LIFE has dark secrets; and the hearts are few
That treasure not some sorrow from the world--
A sorrow silent, gloomy, and unknown,
Yet colouring the future from the past.
We see the eye subdued, the practised smile,
The word well weighed before it pass the lip,
And know not of the misery within:
Yet there it works incessantly, and fears
The time to come; for time is terrible,
Avenging, and betraying.
Scenes In London I - Piccadilly
THE sun is on the crowded street,
It kindles those old towers;
Where England's noblest memories meet,
Of old historic hours.
Vast, shadowy, dark, and indistinct,
Tradition's giant fane,
Whereto a thousand years are linked,
In one electric chain.
So stands it when the morning light
First steals upon the skies;
And shadow'd by the fallen night,
The sleeping city lies.
It stands with darkness round it cast,
Touched by the first cold shine;
Vast, vague, and mighty as the past,
Of which it is the shrine.
'Tis lovely when the moonlight falls
Around the sculptured stone
Giving a softness to the walls,
Like love that mourns the gone.
Then comes the gentlest influence
The human heart can know,
The mourning over those gone hence
To the still dust below.
The smoke, the noise, the dust of day,
Have vanished from the scene;
The pale lamps gleam with spirit ray
O'er the park's sweeping green.
Sad shining on her lonely path,
The moon's calm smile above,
Seems as it lulled life's toil and wrath
With universal love.
Past that still hour, and its pale moon,
The city is alive;
It is the busy hour of noon,
When man must seek and strive.
The pressure of our actual life
Is on the waking brow;
Labour and care, endurance, strife,
These are around him now.
How wonderful the common street,
Its tumult and its throng,
The hurrying of the thousand feet
That bear life's cares along.
How strongly is the present felt,
With such a scene beside;
All sounds in one vast murmur melt
The thunder of the tide.
All hurry on—none pause to look
Upon another's face:
The present is an open book
None read, yet all must trace.
The poor man hurries on his race,
His daily bread to find;
The rich man has yet wearier chase,
For pleasure's hard to bind.
All hurry, though it is to pass
For which they live so fast—
What doth the present but amass,
The wealth that makes the past.
The past is round us—those old spires
That glimmer o'er our head;
Not from the present is their fires,
Their light is from the dead.
But for the past, the present's powers
Were waste of toil and mind;
But for those long and glorious hours
Which leave themselves behind.
She Sat Alone Beside Her Hearth
SHE sat alone beside her hearth—
For many nights alone;
She slept not on the pleasant couch
Where fragrant herbs were strewn.
At first she bound her raven hair
With feather and with shell;
But then she hoped; at length, like night,
Around her neck it fell.
They saw her wandering mid the woods,
Lone, with rite cheerless dawn,
And then they said, 'Can this be her
We called 'The Startled Fawn?' '
Her heart was in her large sad eyes,
Half sunshine and half shade;
And love, as love first springs to life,
Of every thing afraid.
The red leaf far more heavily
Fell down to autumn earth,
Than her light feet, which seemed to move
To music and to mirth.
With the light feet of early youth,
What hopes and joys depart,
Ah! nothing like the heavy step
Betrays the heavy heart.
It is a usual history
That Indian girl could tell;
Fate sets apart one common doom
For all who love too well.
The proud—the shy—the sensitive,—
Life has not many such;
They dearly buy their happiness,
By feeling it too much.
A stranger to her forest home,
That fair young stranger came;
They raised for him the funeral song—
For him the funeral flame.
Love sprang from pity,—and her arms
Around his arms she threw;
She told her father, 'If he dies,
Your daughter dieth too.'
For her sweet sake they set him free—
He lingered at her side;
And many a native song yet tells
Of that pale stranger's bride.
Two years have passed—how much two years
Have taken in their flight!
They've taken from the lip its smile,
And from the eye its light.
Poor child! she was a child in years—
So timid and so young;
With what a fond and earnest faith
To desperate hope she clung!
His eyes grew cold—his voice grew strange—
They only grew more dear.
She served him meekly, anxiously,
With love—half faith—half fear.
And can a fond and faithful heart
Be worthless in those eyes
For which it beats?—Ah! wo to those
Who such a heart despise.
Poor child! what lonely days she passed,
With nothing to recall
But bitter taunts, and careless words,
And looks more cold than all.
Alas! for love, that sits at home,
Forsaken, and yet fond;
The grief that sits beside the hearth—
Life has no grief beyond.
He left her, but she followed him—
She thought he could not bear,
When she had left her home for him,
To look on her despair.
Adown the strange and mighty stream
She took her lonely way;
The stars at night her pilots were,
As was the sun by day.
Yet mournfully—how mournfully!—
The Indian looked behind,
When the last sound of voice or step
Died on the midnight wind,
Yet still adown the gloomy stream
She plied her weary oar;
Her husband—he had left their home,
And it was home no more.
She found him—but she found in vain—
He spurned her from his side;
He said, her brow was all too dark,
For her to be his bride.
She grasped his hands,—her own were cold,—
And silent turned away,
As she had not a tear to shed,
And not a word to say.
And pale as death she reached her boat,
And guided it along;
With broken voice she strove to raise
A melancholy song.
None watched the lonely Indian girl,—
She passed unmarked of all,
Until they saw her slight canoe
Approach the mighty Fall!
Upright, within that slender boat
They saw the pale girl stand,
Her dark hair streaming far behind—
Upraised her desperate hand.
The air is filled with shriek and shout—
They call, but call in vain;
The boat amid the waters dash'd—
'Twas never seen again!
The Fairy Of The Fountains
WHY did she love her mother's so?
It hath wrought her wondrous wo.
Once she saw an armed knight
In the pale sepulchral light;
When the sullen starbeams throw
Evil spells on earth below:
And the moon is cold and pale,
And a voice is on the gale,
Like a lost soul's heavenward cry,
Hopeless in its agony.
He stood beside the castle-gate,
The hour was dark, the hour was late;
With the bearing of a king
Did he at the portal ring,
And the loud and hollow bell
Sounded like a Christian's knell.
That pale child stood on the wall,
Watching there, and saw it all.
Then she was a child as fair
As the opening blossoms are:
But with large black eyes, whose light
Spoke of mystery and might.
The stately stranger's head was bound
With a bright and golden round;
Curiously inlaid, each scale
Shone upon his glittering mail;
His high brow was cold and dim,
And she felt she hated him.
Then she heard her mother's voice,
Saying, ' 'Tis not at my choice!
'We for ever, wo the hour,
'When you sought my secret bower,
'Listening to the word of fear,
'Never meant for human ear.
'Thy suspicion's vain endeavour,
'Wo! wo! parted us for ever.'
Still the porter of the hall
Heeded not that crown'd knight's call.
When a glittering shape there came,
With a brow of starry flame;
And he led that knight again
O'er the bleak and barren plain.
He flung, with an appealing cry,
His dark and desperate arms on high;
And from Melusina's sight
Fled away through thickest night.
Who has not, when but a child,
Treasured up some vision wild:
Haunting them with nameless fear,
Filling all they see or hear,
In the midnight's lonely hour,
With a strange mysterious power?
So a terror undefined
Entered in that infant mind; —
A fear that haunted her alone,
For she told her thought to none.
Years passed on, and each one threw,
O'er those walls a deeper hue;
Large and old the ivy leaves
Heavy hung around the eaves,
Till the darksome rooms within
Daylight never entered in.
And the spider's silvery line
Was the only thing to shine.
Years past on,—the fair child now
Wore maiden beauty on her brow—
Beauty such as rarely flowers
In a fallen world like ours.
She was tall; —a queen might wear
Such a proud imperial air;
She was tall, yet when unbound,
Swept her bright hair to the ground,
Glittering like the gold you see
On a young laburnum tree.
Yet her eyes were dark as night,
Melancholy as moonlight,
With the fierce and wilder ray
Of a meteor on its ray.
Lonely was her childhood's time,
Lonelier was her maiden prime;
And she wearied of the hours
Wasted in those gloomy towers;
Sometimes through the sunny sky
She would watch the swallows fly;
Making of the air a bath,
In a thousand joyous rings:
She would ask of them their path,
She would ask of them their wings.
Once her stately mother came,
With her dark eye's funeral flame,
And her cheek as pale as death,
And her cold and whispering breath;
With her sable garments bound
By a mystic girdle round,
Which, when to the east she turned,
With a sudden lustre burned.
Once that ladye, dark and tall,
Stood upon the castle wall;
And she marked her daughter's eyes
Fix'd upon the glad sunrise,
With a sad yet eager look,
Such as fixes on a book
Which describes some happy lot,
Lit with joys that we have not.
And the thought of what has been,
And the thought of what might be,
Makes us crave the fancied scene,
And despise reality.
'Twas a drear and desert plain
Lay around their own domain;
But, far off, a world more fair
Outlined on the sunny air;
Hung amid the purple clouds,
With which early morning shrouds
All her blushes, brief and bright,
Waking up from sleep and night.
In a voice so low and dread,
As a voice that wakes the dead;
Then that stately lady said:
'Daughter of a kingly line,—
''Daughter, too, of race like mine,—
'Such a kingdom had been thine;
'For thy father was a king,
'Whom I wed with word and ring.
'But in an unhappy hour,
'Did he pass my secret bower,—
''Did he listen to the word,
'Mortal ear hath never heard;
'From that hour of grief and pain
'Might we never meet again.
'Maiden, listen to my rede,
'Punished for thy father's deed:
'Here, an exile I must stay,
'While he sees the light of day.
'Child, his race is mixed in thee,
'With mine own more high degree.
'Hadst thou at Christ's altar stood,
'Bathed in His redeeming flood;
'Thou of my wild race had known
'But its loveliness alone.
'Now thou hast a mingled dower,
'Human passion—fairy power.
'But forefend thee from the last:
'Be its gifts behind thee cast.
'Many tears will wash away
'Mortal sin from mortal clay.
'Keep thou then a timid eye
'On the hopes that fill yon sky;
'Bend thou with a suppliant knee,
'And thy soul yet saved may be; —
''Saved by Him who died to save
'Man from death beyond the grave.'
Easy 'tis advice to give,
Hard it is advice to take
Years that lived—and years to live,
Wide and weary difference make.
To that elder ladye's mood,
Suited silent solitude:
For her lorn heart's wasted soil
Now repaid not hope's sweet toil.
Never more could spring-flowers grow,
On the worn-out soil below;
But to the young Melusine,
Earth and heaven were yet divine.
Still illusion's purple light
Was upon the morning tide,
And there rose before her sight
The loveliness of life untried.
Three sweet genii,—Youth, Love, Hope,—
Drew her future horoscope.
Must such lights themselves consume?
Must she be her own dark tomb?
But far other thoughts than these—
Life's enchanted phantasies,
Were with Melusina now,
Stern and dark contracts her brow;
And her bitten lip is white,
As with passionate resolve,
Muttered she,—'It is my right;
'On me let the task devolve:
'Since such blood to me belongs;
'It shall seek its own bright sphere;
'I will well avenge the wrongs
'Of my mother exiled here.'
Two long years are come and past,
And the maiden's lot is cast; —
Cast in mystery and power,
Worked out by the watching hour,
By the word that spirits tell,
By the sign and by the spell.
Two long years have come and gone,
And the maiden dwells alone.
For the deed which she hath done,
Is she now a banished one; —
Banished from her mother's arms,
Banished by her mother's charms,
With a curse of grief and pain,
Never more to meet again.
Great was the revenge she wrought,
Dearly that revenge was bought.
When the maiden felt her powers,
Straight she sought her father's towers.
With a sign, and with a word,
Passed she on unseen, unheard,
One, a pallid minstrel born
On Good Friday's mystic morn,
Said he saw a lady there,
Tall and stately, strange and lair,
With a stern and glittering eye,
Like a shadow gliding by.
All was fear and awe next day,
For the king had passed away.
He had pledged his court at night,
In the red grape's flowing light.
All his pages saw him sleeping;
Next day there was wail and weeping.
Halls and lands were wandered o'er,
But they saw their king no more.
Strange it is, and sad to tell,
What the royal knight befell.
Far upon a desert land,
Does a mighty mountain stand;
On its summit there is snow,
While the bleak pines moan below;
And within there is a cave
Opened for a monarch's grave
Bound in an enchanted sleep
She hath laid him still and deep.
She, his only child, has made
That strange tomb where he is laid:
Nothing more of earth to know,
Till the final trumpet blow.
Mortal lip nor mortal ear,
Were not made to speak nor hear
That accursed word which sealed,—
All those gloomy depths concealed.
With a look of joy and pride,
Then she sought her mother's side.
Whispering, on her bended knee,
'Oh! my mother, joyous be;
'For the mountain torrents spring
'O'er that faithless knight and king.'
Not another word she spoke,
For her speech a wild shriek broke;
For the widowed queen upsprung,
Wild her pale thin hands she wrung.
With her black hair falling round,
Flung her desperate on the ground;
While young Melusine stood by,
With a fixed and fearful eye.
When her agony was past,
Slowly rose the queen at last;
With her black hair, like a shroud,
And her bearing high and proud;
With the marble of her brow,
Colder than its custom now;
And her eye with a strange light
Seem'd to blast her daughter's sight.
And she felt her whole frame shrink,
And her young heart's pulses sink;
And the colour left her mouth,
As she saw her mother signing,
One stern hand towards the south,
Where a strange red star was shining.
With a muttered word and gaze,
Fixed upon its vivid rays;
Then she spoke but in a tone,
Her's, yet all unlike her own.—
''Spirit of our spirit-line,
'Curse for me this child of mine.
'Six days yield not to our powers,
'But the seventh day is ours.
'By yon star, and by our line,
'Be thou cursed, maiden mine.'
Then the maiden felt hot pain
Run through every burning vein.
Sudden with a fearful cry
Writhes she in her agony;
Burns her cheek as with a flame,
For the maiden knows her shame.
By a lovely river's side,
Where the water-lilies glide,
Pale, as if with constant care
Of the treasures which they bear;
For those ivory vases hold
Each a sunny gilt of gold.
And blue flowers on the banks,
Grow in wild and drooping ranks,
Bending mournfully above,
O'er the waters which they love;
But which bear off, day by day,
Their shadow and themselves away.
Willows by that river grow
With their leaves half green, half snow,
Summer never seems to be
Present all with that sad tree.
With its bending boughs are wrought
Tender and associate thought,
Of the wreaths that maidens wear
In their long neglected hair.
Of the branches that are thrown
On the last, the funeral stone.
And of those torn wreaths that suit
Youthful minstrel's wasted lute.
But the stream is gay to-night
With the full-moon's golden light,
And the air is sweet with singing,
And the joyous horn is ringing,
While fair groups of dancers round
Circle the enchanted ground.
And a youthful warrior stands
Gazing not upon those bands,
Not upon the lovely scene,
But upon its lovelier queen,
Who with gentle word and smile
Courteous prays his stay awhile.
The fairy of the fountains, she
A strange and lovely mystery,
She of whom wild tales have birth,
When beside a winter hearth,
By some aged crone is told,
Marvel new or legend old.
But the lady fronts him there,
He but sees she is so fair,
He but hears that in her tone
Dwells a music yet unknown;
He but feels that he could die
For the sweetness of her sigh.
But how many dreams take flight
With the dim enamoured night;
Cold the morning light has shone,
And the fairy train are gone,
Melted in the dewy air,
Lonely stands young Raymond there.
Yet not all alone, his heart
Hath a dream that will not part
From that beating heart's recess;
What that dream may lovers guess.
Yet another year hath flown
In a stately hall alone,
Like an idol in a shrine
Sits the radiant Melusine.
It is night, yet o'er the walls,
Light, but light unearthly, falls.
Not from lamp nor taper thrown,
But from many a precious stone,
With whose variegated shade
Is the azure roof inlaid,
And whose coloured radiance throws
Hues of violet and rose.
Sixty pillars, each one shining
With a wreath of rubies twining,
Bear the roof—the snow-white floor
Is with small stars studded o'er.
Sixty vases stand between,
Filled with prefumes for a queen;
And a silvery cloud exhales
Odours like those fragrant gales,
Which at eve float o'er the sea
From the purple Araby.
Nothing stirs the golden gloom
Of that dim enchanted room.
Not a step is flitting round,
Not a noise, except the sound
Of the distant fountains falling,
With a soft perpetual calling,
To the echoes which reply
Musical and mournfully.
Sits the fairy ladye there,
Like a statue, pale and fair;
From her cheek the rose has fled,
Leaving deeper charms instead.
On that marble brow are wrought
Traces of impassioned thought;
Such as without shade or line
Leave their own mysterious sign.
While her eyes, they are so bright,
Dazzle with imperious light.
Wherefore doth the maiden bend?
Wherefore doth the blush ascend,
Crimson even to her brow,
Sight nor step are near her now?
Hidden by her sweeping robe,
Near her stands a crystal globe,
Gifted with strange power to show
All that she desires to know.
First she sees her palace gate,
With its steps of marble state;
Where two kneeling forms seem weeping
O'er the watch which they are keeping,
While around the dusky boughs
Of a gloomy forest close,
Not for those that blush arose.
