University of Virginia Library


Huge be the buttresses enmassed
Which shoulder up, like Titan men,
Against the precipices vast
The ancient minster of the glen.
One holds the library four-square,
A study, but with students few:
Books, manuscripts, and—cobwebs too.
Within, the church were rich and rare
But for the time-stain which ye see:


Gilded with venerable gold,
It shows in magnified degree
Much like some tarnished casket old
Which in the dusty place ye view
Through window of the broker Jew.
But Asiatic pomp adheres
To ministry and ministers
Of Basil's Church; that night 'twas seen
In all that festival confers:
Plate of Byzantium, stones and spars,
Urim and Thummin, gold and green;
Music like cymbals clashed in wars
Of great Semiramis the queen.
And texts sonorous they intone
From parchment, not plebeian print;
From old and golden parchment brown
They voice the old Septuagint,
And Gospels, and Epistles, all
In the same tongue employed by Paul.
Flags, beatific flags they view:
Ascetics which the hair-cloth knew
And wooden pillow, here were seen
Pictured on satin soft—serene
In fair translation. But advanced
Above the others, and enhanced
About the staff with ring and boss,
They mark the standard of the Cross.
That emblem, here, in Eastern form,
For Derwent seemed to have a charm.
“I like this Greek cross, it has grace;”
He whispered Rolfe: “the Greeks eschew
The long limb; beauty must have place—
Attic! I like it. And do you?”
“Better I'd like it, were it true.”
“What mean you there?”
“I do but mean


'Tis not the cross of Calvary's scene.
The Latin cross (by that name known)
Holds the true semblance; that's the one
Was lifted up and knew the nail;
'Tis realistic—can avail!”
Breathed Derwent then, “These arches quite
Set off and aggrandize the rite:
A goodly fane. The incense, though,
Somehow it drugs, makes sleepy so.
They purpose down there in ravine
Having an auto, act, or scene,
Or something. Come, pray, let us go.