Where dark and deep yon river glides,
Thro' banks of darker, deeper shade,
There never oar the wave divides,
Nor living feet the shores invade:
Where trees star-proof their boughs confound,
And ravens build their tops among,
There never axe is heard to sound,
Nor hunter's shout, nor woodman's song:
Where yon grey abbey's ruins rise,
With many a wreath of ivy drest,
There never breathe a lover's sighs,
In moonlight hour of tender rest.
'Tis said, that earthly sound may ne'er
Be heard thro' that accursed scene,
Tho' all beyond, fierce tempests tear,
Strewing with leaves the wood-walks green.
Or all beyond, the sweet birds sing,
And childhood's playful laugh is nigh,
And merry bells delightful ring,
And cattle low, and cuckoos cry.
Yet still to dreary silence doom'd,
In deathly peace these ruins stand;
There echo lies, in trance entombed,
And never wakes at man's command.
But once each year, in stillest night,
A shriek is heard these walls within,
A piercing shriek, that well may fright,
E'en hearts that know nor fear nor sin.
For 'tis the cry of soul condemn'd;
And they, whose blood hath once stood still
At sound like this (in vain contemn'd)
Oft freeze with well-remember'd thrill.
O never may I, loitering, eye
These mouldering aisles, that murd'rer's bier!
And never may that fearful cry,
Burst fiend-like on my startled ear!