appalled the fiercest of their foes;
For won by blood in many a battle field,
Monarchs would there the sword and sceptre wield,
Whilst holier men, for Jesus' sake divine,
Their wretched lives in sacrifice would yield—
And clad in armour, leave their Saviour's shrine,
To tread the holy dust, and fall in Palestine.
Through the cathedral's aisle, and vaulted dome,
Then solemn orisons and anthems rung;
Above the altar, waving rich perfume
Over its golden tablet, censers swung,
And the tall tapers burning dimly flung,
A mystic light from out the sanctuary,
Wherein the blessed crucifix was hung,
To which all nations then would bend the knee,
And bow themselves to pray in deep idolatry.
Like mighty billows, ages have rolled past,
And with them, urged by a resistless fate,
Nations and creeds yito oblivion cast;
Behold, how changed this country's poor estate,
By Reformation rendered desolate;
For Scottish thrones would once a glory wear,
And every turret on its mountain-height,
Or sunk in shady glen its banners bear,
But these have passed away, like meteors through the air.
Scotland hath fallen—and in evil hour
The hand of mad ambition hath laid waste
Her palaces and courts; usurping power
And blinded slaves of bigotry effaced
The records of her greatness; they have chased
The eagle from its eyrie; wherefore none
In mute suspense may pause when they have traced
These fallen ruins, where, with grass o'ergrown,
A mournful tale is told on every crumbling stone.
Those city-gates have been, and are unhinged—
The castle crushed upon its throne-like steep—
And the great sea into its base infringed :— Hark! how the angry billows dashing sweep Around the craigs; and with convulsive leap The tempest of their surge is shivering sent Against the caverned walls: thus hath the deep— In how few years ?—a fearful inroad bent, And burst the channels of its cliff-girt continent.
Beneath the shadow of the sweeping wave The relics of a chapel yet remain *, And even—like a slumberer in the grave— Scattered amidst the rocks, its ruined fane Is sunk full deep below the watery plain :— The foamy voice of ocean swells its dirge :— There learn how thrones, and shrines are reared in vain By human hands; for still the hungering surge Is battling for more prey from rocky verge to verge.
'Tis midnight, and the moon is rising bright:—
Enter the old cathedral's crumbling. wall,
And by the soft reflection of its light
Survey the lengthened aisle, and pillar's fall;
Sunk in their glory 'neath the weedy pall
On which the church-yard dews, like tear-drops gleam;
There broods the night-bird in his roofless hall—
Through each unwindowed arch the pale stars beam,
And all appears sublime—the pageant of a dream!
The golden gate, whose mutilated form
Hath, like a cliff the waves have lashed in vain,
Outlasted winters of impetuous storm,
Uplifts itself withal in proud disdain;
So stand on Eygpt's simoon-trodden plain
The awe-inspiring records of the past;
And thon shalt aye a monument remain,
Though the drear space betwixt thy portals vast
Gives entrance only now to the unbridled blast.
No more the vestal throng, or white-robed choir,
Shall pass thy threshold to the house of prayer;
No more Devotion, clad in meek attire,
Before the eye of heaven kneel suppliant there ;—
Anthems, nor incense fill the listening air;—
No mortal step these churchyard ruins tread,
Save when some mournful train in deep despair, Bearing the pall around the bier-borne dead, Follow unto the grave some well-beloved head.
Stupendous stones there moulder into dust— * Their columned strength, like very weeds uptorn ;—
Gone is the altar of that blessed trust
For which the pains of martyrdom were borne,
And c.oss, and rosary in penance worn:
The bigot—not the heathen multitude—
Hath trampled thus all holiness to scorn,
As the Chaldean's impious fire subdued
The lovely temple that on holy Sion stood.
Here, like the Roman *, for a moment pause
To gaze on ruin; the sepulchral gloom,
And mist of desolation; all that awes
And overwhelms; for this hath been the doom
Of men and nations; Thebes, Troy, and Rome—
Amidst the greatness of their storied claim,
Have passed, like flitting phantoms to the tomb,
And thus will perish, like a dying flame,
The loftiest stars that light the firmament of fame.
* Marius over the ruins of Carthage.