But she sees beside the gate,
A young and anxious palmer wait;
Well she knows it is for her,
He has come a worshipper.
For a year and and for a day.
Hath he worn his weary way;
Now a sign from that white hand,
And the portals open stand.
But a moment, and they meet,
Raymond kneels him at her feet;
Reading in her downcast eye,
All that woman can reply.
Weary, weary had the hours
Passed within her fairy bowers;
She was haunted with a dream
Of the knight beside the stream.
Who hath never felt the sense
Of such charmed influence.
When the shapes of midnight sleep
One beloved object keep,
Which amid the cares of day
Never passes quite away?
Guarded for the sweetest mood
Of our happy solitude,
Linked with every thing we love,
Flower below, or star above:
Sweet spell after sweet spell thrown
Till the wide world is its own.
Turned the ladye deadly pale,
As she heard her lover's tale,
'Yes,' she said, oh! low sweet word,
Only in a whisper heard.
'Yes, if my true heart may be
Worthy, Christian knight, of thee,
By the love that makes thee mine
I am deeply, dearly thine.
But a spell is on me thrown,
Six days may each deed be shown.
But the seventh day must be
Mine, and only known to me.
Never must thy step intrude
On its silent solitude.
Hidden from each mortal eye
Until seven years pass by.
When these seven years are flown,
All my secret may be known.
But if, with suspicious eye,
Thou on those dark hours wilt pry,
Then farewell, beloved in vain,
Never might we meet again.'
Gazing on one worshipped brow,
When hath lover spared a vow?
With an oath and with a prayer
Did he win the prize he sought.
Never was a bride so fair
As the bride that Raymond brought
From the wood's enchanted bowers
To his old ancestral towers.
——Oh, sweet love, could thy first prime
Linger on the steps of time,
Man would dream the unkind skies
Sheltered still a Paradise.
But, alas, the serpent's skill
Is amid our garden still.
Soon a dark inquiring thought
On the baron's spirit wrought:
She, who seemed to love him so,
Had she aught he might not know?
Was it wo, how could she bear
Grief he did not soothe nor share?
Was it guilt? no—heaven's own grace
Lightened in that loveliest face.
Then his jealous fancies rose,
(Our Lady keep the mind from those!)
Like a fire within the brain,
Maddens that consuming pain.
Henceforth is no rest by night,
Henceforth day has no delight.
Life hath agonies that tell
Of their late left native hell.
But mid their despair is none
Like that of the jealous one.
'Tis again the fatal day,
When the ladye must away,
To her lonely palace made
Far within the forest shade,
Where the mournful fountains sweep
With a voice that seems to weep.
On that morn Lord Raymond's bride
Ere the daybreak leaves his side.
Never does the ladye speak
But her tears are on his cheek,
And he hears a stifled moan
As she leaves him thus alone.
Hath she then complaint to make,
Is there yet some spell to break?
Come what will, of weal or wo,
'Tis the best the worst to know.
He hath followed—wo, for both,
That the knight forgot his oath.
Where the silvery fountains fall,
Stands no more the charmed hall;
But the dismal yew-trees droop,
And the pines above them stoop,
While the gloomy branches spread,
As they would above the dead,
In some churchyard large and drear
Haunted with perpetual fear.
Dark and still like some vast grave,
Near there yawns a night-black cave.
O'er its mouth wild ivy twines
There the daylight never shines.
Beast of prey or dragon's lair,
Yet the knight hath entered there.
Dimly doth the distant day
Scatter an uncertain ray,
While strange shapes and ghastly eyes
Mid the spectral darkness rise.
But he hurries on, and near
He sees a sudden light appear,
Wan and cold like that strange lamp
Which amid the charnel's damp
Shows but brightens not the gloom
Of the corpse and of the tomb.
With a cautious step he steals
To the cave that light reveals.
'Tis such grotto as might be,
Nereïd's home beneath the sea.
Crested with the small bright stars
Of a thousand rainbow spars.
And a fountain from the side
Pours beneath its crystal tide,
In a white and marble bath
Singing on its silvery path;
While a meteor's emerald rays
O'er the lucid water plays.—
Close beside, with wild flowers laid,
Is a couch of green moss made.
There he sees his lady lie;
Pain is in her languid eye,
And amid her hair the dew
Half obscures its golden hue;
Damp and heavy, and unbound,
Its wan clusters sweep around.
On her small hand leans her head,—
See the fevered cheek is red,
And the fiery colour rushes
To her brow in hectic blushes.—
What strange vigil is she keeping!
He can hear that she is weeping.—
He will fling him at her feet,
He will kiss away her tears.
Ah, what doth his wild eyes meet,
What below that form appears?
Downwards from that slender waist,
By a golden zone embraced,
Do the many folds escape,
Of the subtle serpent's shape.—
Bright with many-coloured dyes
All the glittering scales arise,
With a red and purple glow
Colouring the waves below!
At the strange and fearful sight,
Stands in mute despair the knight,—
Soon to feel a worse despair,
Melusina sees him there!
And to see him is to part
With the idol of her heart,
Part as just the setting sun
Tells the fatal day is done.
Vanish all those serpent rings,
To her feet the lady springs,
And the shriek rings through the cell,
Of despairing love's farewell,—
Hope and happiness are o'er,
They can meet on earth no more.
Years have past since this wild tale—
Still is heard that lady's wail,
Ever round that ancient tower,
Ere its lord's appointed hour.
With a low and moaning breath
She must mark approaching death,
While remains Lord Raymond's line
Doomed to wander and to pine.
Yet, before the stars are bright,
On the evening's purple light,
She beside the fountain stands
Wringing sad her shadowy hands.
May our Lady, as long years
Pass with their atoning tears,
Pardon with her love divine
The fountain fairy—Melusine!
The Troubadour. Canto 3
LAND of the olive and the vine,
The saint and soldier, sword and shrine!
How glorious to young RAYMOND'S eye
Swell'd thy bold heights, spread thy clear sky,
When first he paused upon the height
Where, gather'd, lay the Christian might.
Amid a chesnut wood were raised
Their white tents, and the red cross blazed
Meteor-like, with its crimson shine,
O'er many a standard's scutcheon'd line.
On the hill opposite there stood
The warriors of the Moorish blood,--
With their silver crescents gleaming,
And their horse-tail pennons streaming;
With cymbals and the clanging gong,
The muezzin's unchanging song,
The turbans that like rainbows shone,
The coursers' gay caparison,
As if another world had been
Where that small rivulet ran between.
And there was desperate strife next day:
The little vale below that lay
Was like a slaughter-pit, of green
Could not one single trace be seen;
The Moslem warrior stretch'd beside
The Christian chief by whom he died;
And by the broken falchion blade
The crooked scymeter was laid.
And gallantly had RAYMOND borne
The red cross through the field that morn,
When suddenly he saw a knight
Oppress'd by numbers in the fight:
Instant his ready spear was flung,
Instant amid the band he sprung;--
They fight, fly, fall,--and from the fray
He leads the wounded knight away!
Gently he gain'd his tent, and there
He left him to the leech's care;
Then sought the field of death anew,--
Little was there for knight to do.
That field was strewn with dead and dying;
And mark'd he there DE VALENCE lying
Upon the turbann'd heap, which told
How dearly had his life been sold.
And yet on his curl'd lip was worn
The impress of a soldier's scorn;
And yet his dark and glazed eye
Glared its defiance stern and high:
His head was on his shield, his hand
Held to the last his own red brand.
Felt RAYMOND all too proud for grief
In gazing on the gallant chief:
So, thought he, should a warrior fall,
A victor dying last of all.
But sadness moved him when he gave
DE VALENCE to his lowly grave,--
The grave where the wild flowers were sleeping,
And one pale olive-tree was weeping,--
And placed the rude stone cross to show
A Christian hero lay below.
With the next morning's dawning light
Was RAYMOND by the wounded knight.
He heard strange tales,--none knew his name,
And none might say from whence he came;
He wore no cognizance, his steed
Was raven black, and black his weed.
All owned his fame, but yet they deem'd
More desperate than brave he seem'd;
Or as he only dared the field
For the swift death that it might yield.
Leaning beside the curtain, where
Came o'er his brow the morning air,
He found the stranger chief; his tone,
Surely 'twas one RAYMOND had known!
He knew him not, what chord could be
Thus waken'd on his memory?
At first the knight was cold and stern,
As that his spirit shunn'd to learn
Aught of affection; as it brought
To him some shaft of venom'd thought:
When one eve RAYMOND chanced to name
Durance's castle, whence he came;
And speak of EVA , and her fate,
So young and yet so desolate,
So beautiful! Then heard he all
Her father's wrongs, her mother's fall:
For AMIRALD was the knight whose life
RAYMOND had saved amid the strife;
And now he seem'd to find relief
In pouring forth his hidden grief,
Which had for years been as the stream
Cave-lock'd from either air or beam.
LORD AMIRALD'S HISTORY.
I LOVED her! ay, I would have given
A death-bed certainty of heaven
If I had thought it could confer
The least of happiness on her!
How proudly did I wait the hour
When hid no more in lowly bower,
She should shine, loveliest of all,
The lady of my heart and hall;--
And soon I deem'd the time would be,
For many a chief stood leagued with me.
It was one evening we had sate
In my tower's secret council late,
Our bands were number'd, and we said
That the pale moon's declining head
Should shed her next full light o'er bands
With banners raised, and sheathless brands.
We parted; I to seek the shade
Where my heart's choicest gem was laid;
I flung me on my fleetest steed,
I urged it to its utmost speed,--
On I went, like the hurrying wind,
Hill, dale, and plain were left behind,
And yet I thought my courser slow--
Even when the forest lay below.
As my wont, in a secret nook
I left my horse,--I may not tell
With what delight my way I took
Till I had reach'd the oak-hid dell.
The trees which hitherto had made
A more than night, with lighten'd shade
Now let the stars and sky shine through,
Rejoicing, calm, and bright, and blue.
There did not move a leaf that night
That I cannot remember now,
Nor yet a single star whose light
Was on the royal midnight's brow:
Wander'd no cloud, sigh'd not a flower,
That is not present at this hour.
No marvel memory thus should press
Round its last light of happiness!
I paused one moment where I stood,
In all a very miser's mood,
As if that thinking of its store
Could make my bosom's treasure more.
I saw the guiding lamp which shone
From the wreath'd lattice, pale and lone;
Another moment I was there,
To pause, and look--upon despair.
I saw her!--on the ground she lay,
The life blood ebbing fast away;
But almost as she could not die
Without my hand to close her eye!
When to my bosom press'd, she raised
Her heavy lids, and feebly gazed,
And her lip moved: I caught its breath,
Its last, it was the gasp of death!
I leant her head upon my breast,
As I but soothed her into rest;--
I do not know what time might be
Past in this stony misery,
When I was waken'd from my dream
By my forgotten infant's scream.
Then first I thought upon my child.
I took it from its bed, it smiled,
And its red cheek was flush'd with sleep:
Why had it not the sense to weep?
I laid its mother on the bed,
O'er her pale brow a mantle spread,
And left the wood. Calm, stern, and cold,
The tale of blood and death I told;
Gave my child to my brother's care
As his, not mine were this despair.
I flung me on my steed again,
I urged him with the spur and rein,--
I left him at the usual tree,
But left him there at liberty.
With madd'ning step I sought the place,
I raised the mantle from her face,
And knelt me down beside, to gaze
On all the mockery death displays,
Until it seem'd but sleep to me.
Death,--oh, no! death it could not be.
The cold grey light the dawn had shed,
Changed gradual into melting red;
I watch'd the morning colour streak
With crimson dye her marble cheek;
The freshness of the stirring air
Lifted her curls of raven hair;
Her head lay pillow'd on her arm,
Sweetly, as if with life yet warm;--
I kiss'd her lips: oh, God, the chill!
My heart is frozen with it still:--
It was as suddenly on me
Open'd my depths of misery.
I flung me on the ground, and raved,
And of the wind that past me craved
One breath of poison, till my blood
From lip and brow gush'd in one flood.
I watch'd the warm stream of my veins
Mix with the death wounds clotted stains;
Oh! how I pray'd that I might pour
My heart's tide, and her life restore!
And night came on:--with what dim fear
I mark'd the darkling hours appear,--
I could not gaze on the dear brow,
And seeing was all left me now.
I grasp'd the cold hand in mine own,
Till both alike seem'd turn'd to stone.
Night, morn, and noontide pass'd away,
Then came the tokens of decay.
'Twas the third night that I had kept
My watch, and, like a child, had wept
Sorrow to sleep, and in my dream
I saw her as she once could seem,
Fair as an angel: there she bent
As if sprung from the element,
The bright clear fountain, whose pure wave
Her soft and shadowy image gave.
Methought that conscious beauty threw
Upon her cheek its own sweet hue,
Its loveliness of morning red;
I woke, and gazed upon the dead.
I mark'd the fearful stains which now
Were dark'ning o'er the once white brow,
The livid colours that declare
The soul no longer dwelleth there.
The gaze of even my fond eye,
Seem'd almost like impiety,
As it were sin for looks to be
On what the earth alone should see.
I thought upon the loathsome doom
Of the grave's cold, corrupted gloom;--
Oh, never shall the vile worm rest
A lover on thy lip and breast!
Oh, never shall a careless tread
Soil with its step thy sacred bed!
Never shall leaf or blossom bloom
With vainest mockery o'er thy tomb!
And forth I went, and raised a shrine
Of the dried branches of the pine,--
I laid her there, and o'er her flung
The wild flowers that around her sprung;
I tore them up, and root and all,
I bade them wait her funeral,
With a strange joy that each fair thing
Should, like herself, be withering.
I lit the pyre,--the evening skies
Rain'd tears upon the sacrifice;
How did its wild and awful light
Struggle with the fierce winds of night;
Red was the battle, but in vain
Hiss'd the hot embers with the rain.
It wasted to a single spark;
That faded, and all round was dark:
Then, like a madman who has burst
The chain which made him doubly curst,
I fled away. I may not tell
The agony that on me fell:--
I fled away, for fiends were near,
My brain was fire, my heart was fear!
I was borne on an eagle's wing,
Till with the noon-sun perishing;
Then I stood in a world alone,
From which all other life was gone,
Whence warmth, and breath, and light were fled,
A world o'er which a curse was said:
The trees stood leafless all, and bare,
The sky spread, but no sun was there:
Night came, no stars were on her way,
Morn came without a look of day,--
As night and day shared one pale shroud,
Without a colour or a cloud.
And there were rivers, but they stood
Without a murmur on the flood,
Waveless and dark, their task was o'er,--
The sea lay silent on the shore,
Without a sign upon its breast
Save of interminable rest:
And there were palaces and halls,
But silence reign'd amid their walls,
Though crowds yet fill'd them; for no sound
Rose from the thousands gather'd round;
All wore the same white, bloodless hue,
All the same eyes of glassy blue,
Meaningless, cold, corpse-like as those
No gentle hand was near to close.
And all seem'd, as they look'd on me,
In wonder that I yet could be
A moving shape of warmth and breath
Alone amid a world of death.
'Tis strange how much I still retain
Of these wild tortures of my brain,
Though now they but to memory seem
A curse, a madness, and a dream;
But well I can recall the hour
When first the fever lost its power;
As one whom heavy opiates steep,
Rather in feverish trance than sleep,
I waken'd scarce to consciousness,--
Memory had fainted with excess:
I only saw that I was laid
Beneath an olive tree's green shade;
I knew I was where flowers grew fair,
I felt their balm upon the air,
I drank it as it had been wine;
I saw a gift of red sunshine
Glittering upon a fountain's brim;
I heard the small birds' vesper hymn,
As they a vigil o'er me kept,--
I heard their music, and I wept.
I felt a friendly arm upraise
My head, a kind look on me gaze!
RAYMOND , it has been mine to see
The godlike heads which Italy
Has given to prophet and to saint,
All of least earthly art could paint!
But never saw I such a brow
As that which gazed upon me now;--
It was an aged man, his hair
Was white with time, perhaps with care;
For over his pale face were wrought
The characters of painful thought;
But on that lip and in that eye
Were patience, peace, and piety,
The hope which was not of this earth,
The peace which has in pangs its birth,
As if in its last stage the mind,
Like silver seven times refined
In life's red furnace, all its clay,
All its dross purified away,
Paused yet a little while below,
Its beauty and its power to show.
As if the tumult of this life,
Its sorrow, vanity, and strife,
Had been but as the lightning's shock
Shedding rich ore upon the rock,
Though in the trial scorch'd and riven,
The gold it wins is gold from heaven.
He watch'd, he soothed me day to day,
How kindly words may never say:
All angel ministering could be
That old man's succour was to me;
I dwelt with him; for all in vain
He urged me to return again
And mix with life:--and months past on
Without a trace to mark them gone;
I had one only wish, to be
Left to my grief's monotony.
There is a calm which is not peace,
Like that when ocean's tempests cease,
When worn out with the storm, the sea
Sleeps in her dark tranquillity,
As dreading that the lightest stir
Would bring again the winds on her.
