Page images
PDF
EPUB

pride.

Sir Lionel is at her side;

A place of refuge and of rest It is his own-his fairy bride

Where we can fly to when opprest, And he swears to her on a holy shrine Or wronged, or pining with sorrow and His grandsire brought from Palestine,

care, That he through the world with her Like a bird to its mother's nest. would go,

Love we shall find and constancy there, And love her for ever in wcal or woe, Steady and bright as the beacon light, And many a tender yow beside,

That farthest shines in the darkest night; While her bosom swelled with love and They glow for ever and for ever,

Through storm and sunshine changing There's a voice of threefold revelry

never. Within the castle wall,

Pleasures there are, alas ! untrue, And beaker clang and minstrelsy, That vanish away as the morning dew, And guests of high degree,

But leaving bebind them a rankling In the young knight's crowded hall

smart,
The first in bearing as in place, A sorrow and shame that will not depart;
Sir Lionel sits beneath the Dais, But there is a rose without a thorn,
But not alone;

Blooming and sweet at eventide
Invisible to mortal eye,

As it was in the dewy morn;
Reclines that meek and lovely one, Had we no other blessing beside,
The beautiful and fairy bride, We might walk through life in joy and
Blushing by her lover's side,

pride. Unseen by all, but ever nigh

That rose is a heart that loves us well, When in the hall he leads the dance, · Whose hopes, affections, in us dwellWhen in the lists he breaks a lance, It casts a radiance on our way, When his falcons featliest fly,

Holy and pure, that never dies; When clearest rings the hunter's cry, It turns our darkness into day, That fairy form, to him more dear And makes this earth a Paradise. Than the world beside, is ever near. Alas! for those whose weary lot They see not the lady of his choice, It is to see this lovely flowerThey hear not the sound of her gentle Adore its beauty-feel its powervoice;

Yet wear it not. But in his ears her accents float

They wander along their path alone,
Soft as the nightingale's sweetest note, Their tears unheeded or unknown-
And he suns himself in her eyes of light Wbat heart with them will sympathize ?
Till his bosom reels with intense delight. A foreign hand their eyes sball close-
Oft wandering far from town and tower, A foreign hand their limbs compose-
Through the greenwood's tangled glade, When the sleep of death upon them lies,
In some thick and mossy bower,

For them no infant lips shall move,
Gemmed with many an opening flower, No pious knees be meekly bent,
Or 'neath some forest monarch's shade, In supplication and in love,
They sit for many a blissful hour,

Around a father's monument. Nor dream of the world, and its pride and They must die, as they have lived, alonepower

Ah! pity them ! how many a one, What are riches or might to them

Of feelings and affections bright Who are crowned with love's own diadem? And beautiful, has seen one night, If in life's chaplet one bright gem

When his summer hopes were highest, Excels all others, as the sun

blight The roses that he shines upon

And nip the blossoms that were rise Oh! if there can be an excess,

And lovely on his tree of life! On earth, of upmixed happiness,

With lofty hopes they trode the way It is, it is the consciousness

That led to the shrine of that costly That there is a fond and faithful breast

gem; Thrilling with love for us alone

But fortune is false as an April dayA peaceful and a holy shrine,

Bright Lady, pity them!

FYTTE THE SECOND.

From minster old and convent tower,
The bells are ringing with gladsome

power-
It is the feast of Pentecost;
The sun is bright, the fields are gay

With the banners of an host.
A kingdom is there in battle array.

The King is stern and haughty of mood,
And swore by the mass and holy rood,
That bis knights should strive one sum-

mer's day
In honour of his queen,
And prove by arms that on this earth
A fairer lady ne'er had birth-

And there were pennons seen

The soul that speaks in the guileless eye, of knights and barons of high degree, The true love and the courtesy. Each with love-tokens in his crest, Alas! they are prized on earth no more ; Each burning to lay lance in rest,

Our hearts are faint, and our bosoms cold, And conquer for his lady fair.

Our hands grasp not at the sword, but From France and Spain and Italy, i

gold. And countries far beyond the sea,

But such was not the knight of yore. Full of high hope these knights came; Of port as meek as is a maid, They talk, with many a laugh and jest, No villanie he ever said How well and featly they will wrest

In all his life to any wightThe honour from that kingdom's best. Ever rejoiced to mount his steed, In the minster high and holy,

And succour beauty at her need; With clasped hands and aspect lowly, In a rightful cause he knew not fear, Each warrior bends before the shrine, And for suff'ring virtue had a tearAnd listens to the words divine

This was a perfect gentle knight. As humbly as a sainted maid.

