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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

VI

PERSECUTION

LAMENT! for Diocletian's fiery sword
Works busy as the lightning; but instinct
With malice ne'er to deadliest weapon linked
Which God's ethereal store-houses afford:
Against the Followers of the incarnate Lord
It rages; some are smitten in the field--
Some pierced to the heart through the ineffectual shield
Of sacred home;--with pomp are others gored
And dreadful respite. Thus was Alban tried,
England's first Martyr, whom no threats could shake;
Self-offered victim, for his friend he died,
And for the faith; nor shall his name forsake
That Hill, whose flowery platform seems to rise
By Nature decked for holiest sacrifice.

NOTE

14 'That Hill, whose flowery platform,' etc.

This hill at St Alban's must have been an object of great
interest to the imagination of the venerable Bede, who thus
describes it, with a delicate feeling, delightful to meet with in
that rude age, traces of which are frequent in his works:--"Variis
herbarum floribus depictus imo usquequaque vestitus, in quo nihil
repente arduum, nihil praeceps, nihil abruptum, quem lateribus
longe lateque deductum in modum aequoris natura complanat, dignum
videlicet eum pro insita sibi specie venustatis jam olim reddens,
qui beati martyris cruore dicaretur."