What an image of peace and rest
Is this little church among its graves!
All is so quiet; the troubled breast,
The wounded spirit, the heart oppressed,
Here may find the repose it craves.

See, how the ivy climbs and expands
Over this humble hermitage,
And seems to caress with its little hands
The rough, gray stones, as a child that stands
Caressing the wrinkled cheeks of age!

You cross the threshold; and dim and small
Is the space that serves for the Shepherd’s Fold;
The narrow aisle, the bare, white wall,
The pews, and the pulpit quaint and tall,
Whisper and say: “Alas! we are old.”

Herbert’s chapel at Bemerton
Hardly more spacious is than this;
But Poet and Pastor, blent in one,
Clothed with a splendor, as of the sun,
That lowly and holy edifice.

It is not the wall of stone without
That makes the building small or great
But the soul’s light shining round about,
And the faith that overcometh doubt,
And the love that stronger is than hate.

Were I a pilgrim in search of peace,
Were I a pastor of Holy Church,
More than a Bishop’s diocese
Should I prize this place of rest, and release
From farther longing and farther search.

Here would I stay, and let the world
With its distant thunder roar and roll;
Storms do not rend the sail that is furled;
Nor like a dead leaf, tossed and whirled
In an eddy of wind, is the anchored soul.

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2 Comments

  1. art chapman says:

    Such powers of descriptive narrative, Longfellow paints a portrait with words, and the scene is alive and very present in the mind of the reader! I may never visit this place, but I will have been there through the power and beauty of a magnificent poem.

  2. Kathleen Lusty says:

    No poem could bring more inner peace than this one. A comforting and quieting read.

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