Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

WITHÍN the convent of Johannathal,
Before daybreak upon Ascension day
There is a sound of more life than is common
Withín Saint Ursula's bare and lofty walls.
Three times the porteress to the latticed window
Óf the locked gate has put her ear to listen
If foot of prior's mule might yet be heard
Or réverend bishop's up the valley wending
From fár Saint Martin's, and fourth time at last
Hearing the hoofs, the portal wicket opens
And to “Gelobt sei Jesus Christus," answers
With fólded hands "In Ewigkeit, Herrn Väter.”
“God greet the lady Philippina," said
The bishop and the prior entering the parlour,
“And Gód greet all the sisters here assembled,
And Gód greet trebly her whom here today,
Sáved from a sinful world, we are to add
To hóly Ursula's pious sisterhood.”
“I need not ásk, Sir prior," then said the bishop,
“if to our dear child Agatha has been
Dúly administered for seven days past
Each day the sacrament of the Lord's body,
Her heart being first prepared for its reception
By full and free confession of her sins
Éven the most vénial?” “As thou say'st, my lord.”
“And thoú, my lady abbess, of no cause
Art cógnizant why to this sisterhood

Should not be added one more loving sister,
Not plánted in the garden of the Lord
This shoot of promise, this sweet, fragrant branch ?”
“Í of no hindrance am aware, my lord,
Unless it be a hindrance, to have passed
In pénitence, obedience, selfdenial
And works of mercy and beneficence
The years of her noviciate and white veil."
“Then let the child attend us in the chapel,
If ready there the coffin and the pall.”
The youngest sister then the candles lit,
And two by two, each with a light in hand,
They walked in slow procession from the parlour
Along the corridor and down the stair
And roúnd the cloister court into the chapel,
The novices before, the white veils last, un frisk
Behind the novices the prior singly hood 9 :
In gówn and scapulaire, the bishop then ia dolo
In púrple pallium, on his head the mitre, closet by
And in his hand the golden, jewelled crozier, dit
Between whom and the white veils the long train
Of black veils headed by the lady' abbess, jog
The great bell all the while the death knell tolling.
Meanwhile two sisters, beckoned by the abbess, í
Conducted to the chapel from her cells son's
The lády Agatha pale, weak and trembling, sta
And on her knees in front of the crypt's staircase
Pláced her beside a lidless, plain deal coffin.in
Of coárse black stuff her raiment; from her head
Behind in loose folds hung the long white veil;
Ón her white néck a crucifix of jet;
A gold, gem-studded hoop on the ring finger;
Behind her and at each side of the crypt stair ji
Stood motionless the two attendant sisters;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Behind the crypt the altar hung with black;
And cúrtained black the doors, lucárnes and windows;
A single dim lamp from the high vault burning.
The tólling ceased as entering the chapel
The sisters ranged themselves in triple file
Half-moon shaped round the entrance of the crypt,
The kneeling Agatha and open coffin, The
In each right hand still burning bright the taper.
“Selected child of God," then said the prior,
Beside the bishop standing in the midst otsess, st!
And putting into the maid's trembling hand
The very crucifix Saint Ursula bus rudh
Préssed to her lips upon her martyr day,
«ff of its owri free will thine heart accepts 18.
The words thou now shalt hear the bishop utter --
Wórds which for ever from the world divide thee,
From fáther, mother, friends, and house and home,
Brother and sister, all the joys of life soit be

) Swear to the words and kiss the holy rood."

... “Thou swear'st,” then said the bishop, "that till death ...T' Thou wilt be faithful to the mother church, That to the letter thou 'lt observe the rules And órdinances of Saint Ursula, Obéy the lady abbess of this convent In preference to thy father and thy mother, And love this sisterhood more than thy sisters, Swear'st that thou 'lt live in chastity perpetual, Seclúsion, poverty and self-abasement, And in all things conduct thee as becometh The bride of Christ, the adópted of the Lord; And as thou keep'st' this oath or break'st it, so Máy thy soul when thou diest ascend to heaven, , siis Thére to live ever in the joy of the Lord, Or be thrust down to hell to dwell for ever

*

In tórment with the enemies of God."
“I swear," said Agatha, and kissed the rood;
Then, taking each a hand, the attendant sisters
Upraised her from her knees and one of them
Dráwing the gold hoop from her finger dropped it
Ínto th’ offértory held by the other;
Néxt from her head they undid the long white veil,
And loosed and let upon her shoulders fall
Her golden lócks, then in their arms both raised her
And laid her stretched at full length in the coffin,
Ảnd the pall over her and the coffin spread,
Leaving the head bare, and beyond the edge
Of the coffin the dishevelled gold locks hanging;
Then one of them the locks held while the bishop
Clean sheared them from the head, saying same time:
“As these locks never to the head return,
So thoú returnest never to the world.”
Oút of the coffin then the two attendants
Raised her together, and the long black veil
Threw over her, head, neck and shoulders covering
Dówn to her waist behind; the bishop then
Námed her Euphemia, and upon her finger
Pútting the núptial ring and on her head
The núptial crown, pronounced her Christ's affianced,
The Lórd's own spouse now and for ever more,
And, having given into her hand the attested
Áct of Profession and the Rules of the Order,
Rósary and práyerbook, raised both hands and blessed her
And både her go in peace; then the abbess kissed her
And all the sisters kissed her one by one;
And having sung a hymn, all left the chapel:
The novices before, the prior following,
And then the bishop, next the lady abbess
Heading the black veils, with the last of whom

And youngest, tottering walked the new-professed,
The white veils last, the great bell again tolling.
The cloister court they round and up the stair
Tó the refectory and collation frugal:
Sausage and cheese and bread, and each one glass
Of Rüdesheimer four years in the cellar.
The prior and bishop some short quarter hour
Converse of things indifferent with the abbess;
Take leáve; the wicket again opens, closes;
The pátter of the mules' hoofs dies away;
Each to her séparate cell the nuns retire, it is
And once more still as death 's Saint Ursula's cloister.
Next dáy a messenger conveys the parents
All of their daughter that they now might claim:
The golden ringlets sheared off by the bishop;
And in one narrow cell from that day forth,
Strictest and hóliest of Saint Ursula's nuns, totes
In pénitence and prayer lived Agatha, 7925
Except when morning, noon, or evening bell :)
Called her to chapel, or her daily walk litse!
She took the coúrt round or the high-walled garden,
Ór at long intervals in a sister's presence
Spoke some short moments through the parlour grating
With some once dear friend of her former world.
So fórty years she lived and so she died,
And other Agathas walking where she walked
Her náme read on a flag beneath their feet
As from the court they turn into the chapel.

Begun while walking from RIED to Sanct Anton on the ADLERBERG (German TYROL), Sept. 4 5, 1854; finished at TEUFEN in Canton APPENZELL, Sept. 12, 1854.

« PredošláPokračovať »