I felt as if I could not brook
A sound, a breath, a voice, a look,
As I fear'd they would bring again
Madness upon my heart and brain.
It was a haunting curse to me,
The simoom of insanity.
The links of life's enchanted chain,
Its hope, its pleasure, fear or pain,
Connected but with what had been,
Clung not to any future scene.
There is an indolence in grief
Which will not even seek relief:
I sat me down, like one who knows
The poison tree above him grows,
Yet moves not; my life-task was done
With that hour which left me alone.
It was one glad and glorious noon,
Fill'd with the golden airs of June,
When leaf and flower look to the sun
As if his light and life were one,--
A day of those diviner days
When breath seems only given for praise,
Beneath a stately tree which shed
A cool green shadow over-head;
I listen'd to that old man's words
Till my heart's pulses were as chords
Of a lute waked at the command
Of some thrice powerful master's hand.
He paused: I saw his face was bright
With even more than morning's light,
As his cheek felt the spirit's glow;
A glory sate upon his brow,
His eye flash'd as to it were given
A vision of his coming heaven.
I turn'd away in awe and fear,
My spirit was not of his sphere;
Ill might an earthly care intrude
Upon such high and holy mood:
I felt the same as I had done
Had angel face upon me shone,
When sudden, as sent from on high,
Music came slowly sweeping by.
It was not harp, it was not song,
Nor aught that might to earth belong!
The birds sang not, the leaves were still,
Silence was sleeping on the rill;
But with a deep and solemn sound
The viewless music swept around.
Oh never yet was such a tone
To hand or lip of mortal known!
It was as if a hymn were sent
From heaven's starry instrument,
In joy, such joy as seraphs feel
For some pure soul's immortal weal,
When that its human task is done,
Earth's trials past, and heaven won.
I felt, before I fear'd, my dread,
I turn'd and saw the old man dead!
Without a struggle or a sigh,
And is it thus the righteous die?
There he lay in the sun, calm, pale,
As if life had been like a tale
Which, whatsoe'er its sorrows past,
Breaks off in hope and peace at last.
I stretch'd him by the olive tree,
Where his death, there his grave should be;
The place was a thrice hallowed spot,
There had he drawn his golden lot
Of immortality; 'twas blest,
A green and holy place of rest.
But ill my burthen'd heart could bear
Its after loneliness of care;
The calmness round seem'd but to be
A mockery of grief and me,--
The azure flowers, the sunlit sky,
The rill, with its still melody,
The leaves, the birds,--with my despair,
The light and freshness had no share:
The one unbidden of them all
To join in summer's festival.
I wander'd first to many a shrine
By zeal or ages made divine;
And then I visited each place
Where valour's deeds had left a trace;
Or sought the spots renown'd no less
For nature's lasting loveliness.
In vain that all things changed around,
No change in my own heart was found.
In sad or gay, in dark or fair,
My spirit found a likeness there.
At last my bosom yearn'd to see
My EVA'S blooming infancy;
I saw, myself unseen the while,
Oh, God! it was her mother's smile!
Wherefore, oh, wherefore had they flung
The veil just as her mother's hung!--
Another look I dared not take,
Another look my heart would break!
I rush'd away to the lime grove
Where first I told my tale of love;
And leaves and flowers breathed of spring
As in our first sweet wandering.
I look'd towards the clear blue sky,
I saw the gem-like stream run by;
How did I wish that, like these, fate
Had made the heart inanimate.
Oh! why should spring for others be,
When there can come no spring to thee.
Again, again, I rush'd away;
Madness was on an instant's stay!
And since that moment, near and far,
In rest, in toil, in peace, in war,
I've wander'd on without an aim
In all, save lapse of years the same.
Where was the star to rise and shine
Upon a night so dark as mine?--
My life was as a frozen stream,
Which shares but feels not the sun-beam,
All careless where its course may tend,
So that it leads but to an end.
I fear my fate too much to crave
More than it must bestow--the grave.
AND AMIRALD from that hour sought
A refuge from each mournful thought
In RAYMOND'S sad but soothing smile;
And listening what might well beguile
The spirit from its last recess
Of dark and silent wretchedness.
He spoke of EVA , and he tried
To rouse her father into pride
Of her fair beauty; rather strove
To waken hope yet more than love.
He saw how deeply AMIRALD fear'd
To touch a wound not heal'd but sear'd:
His gentle care was not in vain,
And AMIRALD learn'd to think again
Of hope, if not of happiness;
And soon his bosom pined to press
The child whom he so long had left
An orphan doubly thus bereft.
He mark'd with what enamour'd tongue
RAYMOND on EVA'S mention hung,--
The softened tone, the downward gaze,
All that so well the heart betrays;
And a reviving future stole
Like dew and sunlight on his soul.
Soon the Crusaders would be met
Where winter's rest from war was set;
And then farewell to arms and Spain;--
Then for their own fair France again.
One morn there swell'd the trumpet's blast,
Calling to battle, but the last;
And AMIRALD watch'd the youthful knight
Spur his proud courser to the fight:
Tall as the young pine yet unbent
By strife with its mountain element,--
His vizor was up, and his full dark eye
Flash'd as its flashing were victory;
And hope and pride sate on his brow
As his earlier war-dreams were on him now.
Well might he be proud, for where was there one
Who had won the honour that he had won?
And first of the line it was his to lead
His band to many a daring deed.
But rose on the breath of the evening gale,
Not the trumpet's salute, but a mournful tale
Of treachery, that had betray'd the flower
Of the Christian force to the Infidel's power.
One came who told he saw RAYMOND fall,
Left in the battle the last of all;
His helm was gone, and his wearied hand
Held a red but a broken brand.--
What could a warrior do alone?
And AMIRALD felt all hope was gone.
Alas for the young! alas for the brave!
For the morning's hope, and the evening's grave!
And gush'd for him hot briny tears,
Such as AMIRALD had not shed for years;--
With heavy step and alter'd heart,
Again he turn'd him to depart.
He sought his child, but half her bloom
Was withering in RAYMOND'S tomb.
Albeit not with those who fled,
Yet was not RAYMOND with the dead.
There is a lofty castle stands
On the verge of Grenada's lands;
It has a dungeon, and a chain,
And there the young knight must remain.
Day after day,--or rather night,--
Can morning come without its light?
Pass'd on without a sound or sight.
The only thing that he could feel,
Was the same weight of fettering steel,--
The only sound that he could hear
Was when his own voice mock'd his ear,--
His only sight was the drear lamp
That faintly show'd the dungeon's damp,
When by his side the jailor stood,
And brought his loathed and scanty food.
What is the toil, or care, or pain,
The human heart cannot sustain?
Enough if struggling can create
A change or colour in our fate;
But where's the spirit that can cope
With listless suffering, when hope,
The last of misery's allies,
Sickens of its sweet self, and dies.
He thought on EVA :--tell not me
Of happiness in memory!
Oh! what is memory but a gift
Within a ruin'd temple left,
Recalling what its beauties were,
And then presenting what they are.
And many hours pass'd by,--each one
Sad counterpart of others gone;
Till even to his dreams was brought
The sameness of his waking thought;
And in his sleep he felt again
The dungeon, darkness, damp, and chain.
One weary time, when he had thrown
Himself on his cold bed of stone,
Sudden he heard a stranger hand
Undo the grating's iron band:
He knew 'twas stranger, for no jar
Came from the hastily drawn bar.
Too faintly gleam'd the lamp to show
The face of either friend or foe;
But there was softness in the tread,
And RAYMOND raised his weary head,
And saw a muffled figure kneel,
And loose the heavy links of steel.
He heard a whisper, to which heaven
Had surely all its music given:--
'Vow to thy saints for liberty,
Sir knight, and softly follow me!'
He heard her light step on the stair,
And felt 'twas woman led him there.
And dim and dark the way they past
Till on the dazed sight flash'd at last
A burst of light, and RAYMOND stood
Where censers burn'd with sandal wood,
And silver lamps like moonshine fell
O'er mirrors and the tapestried swell
Of gold and purple: on they went
Through rooms each more magnificent.
And RAYMOND look'd upon the brow
Of the fair guide who led him now:
It was a pale but lovely face,
Yet in its first fresh spring of grace,
That spring before or leaf or flower
Has known a single withering hour:
With lips red as the earliest rose
That opens for the bee's repose.
But it was not on lip, or cheek
Too marble fair, too soft, too meek,
That aught was traced that might express
More than unconscious loveliness;
But her dark eyes! as the wild light
Streams from the stars at deep midnight,
Speaks of the future,--so those eyes
Seem'd with their fate to sympathise,
As mocking with their conscious shade
The smile that on the red lip play'd,
As that they knew their destiny
Was love, and that such love would be
The uttermost of misery.
There came a new burst of perfume,
But different, from one stately room,
Not of sweet woods, waters distill'd,
But with fresh flowers' breathings fill'd;
And there the maiden paused, as thought
Some painful memory to her brought.
Around all spoke of woman's hand:
There a guitar lay on a stand
Of polish'd ebony, and raised
In rainbow ranks the hyacinth blazed
Like banner'd lancers of the spring,
Save that they were too languishing.
And gush'd the tears from her dark eyes,
And swell'd her lip and breast with sighs;
But RAYMOND spoke, and at the sound
The maiden's eye glanced hurried round.
Motioning with her hand she led,
With watching gaze and noiseless tread,
Along a flower-fill'd terrace, where
Flow'd the first tide of open air.
They reach'd the garden; there was all
That gold could win, or luxury call
From northern or from southern skies
To make an earthly paradise.
Their path was through a little grove,
Where cypress branches met above,
Green, shadowy, as nature meant
To make the rose a summer tent,
In fear and care, lest the hot noon
Should kiss her fragrant brow too soon.
Oh! passion's history, ever thus
Love's light and breath were perilous!
On the one side a fountain play'd
As if it were a Fairy's shade,
Who shower'd diamonds to streak
The red pomegranate's ruby cheek.
The grove led to a lake, one side
Sweet scented shrubs and willows hide:
There winds a path, the clear moonshine
Pierces not its dim serpentine.
The garden lay behind in light,
With flower and with fountain bright;
The lake like sheeted silver gave
The stars a mirror in each wave;
And distant far the torchlight fell,
Where paced the walls the centinel:
And as each scene met RAYMOND'S view,
He deem'd the tales of magic true,--
With such a path, and such a night,
And such a guide, and such a flight.
The way led to a grotto's shade,
Just for a noon in summer made;
For scarcely might its arch be seen
Through the thick ivy's curtain green,
And not a sunbeam might intrude
Upon its twilight solitude.
It was the very place to strew
The latest violets that grew
Upon the feathery moss, then dream,--
Lull'd by the music of the stream,--
Fann'd by those scented gales which bring
The garden's wealth upon their wing,
Till languid with its own delight,
Sleep steals like love upon the sight,
Bearing those visionings of bliss
That only visit sleep like this.
And paused the maid,--the moonlight shed
Its light where leaves and flowers were spread,
As there she had their sweetness borne,
A pillow for a summer morn;
But when those leaves and flowers were raised,
A lamp beneath their covering blazed.
She led through a small path whose birth
Seem'd in the hidden depths of earth,--
'Twas dark and damp, and on the ear
There came a rush of waters near.
At length the drear path finds an end,--
Beneath a dark low arch they bend;
'Safe, safe!' the maiden cried, and prest
The red cross to her panting breast!
'Yes, we are safe!--on, stranger, on,
The worst is past, and freedom won!
Somewhat of peril yet remains,
But peril not from Moorish chains;--
With hope and heaven be our lot!'
She spoke, but RAYMOND answer'd not:
It was as he at once had come
Into some star's eternal home,--
He look'd upon a spacious cave,
Rich with the gifts wherewith the wave
Had heap'd the temple of that source
Which gave it to its daylight course.
Here pillars crowded round the hall,
Each with a glistening capital:--
The roof was set with thousand spars,
A very midnight heaven of stars;
The walls were bright with every gem
That ever graced a diadem;
Snow turn'd to treasure,--crystal flowers
With every hue of summer hours.
While light and colour round him blazed,
It seem'd to RAYMOND that he gazed
Upon a fairy's palace, raised
By spells from ore and jewels, that shine
In Afric's stream and Indian mine;
And she, his dark-eyed guide, were queen
Alone in the enchanted scene.
They past the columns, and they stood
By the depths of a pitchy flood,
Where silent, leaning on his oar,
An Ethiop slave stood by the shore.
'My faithful ALI !' cried the maid,
And then to gain the boat essay'd,
Then paused, as in her heart afraid
To trust that slight and fragile bark
Upon a stream so fierce, so dark;
Such sullen waves, the torch's glare
Fell wholly unreflected there.
'Twas but a moment; on they went
Over the grave-like element;
At first in silence, for so drear
Was all that met the eye and ear,--
Before, behind, all was like night,
And the red torch's cheerless light,
Fitful and dim, but served to show
How the black waters roll'd below;
And how the cavern roof o'erhead
Seem'd like the tomb above them spread.
And ever as each heavy stroke
Of the oar upon these waters broke,
Ten thousand echoes sent the sound
Like omens through the hollows round,
Till RAYMOND , who awhile subdued
His spirit's earnest gratitude,
Now pour'd his hurried thanks to her,
Heaven's own loveliest minister.
E'en by that torch he could espy
The burning cheek, the downcast eye,--
The faltering lip, which owns too well
All that its words might never tell;--
Once her dark eye met his, and then
Sank 'neath its silken shade again;
She spoke a few short hurried words,
But indistinct, like those low chords
Waked from the lute or ere the hand
Knows yet what song it shall command.
Was it in maiden fearfulness
He might her bosom's secret guess,
Or but in maiden modesty
At what a stranger's thought might be
Of this a Moorish maiden's flight
In secret with a Christian knight.
And the bright colour on her cheek
Was various as the morning break,--
Now spring-rose red, now lily pale,
As thus the maiden told her tale.
MOORISH MAIDEN'S TALE.
ALBEIT on my brow and breast
Is Moorish turban, Moorish vest;
Albeit too of Moorish line,
Yet Christian blood and faith are mine.
Even from earliest infancy
I have been taught to bend the knee
Before the sweet Madonna's face,
To pray from her a Saviour's grace!
My mother's youthful heart was given
To one an infidel to heaven;
Alas! that ever earthly love
Could turn her hope from that above;
Yet surely 'tis for tears, not blame,
To be upon that mother's name.
Well can I deem my father all
That holds a woman's heart in thrall,--
In truth his was as proud a form
As ever stemm'd a battle storm,
As ever moved first in the hall
Of crowds and courtly festival.
Upon each temple the black hair
Was mix'd with grey, as early care
Had been to him like age,--his eye,
And lip, and brow, were dark and high;
And yet there was a look that seem'd
As if at other times he dream'd
Of gentle thoughts he strove to press
Back to their unsunn'd loneliness.
Your first gaze cower'd beneath his glance,
Keen like the flashing of a lance,
As forced a homage to allow
To that tall form, that stately brow;
But the next dwelt upon the trace
That time may bring, but not efface,
Of cares that wasted life's best years,
Of griefs seared more than sooth'd by tears,
And homage changed to a sad feeling
For a proud heart its grief concealing.
If such his brow, when griefs that wear,
And hopes that waste, were written there,
What must it have been, at the hour
When in my mother's moonlit bower,
If any step moved, 'twas to take
The life he ventured for her sake?
He urged his love; to such a suit
Could woman's eye or heart be mute?
She fled with him,--it matters not,
To dwell at length upon their lot.
But that my mother's frequent sighs
Swell'd at the thoughts of former ties,
First loved, then fear'd she loved too well,
Then fear'd to love an Infidel;
A struggle all, she had the will
But scarce the strength to love him still:--
But for this weakness of the heart
Which could not from its love depart,
Rebell'd, but quickly clung again,
Which broke and then renew'd its chain,
Without the power to love, and be
Repaid by love's fidelity:--
Without this contest of the mind,
Though yet its early fetters bind,
Which still pants to be unconfined,
They had been happy.
'Twas when first
My spirit from its childhood burst,
That to our roof a maiden came,
My mother's sister, and the same
In form, in face, in smiles, in tears,
In step, in voice, in all but years,
Save that there was upon her brow
A calm my mother's wanted now;
And that ELVIRA'S loveliness
Seem'd scarce of earth, so passionless,
So pale, all that the heart could paint
Of the pure beauty of a saint.
Yes, I have seen ELVIRA kneel,
And seen the rays of evening steal,
Lighting the blue depths of her eye
With so much of divinity
As if her every thought was raised
To the bright heaven on which she gazed!
Then often I have deem'd her form
Rather with light than with life warm.
My father's darken'd brow was glad,
My mother's burthen'd heart less sad
With her, for she was not of those
Who all the heart's affections close
In a drear hour of grief or wrath,--
Her path was as an angel's path,
Known only by the flowers which spring
Beneath the influence of its wing;
And that her high and holy mood
Was such as suited solitude.
Still she had gentle words and smiles,
And all that sweetness which beguiles,
Like sunshine on an April day,
The heaviness of gloom away.
It was as the souls weal were sure
When prayer rose from lips so pure.
