By the side of the brook, where the willow is waving
Why sits the wan Youth, in his wedding-suit gay!
Now sighing so deeply, now frantickly raving
Beneath the pale light of the moon's sickly ray.
Now he starts, all aghast, and with horror's wild gesture,
Cries, "AGNES is coming, I know her white vesture!
"See! see! how she beckons me on to the willow,
"Where, on the cold turf, she has made our rude pillow.
"Sweet girl ! yes I know thee; thy cheek's living roses
"Are chang'd and grown pale, with the touch of despair:
"And thy bosom no longer the lily discloses--
"For thorns, my poor AGNES, are now planted there!
"Thy blue, starry Eyes! are all dimm'd by dark sorrow;
"No more from thy lip, can the flow'r fragrance borrow;
"For cold does it seem, like the pale light of morning,
"And thou smil'st, as in sadness, thy fond lover, scorning!
"From the red scene of slaughter thy Edmund returning,
"Has dress'd himself gayly, with May-blooming flow'rs;
"His bosom, dear AGNES! still faithfully burning,
"While, madly impatient, his eyes beam in show'rs!
"O ! many a time have I thought of thy beauty--
"When cannons, loud roaring, taught Valour its duty;
"And many a time, have I sigh'd to behold thee--
"When the sulphur of War, in its cloudy mist roll'd me!
"At the still hour of morn, when the Camp was reposing,
"I wander'd alone on the wide dewy plain:
"And when the gold curtains of Ev'ning were closing,
"I watch'd the long shadows steal over the Main!
"Across the wild Ocean, half frantic they bore me,
"Unheeding my groans, from Thee, AGNES, they tore me;
"But, though my poor heart might have bled in the battle,
"Thy name should have echoed, amidst the loud rattle!
"When I gaz'd on the field of the dead and the dying--
"O AGNES! my fancy still wander'd to Thee!
"When around, my brave Comrades in anguish were lying,
"I long'd on the death-bed of Valour to be.
"For, sever'd from THEE, my SWEET GIRL, the loud thunder
"Which tore the soft fetters of fondness asunder--
"Had only one kindness, in mercy to shew me,
"To bid me die bravely , that thou, Love, may'st know me!
His arms now are folded, he bows as in sorrow,
His tears trickle fast, down his wedding-suit gay;
"My AGNES will bless me," he murmurs, "to-morrow,
"As fresh as the breezes that welcome the day !"
Poor Youth! know thy AGNES, so lovely and blooming,
Stern Death has embrac'd, all her beauties entombing!
And, pale as her shroud in the grave she reposes,
Her bosom of snow, all besprinkled with Roses!
Her Cottage is now in the dark dell decaying,
And shatter'd the casements, and clos'd is the door,
And the nettle now waves, where the wild KID is playing,
And the neat little garden with weeds is grown o'er!
The Owl builds its nest in the thatch, and there, shrieking,
(A place all deserted and lonely bespeaking)
Salutes the night traveller, wandering near it,
And makes his faint heart, sicken sadly to hear it.
Then Youth, for thy habit, henceforth, thou should'st borrow
The Raven's dark colour, and mourn for thy dear:
Thy AGNES for thee, would have cherish'd her Sorrow,
And drest her pale cheek with a lingering tear:
For, soon as thy steps to the Battle departed,
She droop'd, and poor Maiden ! she died, broken hearted
And the turf that is bound with fresh garlands of roses,
Is now the cold bed, where her sorrow reposes!
The gay and the giddy may revel in pleasure,--
May think themselves happy, their short summer-day;
May gaze, with fond transport, on fortune's rich treasure,
And, carelessly sporting,--drive sorrow away:
But the bosom, where feeling and truth are united--
From folly's bright tinsel will turn, undelighted--
And find, at the grave where thy AGNES is sleeping,
That the proudest of hours, is the lone hour of weeping!
The Youth now approach'd the long branch of the willow,
And stripping its leaves, on the turf threw them round.
"Here, here, my sweet AGNES! I make my last pillow,
"My bed of long slumber, shall be the cold ground!
"The Sun, when it rises above thy low dwelling,
"Shall gild the tall Spire, where my death-toll is knelling.
"And when the next twilight its soft tears is shedding,
"At thy Grave shall the Villagers--witness our WEDDING!
Now over the Hills he beheld a group coming,
Their arms glitter'd bright, as the Sun slowly rose;
He heard them their purposes, far distant, humming,
And welcom'd the moment, that ended his woes!--
And now the fierce Comrade, unfeeling, espies him,
He darts thro' the thicket, in hopes to surprize him;
But EDMUND, of Valour the dauntless defender,
Now smiles , while his CORPORAL bids him--"SURRENDER!"
Soon, prov'd a DESERTER, Stern Justice prevailing,
HE DIED! and his Spirit to AGNES is fled:--
The breeze, on the mountain's tall summit now sailing
Fans lightly the dew-drops, that spangle their bed!
The Villagers, thronging around, scatter roses,
The grey wing of Evening the western sky closes,--
And Night's sable pall, o'er the landscape extending,
Is the mourning of Nature! the SOLEMN SCENE ENDING.
The Negro Girl
Dark was the dawn, and o'er the deep
The boist'rous whirlwinds blew;
The Sea-bird wheel'd its circling sweep,
And all was drear to view--
When on the beach that binds the western shore
The love-lorn ZELMA stood, list'ning the tempest's roar.