Right well they strove but one by one, The mass is said, the prayers are prayed, Ere beamed in heaven the mid-day sun, The knights are in the lists arrayed ; The foreign knights, o'ercome and spent, The queen, in all her beauty's power, Saw glory's chaplet from them rent. Encompassed by the choicest flower Sir Lionel had stood that day, Or ladies of fair form and face,

Gazing on the varying fray, Sits brilliant underneath the dais,

And ever passed o'er his brow a cloud, And looks down on the mimic war As yeoman and squire, with greeting More beautiful than every one,

loud, Ev'n as the moon is lovelier far

Hailed the queen's champions as they won. Than the night flowers she shines But when the last lance was broken, upon.

When the herald loud had spoken, A glorious sight it was to see

Proclaiming her the fairest dame Those ardent sons of chivalry,

That ever smiled on knightly game; With their gallant steeds and armour And called on each knight to confess bright,

They ne'er beheld such loveliness Their waving plumes and quivering Alas! then forgot Sir Lionel lances,

The vows he swore at the fairy wellAs they dashed through the lists as swift He closed his vizor and seized his lance, as light,

And cleaving the dense mass asunder, And brilliant as their ladies' glances. In the broad lists, with voice like thunder, They are gone-they have passed away And glowing cheek, and fiery glance, Like the sun at the close of day

Proclaimed, there was not on earth anThey passed away in their power and

other might,

Who with his lady might compare, As knights should do, in the joyous fight, And he would prove it knightly there, And holy priests their requiem sang, Come all against him who might dare, And the solemn bells at their parting rang, So help him God and Mary Mother! And bright eyes wept upon their tomb. As he spoke he thought there sounded Jesus ! theirs was a happy doom ! But we must toil through gloomy days, One sad alas! one gentle sighAnd die without such meed of praise! He heeded it not, for his soul was full The base weed grows in their fathers' of her he thought so beautiful; halls,

And of gaining praise and high renown, There remains no stone of their castle And of winning for her the victor's crown. walls,

He remembered not, in his spirit's pride, But weeds far baser clog our spirit! Of all she told him would betide, We are those who should inherit

Ife'er he disclosed his secret loveTruth, and honour, and courage, and lore, Aye! ev'n in prayer to the saints above. For men on earth and the Saints abova- But in after time the thought of that day But the light that led our fathers on Heavy and cold on his bosom lay. Where danger was rife, and glory won, Knights were not wanting then, I ween, That light for us is powerless

To break a lance for their lovely queen. Ah! worldly mists obscure its beams! The trumpets sound - their coursers Go, seek thou in the wilderness

bound-
For summer fruits and icy streams, They meet in furious shock,
Seek peace where loud the trumpet blows, As the waves that on the rock
Mid burning lava seek the rose;

The blindness of their fury pour,
But hope not to find in any land

With flash and foam and ceaseless roar ; The fearless sword and open hand,

But all in vain for its madness spent,

nigh

Calm falls, like sleep, on the troubled Thou diest, aye, within this hour!" ocean,

The warrior raised his eagle eye, And small green waves, with a rippling And looked on the monarch baughtily. motion,

“ Sir King, he said, it may not be Sink softly at the proud rock's feet, That thou jy lady-love shouldst see. That stands unmoved as it stood before : Never shall I behold her more.

Thus the knights are backwards bent, My blood like water thou mayst pour, Who in the lists have dared to meet It matters not-my hope is flownSir Lionel in mid career.

My once glad heart is desolate. They paid it dear with a single spear There is one refuge, one alone, To earth he bore them one by one;

And thou wilt open by thy doom And now he rides in the lists alone. That dark, but gladly-welcomed gate, Nobly and well did his gallant steed

Which leads to quiet and the tomb." Bear him in this hour of need

He crossed his arms upon his chest, 'Twas the first gift of his lady bright And stood in such calm and deathlike rest, To him she loved, the gentle knight. But for the breathing, you had not known A moody man was the King, I trow, That the noble form was a living one. And wrath frown'd stormlike on his brow; On the King's brow is an angry spot, And while all eyes were in wonder bent And death had been the good knight's lot, On the victor of the tournament,

But the peers, who loved the warrior true,
The marshals of the field he sent, Right earnestly for him did sue.
Before him the unknown knight to But still the doom is sad, alas!.
bring.