She left us;--the same evening came
Tidings of woe, and death, and shame.
Her guard had been attack'd by one
Whose love it had been her's to shun.
Fierce was the struggle, and her flight
Meanwhile had gain'd a neighbouring height,
Which dark above the river stood,
And look'd upon the rushing flood;
'Twas compass'd round, she was bereft
Of the vague hope that flight had left.
One moment, and they saw her kneel,
And then, as Heaven heard her appeal,
She flung her downwards from the rock:
Her heart was nerved by death to mock
What that heart never might endure,
The slavery of a godless Moor.
And madness in its burning pain
Seized on my mother's heart and brain:
She died that night, and the next day
Beheld my father far away.
But wherefore should I dwell on all
Of sorrow memory can recall,
Enough to know that I must roam
An orphan to a stranger home.--
My father's death in battle field
Forced me a father's rights to yield
To his stern brother; how my heart
Was forced with one by one to part
Of its best hopes, till life became
Existence only in its name;
Left but a single wish,--to share
The cold home where my parents were.
At last I heard, I may not say
How my soul brighten'd into day,
ELVIRA lived; a miracle
Had surely saved her as she fell!
A fisherman who saw her float,
Bore her in silence to his boat.
She lived! how often had I said
To mine own heart she is not dead;
And she remember'd me, and when
They bade us never meet again,
She sent to me an Ethiop slave,
The same who guides us o'er the wave,
Whom she had led to that pure faith
Which sains and saves in life and death,
And plann'd escape.
It was one morn
I saw our conquering standards borne,
And gazed upon a Christian knight
Wounded and prisoner from the fight;
I made a vow that he should be
Redeem'd from his captivity.
Sir knight, the Virgin heard my vow,--
Yon light,--we are in safety now!
THE arch was past, the crimson gleam
Of morning fell upon the stream,
And flash'd upon the dazzled eye
The day-break of a summer sky;
And they are sailing amid ranks
Of cypress on the river banks:
They land where water-lilies spread
Seem almost too fair for the tread;
And knelt they down upon the shore,
The heart's deep gratitude to pour.
Led by their dark guide on they press
Through many a green and lone recess:
The morning air, the bright sunshine,
To RAYMOND were like the red wine,--
Each leaf, each flower seem'd to be
With his own joy in sympathy,
So fresh, so glad; but the fair Moor,
From peril and pursuit secure,
Though hidden by her close-drawn veil,
Yet seem'd more tremulous, more pale;
The hour of dread and danger past,
Fear's timid thoughts came thronging fast;
Her cold hand trembled in his own,
Her strength seem'd with its trial gone,
And downcast eye, and faltering word,
But dimly seen, but faintly heard,
Seem'd scarcely her's that just had been
His dauntless guide through the wild scene.
At length a stately avenue
Of ancient chesnuts met their view,
And they could see the time-worn walls
Of her they sought, ELVIRA'S halls.
A small path led a nearer way
Through flower-beds in their spring array.
They reach'd the steps, and stood below
A high and marble portico;
They enter'd, and saw kneeling there
A creature even more than fair.
On each white temple the dusk braid
Of parted hair made twilight shade,
That brow whose blue veins shone to show
It was more beautiful than snow.
Her large dark eyes were almost hid
By the nightfall of the fringed lid;
And tears which fill'd their orbs with light,
Like summer showers blent soft with bright.
Her cheek was saintly pale, as nought
Were there to flush with earthly thought;
As the heart which in youth had given
Its feelings and its hopes to Heaven,
Knew no emotions that could spread
A maiden's cheek with sudden red,--
Made for an atmosphere above,
Too much to bend to mortal love.
And RAYMOND watch'd as if his eye
Were on a young divinity,--
As her bright presence made him feel
Awe that could only gaze and kneel:
And LEILA paused, as if afraid
To break upon the recluse maid,
As if her heart took its rebuke
From that cold, calm, and placid look.
'ELVIRA !'--though the name was said
Low as she fear'd to wake the dead,
Yet it was heard, and, all revealing,
Of her most treasured mortal feeling,
Fondly the Moorish maid was prest
To her she sought, ELVIRA'S breast.
'I pray'd for thee, my hope, my fear,
My LEILA ! and now thou art near.
Nay, weep not, welcome as thou art
To my faith, friends, and home and heart!'
And RAYMOND almost deem'd that earth
To such had never given birth
As the fair creatures, who, like light,
Floated upon his dazzled sight:--
One with her bright and burning cheek,
All passion, tremulous and weak,
A woman in her woman's sphere
Of joy and grief, of hope and fear.
The other, whose mild tenderness
Seem'd as less made to share than bless;
One to whom human joy was such
That her heart fear'd to trust too much,
While her wan brow seem'd as it meant
To soften rapture to content;--
To whom all earth's delight was food
For high and holy gratitude.
Gazed RAYMOND till his burning brain
Grew dizzy with excess of pain;
For unheal'd wounds his strength had worn,
And all the toil his flight had borne;
His lip, and cheek, and brow were flame;
And when ELVIRA'S welcome came,
It fell on a regardless ear,
As bow'd beside a column near,
He leant insensible to all
Of good or ill that could befall.
WHAT is there that the world hath not
Gathered in yon enchanted spot?
Where, pale, and with a languid eye,
The fair Sultana listlessly
Leans on her silken couch, and dreams
Of mountain airs, and mountain streams.
Sweet though the music float around,
It wants the old familiar sound;
And fragrant though the flowers are breathing,
From far and near together wreathing,
They are not those she used to wear,
Upon the midnight of her hair.—
She's very young, and childhood's days
With all their old remembered ways,
The empire of her heart contest
With love, that is so new a guest;
When blushing with her Murad near,
Half timid bliss, half sweetest fear,
E'en the beloved past is dim,
Past, present, future, merge in him.
But he, the warrior and the chief,
His hours of happiness are brief;
And he must leave Nadira's side
To woo and win a ruder bride;
Sought, sword in hand and spur on heel,
The fame, that weds with blood and steel.
And while from Delhi far away,
His youthful bride pines through the day,
Weary and sad: thus when again
He seeks to bind love's loosen'd chain;
He finds the tears are scarcely dry
Upon a cheek whose bloom is faded,
The very flush of victory
Is, like the brow he watches, shaded.
A thousand thoughts are at her heart,
His image paramount o'er all,
Yet not all his, the tears that start,
As mournful memories recall
Scenes of another home, which yet
That fond young heart can not forget.
She thinks upon that place of pride,
Which frowned upon the mountain's side;
While round it spread the ancient plain,
Her steps will never cross again.
And near those mighty temples stand,
The miracles of mortal hand,
Where, hidden from the common eye,
The past's long buried secrets lie,
Those mysteries of the first great creed,
Whose mystic fancies were the seed
Of every wild and vain belief,
That held o'er man their empire brief,
And turned beneath a southern sky,
All that was faith to poetry.
Hence had the Grecian fables birth,
And wandered beautiful o'er earth;
Till every wood, and stream, and cave,
Shelter to some bright vision gave:
For all of terrible and strange,
That from those gloomy caverns sprung,
From Greece received a graceful change,
That spoke another sky and tongue,
A finer eye, a gentler hand,
Than in their native Hindoo land.
'Twas thence Nadira came, and still
Her memory kept that lofty hill;
The vale below, her place of birth,
That one charmed spot, her native earth.
Still haunted by that early love,
Which youth can feel, and youth alone;
An eager, ready, tenderness,
To all its after-life unknown.
When the full heart its magic flings,
Alike o'er rare and common things,
The dew of morning's earliest hour,
Which swells but once from leaf and flower,
From the pure life within supplied,
A sweet but soon exhausted tide.
There falls a shadow on the gloom,
There steals a light step through the room,
Gentle as love, that, though so near,
No sound hath caught the list'ning ear.
A moment's fond watch o'er her keeping.
Murad beholds Nadira weeping;
He who to win her lightest smile,
Had given his heart's best blood the while.
She turned—a beautiful delight
Has flushed the pale one into rose,
Murad, her love, returned to-night,
Her tears, what recks she now of those?
Dried in the full heart's crimson ray,
Ere he can kiss those tears away—
And she is seated at his feet,
Too timid his dear eyes to meet;
But happy; for she knows whose brow
Is bending fondly o'er her now.
And eager, for his sake, to hear
The records red of sword and spear,
For his sake feels the colour rise,
His spirit kindle in her eyes,
Till her heart beating joins the cry
Of Murad, and of Victory.
City of glories now no more,
His camp extends by Bejapore,
Where the Mahratta's haughty race
Has won the Moslem conqueror's place;
A bolder prince now fills the throne,
And he will struggle for his own.
'And yet,' he said, 'when evening falls
Solemn above those mouldering walls,
Where the mosques cleave the starry air,
Deserted at their hour of prayer,
And rises Ibrahim's lonely tomb,
'Mid weed-grown shrines, and ruined towers,
All marked with that eternal gloom
Left by the past to present hours.
When human pride and human sway
Have run their circle of decay;
And, mocking—the funereal stone,
Alone attests its builder gone.
Oh! vain such temple, o'er the sleep
Which none remain to watch or weep.
I could not choose but think how vain
The struggle fierce for worthless gain.
And calm and bright the moon looked down
O'er the white shrines of that fair town;
While heavily the cocoa-tree
Drooped o'er the walls its panoply,
A warrior proud, whose crested head
Bends mournful o'er the recent dead,
And shadows deep athwart the plain
Usurp the silver moonbeam's reign;
For every ruined building cast
Shadows, like memories of the past.
And not a sound the wind brought nigh,
Save the far jackal's wailing cry,
And that came from the field now red
With the fierce banquet I had spread:
Accursed and unnatural feast,
For worm, and fly, and bird, and beast;
While round me earth and heaven recorded
The folly of life's desperate game,
And the cold justice still awarded
By time, which makes all lots the same.
Slayer or slain, it matters not,
We struggle, perish, are forgot!
The earth grows green above the gone,
And the calm heaven looks sternly on.
'Twas folly this—the gloomy night
Fled before morning's orient light;
City and river owned its power,
And I, too, gladdened with the hour;
I saw my own far tents extend
My own proud crescent o'er them bend;
I heard the trumpet's glorious voice
Summon the warriors of my choice.
Again impatient on to lead,
I sprang upon my raven steed,
Again I felt my father's blood
Pour through my veins its burning flood.
My scimetar around I swung,
Forth to the air its lightning sprung,
A beautiful and fiery light,
The meteor of the coming fight.
'I turned from each forgotten grave
To others, which the name they bear
Will long from old oblivion save
The heroes of the race I share.
I thought upon the lonely isle
Where sleeps the lion-king the while,
Who looked on death, yet paused to die
Till comraded by Victory.
And he, fire noblest of my line,
Whose tomb is now the warrior's shrine,
(Where I were well content to be,
So that such fame might live with me.)
The light of peace, the storm of war,
Lord of the earth, our proud Akbar.
'What though our passing day but be
A bubble on eternity;
Small though the circle is, yet still
'Tis ours to colour at our will.
Mine be that consciousness of life
Which has its energies from strife,
Which lives its utmost, knows its power,
Claims from the mind its utmost dower—
With fiery pulse, and ready hand,
That wills, and willing wins command—
That boldly takes from earth its best—
To whom the grave can be but rest.
Mine the fierce free existence spent
Mid meeting ranks and armed tent:—
Save the few moments which I steal
At thy beloved feet to kneel—
And own the warrior's wild career
Has no such joy as waits him here—
When all that hope can dream is hung
Upon the music of thy tongue.
Ah! never is that cherished face
Banished from its accustomed place—
It shines upon my weariest night
It leads me on in thickest fight:
All that seems most opposed to be
Is yet associate with thee—
Together life and thee depart,
Dream—idol—treasure of my heart.'
Again, again Murad must wield
His scimetar in battle-field:
And must he leave his lonely flower
To pine in solitary bower?
Has power no aid has wealth no charm,
The weight of absence to disarm?
Alas! she will not touch her lute—
What!—sing?—and not for Murad's ear?
The echo of the heart is mute,
And that alone makes music dear.
In vain, in vain that royal hall
Is decked as for a festival.
The sunny birds, whose shining wings
Seem as if bathed in golden springs,
Though worth the gems they cost—and fair
As those which knew her earlier care.
The flowers—though there the rose expand
The sweetest depths wind ever fanned.
Ah! earth and sky have loveliest hues—
But none to match that dearest red,
Born of the heart, which still renews
The life that on itself is fed.
The maiden whom we love bestows
Her magic on the haunted rose.
Such was the colour—when her cheek
Spoke what the lip might never speak.
The crimson flush which could confess
All that we hoped—but dared not guess.
That blush which through the world is known
To love, and to the rose alone—
A sweet companionship, which never
The poet's dreaming eye may sever.
And there were tulips, whose rich leaves
The rainbow's dying light receives;
For only summer sun and skies
Could lend to earth such radiant dyes;
But still the earth will have its share,
The stem is green—the foliage fair—
Those coronals of gems but glow
Over the withered heart below—
That one dark spot, like passion's fire,
Consuming with its own desire.
And pale, as one who dares not turn
Upon her inmost thoughts, and learn,
If it be love their depths conceal,
Love she alone is doomed to feel—
The jasmine droopeth mournfully
Over the bright anemone,
The summer's proud and sun-burnt child:
In vain the queen is not beguiled,
They waste their bloom. Nadira's eye
Neglects them—let them pine and die.
Ah! birds and flowers may not suffice
The heart that throbs with stronger ties.
Again, again Murad is gone,
Again his young bride weeps alone:
Seeks her old nurse, to win her ear
With magic stories once so dear,
And calls the Almas to her aid.
With graceful dance, and gentle singing,
And bells like those some desert home
Hears from the camel's neck far ringing.
Alas! she will not raise her brow;
Yet stay—some spell hath caught her now:
That melody has touched her heart.
Oh, triumph of Zilara's art;
She listens to the mournful strain,
And bids her sing that song again.
'My lonely lute, how can I ask
For music from thy silent strings?
It is too sorrowful a task,
When only swept by memory's wings:
Yet waken from thy charmed sleep,
Although I wake thee but to weep.
'Yet once I had a thousand songs,
As now I have but only one.
Ah, love, whate'er to thee belongs.
With all life's other links, has done;
And I can breathe no other words
Than thou hast left upon the chords.
'They say Camdeo's place of rest,
When floating down the Ganges' tide,
Is in the languid lotus breast,
Amid whose sweets he loves to hide.
Oh, false and cruel, though divine,
What dost thou in so fair a shrine?
'And such the hearts that thou dost choose,
As pure, as fair, to shelter thee;
Alas! they know not what they lose
Who chance thy dwelling-place to be.
For, never more in happy dream
Will they float down life's sunny stream.
'My gentle lute, repeat one name,
The very soul of love, and thine:
No; sleep in silence, let me frame
Some other love to image mine;
Steal sadness from another's tone,
I dare not trust me with my own.
'Thy chords will win their mournful way,
All treasured thoughts to them belong;
For things it were so hard to say
Are murmured easily in song—
It is for music to impart
The secrets of the burthened heart.
'Go, taught by misery and love,
And thou hast spells for every ear:
But the sweet skill each pulse to move,
Alas! hath bought its knowledge dear—
Bought by the wretchedness of years,
A whole life dedicate to tears.'
The voice has ceased, the chords are mute,
The singer droops upon her lute;
But, oh, the fulness of each tone
Straight to Nadira's heart hath gone—
As if that mournful song revealed
Depths in that heart till then concealed,
A world of melancholy thought,
Then only into being brought;
Those tender mysteries of the soul,
Like words on an enchanted scroll,
Whose mystic meaning but appears
When washed and understood by tears.
She gaged upon the singer's face;
Deeply that young brow wore the trace
Of years that leave their stamp behind:
The wearied hope—the fever'd mind—
The heart which on itself hath turned,
Worn out with feelings—slighted—spurned—
Till scarce one throb remained to show
What warm emotions slept below,
Never to be renewed again,
And known but by remembered pain.
Her cheek was pale—impassioned pale—
Like ashes white with former fire,
Passion which might no more prevail,
The rose had been its own sweet pyre.
You gazed upon the large black eyes,
And felt what unshed tears were there;
Deep, gloomy, wild, like midnight skies,
When storms are heavy on the air—
And on the small red lip sat scorn,
Writhing from what the past had borne.
But far too proud to sigh—the will,
Though crushed, subdued, was haughty still;
Last refuge of the spirit's pain,
Which finds endurance in disdain.
Others wore blossoms in their hair,
And golden bangles round the arm.
She took no pride in being fair,
The gay delight of youth to charm;
The softer wish of love to please,
What had she now to do with these?
She knew herself a bartered slave,
Whose only refuge was the grave.
Unsoftened now by those sweet notes,
Which half subdued the grief they told,
Her long black hair neglected floats
O'er that wan face, like marble cold;
And carelessly her listless hand
Wandered above her lute's command
But silently—or just a tone
Woke into music, and was gone.
'Come hither, maiden, take thy seat,'
Nadira said, 'here at my feet.'
