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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XXIV

SAXON MONASTERIES, AND LIGHTS AND SHADES OF THE RELIGION

BY such examples moved to unbought pains,
The people work like congregated bees;
Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
Where Piety, as they believe, obtains
From Heaven a 'general' blessing; timely rains
Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise,
Justice and peace:--bold faith! yet also rise
The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains.
The Sensual think with reverence of the palms
Which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave
If penance be redeemable, thence alms
Flow to the poor, and freedom to the slave;
And if full oft the Sanctuary save
Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.

NOTE

2 'The people work like congregated bees.'

See, in Turner's History, vol. iii p. 528, the account of the
erection of Ramsey Monastery. Penances were removable by the
performance of acts of charity and benevolence.