A First Series of Hymns and Songs/Sacred Songs/The Story of the Little Web
4. The Story of the Little Web.
There liv'd, as holy legends tell,
A widow ag'd, infirm, and poor,
Who hardly earn'd her daily bread
By weaving at her cottage door.
And scanty is the meed that she
Can for her toilsome work receive,
For year by year, one little web
Is all that she has strength to weave.
The year is past, the little web
Lies stretch'd upon the cottage floor;
And she, with hopeful trust and joy,
Is musing on her promis'd store;
When fiercely to her lone abode
A troop of soldiers bursts its way,
And heedless of her prayers and tears,
Has borne the little web away.
To seek the holy Oswyn's tomb,
With tott'ring step, behold her speed,
And beg the sainted martyr's prayer
May help her in her hour of need.
But vain were all her sighs and tears,
No sign of peace St. Oswyn shews;
All answerless she turns away,
And full of sadness homeward goes.
The morning dawns, a favouring breeze
Bestirs the calm of Tynemouth Bay,
And fills the vessel's swelling sails,
That bears the little web away.
But ere the sun rose high in heav'n,
There thickens round a gathering storm,
And night-fall sees the winds and waves
Sweep o'er that vessel's shatter'd form.
The north wind drifts upon the shore
The corpses of the shipwreck'd crew:
The aged widow's awe-struck eyes
Her proud oppressor lifeless view.
And in his hand—oh, wondrous sight!—
The little web uninjur'd lay,
The same which he with cruel grasp
But yester-eve had borne away