And, with the sweetness of a child
Who smiles, and deems all else must smile,
She gave the blossoms which she held,
And praised the singer's skill the while;
Then started with a sad surprise,
For tears were in the stranger's eyes.
Ah, only those who rarely know
Kind words, can tell how sweet they seem.
Great God, that there are those below
To whom such words are like a dream.
'Come,' said the young Sultana, 'come
To our lone garden by the river,
Where summer hath its loveliest home,
And where Camdeo fills his quiver.
If, as thou sayest, 'tis stored with flowers,
Where will he find them fair as ours?
And the sweet songs which thou canst sing
Methinks might charm away his sting.'
The evening banquet soon is spread—
There the pomegranate's rougher red
Was cloven, that it might disclose
A colour stolen from the rose—
The brown pistachio's glossy shell,
The citron where faint odours dwell;
And near the watermelon stands,
Fresh from the Jumna's shining sands;
And golden grapes, whose bloom and hue
Wear morning light and morning dew,
Or purple with the deepest dye
That flushes evening's farewell sky.
And in the slender vases glow—
Vases that seem like sculptured snow—
The rich sherbets are sparkling bright
With ruby and with amber light.
A fragrant mat the ground o'erspread,
With an old tamarind overhead,
With drooping bough of darkest green,
Forms for their feast a pleasant screen.
'Tis night, but such delicious time
Would seem like day in northern clime.
A pure and holy element,
Where light and shade, together blent,
Are like the mind's high atmosphere,
When hope is calm, and heaven is near.
The moon is young—her crescent brow
Wears its ethereal beauty now,
Unconscious of the crime and care,
Which even her brief reign must know,
Till she will pine to be so fair,
With such a weary world below.
A tremulous and silvery beam
Melts over palace, garden, stream;
Each flower beneath that tranquil ray,
Wears other beauty than by day,
All pale as if with love, and lose
Their rich variety of hues—
But ah, that languid loveliness
Hath magic, to the noon unknown,
A deep and pensive tenderness,
The heart at once feels is its own—
How fragrant to these dewy hours,
The white magnolia lifts its urn
The very Araby of flowers,
Wherein all precious odours burn.
And when the wind disperses these,
The faint scent of the lemon trees
Mingles with that rich sigh which dwells
Within the baubool's golden bells.
The dark green peepul's glossy leaves,
Like mirrors each a ray receives,
While luminous the moonlight falls,
O'er pearl kiosk and marble walls,
Those graceful palaces that stand
Most like the work of peri-land.
And rippling to the lovely shore,
The river tremulous with light,
On its small waves, is covered o'er
With the sweet offerings of the night—
Heaps of that scented grass whose bands
Have all been wove by pious hands,
Or wreaths, where fragrantly combined,
Red and white lotus flowers are twined.
And on the deep blue waters float
Many a cocoa-nut's small boat,
Holding within the lamp which bears
The maiden's dearest hopes and prayers,
Watch'd far as ever eye can see,
A vain but tender augury.
Alas! this world is not his home,
And still love trusts that signs will come
From his own native world of bliss,
To guide him through the shades of this.
Dreams, omens, he delights in these,
For love is linked with fantasies,
But hark! upon the plaining wind
Zilara's music floats again;
That midnight breeze could never find
A meeter echo than that strain,
Sad as the sobbing gale that sweeps
The last sere leaf which autumn keeps,
Yet sweet as when the waters fall
And make some lone glade musical.
'Lady, sweet Lady, song of mine
Was never meant for thee,
I sing but from my heart, and thine—
It cannot beat with me.
'You have not knelt in vain despair,
Beneath a love as vain,
That desperate—that devoted love,
Life never knows again.
'What know you of a weary hope,
The fatal and the fond,
That feels it has no home on earth,
Yet dares not look beyond?
'The bitterness of wasted youth,
Impatient of its tears;
The dreary days, the feverish nights,
The long account of years.
'The vain regret, the dream destroy'd,
The vacancy of heart,
When life's illusions, one by one,
First darken—then depart.
'The vacant heart! ah, worse,—a shrine
For one beloved name:
Kept, not a blessing, but a curse,
Amid remorse and shame.
'To know how deep, how pure, how true
Your early feelings were;
But mock'd, betray'd, disdain'd, and chang'd,
They have but left despair.
'And yet the happy and the young
Bear in their hearts a well
Of gentlest, kindliest sympathy,
Where tears unbidden dwell.
'Then, lady, listen to my lute;
As angels look below,
And e'en in heaven pause to weep
O'er grief they cannot know.'
The song was o'er, but yet the strings
Made melancholy murmurings;
She wandered on from air to air,
Changeful as fancies when they bear
The impress of the various thought,
From memory's twilight caverns brought.
At length, one wild, peculiar chime
Recalled this tale of ancient time.
'There's dust upon the distant wind, and shadow on the skies,
And anxiously the maiden strains her long-expecting eyes
And fancies she can catch the light far flashing from the sword,
And see the silver crescents raised, of him, the Mogul lord.
'She stands upon a lofty tower, and gazes o'er the plain:
Alas! that eyes so beautiful, should turn on heaven in vain.
'Tis but a sudden storm whose weight is darkening on the air,
The lightning sweeps the hill, but shows no coming warriors there.
'Yet crimson as the morning ray, she wears the robe of pride
That binds the gallant Humaioon, a brother, to her side;
His gift, what time around his arm, the glittering band was rolled,
With stars of ev'ry precious stone enwrought in shining gold.
'Bound by the Raki's sacred tie, his ready aid to yield,
Though beauty waited in the bower, and glory in the field:
Why comes he not, that chieftain vow'd, to this her hour of need?
Has honour no devotedness? Has chivalry no speed?
'The Rajpoot's daughter gazes round, she sees the plain afar,
Spread shining to the sun, which lights no trace of coming war.
The very storm has past away, as neither earth nor heaven
One token of their sympathy had to her anguish given.
'And still more hopeless than when last she on their camp looked down,
The foeman's gathered numbers close round the devoted town:
And daily in that fatal trench her chosen soldiers fall,
And spread themselves, a rampart vain, around that ruined wall.
'Her eyes upon her city turn—alas! what can they meet,
But famine, and despair, and death, in every lonely street?
Women and children wander pale, or with despairing eye
Look farewell to their native hearths, and lay them down to die.
'She seeks her palace, where her court collects in mournful bands,
Of maidens who but watch and weep, and wring their weary hands.
One word there came from her white lips, one word, she spoke no more;
But that word was for life and death, the young queen named—the Jojr.
[ the last,
'A wild shriek filled those palace halls—one shriek, it was
All womanish complaint and wail have in its utterance past:
They kneel at Kurnavati's feet, they bathe her hands in tears,
Then hurrying to their task of death, each calm and stern appears.
'There is a mighty cavern close beside the palace gate,
Dark, gloomy temple, meet to make such sacrifice to fate:
There heap they up all precious woods, the sandal and the rose,
While fragrant oils and essences like some sweet river flows.
'And shawls from rich Cashmere, and robes from Dacca's golden loom,
And caskets filled with Orient pearls, or yet more rare perfume:
And lutes and wreaths, all graceful toys, of woman's gentle care,
Are heaped upon that royal pile, the general doom to share.
'But weep for those the human things, so lovely and so young,
The panting hearts which still to life so passionately clung;
Some bound to this dear earth by hope, and some by love's strong thrall,
And yet dishonour's high disdain was paramount with all.
'Her silver robe flowed to her feet, with jewels circled round,
And in her long and raven hair the regal gems were bound;
And diamonds blaze, ruby and pearl were glittering in her zone,
And there, with starry emeralds set, the radiant Kandjar shone.
'The youthful Ranee led the way, while in her glorious eyes
Shone spiritual, the clear deep light, that is in moonlit skies:
Pale and resolved, her noble brow was worthy of a race
Whose proud blood flowed in those blue veins unconscious of disgrace.
'Solemn and slow with mournful chaunt, come that devoted band,
And Kurnavati follows last—the red torch in her hand:
She fires the pile, a death-black smoke mounts from that dreary cave—
Fling back the city gates—the foe, can now find but a grave.
'Hark the fierce music on the wind, the atabal, the gong,
The stem avenger is behind, he has not tarried long:
They brought his summons, though he stood before his plighted bride;
They brought his summons, though he stood in all but victory's pride.
'Yet down he flung the bridal wreath, he left the field unwon,
All that a warrior might achieve, young Humaioon had done,
Too late—he saw the reddening sky, he saw the smoke arise,
A few faint stragglers lived to tell the Ranee's sacrifice.
'But still the monarch held a sword, and had a debt to pay;
Small cause had Buhadour to boast—the triumph of that day:
Again the lone streets flowed with blood, and though too late to save,
Vengeance was the funereal rite at Kurnavati's grave.'
Deep silence chained the listeners round,
When, lo, another plaintive sound,
Came from the river's side, and there
They saw a girl with loosened hair
Seat her beneath a peepul tree,
Where swung her gurrah mournfully,
Filled with the cool and limpid wave,
An offering o'er some dear one's grave.
At once Zilara caught the tone,
And made it, as she sung, her own.
'Oh weep not o'er the quiet grave,
Although the spirit lost be near;
Weep not, for well those phantoms know
How vain the grief above their bier.
Weep not—ah no, 'tis best to die,
Ere all of bloom from life is fled;
Why live, when feelings, friends, and faith
Have long been numbered with the dead?
'They know no rainbow-hope that weeps
Itself away to deepest shade;
Nor love, whose very happiness
Should make the trusting heart afraid.
Ah, human tears are tears of fire,
That scorch and wither as they flow;
Then let them fall for those who live,
And not for those who sleep below.
'Yes, weep for those, whose silver chain
Has long been loosed, and yet live on;
The doomed to drink from life's dark spring,
Whose golden bowl has long been gone.
Aye, weep for those, the weary, worn,
The bound to earth by some vain tie;
Some lingering love, some fond regret,
Who loathe to live, yet fear to die.'
A moment's rest, and then once more
Zilara tried her memory's store,
And woke, while o'er the strings she bowed,
A tale of Rajahstan the proud.
'Bold as the falcon that faces the sun,
Wild as the streams when in torrents they run,
Fierce as the flame when the jungle's on fire,
Are the chieftains who call on the day-star as Sire.
Since the Moghuls were driven from stately Mandoo,
And left but their ruins their reign to renew,
Those hills have paid tribute to no foreign lord,
And their children have kept what they won by the sword.
Yet downcast each forehead, a sullen dismay
At Oudeypoor reigns in the Durbar to-day,
For bootless the struggle, and weary the fight,
Which Adjeit Sing pictures with frown black as night:—
'Oh fatal the hour, when Makundra's dark pass
Saw the blood of our bravest sink red in the grass;
And the gifts which were destined to honour the bride,
By the contest of rivals in crimson were dyed.
Where are the warriors who once wont to stand
The glory and rampart of Rajahstan's land?
Ask of the hills for their young and their brave,
They will point to the valleys beneath as their grave.
The mother sits pale by her desolate hearth,
And weeps o'er the infant an orphan from birth;
While the eldest boy watches the dust on the spear,
Which as yet his weak hand is unable to rear.
The fruit is ungathered, the harvest unsown,
And the vulture exults o'er our fields as his own:
There is famine on earth—there is plague in the air,
And all for a woman whose face is too fair.'
There was silence like that from the tomb, for no sound
Was heard from the chieftains who darkened around,
When the voice of a woman arose in reply,
'The daughters of Rajahstan know how to die.'
'Day breaks, and the earliest glory of morn
Afar o'er the tops of the mountains is borne;
Then the young Kishen Kower wandered through the green bowers,
That sheltered the bloom of the island of flowers;
Where a fair summer palace arose mid the shade,
Which a thousand broad trees for the noon-hour had made
Far around spread the hills with their varying hue,
From the deepest of purple to faintest of blue;
On one side the courts of the Rana are spread,
The white marble studded with granite's deep red;
While far sweeps the terrace, and rises the dome,
Till lost in the pure clouds above like a home.
Beside is a lake covered over with isles,
As the face of a beauty is varied with smiles:
Some small, just a nest for the heron that springs
From the long grass, and flashes the light from its wings;
Some bearing one palm-tree, the stately and fair,
Alone like a column aloft in the air;
While others have shrubs and sweet plants that extend
Their boughs to the stream o'er whose mirror they bend.
The lily that queen-like uprears to the sun,
The loveliest face that his light is upon;
While beside stands the cypress, which darkens the wave
With a foliage meant only to shadow the grave.
But the isle in the midst was the fairest of all
Where ran the carved trellis around the light hall;
Where the green creeper's starry wreaths, scented and bright.
Wooed the small purple doves 'mid their shelter to light;
There the proud oleander with white tufts was hung,
And the fragile clematis its silver showers flung,
And the nutmeg's soft pink was near lost in the pride
Of the pomegranate blossom that blushed at its side.
There the butterflies flitted around on the leaves,
From which every wing its own colour receives;
There the scarlet finch past like a light on the wind,
And the hues of the bayas like sunbeams combined;
Till the dazzled eye sought from such splendours to rove
And rested at last on the soft lilac dove;
Whose song seemed a dirge that at evening should be
Pour'd forth from the height of the sad cypress tree.
Her long dark hair plaited with gold on each braid;
Her feet bound with jewels which flash'd through the shade;
One hand filled with blossoms, pure hyacinth bells
Which treasure the summer's first breath in their cells;
The other caressing her white antelope,
In all the young beauty of life and of hope.
The princess roved onwards, her heart in her eyes,
That sought their delight in the fair earth and skies.
Oh, loveliest time! oh, happiest day!
When the heart is unconscious, and knows not its sway,
When the favourite bird, or the earliest flower,
Or the crouching fawn's eyes, make the joy of the hour,
And the spirits and steps are as light as the sleep
Which never has waken'd to watch or to weep.
She bounds o'er the soft grass, half woman half child,
As gay as her antelope, almost as wild.
The bloom of her cheek is like that on her years;
She has never known pain, she has never known tears,
And thought has no grief, and no fear to impart;
The shadow of Eden is yet on her heart.
'The midnight has fallen, the quiet, the deep,
Yet in yon Zenana none lie down for sleep.
Like frighted birds gathered in timorous bands,
The young slaves within it are wringing their hands.
The mother hath covered her head with her veil,
She weepeth no tears, and she maketh no wail;
But all that lone chamber pass silently by;
She has flung her on earth, to despair and to die.
But a lamp is yet burning in one dismal room,
Young princess; where now is thy morning of bloom?
Ah, ages, long ages, have passed in a breath,
And life's bitter knowledge has heralded death.
At the edge of the musnud she bends on her knee,
While her eyes watch the face of the stern Chand Baee.
Proud, beautiful, fierce; while she gazes, the tone
Of those high murky features grows almost her own;
And the blood of her race rushes dark to her brow,
The spirit of heroes has entered her now.
' 'Bring the death-cup, and never for my sake shall shame
Quell the pride of my house, or dishonour its name.
She drained the sherbet, while Chand Baee looked on,
Like a warrior that marks the career of his son.
But life is so strong in each pure azure vein,
That they take not the venom—she drains it again.
The haughty eye closes, the white teeth are set,
And the dew-damps of pain on the wrung brow are wet:
The slight frame is writhing—she sinks to the ground;
She yields to no struggle, she utters no sound—
The small hands are clenched—they relax—it is past,
And her aunt kneels beside her—kneels weeping at last.
Again morning breaks over palace and lake,
But where are the glad eyes it wont to awake.
Weep, weep, 'mid a bright world of beauty and bloom,
For the sweet human flower that lies low in the tomb.
And wild through the palace the death-song is breathing,
And white are the blossoms, the slaves weep while wreathing,
To strew at the feet and to bind round the head,
Of her who was numbered last night with the dead:
They braid her long tresses, they drop the shroud o'er,
And gaze on her cold and pale beauty no more:
But the heart has her image, and long after-years
Will keep her sad memory with music and tears.'
Days pass, yet still Zilara's song
Beguiled the regal beauty's hours
As the wind bears some bird along
Over the haunted orange bowers.
'Twas as till then she had not known
How much her heart had for its own;
And Murad's image seemed more dear,
These higher chords of feeling strung;
'And love shone brighter for the shade
'That others' sorrows round it flung.
It was one sultry noon, yet sweet
The air which through the matted grass
Came cool—its breezes had to meet
A hundred plumes, ere it could pass;
The peacock's shining feathers wave
From many a young and graceful slave;
Who silent kneel amid the gloom
Of that dim and perfumed room.
Beyond, the radiant sunbeams rest
On many a minaret's glittering crest,
And white the dazzling tombs below,
Like masses sculptured of pure snow;
While round stands many a giant tree,
Like pillars of a sanctuary,
Whose glossy foliage, dark and bright,
Reflects, and yet excludes the light.
Oh sun, how glad thy rays are shed;
How canst thou glory o'er the dead?
Ah, folly this of human pride,
What are the dead to one like thee,
Whose mirror is the mighty tide,
Where time flows to eternity?
A single race, a single age,
What are they in thy pilgrimage?
The tent, the palace, and the tomb
Repeat the universal doom.