Her eager Eyes beheld the main,
While on her DRACO dear
She madly call'd, but call'd in vain,
No sound could DRACO hear,
Save the shrill yelling of the fateful blast,
While ev'ry Seaman's heart, quick shudder'd as it past.
White were the billows, wide display'd
The clouds were black and low;
The Bittern shriek'd, a gliding shade
Seem'd o'er the waves to go !
The livid flash illum'd the clam'rous main,
While ZELMA pour'd, unmark'd, her melancholy strain.
"Be still!" she cried, "loud tempest cease!
"O ! spare the gallant souls:
"The thunder rolls--the winds increase--
"The Sea, like mountains, rolls!
"While, from the deck, the storm worn victims leap,
"And o'er their struggling limbs, the furious billows sweep.
"O! barb'rous Pow'r! relentless Fate!
"Does Heav'n's high will decree
"That some should sleep on beds of state,--
"Some, in the roaring Sea ?
"Some, nurs'd in splendour, deal Oppression's blow,
"While worth and DRACO pine--in Slavery and woe!
"Yon Vessel oft has plough'd the main
"With human traffic fraught;
"Its cargo,--our dark Sons of pain--
"For worldly treasure bought !
"What had they done?--O Nature tell me why--
"Is taunting scorn the lot, of thy dark progeny?
"Thou gav'st, in thy caprice, the Soul
"Nor from the ebon Casket stole
"The Jewel of the mind!
"Then wherefore let the suff'ring Negro's breast
"Bow to his fellow, MAN, in brighter colours drest.
"Is it the dim and glossy hue
"That marks him for despair?--
"While men with blood their hands embrue,
"And mock the wretch's pray'r?
"Shall guiltless Slaves the Scourge of tyrants feel,
"And, e'en before their GOD ! unheard, unpitied kneel.
"Could the proud rulers of the land
"Our Sable race behold;
"Some bow'd by torture's Giant hand
"And others, basely sold !
"Then would they pity Slaves, and cry, with shame,
"Whate'er their TINTS may be, their SOULS are still the same!
"Why seek to mock the Ethiop's face?
"Why goad our hapless kind?
"Can features alienate the race--
"Is there no kindred mind?
"Does not the cheek which vaunts the roseate hue
"Oft blush for crimes, that Ethiops never knew?
"Behold ! the angry waves conspire
"To check the barb'rous toil!
"While wounded Nature's vengeful ire--
"Roars, round this trembling Isle!
"And hark ! her voice re-echoes in the wind--
"Man was not form'd by Heav'n, to trample on his kind!
"Torn from my Mother's aching breast,
"My Tyrant sought my love--
"But, in the Grave shall ZELMA rest,
"E'er she will faithless prove--
"No DRACO!--Thy companion I will be
"To that celestial realm, where Negros shall be free!
"The Tyrant WHITE MAN taught my mind--
"The letter'd page to trace;--
"He taught me in the Soul to find
"No tint, as in the face:
"He bade my Reason, blossom like the tree--
"But fond affection gave, the ripen'd fruits to thee.
"With jealous rage he mark'd my love
"He sent thee far away;--
"And prison'd in the plantain grove--
"Poor ZELMA pass'd the day--
"But ere the moon rose high above the main,
"ZELMA, and Love contriv'd, to break the Tyrant's chain.
"Swift, o'er the plain of burning Sand
"My course I bent to thee;
"And soon I reach'd the billowy strand
"Which bounds the stormy Sea.--
"DRACO! my Love! Oh yet, thy ZELMA'S soul
"Springs ardently to thee,--impatient of controul.
"Again the lightning flashes white--
"The rattling cords among!
"Now, by the transient vivid light,
"I mark the frantic throng!
"Now up the tatter'd shrouds my DRACO flies--
While o'er the plunging prow, the curling billows rise.
"The topmast falls--three shackled slaves--
"Cling to the Vessel's side!
"Now lost amid the madd'ning waves--
"Now on the mast they ride--
"See ! on the forecastle my DRACO stands
"And now he waves his chain, now clasps his bleeding hands.
"Why, cruel WHITE-MAN! when away
"My sable Love was torn,
"Why did you let poor ZELMA stay,
On Afric's sands to mourn?
"No ! ZELMA is not left, for she will prove
"In the deep troubled main, her fond--her faithful LOVE."
The lab'ring Ship was now a wreck,
The shrouds were flutt'ring wide!
The rudder gone, the lofty deck
Was rock'd from side to side--
Poor ZELMA'S eyes now dropp'd their last big tear,
While, from her tawny cheek, the blood recoil'd with fear.
Now frantic, on the sands she roam'd,
Now shrieking stop'd to view
Where high the liquid mountains foam'd,
Around the exhausted crew--
'Till, from the deck, her DRACO'S well known form
Sprung mid the yawning waves, and buffetted the Storm.
Long, on the swelling surge sustain'd
Brave DRACO sought the shore,
Watch'd the dark Maid, but ne'er complain'd,
Then sunk, to gaze no more!
Poor ZELMA saw him buried by the wave--
And, with her heart's true Love, plung'd in a wat'ry grave.
The Fortune-Teller, A Gypsy Tale
LUBIN and KATE, as gossips tell,
Were Lovers many a day;
LUBIN the damsel lov'd so well,
That folks pretend to say
The silly, simple, doting Lad,
Was little less than loving mad:
A malady not known of late--
Among the little-loving Great!
