The Missionary - Canto Third

Come,--for the sun yet hangs above the bay,--
And whilst our time may brook a brief delay
With other thoughts, and, haply with a tear,
An old man's tale of sorrow thou shalt hear.
I wished not to reveal it;--thoughts that dwell
Deep in the lonely bosom's inmost cell
Unnoticed, and unknown, too painful wake,
And, like a tempest, the dark spirit shake,
When, starting from our slumberous apathy,
We gaze upon the scenes of days gone by.
Yet, if a moment's irritating flush,
Darkens thy cheek, as thoughts conflicting rush,
When I disclose my hidden griefs, the tale
May more than wisdom or reproof prevail.
Oh, may it teach thee, till all trials cease,
To hold thy course, though sorrowing, yet in peace;
Still looking up to Him, the soul's best stay,
Who Faith and Hope shall crown, when worlds are swept away!
Where fair Seville's Morisco turrets gleam
On Guadilquiver's gently-stealing stream;
Whose silent waters, seaward as they glide,
Reflect the wild-rose thickets on its side,
My youth was passed. Oh, days for ever gone!
How touched with Heaven's own light your mornings shone
Even now, when lonely and forlorn I bend,
My weary journey hastening to its end,
A drooping exile on a distant shore,
I mourn the hours of youth that are no more.
The tender thought amid my prayers has part,
And steals, at times, from Heaven my aged heart.
Forgive the cause, O God!--forgive the tear,
That flows, even now, o'er Leonora's bier;
For, 'midst the innocent and lovely, none
More beautiful than Leonora shone.
As by her widowed mother's side she knelt,
A sad and sacred sympathy I felt.
At Easter-tide, when the high mass was sung,
And, fuming high, the silver censer swung;
When rich-hued windows, from the arches' height,
Poured o'er the shrines a soft and yellow light;
From aisle to aisle, amid the service clear,
When 'Adoremus' swelled upon the ear.
(Such as to Heaven thy rapt attention drew
First in the Christian churches of Peru),
She seemed, methought, some spirit of the sky,
Descending to that holy harmony.
But wherefore tell, when life and hope were new,
How by degrees the soul's first passion grew!
I loved her, and I won her virgin heart;
But fortune whispered, we a while must part.
The minster tolled the middle hour of night,
When, waked to agony and wild affright,
I heard those words, words of appalling dread--
'The Holy Inquisition!'--from the bed
I started; snatched my dagger, and my cloak--
Who dare accuse me!--none, in answer, spoke.
The demons seized, in silence, on their prey,
And tore me from my dreams of bliss away.
How frightful was their silence, and their shade,
In torch-light, as their victim they conveyed,
By dark-inscribed, and massy-windowed walls,
Through the dim twilight of terrific halls;
(For thou hast heard me speak of that foul stain
Of pure religion, and the rights of Spain
Whilst the high windows shook to night's cold blast,
And echoed to the foot-fall as we passed!
They left me, faint and breathless with affright,
In a cold cell, to solitude and night;
Oh! think, what horror through the heart must thrill
When the last bolt was barred, and all at once was still!
Nor day nor night was here, but a deep gloom,
Sadder than darkness, wrapped the living tomb.
Some bread and water, nature to sustain,
Duly was brought when eve returned again;
And thus I knew, hoping it were the last,
Another day of lingering life was passed.
Five years immured in that deep den of night,
I never saw the sweet sun's blessed light.
Once as the grate, with sullen sound, was barred,
And to the bolts the inmost cavern jarred,
Methought I heard, as clanged the iron door,
A dull and hollow echo from the floor;
I stamped; the vault, and winding caves around,
Returned a long and melancholy sound.
With patient toil I raised a massy stone,
And looked into a depth of shade unknown;
The murky twilight of the lurid place
Helped me, at length, a secret way to trace:
I entered; step by step explored the road,
In darkness, from my desolate abode;
Till, winding through long passages of night,
I saw, at distance, a dim streak of light:--
It was the sun--the bright, the blessed beam
Of day! I knelt--I wept;--the glittering stream
Rolled on beneath me, as I left the cave,
Concealed in woods above the winding wave.
I rested on a verdant bank a while,
I saw around the summer landscape smile;
I gained a peasant's hut; nor dared to leave,
Till, with slow step, advanced the glimmering eve.
Remembering still affection's fondest hours,
I turned my foot
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"The Missionary - Canto Third" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 24 Aug. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/40957/the-missionary---canto-third>.

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