Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Amulet, 1836/The Hermit’s Grave

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BY L. E. L.

The days are gone when pilgrims knelt
    By sacred spot or shrine,
The cells where saints have lived or died
    No more are held divine.

The bough of palm, the scallop-shell,
    Are signs of faith no more;
The common grave is holy held,
    As that on Salem's shore.

Yet, when I knew that human knee
    Had worn the rock away,
And that here, even at my feet,
    Earth hid the righteous clay;

I felt this was no common spot
    For any common thought,
The place's own calm sanctity
    Within my spirit wrought.

The cave was dark and damp, it spoke
    Of penance and of prayer,
Remorse, that scarcely dared to hope,
    And heavy grief were there.

But at the entrance was a scene
    Which seemed expressly given,
To bring the heart again to earth,
    Yet win it back to heaven.

For so benign an influence
    Was falling from the sky,
And, like a blessing on the earth,
    The sunshine seemed to lie:

The long green grass was full of life,
    And so was every tree,
On every bough there was a bud,
    In every bud a bee.

And life hath such a gladdening power
    Thus in its joy arrayed,
The God who made the world so fair,
    Must love what he has made.

Fed by the silver rains, a brook
    Went murmuring along,
And to its music, from the leaves,
    The birds replied in song;

And, white as ever lily grew,
    A wilding broom essayed
To fling upon the sunny wave
    A transitory shade.

Misty and grey as morning skies
    Mid which their summits stood,
The ancient cliffs encompassed round
    The lovely solitude.

It was a scene where faith would take
    Lessons from all it saw,
And feel amid its depths, that hope
    Was God's and Nature's law.

The past might here be wept away,
    The future might renew
Its early confidence in heaven,
    When years and sins were few:

Till, in the strength of penitence,
    To the worst sinner given,
The grave would seem a resting-place
    Between this world and heaven.

'Tis but a pious memory
    That lingers in this dell,
That human tears, and human prayers,
    Have sanctified the cell.

Save for that memory, all we see
    Were only some fair scene,
Not linked unto our present time,
    By aught that once hath been.

But now a moral influence
    Is on that small grey stone;
For who e'er watched another's grave
    And thought not of his own,

And felt that all his trust in life
    Was leaning on a reed?
And who can hear of prayer and faith
    And not confess their need?

If he who sleeps beneath thought years
    Of prayer might scarce suffice
To reconcile his God, and win
    A birthright in the skies,

What may we hope, who hurry on
    Through life's tumultuous day,
And scarcely give one little hour
    To heaven upon our way!