KATE liked the youth; but woman-kind
Are sometimes giv'n to range.
And oft, the giddy Sex, we find,
(They know not why)
When most they promise, soonest change,
And still for conquest sigh:
So 'twas with KATE; she, ever roving
Was never fix'd, though always loving!
STEPHEN was LUBIN'S rival; he
A rustic libertine was known;
And many a blushing simple She,
The rogue had left,--to sigh alone!
KATE cared but little for the rover,
Yet she resolv'd to have her way,
For STEPHEN was the village Lover,
And women pant for Sov'reign sway.
And he, who has been known to ruin,--
Is always sought, and always wooing.
STEPHEN had long in secret sigh'd;
And STEPHEN never was deny'd:
Now, LUBIN was a modest swain,
And therefore, treated with disdain:
For, it is said, in Love and War ,--
The boldest, most successful are!
Vows, were to him but fairy things
Borne on capricious Fancy's wings;
And promises, the Phantom's Airy
Which falsehood form'd to cheat th' unwary;
For still deception was his trade,
And though his traffic well was known,
Still, every trophy was his own
Which the proud Victor, Love, display'd.
In short, this STEPHEN was the bane
Of ev'ry maid,--and ev'ry swain!
KATE had too often play'd the fool,
And now, at length, was caught;
For she, who had been pleas'd to rule,
Was now, poor Maiden, taught!
And STEPHEN rul'd with boundless sway,
The rustic tyrant of his day.
LUBIN had giv'n inconstant KATE,
Ten pounds , to buy her wedding geer:
And now, 'tis said, tho' somewhat late,
He thought his bargain rather dear.
For, Lo ! The day before the pair
Had fix'd, the marriage chain to wear,
A GYPSY gang, a wand'ring set,
In a lone wood young LUBIN met.
All round him press with canting tale,
And, in a jargon, well design'd
To cheat the unsuspecting mind,
His list'ning ears assail.
Some promis'd riches; others swore
He should, by women, be ador'd;
And never sad, and never poor--
Live like a Squire, or Lord;--
Do what he pleas'd, and ne'er be brought
To shame,--for what he did, or thought;
Seduce mens wives and daughters fair,
Spend wealth, while others toil'd in vain,
And scoff at honesty, and swear,--
And scoff, and trick, and swear again!
ONE roguish Girl, with sparkling eyes,
To win the handsome LUBIN tries;
She smil'd, and by her speaking glance,
Enthrall'd him in a wond'ring trance;
He thought her lovelier far than KATE,
And wish'd that she had been his mate;
For when the FANCY is on wing,
VARIETY'S a dangerous thing:
And PASSIONS, when they learn to stray
Will seldom seldom keep the beaten way.
The gypsy-girl, with speaking eyes,
Observ'd her pupil's fond surprize,
She begg'd that he her hand would cross,
With Sixpence; and that He should know
His future scene of gain and loss,
His weal and woe.--
LUBIN complies. And straight he hears
That he had many long, long years;
That he a maid inconstant, loves,
Who, to another slyly roves.
That a dark man his bane will be--
"And poison his domestic hours;
"While a fair woman, treach'rously--
"Will dress his brow--with thorns and flow'rs!"
It happen'd, to confirm his care--
STEPHEN was dark ,--and KATE was fair!
Nay more that "home his bride would bring
"A little, alien, prattling thing
"In just six moons!" Poor LUBIN hears
All that confirms his jealous fears;
Perplex'd and frantic, what to do
The cheated Lover scarcely knew.
He flies to KATE, and straight he tells
The wonder that in magic dwells!
Speaks of the Fortune-telling crew,
And how all things the Vagrants knew;
KATE hears: and soon determines, she
Will know her future destiny.
Swift to the wood she hies, tho' late
To read the tablet of her Fate.
The Moon its crystal beam scarce shew'd
Upon the darkly shadow'd road;
The hedge-row was the feasting-place
Where, round a little blazing wood,
The wand'ring, dingy, gabbling race,
Crowded in merry mood.
And now she loiter'd near the scene.
Now peep'd the hazle copse between;
Fearful that LUBIN might be near
The story of her Fate to hear.--
She saw the feasting circle gay
By the stol'n faggot's yellow light;
She heard them, as in sportive play,
They chear'd the sullen gloom of night.
Nor was sly KATE by all unseen
Peeping, the hazle copse between.
And now across the thicket side
A tatter'd, skulking youth she spied;
He beckon'd her along, and soon,
Hid safely from the prying moon,
His hand with silver, thrice she crosses--
"Tell me," said she, "my gains and losses?"
"You gain a fool ," the youth replies,
"You lose a lover too."
The false one blushes deep, and sighs,
For well the truth she knew!
"You gave to STEPHEN, vows; nay more
"You gave him favors rare:
"And LUBIN is condemn'd to share
"What many others shar'd before!
"A false, capricious, guilty heart,
"Made up of folly, vice, and art,
"Which only takes a wedded mate
"To brand with shame, an husband's fate."
"Hush! hush!" cried KATE, for Heav'n's sake be
"As secret as the grave--
"For LUBIN means to marry me--
"And if you will not me betray,
"I for your silence well will pay;
"Five pounds this moment you shall have."--
"I will have TEN!" the gypsy cries--
"The fearful, trembling girl complies.
