Townstal Church

Sydney Hodges

THE CALM of eve is round thee now,

  Old Townstal! with its floods of gold;

That shed a glory round thy brow,

  Like that around the saints of old.

The purple shades beneath thee creep,

  The cloudless sky shines overhead;

The river wanders calm and deep,

  And hills of gold afar outspread.


O, let me pause awhile, and think:

  Such soul-born feelings of repose—

That to the past the present link—

  Steal o’er me as the daybeams close;

The heart-chords swelling send the while

  Their sacred music through the soul,

As through thy old and hallowed aisle

  The chant of praise is wont to roll.


O for a life of hours like this!

  To cast aside the anxious fear—

The struggle and the toil—for peace

  Like this which reigns around me here;

To let the free soul soar away,

  Like winds that o’er thy turret climb,

And bid the wandering fancy stray

  Mid memories of olden time.


That olden time comes back once more,—

  The time when thy gray walls were young,

When hallowed feet first trod thy floor,

  When midnight masses first were sung,

When erring souls with trembling sigh

  First dropped the penitential tear,

And fervent prayers went up on high,

  In mingled tones of hope and fear.


A silent awe is on my soul,

  To think what vigils thou must keep,

When nightly stars above thee roll,

  And all wide earth and ocean sleep;

Those countless stars, to whom is given

  That inextinguishable glow

Which marks the truth of God in heaven,

  As thou upon the earth below.


Thy sunlit tower is all so bright,

  I do not care to gaze below,

Where sleep the dead in endless night,

  Beneath the turf where daisies grow.

But yet their souls are bright above,

  Yes, brighter than this evening hour;

And beauteous in those realms of love,

  As air-gold on thy shining tower.


The latest beam is lingering still

  Upon thy topmost crumbling stone;

It fades beyond the western hill,

  And leaves thee to the night alone.

The light, too, passes from my mind,

  But leaves, ere yet its beams depart,

Another joy in memory shrined,

  Another lesson on the heart.