Man passes, but upon the plain
Still the sweet seasons hold their reign,
As if earth were their sole domain,
And man a toy and mockery thrown
Upon the world he deems his own.
All is so calm—the sunny air
Has not a current nor a shade;
The vivid green the rice-fields wear
Seems of one moveless emerald made;
The Ganges' quiet waves are rolled
In one broad sheet of molten gold;
And in the tufted brakes beside,
The water-fowls and herons hide.
And the still earth might also seem
The strange creation of a dream.
Actual, breathless—dead, yet bright—
Unblest with life—yet mocked with light,
It mocks our nature's fate and power,
When we look forth in such an hour,
And that repose in nature see,
The fond desire of every heart;
But, oh! thou inner world, to thee,
What outward world can e'er impart?
But turn we to that darkened hall,
Where the cool fountain's pleasant fall
Wakens the odours yet unshed
From the blue hyacinth's drooping head;
And on the crimson couch beside
Reclines the young and royal bride;
Not sleeping, though the water's chime,
The lulling flowers, the languid time,
Might soothe her to the gentlest sleep,
O'er which the genii watchings keep,
And shed from their enchanted wings,
All loveliest imaginings:
No, there is murmuring in her ear,
A voice than sleep's more soft and dear;
While that pale slave with drooping eye
Speaks mournfully of days gone by;
And every plaintive word is fraught
With music which the heart has taught,
A pleading and confiding tone,
To those mute lips so long unknown.
Ah! all in vain that she had said
To feeling, 'slumber like the dead;'
Had bade each pang that might convulse
With fiery throb the beating pulse,
Each faded hope, each early dream,
Sleep as beneath a frozen stream;
Such as her native mountains bear,
The cold white hills around Jerdair;
Heights clad with that eternal snow,
Which happier valleys never know.
Some star in that ungenial sky,
Might well shape such a destiny;
But till within the dark calm grave,
There yet will run an under-wave,
Which human sympathy can still
Excite and melt to tears at will;
No magic any spell affords,
Whose power is like a few kind words.
'Twas strange the contrast in the pair,
That leant by that cool fountain's side
Both very young, both very fair,
By nature, not by fate allied:
The one a darling and delight,
A creature like the morning bright:
Whose weeping is the sunny shower
Half light upon an April hour;
One who a long glad childhood past,
But left that happy home to 'bide
Where love a deeper shadow cast,
A hero's proud and treasured bride:
Who her light footstep more adored,
Than all the triumphs of his sword;
Whose kingdom at her feet the while,
Had seemed too little for a smile.
But that pale slave was as the tomb
Of her own youth, of her own bloom;
Enough remained to show how fair,
In other days those features were,
Still lingered delicate and fine,
The shadow of their pure outline;
The small curved lip, the glossy brow,
That melancholy beauty wore,
Whose spell is in the silent past,
Which saith to love and hope, 'No more:'
No more, for hope hath long forsaken
Love, though at first its gentle guide
First lulled to sleep, then left to 'waken,
'Mid tears and scorn, despair and pride,
And only those who know can tell,
What love is after hope's farewell.
And first she spoke of childhood's time,
Little, what childhood ought to be,
When tenderly the gentle child
Is cherished at its mother's knee,
Who deems that ne'er before, from heaven
So sweet a thing to earth was given.
But she an orphan had no share
In fond affection's early care;
She knew not love until it came
Far other, though it bore that name.
'I felt,' she said, 'all things grow bright!
Before the spirit's inward light.
Earth was more lovely, night and day,
Conscious of some enchanted sway,
That flung around an atmosphere
I had not deemed could brighten here.
And I have gazed on Moohreeb's face,
As exiles watch their native place;
I knew his step before it stirred
From its green nest the cautious bird.
I woke, till eye and cheek grew dim,
Then slept—it was to dream of him;
I lived for days upon a word
Less watchful ear had never heard:
And won from careless look or sign
A happiness too dearly mine.
He was my world—I wished to make
My heart a temple for his sake.
It matters not—such passionate love
Has only life and hope above;
A wanderer from its home on high,
Here it is sent to droop and die.
He loved me not—or but a day,
I was a flower upon his way:
A moment near his heart enshrined,
Then flung to perish on the wind.'
She hid her face within her hands—
Methinks the maiden well might weep;
The heart it has a weary task
Which unrequited love must keep;
At once a treasure and a curse,
The shadow on its universe.
Alas, for young and wasted years,
For long nights only spent in tears;
For hopes, like lamps in some dim urn,
That but for the departed burn.
Alas for her whose drooping brow
Scarce struggles with its sorrow now.
At first Nadira wept to see
That hopelessness of misery.
But, oh, she was too glad, too young,
To dream of an eternal grief;
A thousand thoughts within her sprung,
Of solace, promise, and relief.
Slowly Zilara raised her head,
Then, moved by some strong feeling, said,
'A boon, kind Princess, there is one
Which won by me, were heaven won;
Not wealth, not freedom—wealth to me
Is worthless, as all wealth must be;
When there are none its gifts to share:
For whom have I on earth to care?
None from whose head its golden shrine
May ward the ills that fell on mine.
And freedom—'tis a worthless boon
To one who will be free so soon;
And yet I have one prayer, so dear,
I dare not hope—I only fear.'
'Speak, trembler, be your wish confest,
And trust Nadira with the rest.'
'Lady, look forth on yonder tower,
There spend I morn and midnight's hour,
Beneath that lonely peepul tree—
Well may its branches wave o'er me,
For their dark wreaths are ever shed,
The mournful tribute to the dead—
There sit I, in fond wish to cheer
A captive's sad and lonely ear,
And strive his drooping hopes to raise,
With songs that breathe of happier days.
Lady, methinks I scarce need tell
The name that I have loved so well;
'Tis Moohreeb, captured by the sword
Of him, thy own unconquered lord.
Lady, one word—one look from thee,
And Murad sets that captive free.'
'And you will follow at his side?'
'Ah, no, he hath another bride;
And if I pity, can'st thou bear
To think upon her lone despair?
No, break the mountain-chieftain's chain,
Give him to hope, home, love again.'
Her cheek with former beauty blushed,
The crimson to her forehead rushed,
Her eyes rekindled, till their light
Flashed from the lash's summer night.
So eager was her prayer, so strong
The love that bore her soul along.
Ah! many loves for many hearts;
But if mortality has known
One which its native heaven imparts
To that fine soil where it has grown;
'Tis in that first and early feeling,
Passion's most spiritual revealing;
Half dream, all poetry—whose hope
Colours life's charmed horoscope
With hues so beautiful, so pure—
Whose nature is not to endure.
As well expect the tints to last,
The rainbow on the storm hath cast.
Of all young feelings, love first dies,
Soon the world piles its obsequies;
Yet there have been who still would keep
That early vision dear and deep,
The wretched they, but love requires
Tears, tears to keep alive his fires:
The happy will forget, but those
To whom despair denies repose,
From whom all future light is gone,
The sad, the slighted, still love on.
The ghurrees are chiming the morning hour,
The voice of the priest is heard from the tower,
The turrets of Delhi are white in the sun,
Alas! that another bright day has begun.
Children of earth, ah! how can ye bear
This constant awakening to toil and to care?
Out upon morning, its hours recall,
Earth to its trouble, man to his thrall;
Out upon morning, it chases the night,
With all the sweet dreams that on slumber alight;
Out upon morning, which wakes us to life,
With its toil, its repining, its sorrow and strife.
And yet there were many in Delhi that day,
Who watched the first light, and rejoiced in the ray;
They wait their young monarch, who comes from the field
With a wreath on his spear, and a dent on his shield.
There's a throng in the east, 'tis the king and his train:
And first prance the horsemen, who scarce can restrain
Their steeds that are wild as the wind, and as bold
As the riders who curb them with bridles of gold:
The elephants follow, and o'er each proud head
The chattah that glitters with gems is outspread,
Whence the silver bells fall with their musical sound,
While the howdah's red trappings float bright on the ground:
Behind stalk the camels, which, weary and worn,
Seem to stretch their long necks, and repine at the morn:
And wild on the air the fierce war-echoes come,
The voice of the atabal, trumpet, and drum:
Half lost in the shout that ascends from the crowd,
Who delight in the young, and the brave, and the proud.
Tis folly to talk of the right and the wrong,
The triumph will carry the many along.
A dearer welcome far remains,
Than that of Delhi's crowded plains?
Soon Murad seeks the shadowy hall,
Cool with the fountain's languid fall;
His own, his best beloved to meet.
Why kneels Nadira at his feet?
With flushing cheek, and eager air,
One word hath won her easy prayer;
It is such happiness to grant,
The slightest fancy that can haunt
The loved one's wish, earth hath no gem,
And heaven no hope, too dear for them.
That night beheld a vessel glide,
Over the Jumna's onward tide;
One watched that vessel from the shore,
Too conscious of the freight it bore,
And wretched in her granted vow,
Sees Moohreeb leaning by the prow,
And knows that soon the winding river
Will hide him from her view for ever.
Next morn they found that youthful slave
Still kneeling by the sacred wave;
Her head was leaning on the stone
Of an old ruined tomb beside,
A fitting pillow cold and lone,
The dead had to the dead supplied:
The heart's last string hath snapt in twain,
Oh, earth, receive thine own again:
The weary one at length has rest
Within thy chill but quiet breast.
Long did the young Nadira keep
The memory of that maiden's lute;
And call to mind her songs, and weep,
Long after those charmed chords were mute.
A small white tomb was raised, to show
That human sorrow slept below;
And solemn verse and sacred line
Were graved on that funereal shrine.
And by its side the cypress tree
Stood, like unchanging memory.
And even to this hour are thrown
Green wreaths on that remembered stone;
And songs remain, whose tunes are fraught
With music which herself first taught.
And, it is said, one lonely star
Still brings a murmur sweet and far
Upon the silent midnight air,
As if Zilara wandered there.
Oh! if her poet soul be blent
With its aerial element,
May its lone course be where the rill
Goes singing at its own glad will;
Where early flowers unclose and die;
Where shells beside the ocean lie,
Fill'd with strange tones; or where the breeze
Sheds odours o'er the moonlit seas:
There let her gentle spirit rove,
Embalmed by poetry and love.
The Troubadour. Canto 2
THE first, the very first; oh! none
Can feel again as they have done;
In love, in war, in pride, in all
The planets of life's coronal,
However beautiful or bright,--
What can be like their first sweet light?
When will the youth feel as he felt,
When first at beauty's feet he knelt?
As if her least smile could confer
A kingdom on its worshipper;
Or ever care, or ever fear
Had cross'd love's morning hemisphere.
And the young bard, the first time praise
Sheds its spring sunlight o'er his lays,
Though loftier laurel, higher name,
May crown the minstrel's noontide fame,
They will not bring the deep content
Of his lure's first encouragement.
And where the glory that will yield
The flush and glow of his first field
To the young chief? Will RAYMOND ever
Feel as he now is feeling?--Never.
The sun wept down or ere they gain'd
The glen where the chief band remain'd.
It was a lone and secret shade,
As nature form'd an ambuscade
For the bird's nest and the deer's lair,
Though now less quiet guests were there.
On one side like a fortress stood
A mingled pine and chesnut wood;
Autumn was falling, but the pine
Seem'd as it mock'd all change; no sign
Of season on its leaf was seen,
The same dark gloom of changeless green.
But like the gorgeous Persian bands
'Mid the stern race of northern lands,
The chesnut boughs were bright with all
That gilds and mocks the autumn's fall.
Like stragglers from an army's rear
Gradual they grew, near and less near,
Till ample space was left to raise,
Amid the trees, the watch-fire's blaze;
And there, wrapt in their cloaks around,
The soldiers scatter'd o'er the ground.
One was more crowded than the rest,
And to that one was RAYMOND prest;--
There sat the chief: kind greetings came
At the first sound of RAYMOND'S name.
'Am I not proud that this should be,
Thy first field to be fought with me:
Years since thy father's sword and mine
Together dimm'd their maiden shine.
We were sworn brothers; when he fell
'Twas mine to hear his last farewell:
And how revenged I need not say,
Though few were left to tell that day.--
Thy brow is his, and thou wilt wield
A sword like his in battle-field.
Let the day break, and thou shalt ride
Another RAYMOND by my side;
And thou shalt win and I confer,
To-morrow, knightly brand and spur.'
With thoughts of pride, and thoughts of grief,
Sat RAYMOND by that stranger chief,
So proud to hear his father's fame,
So sad to hear that father's name,
And then to think that he had known
That father by his name alone;
And aye his heart within him burn'd
When his eye to DE VALENCE turn'd,
Mark'd his high step, his warlike mien,--
'And such my father would have been!'
A few words of years past away,
A few words of the coming day,
They parted, not that night for sleep;
RAYMOND had thoughts that well might keep
Rest from his pillow,--memory, hope,
In youth's horizon had full scope
To blend and part each varied line
Of cloud and clear, of shade and shine.
--He rose and wander'd round, the light
Of the full moon fell o'er each height;
Leaving the wood behind in shade,
O'er rock, and glen, and rill it play'd.
He follow'd a small stream whose tide
Was bank'd by lilies on each side,
And there, as if secure of rest,
A swan had built her lonely nest;
And spread out was each lifted wing,
Like snow or silver glittering.
Wild flowers grew around the dale,
Sweet children of the sun and gale;
From every crag the wild vine fell,
To all else inaccessible;
And where a dark rock rose behind,
Their shelter from the northern wind,
Grew myrtles with their fragrant leaves,
Veil'd with the web the gossamer weaves,
So pearly fair, so light, so frail,
Like beauty's self more than her veil.--
And first to gaze upon the scene,
Quiet as there had never been
Heavier step than village maid
With flowers for her nuptial braid,
Or louder sound than hermit's prayer,
To crush its grass or load its air.
Then to look on the armed train,
The watch-fire on the wooded plain,
And think how with the morrow's dawn,
Would banner wave, and blade be drawn;
How clash of steel, and trumpet's swell,
Would wake the echoes of each dell.
--And thus it ever is with life,
Peace sleeps upon the breast of Strife,
But to be waken'd from its rest,
Till comes that sleep the last and best.
And RAYMOND paused at last, and laid
Himself beneath a chesnut's shade,
A little way apart from all,
That he might catch the waterfall,
Whose current swept like music round,--
When suddenly another sound
Came on the ear; it was a tone,
Rather a murmur than a song,
As he who breathed deem'd all unknown
The words, thoughts, echo bore along.
Parting the boughs which hung between,
Close, thick, as if a tapestried screen,
RAYMOND caught sight of a white plume
Waving o'er brow and cheek of bloom;
And yet the song was sad and low,
As if the chords it waked were woe.
SONG OF THE YOUNG KNIGHT.
YOUR scarf is bound upon my breast,
Your colours dance upon my crest,--
They have been soil'd by dust and rain,
And they must wear a darker stain.
I mark'd thy tears as fast they fell,
I saw but heard not thy farewell,
I gave my steed the spur and rein,--
I dared not look on thee again.
My cheek is pale, but not with fears,
And I have dash'd aside my tears;
This woman's softness of my breast
Will vanish when my spear's in rest.
I know that farewell was our last,
That life and love from me are past;
For I have heard the fated sign
That speaks the downfall of our line.
I slept the soldier's tired sleep;
But yet I heard the music sweep,
Dim, faint, as when I stood beside
The bed whereon my father died.
Farewell, sweet love! never again
Will thine ear listen to the strain
With which so oft at midnight's hour
I've waked the silence of thy bower.
Farewell! I would not tears should stain
Thy fair cheek with their burning rain:
Tears, sweet! would an ill offering be
To one whose death was worthy thee.
RAYMOND thought on that song next day
When bleeding that young warrior lay,
While his hand, in its death-pang, prest
A bright curl to his wounded breast.
AND waning stars, and brightening sky,
And on the clouds a crimson dye,
And fresher breeze, and opening flowers,
Tell the approach of morning hours.
Oh, how can breath, and light, and bloom,
Herald a day of death and doom!
With knightly pennons, which were spread
Like mirror's for the morning's red,
Gather the ranks, while shout and horn
Are o'er the distant mountains borne.
'Twas a fair sight, that arm'd array
Winding through the deep vale their way,
Helmet and breast-plate gleaming in gold,
Banners waving their crimson fold,
Like clouds of the day-break: hark to the peal
Of the war-cry, answer'd by clanging steel!
The young chief strokes his courser's neck,
The ire himself had provoked to check,
Impatient for that battle plain
He may reach but never leave again;
And with flashing eye and sudden start,
He hears the trumpet's stately tone,
Like the echo of his beating heart,
And meant to rouse his ear alone.
And by his side the warrior grey,
With hair as white as the plumes that play
Over his head, yet spurs he as proud,
As keen as the youngest knight of the crowd:
And glad and glorious on they ride
In strength and beauty, power and pride.
And such the morning, but let day
Close on that gallant fair array,
The moon will see another sight
Than that which met the dawning light.--
Look on that field,--'tis the battle field!
Look on what harvest victory will yield!