But, what was her dismay, to find
That LUBIN was the gypsy bold;
The cunning, fortune-telling hind
Who had the artful story told--
Who thus, was cur'd of jealous pain,--
"And got his TEN POUNDS back again!
Thus, Fortune pays the LOVER bold!
But, gentle Maids, should Fate
Have any secret yet untold,--
Remember, simple KATE!
Swift, o'er the wild and dreary waste
A NUT-BROWN GIRL was seen to haste;
Wide waving was her unbound hair,
And sun-scorch'd was her bosom bare;
For Summer's noon had shed its beams
While she lay wrapp'd in fev'rish dreams;
While, on the wither'd hedge-row's side,
By turns she slept, by turns she cried,
"Ah ! where lies hid the balsam sweet,
"To heal the wounds of MARGUERITE?"
Dark was her large and sunken eye
Which wildly gaz'd upon the sky;
And swiftly down her freckled face
The chilling dews began to pace:
For she was lorn, and many a day,
Had, all alone, been doom'd to stray,
And, many a night, her bosom warm,
Had throbb'd, beneath the pelting storm,
And still she cried, "the rain falls sweet,
"It bathes the wounds of MARGUERITE."
Her garments were by briars torn,
And on them hung full many a thorn;
A thistle crown, she mutt'ring twin'd,
Now darted on,--now look'd behind--
And here, and there, her arm was seen
Bleeding the tatter'd folds between;
Yet, on her breast she oft display'd
A faded branch, that breast to shade:
For though her senses were astray,
She felt the burning beams of day:
She felt the wintry blast of night,
And smil'd to see the morning light,
For then she cried, "I soon shall meet
"The plighted love of MARGUERITE."
Across the waste of printless snow,
All day the NUT-BROWN GIRL would go;
And when the winter moon had shed
Its pale beams on the mountain's head,
She on a broomy pillow lay
Singing the lonely hours away;
While the cold breath of dawnlight flew
Across the fields of glitt'ring dew:--
Swift o'er the frozen lake she past
Unmindful of the driving blast,
And then she cried "the air is sweet--
"It fans the breast of MARGUERITE."
The weedy lane she Iov'd to tread
When stars their twinkling lustre shed;
While from the lone and silent Cot
The watchful Cur assail'd her not,
Though at the beggar he would fly,
And fright the Trav'ller passing by:
But she, so kind and gentle seem'd,
Such sorrow in her dark eyes beam'd,
That savage fierceness could not greet
With less than love,--POOR MARGUERITE!
Oft, by the splashy brook she stood
And sung her Song to the waving wood;
The waving wood, in murmurs low,
Fill'd up the pause of weary woe;
Oft, to the Forest tripp'd along
And inly humm'd her frantic Song;
Oft danc'd mid shadows Ev'ning spread
Along the whisp'ring willow-bed.
And wild was her groan,
When she climb'd, alone--
The rough rock's side,
While the foaming tide,
Dash'd rudely against the sandy shore,
And the lightning flash'd mid the thunder's roar.
And many a time she chac'd the fly,
And mock'd the Beetle, humming by;
And then, with loud fantastic tone
She sang her wild strain, sad--alone.
And if a stranger wander'd near
Or paus'd the frantic Song to hear,
The burthen she would soft repeat,
"Who comes to soothe POOR MARGUERITE?
And why did she with sun-burnt breast,
So wander, and so scorn to rest?
Why did the NUT-BROWN MAIDEN go
O'er burning plains and wastes of snow?
What bade her fev'rish bosom sigh,
And dimm'd her large and hazle eye?
What taught her o'er the hills to stray
Fearless by night, and wild by day?
What stole the hour of slumber sweet--
From the scorch'd brain of MARGUERITE.
Soon shalt thou know; for see how lorn
She climbs the steep of shaggy thorn--
Now on the jutting cliff she stands,
And clasps her cold,--but snow-white hands.
And now aloud she chaunts her strain
While fiercely roars the troublous main.
Now the white breakers curling shew
The dread abyss that yawns below,
And still she sighs, "the sound is sweet,
"It seems to say, POOR MARGUERITE!"
"Here will I build a rocky shed,
"And here I'll make my sea-weed bed;
"Here gather, with unwearied hands--
"The orient shells that deck the sands.
"And here will I skim o'er the billows so high,
"And laugh at the moon and the dark frowning sky.
"And the Sea-birds, that hover across the wide main,
"Shall sweep with their pinions, the white bounding plain.--
"And the shivering sail shall the fierce tempest meet,
"Like the storm, in the bosom of POOR MARGUERITE!
"The setting Sun, with golden ray,
"Shall warm my breast, and make me gay.
"The clamours of the roaring Sea
"My midnight serenade shall be!
"The Cliff that like a Tyrant stands
"Exulting o'er the wave lash'd sands,
"With its weedy crown, and its flinty crest,
"Shall, on its hard bosom, rock me to rest;
"And I'll watch for the Eagle's unfledg'd brood,
"And I'll scatter their nest, and I'll drink their blood;
"And under the crag I will kneel and pray
"And silver my robe, with the moony ray:
"And who shall scorn the lone retreat
"Which Heaven has chose, for MARGUERITE?
"Here, did the exil'd HENRY stray
"Forc'd from his native land, away;
"Here, here upon a foreign shore,
"His parents, lost, awhile deplore;
"Here find, that pity's holy tear
"Could not an alien wand'rer chear;
"And now, in fancy, he would view,
"Shouting aloud, the rabble crew--
"The rabble crew, whose impious hands
"Tore asunder nature's bands!--
"I see him still,--He waves me on!
"And now to the dark abyss he's gone--
"He calls--I hear his voice, so sweet,--
"It seems to say--POOR MARGUERITE!"
Thus, wild she sung! when on the sand
She saw her long lost HENRY, stand:
Pale was his cheek, and on his breast
His icy hand he, silent, prest;
And now the Twilight shadows spread
Around the tall cliff's weedy head;
Far o'er the main the moon shone bright,
She mark'd the quiv'ring stream of light--
It danc'd upon the murm'ring wave
It danc'd upon--her HENRY'S Grave!
It mark'd his visage, deathly pale,--
His white shroud floating in the gale;
His speaking eyes--his smile so sweet
That won the love--of MARGUERITE!
And now he beckon'd her along
The curling moonlight waves among;
No footsteps mark'd the slanting sand
Where she had seen her HENRY stand!
She saw him o'er the billows go--
She heard the rising breezes blow;
She shriek'd aloud ! The echoing steep
Frown'd darkness on the troubled deep;
The moon in cloudy veil was seen,
And louder howl'd the night blast keen!--
And when the morn, in splendour dress'd,
Blush'd radiance on the Eagle's nest,
That radiant blush was doom'd to greet--
The lifeless form --of MARGUERITE!
Golfre, Gothic Swiss Tale
Where freezing wastes of dazzl'ing Snow
O'er LEMAN'S Lake rose, tow'ring;
The BARON GOLFRE'S Castle strong
Was seen, the silv'ry peaks among,
With ramparts, darkly low'ring!--
Tall Battlements of flint, uprose,
Long shadowing down the valley,
A grove of sombre Pine, antique,
Amid the white expanse would break,
In many a gloomy alley.
A strong portcullis entrance show'd,
With ivy brown hung over;
And stagnate the green moat was found,
Whene'er the Trav'ller wander'd round,
Or moon-enamour'd Lover.
Within the spacious Courts were seen
A thousand gothic fancies;
Of banners, trophies, armour bright,
Of shields, thick batter'd in the fight,
And interwoven lances.
The BARON GOLFRE long had been
To solitude devoted;
And oft, in pray'r would pass the night
'Till day's vermillion stream of light
Along the blue hill floated.
And yet, his pray'r was little mark'd
With pure and calm devotion;
For oft, upon the pavement bare,
He'd dash his limbs and rend his hair
With terrible emotion!
And sometimes he, at midnight hour
Would howl, like wolves, wide-prowling;
And pale, the lamps would glimmer round--
And deep, the self-mov'd bell would sound
A knell prophetic, tolling!
For, in the Hall, three lamps were seen,
That quiver'd dim;--and near them
A bell rope hung, that from the Tow'r
Three knells would toll, at midnight's hour,
Startl'ing the soul to hear them!
And oft, a dreadful crash was heard,
Shaking the Castle's chambers!
And suddenly, the lights would turn
To paly grey, and dimly burn,
Like faint and dying embers.
Beneath the steep, a Maiden dwelt,
The dove-eyed ZORIETTO;
A damsel blest with ev'ry grace--
And springing from as old a race--
As Lady of LORETTO!
Her dwelling was a Goatherds poor;
Yet she his heart delighted;
Their little hovel open stood,
Beside a lonesome frowning wood.
Yet oft, at midnight when the Moon
Its dappled course was steering,
The Castle bell would break their sleep,
And ZORIETTO slow would creep--
To bar the wicket--fearing!
What did she fear? O! dreadful thought!
The Moon's wan lustre, streaming;
The dim grey lamps, the crashing sound,
The lonely Bittern--shrieking round
The roof,--with pale light gleaming.
And often, when the wintry wind
Loud whistled o'er their dwelling;
They sat beside their faggot fire
While ZORIETTO'S aged Sire
A dismal Tale was telling.
He told a long and dismal Tale
How a fair LADY perish'd;
How her sweet Baby, doom'd to be
The partner of her destiny
Was by a peasant cherish'd!
He told a long and dismal Tale,
How, from a flinty Tow'r
A Lady wailing sad was seen,
The lofty grated bars between,
At dawnlight's purple hour!
He told a Tale of bitter woe,
His heart with pity swelling,
How the fair LADY pin'd and died,
And how her Ghost, at Christmas-tide--
Would wander,--near her dwelling.
He told her, how a lowly DAME
The LADY, lorn, befriended--
Who chang'd her own dear baby, dead,
And took the LADY'S in its stead--
And then--"Forgive her Heav'n! " He said,
And so, his Story ended.
As on the rushy floor she sat,
Her hand her pale cheek pressing;
Oft, on the GOATHERD'S face, her eyes
Would fix intent, her mute surprize--
In frequent starts confessing.
Then, slowly would she turn her head,
And watch the narrow wicket;
And shudder, while the wintry blast
In shrilly cadence swiftly past
Along the neighb'ring thicket.
One night, it was in winter time,
The Castle bell was tolling;
The air was still, the Moon was seen,
Sporting, her starry train between,
The thin clouds round her rolling.
And now she watch'd the wasting lamp,
Her timid bosom panting;
And now, the Crickets faintly sing,
And now she hears the Raven's wing
Sweeping their low roof, slanting.
