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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XXXV

OLD ABBEYS

MONASTIC Domes! following my downward way,
Untouched by due regret I marked your fall!
Now, ruin, beauty, ancient stillness, all
Dispose to judgments temperate as we lay
On our past selves in life's declining day:
For as, by discipline of Time made wise,
We learn to tolerate the infirmities
And faults of others--gently as he may,
So with our own the mild Instructor deals,
Teaching us to forget them or forgive.
Perversely curious, then, for hidden ill
Why should we break Time's charitable seals?
Once ye were holy, ye are holy still;
Your spirit freely let me drink, and live!

NOTE

10 'Teaching us to forget them or forgive.'

This is borrowed from an affecting passage in Mr. George Dyer's
history of Cambridge.