Inscription I - For a Tablet at Godstow Nunnery

Robert Southey


Here Stranger rest thee! from the neighbouring towers
Of Oxford, haply thou hast forced thy bark
Up this strong stream, whose broken waters here
Send pleasant murmurs to the listening sense:
Rest thee beneath this hazel; its green boughs
Afford a grateful shade, and to the eye
Fair is its fruit: Stranger! the seemly fruit
Is worthless, all is hollowness within,
For on the grave of ROSAMUND it grows!
Young lovely and beloved she fell seduced,
And here retir'd to wear her wretched age
In earnest prayer and bitter penitence,
Despis'd and self-despising: think of her
Young Man! and learn to reverence Womankind!

The picturesque ruins of Godstow Nunnery lie by the Thames on the edge of Port Meadow, on the outskirts of Oxford. From the ruins, the spires of the University can be seen in the distance across the flood plain. It is just across the River from one of England's finest pubs, the Trout at Godstow.

The Abbey at Godstow was founded in 1133 and receivd substantial endowments from King Henry II later in the 12th Century. Henry had a soft spot for the monastery because it was the burial site of his mistress Rosamund Clifford.

The Nunnery was extinguished in 1539 during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. It is reputed to be haunted.