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The Lost Pyx: A Mediaeval Legend Post by :jammurtha Category :Poems Author :Thomas Hardy Date :December 2010 Read :3215

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The Lost Pyx: A Mediaeval Legend


Some say the spot is banned; that the pillar Cross-and-Hand
Attests to a deed of hell;
But of else than of bale is the mystic tale
That ancient Vale-folk tell.

Ere Cernel's Abbey ceased hereabout there dwelt a priest,
(In later life sub-prior
Of the brotherhood there, whose bones are now bare
In the field that was Cernel choir).

One night in his cell at the foot of yon dell
The priest heard a frequent cry:
"Go, father, in haste to the cot on the waste,
And shrive a man waiting to die."

Said the priest in a shout to the caller without,
"The night howls, the tree-trunks bow;
One may barely by day track so rugged a way,
And can I then do so now?"

No further word from the dark was heard,
And the priest moved never a limb;
And he slept and dreamed; till a Visage seemed
To frown from Heaven at him.

In a sweat he arose; and the storm shrieked shrill,
And smote as in savage joy;
While High-Stoy trees twanged to Bubb-Down Hill,
And Bubb-Down to High-Stoy.

There seemed not a holy thing in hail,
Nor shape of light or love,
From the Abbey north of Blackmore Vale
To the Abbey south thereof.

Yet he plodded thence through the dark immense,
And with many a stumbling stride
Through copse and briar climbed nigh and nigher
To the cot and the sick man's side.

When he would have unslung the Vessels uphung
To his arm in the steep ascent,
He made loud moan: the Pyx was gone
Of the Blessed Sacrament.

Then in dolorous dread he beat his head:
"No earthly prize or pelf
Is the thing I've lost in tempest tossed,
But the Body of Christ Himself!"

He thought of the Visage his dream revealed,
And turned towards whence he came,
Hands groping the ground along foot-track and field,
And head in a heat of shame.

Till here on the hill, betwixt vill and vill,
He noted a clear straight ray
Stretching down from the sky to a spot hard by,
Which shone with the light of day.

And gathered around the illumined ground
Were common beasts and rare,
All kneeling at gaze, and in pause profound
Attent on an object there.

'Twas the Pyx, unharmed 'mid the circling rows
Of Blackmore's hairy throng,
Whereof were oxen, sheep, and does,
And hares from the brakes among;

And badgers grey, and conies keen,
And squirrels of the tree,
And many a member seldom seen
Of Nature's family.

The ireful winds that scoured and swept
Through coppice, clump, and dell,
Within that holy circle slept
Calm as in hermit's cell.

Then the priest bent likewise to the sod
And thanked the Lord of Love,
And Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
And all the saints above.

And turning straight with his priceless freight,
He reached the dying one,
Whose passing sprite had been stayed for the rite
Without which bliss hath none.

And when by grace the priest won place,
And served the Abbey well,
He reared this stone to mark where shone
That midnight miracle.

{1} On a lonely table-land above the Vale of Blackmore, between High-Stoy and Bubb-Down hills, and commanding in clear weather views that extend from the English to the Bristol Channel, stands a pillar, apparently mediaeval, called Cross-and-Hand or Christ-in-Hand. Among other stories of its origin a local tradition preserves the one here given.

(The end)
Thomas Hardy's poem: Lost Pyx: A Mediaeval Legend

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Tess's Lament Tess's Lament

Tess's Lament
II would that folk forgot me quite, Forgot me quite!I would that I could shrink from sight, And no more see the sun.Would it were time to say farewell,To claim my nook, to need my knell,Time for them all to stand and tell Of my day's work as done.IIAh! dairy where I lived so long, I lived so long;Where I would rise up stanch and strong, And lie down hopefully.'Twas there within the chimney-seatHe watched me to the clock's slow beat -Loved me, and learnt to call me sweet, And whispered words to me.IIIAnd now he's gone; and now he's gone;

The Church-builder The Church-builder

The Church-builder
IThe church flings forth a battled shade Over the moon-blanched sward;The church; my gift; whereto I paid My all in hand and hoard: Lavished my gains With stintless pains To glorify the Lord.III squared the broad foundations in Of ashlared masonry;I moulded mullions thick and thin, Hewed fillet and ogee; I circleted Each sculptured head With nimb and canopy.IIII called in many a craftsmaster To fix emblazoned glass,To figure Cross and Sepulchre On dossal, boss, and brass. My gold all spent, My jewels went To gem the cups of Mass.IVI borrowed deep to carve the screen And raise the ivoried Rood;I