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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XXI

DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES

THREATS come which no submission may assuage,
No sacrifice avert, no power dispute;
The tapers shall be quenched, the belfries mute,
And, 'mid their choirs unroofed by selfish rage,
The warbling wren shall find a leafy cage;
The gadding bramble hang her purple fruit;
And the green lizard and the gilded newt
Lead unmolested lives, and die of age.
The owl of evening and the woodland fox
For their abode the shrines of Waltham choose:
Proud Glastonbury can no more refuse
To stoop her head before these desperate shocks--
She whose high pomp displaced, as story tells,
Arimathean Joseph's wattled cells.

NOTE

8 'And the green lizard and the gilded newt
Lead unmolested lives, and die of age.'

These two lines are adopted from a MS., written about the year
, which accidentally fell into my possession. The close of the
preceding Sonnet on monastic voluptuousness is taken from the same
source, as is the verse, "Where Venus sits," etc., and the line,
"Once ye were holy, ye are holy still," in a subsequent Sonnet.