Round about the Round-O 1880. Arbroath's yesteryear in print

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POEM - 004
'Arbroath Abbey'
Thomas Watson


LONE lingering in the old Churchyard,
And gazing on these mouldering walls,
The stately pile of other days
The recreative mind recalls.
Deep musing here, as day declines,
And silence lulls the dinsome town,
I needs must dream of ages past,
Ere creed and Church were overthrown.

I tread a roofless temple floor,
Where many a pilgrim foot hath trod ;
I stand where brave King Robert knelt—
Wave, Fancy ! wave thy magic rod !
Ha ! see uprise the ponderous walls—
Upshoot the clustering columns high :
The roof is arching o'er my head,
Upheld between me and the sky.

And see the transept circle bright,
So high above the tuneful choir,
Pours down a flood of rainbow light
On king and priest, and knight and squire ;
And shivered in a thousand rays
On pillar, cusp, and carving quaint—
Illuming mask and dusty niche,
And many a rudely-sculptured saint.

Where huge columnar shadows throw
Their giant length along the nave,
Are kneeling, hushed in reverent awe,
Rude men of iron, fierce and brave ;
But helm is not on warrior's head,
Nor hauberk on his shoulders there ;
No mailed hand makes the sacred sign,
No armed heel treads the house of prayer.

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Now, hark ! the Abbot lifts his voice,
And prays for Scotland and her king ;
That Jesu from His heavenly throne
Would look upon our sorrowing,
And pity this war-wasted land ;
That Mary, Virgin Queen, mote plead
That He would will poor Scotland's weal,
And shield her in her utmost need.

Now solemn music thrills my ear ;
The choir chant forth the sacred strain
That echoing peals from arch to arch,
And swells through all the mighty fane ;
Seems every stone to find a tongue,
And joins the choral hymn of praise,
To melt the fierce and vengeful men
That know not mercy's gentle ways.

And now beyond the sacred gates
I hear the tramp of harnessed men,
The clank of steel, the neigh of steed ;
I see a knight and goodly train ;
He bears a scroll—oh ! now I know !
They mount, they vanish while I gaze,
And bear the bold protest to Rome
That will the monkish world amaze.

I turn my dream-bewildered eyes :
Alas ! what do I now behold ?
A roofless ruin all around,
Through which the night wind bloweth cold.
But yet I love these mould'ring walls :
'Twas here in early days I played,—
My father's and my mother's bones
Within this hallowed ground are laid.
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