There the steed and his rider o'erthrown,
Crouch together, their warfare is done:
The bolt is undrawn, the bow is unbent,
And the archer lies like his arrow spent.
Deep is the banner of crimson dyed,
But not with the red of its morning pride;
Torn and trampled with soil and stain,
When will it float on the breeze again;--
And over the ghastly plain are spread,
Pillow'd together, the dying and dead.
There lay one with an unclosed eye
Set in bright, cold vacancy,
While on its fix'd gaze the moonbeam shone,
Light mocking the eye whose light was gone;
And by his side another lay,
The life-blood ebbing fast away,
But calm his cheek and calm his eye,
As if leant on his mother's bosom to die.
Too weak to move, he feebly eyed
A wolf and a vulture close to his side,
Watching and waiting, himself the prey,
While each one kept the other away.
Little of this the young warrior deems
When, with heart and head all hopes and dreams,
He hastes for the battle:--The trumpet's call
Waken'd RAYMOND the first of all;
His the first step that to stirrup sprung,
His the first banner upwards flung;
And brow and cheek with his spirit glow'd,
When first at DE VALENCE'S side he rode.
The quiet glen is left behind,
The dark wood lost in the blue sky;
When other sounds come on the wind,
And other pennons float on high.
With snow-white plumes and glancing crest,
And standard raised, and spear in rest,
On a small river's farther banks
Wait their approach Sir HERBERT'S ranks.--
One silent gaze, as if each band
Could slaughter both with eye and hand.
Then peals the war-cry! then the dash
Amid the waters! and the crash
Of spears,--the falchion's iron ring,--
The arrow hissing from the string,
Tell they have met. Thus from the height
The torrent rushes in its might.
With the lightning's speed, the thunder's peal,
Flashes the lance, and strikes the steel.
Many a steed to the earth is borne,
Many a banner trampled and torn;
Or ever its brand could strike a blow,
Many a gallant arm lies low;--
Many a scarf, many a crest,
Float with the leaves on the river's breast;
And strange it is to see how around
Buds and flowers strew the ground,
For the banks were cover'd with wild rose trees,
Oh! what should they do amid scenes like these.
In the blue stream, as it hovered o'er,
A hawk was mirror'd, and before
Its wings could reach yon pine, which stands
A bow-shot off from the struggling bands,
The stain of death was on the flood,
And the red waters roll'd dark with blood.--
RAYMOND'S spear was the first that flew,
He the first who dash'd the deep river through;
His step the first on the hostile strand,
And the first that fell was borne down by his hand.
The fight is ended:--the same sun
Has seen the battle lost and won;
The field is cover'd with dying and dead,
With the valiant who stood, and the coward who fled.
And a gallant salute the trumpets sound,
As the warriors gather from victory around.
On a hill that skirted the purple flood,
With his peers around, DE VALENCE stood,
And with bended knee, and forehead bare,
Save its cloud of raven hair,
And beautiful as some wild star
Come in its glory and light from afar,
With his dark eyes flashing stern and bright,
And his cheek o'erflooded with crimson light,
And the foeman's banner over his head,
His first field's trophy proudly spread,
Knelt RAYMOND down his boon to name,--
The knightly spurs he so well might claim:
And a softness stole to DE VALENCE'S eyes,
As he bade the new-made knight arise.--
From his own belt he took the brand,
And gave it into RAYMOND'S hand,
And said it might a memory yield
Of his father's friend, and his own first field.
Pleasant through the darkening night
Shines from Clarin's towers the light.
Home from the battle the warriors ride,
In the soldiers' triumph, and soldiers' pride:
The drawbridge is lower'd, and in they pour,
Like the sudden rush of a summer shower,
While the red torch-light bursts through the gloom,
Over banner and breast-plate, helm and plume.
Sudden a flood of lustre play'd
Over a lofty ballustrade,
Music and perfume swept the air,
Messengers sweet for the spring to prepare;
And like a sunny vision sent
For worship and astonishment,
Aside a radiant ladye flung
The veil that o'er her beauty hung.
With stately grace to those below,
She bent her gem encircled brow,
And bade them welcome in the name
Of her they saved, the castle's dame,
Who had not let another pay
Thanks, greeting to their brave array,--
But she had vow'd the battle night
To fasting, prayer, and holy rite.
On the air the last tones of the music die,
The odour passes away like a sigh,
The torches flash a parting gleam,
And she vanishes as she came, like a dream.
But many an eye dwelt on the shade,
Till fancy again her form display'd,
And still again seem'd many an ear
The softness of her voice to hear.
And many a heart had a vision that night,
Which future years never banish'd quite.
And sign and sound of festival
Are ringing through that castle hall;
Tapers, whose flame send a perfumed cloud,
Flash their light o'er a gorgeous crowd;
With a thousand colours the tapestry falls
Over the carved and gilded walls,
And, between, the polish'd oak pannels hear,
Like dark mirrors, the image of each one there.
At one end the piled up hearth is spread
With sparkling embers of glowing red:
Above the branching antlers have place,
Sign of many a hard won chase;
And beneath, in many a polish'd line,
The arms of the hunter and warrior shine;
And around the fire, like a laurell'd arch,
Raised for some victor's triumphal march,
The wood is fretted with tracery fair,
And green boughs and flowers are waving there.
Lamps, like faery planets shine,
O'er massive cups of the genial wine,
And shed a ray more soft and fair
Than the broad red gleam of the torch's glare;
And, flitting like a rainbow, plays
In beautiful and changing rays,
When from the pictured windows fall
The colour'd shadows o'er the hall;
As every pane some bright hue lent
To vary the lighted element.
The ladye of the festive board
Was ward to the castle's absent lord;
The Ladye ADELINE ,--the same
Bright vision that with their greeting came
Maidens four stood behind her chair,
Each one was young, and each one fair;
Yet they were but as the stars at night
When the mood shines forth in her fullness of light
On the knot of her wreathed hair was set
A blood-red ruby coronet;
But among the midnight cloud of curls
That hung o'er her brow were eastern pearls,
As if to tell their wealth of snow,
How white her forehead could look below.
Around her floated a veil of white,
Like the silvery rack round the star of twilight;
And down to the ground her mantle's fold
Spread its length of purple and gold;
And sparkling gems were around her arm,
That shone like marble, only warm,
With the blue veins wandering tide,
And the hand with its crimson blush inside.
A zone of precious stones embraced
The graceful circle of her waist,
Sparkling as if they were proud
Of the clasp to them allow'd.
But yet there was 'mid this excess
Of soft and dazzling loveliness,
A something in the eye, and hand,
And forehead, speaking of command:
An eye whose dark flash seem'd allied
To even more than beauty's pride,--
A hand as only used to wave
Its sign to worshipper and slave,--
A forehead, but that was too fair
To read of aught but beauty there!
And RAYMOND had the place of pride,
The place so envied by her side,--
The victor's seat,--and overhead
The banner he had won was spread.
His health was pledged!--he only heard
The murmur of one silver word;
The pageant seem'd to fade away,
Vanish'd the board and glad array,
The gorgeous hall around grew dim,
There shone one only light for him,
That radiant form, whose brightness fell
In power upon him like a spell,
Laid in its strength by Love to reign
Despotic over heart and brain.
Silent he stood amid the mirth,
Oh, love is timid in its birth!
Watching her lightest look or stir,
As he but look'd and breathed with her.
Gay words were passing, but he leant
In silence; yet, one quick glance sent,--
His secret is no more his own,
When has woman her power not known?
The feast broke up:--that midnight shade
Heard many a gentle serenade
Beneath the ladye's lattice. One
Breathed after all the rest were gone.
SLEEP , ladye! for the moonlit hour,
Like peace, is shining on thy bower;
It is so late, the nightingale
Has ended even his love tale.
Sleep, ladye! 'neath thy turret grows,
Cover'd with flowers, one pale white rose;
I envy its sweet sighs, they steep
The perfumed airs that lull thy sleep.
Perchance, around thy chamber floats
The music of my lone lute notes,--
Oh, may they on thine eyelids fall,
And make thy slumbers musical!
Sleep, ladye! to thy rest be given
The gleamings of thy native heaven,
And thoughts of early paradise,
The treasures of thy sleeping eyes.
I NEED not say whose was the song
The sighing night winds bore along.
RAYMOND had left the maiden's side
As one too dizzy with the tide
To breast the stream, or strive, or shrink,
Enough for him to feel, not think;
Enough for him the dim sweet fear,
The twilight of the heart, or ere
Awakening hope has named the name
Of love, or blown its spark to flame.
Restlessness, but as the winds range
From leaf to leaf, from flower to flower;
Changefulness, but as rainbows change,
From colour'd sky to sunlit hour.
Ay, well indeed may minstrel sing,--
What have the heart and year like spring?
Her vow was done: the castle dame
Next day to join the revellers came;
And never had a dame more gay
O'er hall or festival held sway.
And youthful knight, and ladye fair,
And juggler quaint, and minstrel rare,
And mirth, and crowds, and music, all
Of pleasure gather'd at her call.
And RAYMOND moved as in a dream
Of song and odour, bloom and beam,
As he dwelt in a magic bower,
Charm'd from all by fairy power.
--And ADELINE rode out that morn,
With hunting train, and hawk, and horn;
And broider'd rein, and curb of gold,
And housings with their purple fold
Decked the white steed o'er which she leant
Graceful as a young cypress, bent
By the first summer wind: she wore
A cap the heron plume waved o'er,
And round her wrist a golden band,
Which held the falcon on her hand.
The bird's full eye, so clear, so bright,
Match'd not her own's dark flashing light.
And RAYMOND , as he watch'd the dyes
Of her cheek rich with exercise,
Could almost deem her beauty's power
Was now in its most potent hour;
But when at night he saw her glance
The gayest of the meteor dance,
The jewels in her braided hair,
Her neck, her arms of ivory bare,
The silver veil, the broider'd vest,--
Look'd she not then her loveliest?
Ah, every change of beauty's face
And beauty's shape has its own grace!
That night his heart throbb'd when her hand
Met his touch in the saraband:
That night her smile first bade love live
On the sweet life that hope can give.--
Beautiful, but thrice wayward, wild,
Capricious as a petted child,
She was all chance, all change; but now
A smile is on her radiant brow,--
A moment and that smile is fled,
Coldness and scorn are there instead.
Ended the dance, and ADELINE
Flung herself, like an eastern queen,
Upon the cushions which were laid
Amid a niche of that gay hall,
Hid from the lamps; around it play'd
The softness of the moonlight fall.
And there the gorgeous shapes past by
But like a distant pageantry,
In which you have yourself no share,
For all its pride, and pomp, and care.
She pass'd her hand across the chords
Of a lute near, and with soft words
Answer'd; then said, 'no, thou shalt sing
Some legend of the fair and brave.'
To RAYMOND'S hand the lute she gave,
Whose very soul within him burn'd
When her dark eye on his was turn'd:
One moment's pause, it slept not long,--
His spirit pour'd itself in song.
THE lady sits in her lone bower,
With cheek wan as the white rose flower
That blooms beside, 'tis pale and wet
As that rose with its dew pearls set.
Her cheek burns with a redder dye,
Flashes light from her tearful eye;
She has heard pinions beat the air,
She sees her white dove floating there;
And well she knows its faithful wing,
The treasure of her heart will bring;
And takes the gentle bird its stand
Accustom'd on the maiden's hand,
With glancing eye and throbbing breast,
As if rejoicing in its rest.
She read the scroll,--'dear love, to-night
By the lake, all is there for flight
What time the moon is down;--oh, then
My own life shall we meet again!'
One upward look of thankfulness,
One pause of joy, one fond caress
Of her soft lips, as to reward
The messenger of EGINHARD.
That night in her proud father's hall
She shone the fairest one of all;
For like the cloud of evening came
Over her cheek the sudden flame,
And varying as each moment brought
Some hasty change of secret thought;
As if its colour would confess
The conscious heart's inmost recess.
And the clear depths of her dark eye
Were bright with troubled brilliancy,
Yet the lids droop'd as with the tear
Which might oppress but not appear.
And flatteries, and smile and sigh
Loaded the air as she past by.
It sparkled, but her jewell'd vest
Was crost above a troubled breast:
Her curls, with all their sunny glow,
Were braided o'er an aching brow:
But well she knew how many sought
To gaze upon her secret thought;--
And Love is proud,--she might not brook
That other's on her heart should look.
But there she sate, cold, pale, and high,
Beneath her purple canopy;
And there was many a mutter'd word,
And one low whisper'd name was heard,--
The name of EGINHARD ,--that name
Like some forbidden secret came.
The theme went, that he dared to love
One like a star his state above;
Here to the princess turn'd each eye,--
And it was said, he did not sigh
With love that pales the pining cheek,
And leaves the slighted heart to break.
And then a varying tale was told,
How a page had betray'd for gold;
But all was rumour light and vain,
That all might hear, but none explain.
Like one that seeks a festival,
Early the princess left the hall;
Yet said she, sleep dwelt on her eyes,
That she was worn with revelries.
And hastily her maidens' care
Unbinds the jewels from her hair.
Odours are round her chamber strown,
And ELENORE is left alone.
With throbbing heart, whose pulses beat
Louder than fall her ivory feet,
She rises from her couch of down;
And, hurriedly, a robe is thrown
Around her form, and her own hand
Lets down her tresses golden band.
Another moment she has shred
Those graceful tresses from her head.
There stands a plate of polish'd steel,
She folds her cloak as to conceal
Her strange attire, for she is drest
As a young page in dark green vest.
Softly she steps the balustrade,
Where myrtle, rose, and hyacinth made
A passage to the garden shade.
It was a lovely summer night,
The air was incense-fill'd, the light
Was dim and tremulous, a gleam,
When a star, mirror'd on the stream,
Sent a ray round just to reveal
How gales from flower to flower steal.
'It was on such a night as this,
When even a single breath is bliss,
Such a soft air, such a mild heaven,
My vows to EGINHARD were given.'
Sigh'd ELENORE , 'Oh, might it be
A hope, a happy augury!'
She reach'd the lake,--a blush, a smile,
Contended on her face the while;
And safely in a little cove,
Shelter'd by willow trees above,
An ambuscade from all secured,
Her lover's little boat lay moor'd.--
One greeting word, with muffled oar,
And silent lip, they left that shore.
It was most like a phantom dream
To see that boat flit o'er the stream,
So still, that but yet less and less
It grew, it had seem'd motionless.
And then the silent lake, the trees
Visible only when the breeze
Aside the shadowy branches threw,
And let one single star shine through,
While the faint glimmer scarcely gave
To view the wanderers of the wave.
The breeze has borne the clouds away
That veil'd the blushes of young day;
The lark has sung his morning song;--
Surely the princess slumbers long.
And now it is the accustom'd hour
Her royal father seeks her bower,
When her soft voice and gentle lute,
The snowfall of her fairy foot,
The flowers she has cull'd, with dew
Yet moist upon each rainbow hue;
The fruits with bloom upon their cheek,
Fresh as the morning's first sun streak;
Each, all conspired to wile away
The weariness of royal sway.
But she is gone: there hangs her lute,
And there it may hang lone and mute:
The flowers may fade, for who is there
To triumph now if they are fair:
There are her gems,--oh, let them twine
An offering round some sainted shrine!
For she who wore them may not wear
Again those jewels in her hair.
At first the monarch's rage was wild;
But soon the image of his child,
In tenderness rose on his heart,
How could he bear from it to part?
And anger turn'd to grief: in vain
Ambition had destroy'd the chain
With which love had bound happiness.
In vain remorse, in vain redress,--
Fruitless all search. And years past o'er,
No tidings came of ELENORE,
Although the king would have laid down
His golden sceptre, purple crown,
His pomp, his power, but to have prest
His child one moment to his breast.
And where was ELENORE ? her home
Was now beneath the forest dome;--
A hundred knights had watch'd her hall,
Her guards were now the pine trees tall:
For harps waked with the minstrel tale,
Sang to her sleep the nightingale:
For silver vases, where were blent
Rich perfumes from Arabia sent,
Were odours when the wild thyme flower
Wafted its sweets on gale and shower:
For carpets of the purple loom
The violets spread their cloud of bloom,
Starr'd with primroses; and around
Boughs like green tapestry swept the ground.
--And there they dwelt apart from all
That gilds and mocks ambition's thrall;
Apart from cities, crowds, and care,
Hopes that deceive, and toils that wear;
For they had made themselves a world
Like that or ever man was hurl'd
From his sweet Eden, to begin
His bitter course of grief and sin.--
And they were happy; EGINHARD
Had won the prize for which he dared
Dungeon and death; but what is there
That the young lover will not dare?
And she, though nurtured as a flower,
The favourite bud of a spring bower,
Daughter of palaces, yet made
Her dwelling place in the green shade;
Happy, as she remember'd not
Her royal in her peasant lot,--
With gentle cares, and smiling eyes
As love could feel no sacrifice.
Happy her ivory brow to lave
Without a mirror but the wave,
As one whose sweetness could dispense
With all save its own excellence;--
A fair but gentle creature, meant
For heart, and hearth, and home content.
