« PreviousContinue »
Imagine (but ye Saints! who can ?)
Of time to Lords and Ladies thus assembled.
What patient confidence was here!
For tournament, his beaver vailed,
Next, disencumbered of his harp,
Sir Tristram, dear to thousands as a brother,
Came to the proof, nor grieved that there
No change;—the fair Izonda he had wooed With love too true, a love with pangs too
sharp, From hope too distant, not to dread another.
Not so Sir Launcelot;—from Heaven's grace A sign he craved, tired slave of vain contrition; The royal Guinever looked passing glad 297 When his touch failed.—Next came Sir
Galahad; He paused, and stood entranced by that still
face Whose features he had seen in noontide vision.
For late, as near a murmuring stream 301 He rested 'mid an arbour green and shady, Nina, the good Enchantress, shed
A light around his mossy bed;
Prefigured to his sense the Egyptian Lady.
Now, while his bright-haired front he bowed, And stood, far-kenned by mantle furred with
Nor deem it strange; the Youth had worn
Which whosoe'er approached of strength was
shorn, Though King or Knight the most renowned in
He touched with hesitating hand—
And lo! those Birds, far-famed through
Love's dominions, 310
The Swans, in triumph clap their wings; And their necks play, involved in rings, Like sinless snakes in Eden's happy land;— "Mine is she," cried the Knight;—again they
clapped their pinions.
"Mine was she—mine she is, though dead, And to her name my soul shall cleave in
Whereat a tender twilight streak
Of colour dawned upon the Damsel's cheek;
And her lips, quickening with uncertain red,
Seemed from each other a faint warmth to
Deep was the awe, the rapture high,
To lifted eyelids, and a doubtful shining.
In silence did King Arthur gaze
Then eased his soul at length by praise Of God, and Heaven's pure Queen—the blissful Mary.
Then said he, "Take her to thy heart,
Through mortal change and immortality;
Not long the Nuptials were delayed;
The pomp, the glory of that hour
Who shrinks not from alliance 355
Of evil with good Powers
A Ship to Christ devoted
From the Land of Nile did go; 360
Alas! the bright Ship floated,
An Idol at her prow.
By magic domination,
The Heaven-permitted vent
Of purblind mortal passion, 365
Was wrought her punishment.
The Flower, the Form Within it,
What served they in her need?
Her port she could not win it,
Nor from mishap be freed. 370
The tempest overcame her,
The Maid to Jesu heartened, 375
And kept to Him her faith,
But Angels round her pillow
Kept watch, a viewless band; 380
And, billow favouring billow,
She reached the destined strand.
Blest Pair! whate'er befall you,
THE RIVER DUDDON.
A SERIES OF SONNETS.
The River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Fell, on the confines of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire ; and, having served as a boundary to the two last Counties for the space of about twenty-five miles, enters the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Walney and the Lordship of Milium.
TO THE REV. DR. WORDSWORTH
(WITH THE SONNETS TO THE EIVER DUDDON, AND OTHER POEMS IN THIS COLLECTION, 1820.)
The Minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen, 5
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings; 10
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!
And who but listened ?—till was paid
Respect to every Inmate's claim:
The greeting given, the music played, 15
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And " Merry Christmas " wished to all!