Bohemian legends and other poems/The Bohemian Monk

THE BOHEMIAN MONK.

 

I have steeped my soul in knowledge,
Till my weary heart is faint;
And I sit now in my chamber
Gazing sadly at the Saint,
At the Saint whose name I bear,
With the halo round his hair.

Does he look upon me wondering,
That I bartered life for fame.
He, the preacher to the Gentiles,
Would he have me do the same?
Hush, wild thoughts, for I am old,
And my weary heart is cold.

In my youth I yearned for knowledge,
And I quaffed with burning lips
All the learning that the convent
Gives its students in small sips.
Then I went to college old,
And my youth for knowledge sold.

Yes, fame came with laurels crowning
This poor head of mine in youth;
And my name was held in honor,
For my words were words of truth,
And my convent cell was sought
For the learning that I taught.

Was it wrong to yearn for knowledge?
Knowledge that must pass away
Sometimes as I sit and ponder,
I can see another way,
To a glory without end,
Never yet by mortal penned.

Sometimes as I sit and think
Of the days of long ago,
I can see the martyrs kneeling
To receive the fatal blow;
And I almost seem to hear
Angels calling, “Have no fear.”

And I look around my chamber,
Stored with books and parchments rare;
And my heart is sick of knowledge,
And I wish that I was there,
Where earth's thirst is quenched for aye,
And night turns to endless day.

Oh, my master, midst my learning
Seldom I have thought of Thee;
And I taught my students knowledge,
But I never spoke of Thee.
Now I dread to hear Thee say,
Slothful servant, go away.”

Oh, my master, in Thy mercy
Spare me yet another year;
Let me speak in words undying
To the youths who come to hear.
Give me strength to warn and guide
These few striplings to Thy side.

And if one of them should hearing,
Yearn for that high crown of life
Which I missed with all my learning,
Oh, God, fit him for the strife,
And then take me weary, old,
Where Thy face I can behold.