And, as the wicket latch she clos'd,
A groan was heard!--she trembled!
And now a clashing, steely sound,
In quick vibrations echoed round,
Like murd'rous swords, assembled!
She started back; she look'd around,
The Goatherd Swain was sleeping;
A stagnate paleness mark'd her cheek,
She would have call'd, but could not speak,
While, through the lattice peeping.
And O! how dimly shone the Moon,
Upon the snowy mountain!
And fiercely did the wild blast blow,
And now her tears began to flow,
Fast, as a falling fountain.
And now she heard the Castle bell
Again toll sad and slowly;
She knelt and sigh'd: the lamp burnt pale--
She thought upon the dismal Tale--
And pray'd, with fervour holy!
And now, her little string of beads
She kiss'd,--and cross'd her breast;
It was a simple rosary,
Made of the Mountain Holly-tree,
By Sainted Father's blest!
And now the wicket open flew,
As though a whirlwind fell'd it;
And now a ghastly figure stood
Before the Maiden--while her blood
Congeal'd, as she beheld it!
His face was pale, his eyes were wild,
His beard was dark; and near him
A stream of light was seen to glide,
Marking a poniard, crimson-dyed;
The bravest soul might fear him!
His forehead was all gash'd and gor'd--
His vest was black and flowing
His strong hand grasp'd a dagger keen,
And wild and frantic was his mien,
Dread signs of terror, showing.
"O fly me not!" the BARON cried,
"In HEAV'N'S name, do not fear me!"
Just as he spoke the bell thrice toll'd--
Three paly lamps they now behold--
While a faint voice, cried,--"HEAR ME!"
And now, upon the threshold low,
The wounded GOLFRE, kneeling,
Again to HEAV'N address'd his pray'r;
The waning Moon, with livid glare,
Was down the dark sky stealing.
They led him in, they bath'd his wounds,
Tears, to the red stream adding:
The haughty GOLFRE gaz'd, admir'd!
The Peasant Girl his fancy fir'd,
And set his senses, madding!
He prest her hand; she turn'd away,
Her blushes deeper glowing,
Her cheek still spangled o'er with tears
So the wild rose more fresh appears
When the soft dews are flowing!
Again, the BARON fondly gaz'd;
Poor ZORIETTO trembled;
And GOLFRE watch'd her throbbing breast
Which seem'd, with weighty woes oppress'd,
And softest LOVE, dissembled.
The GOATHERD, fourscore years had seen,
And he was sick and needy;
The BARON wore a SWORD OF GOLD,
Which Poverty might well behold,
With eyes, wide stretch'd, and greedy!
The dawn arose! The yellow light
Around the Alps spread chearing!
The BARON kiss'd the GOATHERD'S child--
"Farewell!" she cried,--and blushing smil'd--
No future peril fearing.
Now GOLFRE homeward bent his way
His breast with passion burning:
The Chapel bell was rung, for pray'r,
And all--save GOLFRE, prostrate there--
Thank'd HEAV'N, for his returning!
Three times the orient ray was seen
Above the East cliff mounting,
When GOLFRE sought the Cottage Grace
To share the honours of his race,
With treasures, beyond counting!
The Ev'ning Sun was burning red;
The Twilight veil spread slowly;
While ZORIETTO, near the wood
Where long a little cross had stood,
Was singing Vespers holy.
And now she kiss'd her Holly-beads,
And now she cross'd her breast;
The night-dew fell from ev'ry tree--
It fell upon her rosary,
Like tears of Heav'n twice bless'd!
She knelt upon the brown moss, cold,
She knelt, with eyes, mild beaming!
The day had clos'd, she heard a sigh!
She mark'd the dear and frosty sky
With starry lustre gleaming.
She rose; she heard the draw-bridge chains
Loud clanking down the valley;
She mark'd the yellow torches shine
Between the antique groves of Pine--
Bright'ning each gloomy alley.
And now the breeze began to blow,
Soft-stealing up the mountain;
It seem'd at first a dulcet sound--
Like mingled waters, wand'ring round
Slow falling from a fountain.
And now, in wilder tone it rose,
The white peaks sweeping, shrilly:
It play'd amidst her golden hair
It kiss'd her bosom cold and fair--
And sweet, as vale-born Lily!
She heard the hollow tread of feet
Thridding the piny cluster;
The torches flam'd before the wind--
And many a spark was left behind,
To mock the glow-worm's lustre.
She saw them guard the Cottage door,
Her heart beat high with wonder!
She heard the fierce and Northern blast
As o'er the topmost point it past
Like peals of bursting thunder!
And now she hied her swift along
And reach'd the guarded wicket;
But O! what terror fill'd her soul,
When thrice she heard the deep bell toll--
Above the gloomy thicket.
Now fierce, the BARON darted forth,
His trembling victim seizing;
She felt her blood, in ev'ry vein
Move, with a sense of dead'ning pain,
As though her heart were freezing.
"This night," said he, "Yon castle tow'rs
"Shall echo to their centre!
"For, by the HOLY CROSS, I swear,"--
And straight a CROSS of ruby glare
Did through the wicket enter!
And now a snowy hand was seen
Slow moving, round the chamber
A clasp of pearl, it seem'd to bear--
A clasp of pearl, most rich and rare!
Fix'd to a zone of amber.
