The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 2 - Summary

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His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
The sculptur’d dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
Emprison’d in black, purgatorial rails:
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat’ries,
He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.


      After finishing his prayer, the beads man, picking up his lamp, stood up from his kneeling posture in which he had prayed. This thin, pale barefooted holy man, walked slowly along the chape! aisle and he walked, he had a feeling that even the statues of the dead men which lined the aisle were experiencing the bitter cold. The holy man passed the many statues of knights and ladies which were represented in an attitude of dumb prayer. Each statue was enclosed by black iron railings and it seemed as if each dead man were held a prisoner within those railings as inside the Purgatory. Purgatory is the region where the souls of the dead have to penance before they can enter heaven. Each enclosure wherein stood a statue seemed to be a Purgatory holding a soul as a prisoner. As the beads man passed these statues of ladies wearing hoods and knights wearing armor, he had a feeling that they were bitterly feeling cold. Indeed, his weak heart almost failed to think how cold those statues might be feeling.

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