God shield ye, comrades of the road!
And while our way we hold,
List while I tell how it first befell
In the wondrous days of old.
From off the sea, the pilgrims came,
With sea-toil wracked and worn;
The air blew keen, and the frost was sheen,
Upon that wintry morn.
Through Glastonbury street went they;
And ever on, and on,
Till they pass the well of the fairy spell,
And the oak of Avalon.
They hear the rustling leaves and few,
That linger on the bough;
But still they fare through the bitter air,
And climb a hill-slope now.
On Weary-All-Hill their feet they stay
(Full well that Hill ye know);
There may they rest, by toil oppressed,
While round them drops the snow.
And one—far gone in age was he—
As snow, his locks were white—
The staff of thorn which he had borne,
Did plant upon that height.
A thorn-stick dry, that pilgrim staff,
He set it in the ground:
And, swift as sight, with blossoms white
The branching staff was crowned!
Each year since then (if sooth men say)
Upon this Blessed Morn,
Who climbs that Hill, may see at will
The flower upon the thorn!
Howe'er the wind may drive the sleet,
That thorn will blooming be;
And some have seen a fair Child lean
From out that blossomed tree!
One moment only—then, apace,
Both flower and leaf are shorn;
And, gaunt and chill, on Weary-All-Hill,
There stands an ancient thorn!
God shield ye, comrades of the road—
With grace your spirits fill,
That ye may see the White-thorn tree
A-bloom on Weary-All-Hill!