And now the lowly Hovel shook,
The wicket open flying,
And by, the croaking RAVEN flew
And, whistling shrill, the night-blast blew
Like shrieks, that mark the dying!
But suddenly the tumult ceas'd--
And silence, still more fearful,
Around the little chamber spread
Such horrors as attend the dead,
Where no Sun glitters chearful!
"Now JESU HEAR ME!" GOLFRE cried,
"HEAR ME," a faint voice mutter'd!
The BARON drew his poniard forth--
The Maiden sunk upon the earth,
And--"Save me Heav'n!" she utter'd.
"Yes, Heav'n will save thee," GOLFRE said,
"Save thee, to be MY bride!"
But while he spoke a beam of light
Shone on her bosom, deathly white,
Then onward seem'd to glide.
And now the GOATHERD, on his knees,
With frantic accent cried,
"O! GOD forbid! that I should see
"The beauteous ZORIETTO, be
"The BARON GOLFRE'S bride!
"Poor Lady! she did shrink and fall,
"As leaves fall in September!
"Then be not BARON GOLFRE'S bride--
"Alack! in yon black tow'r SHE died--
"Full well, I do remember!"
"Oft, to the lattice grate I stole
"To hear her, sweetly singing;
"And oft, whole nights, beside the moat,
"I listen'd to the dying note--
"Till matin's bell was ringing.
"And when she died! Poor Lady dear!
"A sack of gold, she gave,
"That, masses every Christmas day
"Twelve bare-foot Monks should sing, or say,
"Slow moving round her Grave.
"That, at the Holy Virgin's shrine
"Three Lamps should burn for ever--
"That, ev'ry month, the bell should toll,
"For pray'rs to save her Husband's soul--
"I shall forget it, never!"
While thus he spoke, the BARON'S eye
Look'd inward on his soul:
For He the masses ne'er had said--
No lamps, their quiv'ring light had shed,
No bell, been taught to toll!
And yet, the bell did toll, self-mov'd;
And sickly lamps were gleaming;
And oft, their faintly wand'ring light
Illum'd the Chapel aisles at night,
Till MORN'S broad eye, was beaming.
The Maid refus'd the BARON'S suit,
For, well she lov'd another;
The angry GOLFRE'S vengeful rage
Nor pride nor reason could assuage,
Nor pity prompt to smother.
His Sword was gone; the Goatherd Swain
Seem'd guilty, past recalling:
The BARON now his life demands
Where the tall Gibbet skirts the lands
With black'ning bones appalling!
Low at the BARON'S feet, in tears
Fair ZORIETTO kneeling,
The Goatherd's life requir'd;--but found
That Pride can give the deepest wound
Without the pang of feeling.
That Pow'r can mock the suff'rer's woes
And triumph o'er the sighing;
Can scorn the noblest mind oppress'd,
Can fill with thorns the feeling breast
Soft pity's tear denying.
"Take me," she cried, "but spare his age--
"Let me his ransom tender;
"I will the fatal deed atone,
"For crimes that never were my own,
"My breaking heart surrender."
The marriage day was fix'd, the Tow'rs
With banners rich were mounted;
His heart beat high against his side
While GOLFRE, waiting for his bride,
The weary minutes counted.
The snow fell fast, with mingling hail,
The dawn was late, and louring;
Poor ZORIETTO rose aghast!
Unmindful of the Northern blast
And prowling Wolves, devouring.
Swift to the wood of Pines she flew,
Love made the assignation;
For there, the sov'reign of her soul
Watch'd the blue mists of morning roll
Mound her habitation.
The BARON, by a Spy appriz'd,
Was there before his Bride;
He seiz'd the Youth, and madly strew'd
The white Cliff, with his steaming blood,
Then hurl'd him down its side.
And now 'twas said, an hungry wolf
Had made the Youth his prey:
His heart lay frozen on the snow,
And here and there a purple glow
Speckled the pathless way.
The marriage day at length arriv'd,
The Priest bestow'd his blessing:
A clasp of orient pearl fast bound
A zone of amber circling round,
Her slender waist compressing.
On ZORIETTO'S snowy breast
A ruby cross was heaving;
So the pale snow-drop faintly glows,
When shelter'd by the damask rose,
Their beauties interweaving!
And now the holy vow began
Upon her lips to falter!
And now all deathly wan she grew
And now three lamps, of livid hue
Pass'd slowly round the Altar.
And now she saw the clasp of pearl
A ruby lustre taking:
And thrice she heard the Castle bell
Ring out a loud funereal knell
The antique turrets shaking.
O! then how pale the BARON grew,
His eyes wide staring fearful!
While o'er the Virgin's image fair
A sable veil was borne on air
Shading her dim eyes, tearful.
And, on her breast a clasp of pearl
Was stain'd with blood, fast flowing:
And round her lovely waist she wore
An amber zone; a cross she bore
Of rubies--richly glowing.
The Bride, her dove-like eyes to Heav'n
Rais'd, calling Christ to save her!
The cross now danc'd upon her breast;
The shudd'ring Priest his fears confest,
And benedictions gave her.
Upon the pavement sunk the Bride
Cold as a corpse, and fainting!
The pearly clasp, self-bursting, show'd
Her beating side, where crimson glow'd
Three spots, of nature's painting.
Three crimson spots, of deepest hue!
The BARON gaz'd with wonder:
For on his buried Lady's side
Just three such drops had nature dyed,
An equal space asunder.
And now remembrance brought to view,
For Heaven the truth discloses,
The Baby, who had early died,
Bore, tinted on its little side,
Three spots--as red as roses!
Now, ere the wedding-day had past,
Stern GOLFRE, and his Bride
Walk'd forth to taste the ev'ning breeze
Soft sighing, mid the sombre trees,
That drest the mountain's side.
And now, beneath the grove of Pine,
Two lovely Forms were gliding;
A Lady, with a beauteous face!
A Youth with stern, but manly, grace
Smil'd,--as in scorn deriding.
Close, by the wond'ring Bride they pass'd,
The red Sun sinking slowly:
And to the little cross they hied--
And there she saw them, side by side,
Kneeling, with fervour holy.
The little cross was golden ting'd
The western radiance stealing;
And now it bore a purple hue,
And now all black and dim it grew,
And still she saw them, kneeling.
White were their robes as fleecy snow
Their faces pale, yet chearful.
Their golden hair, like waves of light
Shone lust'rous mid the glooms of night;
Their starry eyes were tearful.
And now they look'd to Heav'n, and smil'd,
Three paly lamps descended!
And now their shoulders seem'd to bear
Expanding pinions broad and fair,
And now they wav'd in viewless air!
And so, the Vision ended.
Now, suddenly, a storm arose,
The thunder roar'd, tremendous!
The lightning flash'd, the howling blast
Fierce, strong, and desolating, past
The Altitudes stupendous!
Rent by the wind, a fragment huge
From the steep summit bounded:
That summit, where the Peasant's breast
Found, mid the snow, a grave of rest,
By GOLFRE'S poniard wounded.
Loud shrieks, across the mountain wild,
Fill'd up the pause of thunder:
The groves of Pine the lightning past,
And swift the desolating blast
Scatter'd them wide asunder.
The Castle-turrets seem'd to blaze,
The lightning round them flashing;
The drawbridge now was all on fire,
The moat foam'd high, with furious ire,
Against the black walls dashing.
The Prison Tow'r was silver white,
And radiant as the morning;
Two angels' wings were spreading wide,
The battlements, from side to side--
And lofty roof adorning.
And now the Bride was sore afraid,
She sigh'd, and cross'd her breast;
She kiss'd her simple rosary,
Made of the mountain holly-tree,
By sainted Fathers blest.
She kiss'd it once, she kiss'd it twice;
It seem'd to freeze her breast;
The cold show'rs fell from ev'ry tree,
They fell upon her rosary
Like nature's tears, "twice blest!"
"What do you fear?" the BARON cried--
For ZORIETTO trembled--
"A WOLF," she sigh'd with whisper low,
"Hark how the angry whirlwinds blow
"Like Demons dark assembled.
"That WOLF! which did my Lover slay!"
The BARON wildly started.
"That Wolf accurs'd!" she madly cried--
"Whose fangs, by human gore were died,
"Who dragg'd him down the mountain's side,
"And left me--Broken hearted!"
Now GOLFRE shook in ev'ry joint,
He grasp'd her arm, and mutter'd
Hell seem'd to yawn, on ev'ry side,
"Hear me!" the frantic tyrant cried--
"HEAR ME!" a faint voice utter'd.
"I hear thee! yes, I hear thee well!"
Cried GOLFRE, "I'll content thee.
"I see thy vengeful eye-balls roll--
"Thou com'st to claim my guilty soul--
"The FIENDS--the FIENDS have sent thee!"
And now a Goatherd-Boy was heard--
Swift climbing up the mountain:
A Kid was lost, the fearful hind--
Had rov'd his truant care to find,
By wood-land's side--and fountain.
And now a murm'ring throng advanc'd,
And howlings echoed round them:
Now GOLFRE tried the path to pace,
His feet seem'd rooted to the place,
As though a spell had bound them.
And now loud mingling voices cried--
"Pursue that WOLF, pursue him!"
The guilty BARON, conscience stung,
About his fainting DAUGHTER hung,
As to the ground she drew him.
"Oh! shield me Holy MARY! shield
"A tortur'd wretch!" he mutter'd.
"A murd'rous WOLF! O GOD! I crave
"A dark unhallow'd silent grave--"
Aghast the Caitiff utter'd.
"'Twas I, beneath the GOATHERD'S bed
"The golden sword did cover;
"'Twas I who tore the quiv'ring wound,
"Pluck'd forth the heart, and scatter'd round
"The life-stream of thy Lover."
And now he writh'd in ev'ry limb,
And big his heart was swelling;
Fresh peals of thunder echoed strong,
With famish'd WOLVES the peaks among
Their dismal chorus yelling!
"O JESU Save me!" GOLFRE shriek'd--
But GOLFRE shriek'd no more!
The rosy dawn's returning light
Display'd his corse,--a dreadful sight,
Black, wither'd, smear'd with gore!
High on a gibbet, near the wood--
His mangled limbs were hung;
Yet ZORIETTO oft was seen
Prostrate the Chapel aisles between--
When holy mass was sung.
And there, three lamps now dimly burn,--
Twelve Monks their masses saying;
And there, the midnight bell doth toll
For quiet to the murd'rer's soul--
While all around are praying.
For CHARITY and PITY kind,
To gentle souls are given;
And MERCY is the sainted pow'r,
Which beams thro' mis'ry's darkest hour,
And lights the way,--TO HEAVEN!