The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 6 - Summary

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They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honey’d middle of the night,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.


      Madeline had heard from old women that it was possible for young virgins to see sweet and delightful dreams on the eve of St. Agnes. By correctly performing certain ceremonies on the eve of St. Agnes, it was possible for virgins to see their would be husbands, and be tenderly courted by them in their dreams. In other words, if they fulfilled certain conditions, their lovers would appear before them and make love to them—at the sweet hour of midnight. Those ceremonies were, firstly, that they should go to bed that night without eating any supper: secondly, that they should stretch their bodies, white as lilies, on their beds and lie on their backs with their eyes raised upwards: and, thirdly, that without looking this way or that way, they should pray to God to grant them the visions of their lovers.

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