It was at night the chase was over,
And ELENORE sat by her lover,--
Her lover still, though years had fled
Since their first word of love was said,--
When one sought, at that darksome hour,
The refuge of their lonely bower,
A hunter, who, amid the shade,
Had from his own companions stray'd.
And ELENORE gazed on his face,
And knew her father! In the chase
Often the royal mourner sought
A refuge from his one sad thought.
He knew her not,--the lowly mien,
The simple garb of forest green,
The darken'd brow, which told the spoil
The sun stole from her daily toil,
The cheek where woodland health had shed
The freshness of its morning red,--
All was so changed. She spread the board,
Her hand the sparkling wine cup pour'd;
And then around the hearth they drew,
And cheerfully the woodfire threw
Its light around.--Bent o'er her wheel
Scarcely dared ELENORE to steal
A look, half tenderness, half fear,
Yet seem'd he as he loved to hear
Her voice, as if it had a tone
Breathing of days and feelings gone.
'Ah! surely,' thought she, 'Heaven has sent
My father here, as that it meant,
Our years of absence ended now!'
She gazed upon his soften'd brow;
And the next moment, all revealing,
ELENORE at his feet is kneeling!--
Need I relate that, reconciled,
The father bless'd his truant child.
WHERE is the heart that has not bow'd
A slave, eternal Love, to thee:
Look on the cold, the gay, the proud,
And is there one among them free?
The cold, the proud,--oh! Love has turn'd
The marble till with fire it burn'd;
The gay, the young,--alas that they
Should ever bend beneath thy sway!
Look on the cheek the rose might own,
The smile around like sunshine thrown;
The rose, the smile, alike are thine,
To fade and darken at thy shrine.
And what must love be in a heart
All passion's fiery depths concealing,
Which has in its minutest part
More than another's whole of feeling.
And RAYMOND'S heart; love's morning sun
On fitter altar never shone;
Loving with all the snow-white truth,
That is found but in early youth;
Freshness of feeling as of flower,
That lives not more than spring's first hour;
And loving with that wild devotion,
That deep and passionate emotion,
With which the minstrel soul is thrown
On all that it would make its own.
And RAYMOND loved; the veriest slave
That e'er his life to passion gave:
Upon his ear no murmur came
That seem'd not echoing her name;
The lightest colour on her cheek
Was lovelier than the morning break.
He gazed upon her as he took
His sense of being from her look:--
Sometimes it was idolatry,
Like homage to some lovely star,
Whose beauty though for hope too high,
He yet might worship from afar.
At other times his heart would swell
With tenderness unutterable:
He would have borne her to an isle
Where May and June had left their smile;
And there, heard but by the lone gale,
He would have whisper'd his love tale;
And without change, or cloud, or care,
Have kept his bosom's treasure there.
And then, with all a lover's pride,
He thought it shame such gem to hide:
And imaged he a courtly scene
Of which she was the jewell'd queen,--
The one on whom each glance was bent,
The beauty of the tournament,
The magnet of the festival,
The grace, the joy, the life of all,--
But she, alas for her false smile!
ADELINE loved him not the while.
And is it thus that woman's heart
Can trifle with its dearest part,
Its own pure sympathies?--can fling
The poison'd arrow from the string
In utter heartlessness around,
And mock, or think not of the wound?
And thus can woman barter all
That makes and gilds her gentle thrall,--
The blush which should be like the one
White violets hide from the sun,--
The soft, low sighs, like those which breathe
In secret from a twilight wreath,--
The smile like a bright lamp, whose shine
Is vow'd but only to one shrine;
All these sweet spells,--and can they be
Weapons of reckless vanity?
And woman, in whose gentle heart
From all save its sweet self apart,
Love should dwell with that purity
Which but in woman's love can be:
A sacred fire, whose flame was given
To shed on earth the light of heaven,--
That she can fling her wealth aside
In carelessness, or sport, or pride!
It was not form'd for length of bliss,
A dream so fond, so false as this;
Enough for ADELINE to win
The heart she had no pleasure in,--
Enough that bright eyes turn'd in vain
On him who bow'd beneath her chain:--
Then came the careless word and look,
All the fond soul so ill can brook,
The jealous doubt, the burning pain,
That rack the lover's heart and brain;
The fear that will not own it fear,
The hope that cannot disappear;
Faith clinging to its visions past,
And trust confiding to the last.
And thus it is: ay, let Love throw
Aside his arrows and his bow;
But let him not with one spell part,
The veil that binds his eyes and heart.
Woe for Love when his eyes shall be
Open'd upon reality!
One day a neighbouring baron gave
A revel to the fair and brave,--
And knights upon their gallant steeds,
And ladies on their palfreys gray,
All shining in their gayest weeds,
Held for the festival their way.
A wanderer on far distant shores,
That baron, had brought richest stores
To his own hall, and much of rare
And foreign luxury was there:
Pages, with colour'd feathers, fann'd
The odours of Arabia's land;
The carpets strewn around each room
Were all of Persia's purple loom;
And dark slaves waited on his guests,
Each habited in Moorish vests,
With turbann'd brows, and bands of gold
Around their arms and ancles roll'd.
And gazed the guests o'er many a hoard,
Like Sinbad's, from his travel stored.
They look'd upon the net work dome,
Where found the stranger birds a home,
With rainbow wings and gleaming eyes,
Seen only beneath Indian skies.
At length they stood around the ring,
Where stalk'd, unchain'd, the forest king,
With eyes of fire and mane erect,
As if by human power uncheck'd.
Full ill had RAYMOND'S spirit borne
The wayward mood, the careless scorn,
With which his mistress had that day
Trifled his happiness away.--
His very soul within him burn'd,
When, as in chance, her dark eye turn'd
On him, she spoke in reckless glee,--
''Is there a knight who, for love of me,
Into the court below will spring,
And bear from the lion the glove I fling?'
A shriek!--a pause,--then loud acclaim
Rose to the skies with RAYMOND'S name.
Oh, worthy of a lady's love!
RAYMOND has borne away the glove.
He laid the prize at the maiden's feet,
Then turn'd from the smile he dared not meet:
A moment more he is on the steed,
The spur has urged to its utmost speed,
As that he could fly from himself, and all
The misery of his spirit's thrall.
The horse sank down, and RAYMOND then
Started to see the foaming rein,
The drops that hung on the courser's hide,
And the rowel's red trace on its panting side;
And deep shame mingled with remorse,
As he brought the cool stream to his fallen horse.
The spot where he paused was a little nook,
Like a secret page in nature's book,--
Around were steeps where the wild vine
Hung, wreathed in many a serpentine,
Wearing each the colour'd sign
Of the autumn's pale decline.
Like a lake in the midst was spread
A grassy sweep of softest green,
Smooth, flower-dropt, as no human tread
Upon its growth had ever been.
Limes rose around, but lost each leaf,
Like hopes luxuriant but brief;
And by their side the sycamore
Grew prouder of its scarlet store:
The air was of that cold clear light
That heralds in an autumn night,--
The amber west had just a surge
Of crimson on its utmost verge;
And on the east were piled up banks
Where darkness gather'd with her ranks
Of clouds, and in the midst a zone
Of white with transient brightness shone
From the young moon, who scarcely yet
Had donn'd her lighted coronet.
With look turn'd to the closing day,
As he watch'd every hue decay,
Sat RAYMOND ; and a passer by
Had envied him his reverie;--
But nearer look had scann'd his brow,
And started at its fiery glow,
As if the temples' burning swell
Had made their pulses visible.
Too glazed, too fix'd, his large eyes shone
To see aught that they gazed upon.
Not his the paleness that may streak
The lover's or the minstrel's cheek,
As it had its wan colour caught
From moods of melancholy thought;
'Twas that cold, dark, unearthly shade,
But for a corpse's death look made;
Speaking that desperateness of pain,
As one more pang, and the rack'd brain
Would turn to madness; one more grief,
And the swoln heart breaks for relief.
Oh, misery! to see the tomb
Close over all our world of bloom;
To look our last in the dear eyes
Which made our light of paradise;
To know that silent is the tone
Whose tenderness was all our own;
To kiss the cheek which once had burn'd
At the least glance, and find it turn'd
To marble; and then think of all
Of hope, that memory can recall.
Yes, misery! but even here
There is a somewhat left to cheer,
A gentle treasuring of sweet things
Remembrance gathers from the past,
The pride of faithfulness, which clings
To love kept sacred to the last.
And even if another's love
Has touch'd the heart to us above
The treasures of the east, yet still
There is a solace for the ill.
Those who have known love's utmost spell
Can feel for those who love as well;
Can half forget their own distress,
To share the loved one's happiness.
Oh, but to know our heart has been,
Like the toy of an Indian queen,
Torn, trampled, without thought or care,--
Where is despair like this despair!--
ll night beneath an oak he lay,
Till nature blush'd bright into day;
When, at a trumpet's sudden sound,
Started his courser from the ground:
And his loud neigh waked RAYMOND'S dream,
And, gazing round, he saw the gleam
Of arms upon a neighbouring height,
Where helm and cuirass stream'd in light.
As RAYMOND rose from his unrest
He knew DE VALENCE'S falcon crest;
And the red cross that shone like a glory afar,
Told the warrior was vow'd to the holy war.
Ay, this,' thought RAYMOND , 'is the strife
To make my sacrifice of life;
What is it now to me that fame
Shall brighten over RAYMOND'S name;
There is no gentle heart to bound,
No cheek to mantle at the sound:
Lady's favour no more I wear,--
My heart, my helm--oh! what are there?
A blighted hope, a wither'd rose.
Surely this warfare is for those
Who only of the victory crave
A holy but a nameless grave.'
Short greeting past; DE VALENCE read
All that the pale lip left unsaid;
On the wan brow, in the dimm'd eye,
The whole of youth's despondency,
Which at the first shock it has known
Deems its whole world of hope o'erthrown.
And it was fix'd, that at Marseilles,
Where the fleet waited favouring gales,
RAYMOND should join the warrior train,
Leagued 'gainst the infidels of Spain.
They parted:--Over RAYMOND'S thought
Came sadness mingled too with shame;
When suddenly his memory brought
The long forgotten EVA'S name.
Oh! Love is like the mountain tide,
Sweeping away all things beside,
Till not another trace appears
But its own joys, and griefs, and fears.
He took her cross, he took her chain
From the heart where they still had lain;
And that heart felt as if its fate
Had sudden grown less desolate,
In thus remembering love that still
Would share and sooth in good and ill.
He spurr'd his steed; but the night fall
Had darken'd ere he reach'd the hall;
And gladly chief and vassal train
Welcomed the youthful knight again.
And many praised his stately tread,
His face with darker manhood spread;
But of those crowding round him now,
Who mark'd the paleness of his brow,
But one, who paused till they were past,
Who look'd the first but spoke the last:
Her welcome in its timid fear
Fell almost cold on RAYMOND'S ear;
A single look,--he felt he gazed
Upon a gentle child no more,
The blush that like the lightning blazed,
The cheek then paler than before,
A something of staid maiden grace,
A cloud of thought upon her face;
She who had been, in RAYMOND'S sight,
A plaything, fancy, and delight,--
Was changed: the depth of her blue eye
Spoke to him now of sympathy,
And seem'd her melancholy tone
A very echo of his own;
And that pale forehead, surely care
Has graved an early lesson there.
They roved through many a garden scene,
Where other, happier days had been;
And soon had RAYMOND told his all
Of hopes, like stars but bright to fall;
Of feelings blighted, changed, and driven
Like exiles from their native heaven;
And of an aimless sword, a lute
Whose chords were now uncharm'd and mute.
But EVA'S tender blandishing
Was as the April rays, that fling
A rainbow till the thickest rain
Melts into blue and light again.
There is a feeling in the heart
Of woman which can have no part
In man; a self devotedness,
As victims round their idols press,
And asking nothing, but to show
How far their zeal and faith can go.
Pure as the snow the summer sun
Never at noon hath look'd upon,--
Deep as is the diamond wave,
Hidden in the desart cave,--
Changeless as the greenest leaves
Of the wreath the cypress weaves,--
Hopeless often when most fond,
Without hope or fear beyond
Its own pale fidelity,--
And this woman's love can be!
And RAYMOND although not again
Dreaming of passion's burning chain,
Yet felt that life had still dear things
To which the lingering spirit clings.
More dear, more lovely EVA shone
In thinking of that faithless one;
And read he not upon the cheek
All that the lip might never speak,
All the heart cherish'd yet conceal'd,
Scarce even to itself reveal'd.
And RAYMOND , though with heart so torn
By anger, agony, and scorn,
Might ill bear even with love's name,
Yet felt the maiden's hidden flame
Come like the day-star in the east,
When every other light has ceased;
Sent from the bosom of the night
To harbinger the morning light.
Again they parted: she to brood
O'er dreaming hopes in solitude,
And every pitying saint to pray
For RAYMOND on the battle day.
And he no longer deem'd the field
But death to all his hopes could yield.
To other, softer dreams allied,
He thought upon the warrior's pride.
But as he pass'd the castle gate
He left so wholly desolate,
His throbbing pulse, his burning brain,
The sudden grasp upon the rein,
The breast and lip that gasp'd for air,
Told Love's shaft was still rankling there.
That night, borne o'er the bounding seas,
The vessel swept before the breeze,
Loaded the air, the war-cry's swell,
Woe to the Moorish infidel;
And raising their rich hymn, a band
Of priests were kneeling on the strand,
To bless the parting ship, and song
Came from the maidens ranged along
The sea wall, and who incense gave,
And flowers, like offerings to the wave
That bore the holy and the brave.
And RAYMOND felt his spirit rise,
And burn'd his cheek, and flash'd his eyes
With something of their ancient light,
While plume and pennon met his sight;
While o'er the deep swept the war-cry,
And peal'd the trumpet's voice on high,
While the ship rode the waves as she
Were mistress of their destiny.
And muster'd on the deck the band,
Till died the last shout from the strand;
But when the martial pomp was o'er,
And, like the future, dim the shore
On the horizon hung, again
Closed RAYMOND'S memory, like a chain
The spirit struggles with in vain.
The sky with its delicious blue,
The stars like visions wandering through:
Surely, if Fate had treasured there
Her rolls of life, they must be fair;
The mysteries their glories hide
Must be but of life's brightest side;
It cannot be that Fate would write
Her dark decrees in lines of light.
And RAYMOND mused upon the hour
When, comrade of the star and flower,
He watch'd beside his lady's bower;
He number'd every hope and dream,
Like blooms that threw upon life's stream
Colours of beauty, and then thought
On knowledge, all too dearly bought;
Feelings lit up in waste to burn,
Hopes that seem but shadows fair,
All that the heart so soon must learn,
All that it finds so hard to bear.
The young moon's vestal lamp that hour
Seem'd pale as that it pined for love;
No marvel such a night had power,
So calm below, so fair above,
To wake the spirit's finest chords
Till minstrel thoughts found minstrel words.
THE LAST SONG.
IT is the latest song of mine
That ever breathes thy name,
False idol of a dream-raised shrine,
Thy very thought is shame,--
Shame that I could my sprit bow
To one so very false as thou.
I had past years where the green wood
Makes twilight of the noon,
And I had watch'd the silver flood
Kiss'd by the rising moon;
And gazed upon the clear midnight
In all its luxury of light.
And, thrown where the blue violets dwell,
I would pass hours away,
Musing o'er some old chronicle
Fill'd with a wild love lay;
Till beauty seem'd to me a thing
Made for all nature's worshipping.
saw thee, and the air grew bright
In thy clear eyes' sunshine;
I oft had dream'd of shapes of light,
But not of shape like thine.
My heart bow'd down,--I worshipp'd thee,
A woman and a deity.
I may not say how thy first look
Turn'd my whole soul to flame,
I read it as a glorious book
Fill'd with high deeds of fame;
I felt a hero's spirit rise,
Unknown till lighted at thine eyes.
False look, false hope, and falsest love!
All meteors sent to me
To show how they the heart could move,
And how deceiving be:
They left me, darken'd, crush'd, alone,
My bosom's household gods o'erthrown.
The world itself was changed, and all
That I had loved before
Seem'd as if gone beyond recall,
And I could hope no more;
The sear of fire, the dint of steel,
Are easier than Love's wounds to heal.
But this is past, and I can cope
With what I'd fain forget;
I have a sweet, a gentle hope
That lingers with me yet,--
A hope too fair, too pure to be
Named in the words that speak of thee.
Henceforth within the last recess
Of my heart shall remain
Thy name in all its bitterness,
But never named again;
The only memory of that heart
Will be to think how false thou art.
And yet I fain would name thy name,
My heart's now gentle queen,
E'en as they burn the perfumed flame
Where the plague spot has been;
Methinks that it will cleanse away
The ills that on my spirit prey.
Sweet EVA ! the last time I gazed
Upon thy deep blue eyes,
The cheek whereon my look had raised
A blush's crimson dyes,
I marvell'd, love, this heart of mine
Had worshipp'd at another shrine.
I will think of thee when the star,
That lit our own fair river,
Shines in the blue sky from afar,
As beautiful as ever;
That twilight star, sweet love, shall be
A sign and seal with thee and me!