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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XIX

PRIMITIVE SAXON CLERGY

HOW beautiful your presence, how benign,
Servants of God! who not a thought will share
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine!
Such Priest, when service worthy of his care
Has called him forth to breathe the common air,
Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine
Descended:--happy are the eyes that meet
The Apparition; evil thoughts are stayed
At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat
A benediction from his voice or hand;
Whence grace, through which the heart can understand,
And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.

NOTE

Title: Sonnet XIX

Having spoken of the zeal, disinterestedness, and temperance of
the clergy of those times, Bede thus proceeds:--"Unde et in magna
erat veneratione tempore illo religionis habitus, ita ut ubicunque
clericus aliquis, aut monachus adveniret, gaudenter ab omnibus
tanquam Dei famulus exciperetur. Etiam si in itinere pergens
inveniretur, accurrebaut, et flexa cervice, vel manu signari, vel
ore illius se benedici, gaudebant. Verbis quoque horum
exhortatoriis diligenter auditum praebebant." Lib, iii. cap. 26.