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Perused, with him, the starry sky;
Ah, pensive scholar, think not so,
Why mention other thoughts unmeet For vision so composed and sweet? While stand the people in a ring, Gazing, doubting, questioning; Yea, many overcome in spite Of recollections clear and bright; Which yet do unto some impart An undisturbed repose of heart, And all the assembly own a law Of orderly respect and awe; But see—they vanish, one by one. And last, the doe herself is gone.
Harp! we have been full long beguiled By busy dreams, and fancies wild; To which, with no reluctant strings, Thou hast attuned thy munnurings; And now before this pile we stand In solitude, and utter peace; But, harp 1 thy murmurs may not cease— Thou hast breeze-like visitings; For a spirit with angel's wings
Hath touched thee, and a spirit's hand:
The harp in lowliness obeyed;
And first we sang of the greenwood shade,
And a solitary maid;
Beginning, where the song must end,
With her, and with her sylvan friend;
Her friend who stood before her sight,
Her only unextinguished light;
The last companion in a dearth
Of love, upon a hopeless earth.
For she it was—this maid, who wrought
It was the time when England's queen
But now the inly-working North
Was ripe to send its thousands forth,
A potent vassalage, to fight
In Percy's and in Neville's right,
Two earls fast leagued in discontent,
Who gave their wishes open vent;
And boldly urged a general plea,
The rites of ancient piety
To be triumphantly restored,
By the dread justice of the sword!
And that same banner, on whose breast
The blameless lady had expressed
Memorials chosen to give life
And sunshine to a dangerous strife;
That banner, waiting for the call,
Stood quietly in Rylstone Hull.
It came,—and Francis Norton said, "O father! rise not in this fray— The hairs are white upon your head; Dear father, hear me when I say It is for you too late a day! Bethink you of your own good name: A just and gracious queen have we, A pure religion, and the claim Of peace on our humanity. Tis meet that I endure your scorn,— I am your son, your eldest-born; But not for lordship or for land, My father, do I clasp your knees— The banner touch not, stay your hand,— This multitude of men disband, And live at home in blameless ease; For these my brethren's sake, for me; And, most of all, for Emily 1"
Loud noise was in the crowded hall, And scarcely could the father hear That name—which had a dying fall, The name of his only daughter dear,— And on the banner which stood near He glanced a look of holy pride, And his moist eyes were glorified; Then seized the staff, and thus did say— "Thou, Richard, bear'st thy father's name, Keep thou this ensign till the day When I of thee require the same: Thy place be on my better hand; And seven as true as thou, I see, Will cleave to this good cause and me." He spake, and eight brave sons straightway All followed him, a gallant band!
Forth when sire and sons appeared A gratulating shout was reared, With din of arms and minstrelsy, From all his warlike tenantry, All horsed and harnessed with him to ride; * A shout to which the hills replied!
But Francis, in the vacant hall, Stood silent under dreary weight,— A phantasm, in which roof and wall Shook—tottered—swam before his sight; A phantasm like a dream of night 1 Thus overwhelmed, and desolate, He found his way to a postern-gate; And, when he walked at length, his eye Was on the calm and silent sky; With air about him breathing sweet, And earth's green grass beneath his feet; Nor did he fail ere long to hear
A sound of military cheer,
Faint—but it reached that sheltered spot;
He heard, and it disturbed him not.
There stood he, leaning on a lance Which he had grasped unknowingly,— Had blindly grasped in that strong trance, That dimness of heart agony; There stood he, cleansed from the despair And sorrow of his fruitless prayer. The past he calmly hath reviewed: But where will be the fortitude Of this brave man, when he shall see That form beneath the spreading tree, And know that it is Emily? Oh! hide them from each other, hide, Kind Heaven, this pair severely tried!
He saw her where in open view She sate beneath the spreading yew,— Her head upon her lap, concealing In solitude her bitter feeling: How could he choose but shrink or sigh? He shrunk, and muttered inwardly, "Might ever son command a sire, The act were justified to-day." This to himself—and to the maid, Whom now he had approached, he said, ** Gone are they,—they have their desire; And I with thee one hour will stay, To give thee comfort if I may."
He paused, her silence to partake, And long it was before he spake: