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Wilfrid, who, as of life bereft,
Had in the fatal Hall been left
Deserted there by all his train;
But Redmond saw, and turn'd again.
Beneath an oak be laid hin down,
That in the blaze gleam'd ruddy brown,
And then his mantle's clasp undid;
Matilda held his drooping head,
Till, giv'n to breathe the freer air,
Returning life repaid their care.
He gaz'd on thein with heavy sigh,-
" I could have wish'd ev'n thus to die!"
No more he said-for now with speed
Each trooper bad regain'd his steed;
The ready palfreys stood array'd,
For Redmond and for Rokeby's Maid;
Two Wilfrid on his horse sustain,
One leads his charger by the rein.
But oft Matilda look'd bebind,
As up the Vale of Tees they wind,
Where far the mansion of her sires
Beacon'd the dale with midnight fires.
In gloomy arch above them spread,
The clouded heav'n lower'd bloody red :
Beneath, in sombre light, the flood
Appear'd to roli in waves of blood.
Then, one by one, was heard to fall
The tow'r, the donjon-keep, the hall.
Each rushing down with thunder sound,
A space the conflagration drown'd;
Till, gath'ring strength, again it rose,
Announc'd its triumph in its close,
Shook wide its light the landscape o'er,
Then sunk, and Rokeby was no more
The summer sun, whose early pows
Was wont to gild Matilda's bow's,
And rouse her with his matin ray
Her duteous orisons to pay,
That morning sun has three times seen
The flow'rs unfold on Rokeby green,
But sees no more the slumbers fly
From fair Matilda's hazel eye ;
That morning sun has three times broke
On Rokeby's glades of elm and oak,
But, rising from their silvan screen,
Marks no grey turrets' glance between.
A shapeless mass lie keep and tow'r,
That, hissing to the morning show'r,
Can but with smould'ring vapour pay
The early smile of summer day.
The peasant, to his labour bound,
Pauses to view the blacken'd mound,
Striving, amid the ruind space,
Each well-remember'd spot
That length of frail and fire-scorch'd wall
Once screen'd the hospitable hall;
When yonder broken arch was whole,
'Twas there was dealt the weekly dole;
And where yon tott'ring columns nod,
The chapel sent the hymn to God. -
So flits the world's uncertain span!
Nor zeal for God, nor love for man,
Gives mortal monuments a date
Beyond the pow'r of Time and Fate.
The tow’rs must share the builder's doom;
Ruin is theirs, and his a tomb:
But better boon benignant Heav'n
To Faith and Charity has giv'n,
And bids the Christian hope sublime
Transcend the bounds of Fate and Time
Now the third night of summer came,
Since that which witness d Rokeby's flama
On Brignall cliffs and Scargill brake
The owlet's homilies awake,
The bittern scream'd from rush and flag,
The raven slumber'd on his crag,
Forth from his den the otter drew,-
Grayling and trout their tyrant knew,
As between reed and sedge he peers,
With fierce round snout and sharpen'd ears,
Or, prowling by the moonbeam cool,
Watches the stream or swims the pool;
Perch'd on his wonted eyrie high,
Sleep seal'd the tercelet's wearied eye,
That all the day had watch'd so well
The cushat dart across the dell.
In dubious beam retlected shone
That lofty cliff of pale grey stone,
Beside whose base the secret cave
To rapine late a refuge gave.
The crag's wild crest of copse and yew
On Greta's breast dark shadows threw;
Shadows that met or shunn'd the sight,
With ev'ry change of fitful light;
As hope and fear alternate chase
Our course through life's uncertain race
Gliding by crag and copsewood green,
A solitary form was seen
To trace with stealthy pace the wold,
Like fox that seeks the midnight fold,
And pauses oft, and cow'rs dismay'd,
At ov'ry breath that stirs the shade.
He passes now the ivy bush,-
The owl has seen him, and is hush;
passos now the dodder'd oak,
He heard the startled raven croak;
Lower and lower he descends,
Rustle the leaves, the brushwood bends;
The otter hears him tread the shore,
And dives, and is beheld no more;
And by the cliff of pale grey stone
The midnight wand rer stands alone.
Methinks, that by the moon we trace
A well-remember'd form and face !
That stripling shape, that cheek so pala
Combine to tell a rueful tale,
Of pow'rs misus'd, of passion's force,
Of guilt, of grief, and of remorse!
Tis Edmund's eye, at ev'ry sound
That flings that guilty glance around;
Tis Edmund's trembling haste divides
The brushwood that the cavern hides;
And, when its narrow porch lies bare,
"Tis Edmund's form that enters there.
IV. His flint and steel have sparkld bright, A lamp hath lent the cavern light. Fearful and quick his eye surveys Each angle of the gloomy maze. Since last he left that stern abode, It seem'd as none its floor had trod; Untouch'd appear'd the various spoil, The purchase of his comrades' toil; Masks and disguises grim d with mud, Arms broken and defild with blood, And all the nameless tools that aid Night-felons in their lawless trade, Upon the gloomy walls were hung, Of lay in nooks obscurely fung. Still on the sordid board appear The relics of the noontide cheer: Flagons and empty flasks were there, And bench o'erthrown, and shatter'd chair; And all around the semblance show'd, As when the final revel glow'd, When the red sun was setting fast, And parting pledge Guy Denzil past. "To Rokeby treasure-vaults!" they quatt’d, And shouted loud and wildly laugh d, Pour'd madd’ning from the rocky door, And parted to return no inure! They found in Rokeby vaults their doom, – A bloody death, a burning tomb!
There his own peasant dress he spies,
Doff’d to assume that quaint disguise ;
And shudd'ring thought upon his glee,
When prank'd in garb or minstrelsy.
"O, be the fatal art accurst,".
He cried, " that mov'd my toily first;
Till, brib'd by bandits' base applause,
I burst through God's and Nature's laws!
Three summer days are scantiy past
Since I have trod'this carern last,
A thoughtless wretch, and prompt to en
But, 0, as yet no murderer!
Evin now I list my comrades' cheer,
That gen'ral laugh is in ming ear,
Which rais'd my pulse, and steel'd my
As I rehears'd my treach'rous part-
And would that all since then could seem
The phantom of a fever's dream!
But fatal Mem'ry notes too well
The horrors of the dying yell,
From my despairing mates that broke,
When flash'd the fire and roll d the smoke;
When the avengers shouting came,
And hemm'd us 'twixt the sword and flame!
My frantic flight,- the lifted brand,
That angel's interposing hand!
If, for my life from slaughter freed,
I yet could pay some grateful meed!
Perchance this object of my quest
May aid"—he turn'd, nor spoke the rest.
Due northward from the rugged hearth,
With paces five he metes the earth,
Then toil'd with mattock to explore
The entrails of the cavern floor,
Nor paus'd tiil, deep beneath the ground,
His search a small steel casket found
Just as he stoop'd to loose its hasp,
His shoulder felt a giant grasp.
He started, and lookd up aghast,
Then shriek'd 'Twas Bertram held him fast
“ Fear not !" he said ; but who could hear
That deep steru voice, and cease to fear?