If, within a year and day,
They did his bidding gracefully, She came not there, that lady gay,

In terms of high-born courtesy, For whom the knight had won the field,
And Sir Lionel stood before the King. And in beauty did not surpass
He cast the helmet from his brow-

The beautiful and youthful Queen, More enraged by far is the monarch now, Stripped of his arms, reversed his shield, For his liegeman there before him stands, He must die a traitor's death, I ween. Who held from him bis fief and lands, And he has shamed the Queen to-day, Sir Lionel sits in the prisoners' tower, And borne the prize from her kuights And draops like a fast withering flower; away.

He breathed the breath of joyous spring, To master bis burning wrath he strove, He heard the lark and throstle sing; And said, “ Sir Knight, for thy lady love But, alas! he could not forth. Thou bast done thy devoir manfully; And wheu blithe summer decked the I pray thee of thy courtesy

carth, To name the name of one so fair." He could hear the merry binds rejoice Sir Lionel stood in silence there,

lle listened to the reaper's voice, For his heart was numbed by the sad And thought,

So his love were with him, and he free. With more than mortal anguish fraught, He could hear the clarion's thrilling note, That rushed through his soul in wild As the knights in long procession went career

To banquet or to tournament; All things that on earth were dear, And oft the lover's strain would float Or bright, or beautiful to him,

Through the balmy air of the silent eve, He had for ever lost that day

Ev'n to his dark and narrow cellHe had dashed the cup of life away He knew those melting strains right well. That sparkled to the brim,

He had oft sung such at eventide With delights more rare than tongue To his lost and lovely fairy bridecould tell.

How could he then not grieve? He thought then on the fairy well, And in the sad and failing year, And all the vows that there were spoken; When the fruit is gone and the leaf is sere, His faith is false-his vows are broken- The hunters, furiously and fast, His lady love is lost to him.

With whoop and bugle-note swept past; And in that moment's bitter grief And it made him sadder of mood,

He wrung his mailed hands bitterly, For well he loved the merry greenwood And his strong frame shook like an as- He pined away and loathed his food. pen leaf,

He had loved to hear the gay lark sing, But answer none to the King gave he. Rather thandwell within narrow walls, The monarch, roused to fury, cried, And his buoyant spirit ever took wing “Now, good St Denis be my guide! As through nature's wilds he roamed. Thus on my throne am I defied ?

In the lone mountain-by torrent falls, Ha! caitiff! thou art in my power;

In the silent glen, by the arrowy stream, And bringest thou not this lady bright Where wild winds blew and white wares Here on the instant to my sight,

foamed,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Oh! breathlessly wounaanParrow grate, With gas stond before the King.

they say,

Where the dark pine clothed the moun- Full thirty champions bore ? tain side,

His youthful day-dreams now are o'er, Where the rich grape grew in its beauty's He will couch a lance in those lists no pride,

more, Where the wide-spreading plains were No more dare the battle's shock. lovely to see,

There gleams the axe—there stands the Where the snow mountain rose in its

block. purity,

The King is there with knights and peers, He had wandered and gazed till his spi. And their manlycheeks are wet with tears, rit was full

For the knight they make sad moanOf rapture for all that was beautiful; All but the King, and his small eyes shone And nature for him had a well-known With joy as he looked on the fated one. voice

He had bated him sore for many a year, Could be list to that language, and not And he joyed that his hour of revenge rejoice?

was near. And now he is pent in a narrow cell, Sir Lionel stands beside the block, Where the free air of heaven loved not The hand moves slowly on the clock to dwell;

One moment, and his sand is run
And the sunbeams scarce gleamed through He shall not see another sun.
the narrow grate,

But, see! a moving of the crowd !
As for hours in a dusky twilight he sate. Hark! a long shout and a loud!
But at times, when the sun was passing There ride into the space,
bright,

On palfreys white, Through the loophole beamed a streak of With trappings bright, light

Three damsels, each of fairer face Oh! breathlessly would the prisoner wait, Tban the proud King's vaunted Queen. His dim eyes fixed on the narrow grate,

With glancing eye, and lofty mien, And watch for that solitary rayFor his witbered heart 'twas a happy day “ Sir King, thou hast done foul wrong," When that glorious beam on his prison shone;

“ And a weary way we have come to-day, Though, like joy upon earth, in a moment To the oppressed our aid to bring. 'twas gone.

Wouldst thou take the life of this good How intensely he longed for the happy knight, hour

Because he fought for his lady bright? That would tear bim away from the ty. Though a solemn vow he lightly broke, rant's power,

Yet penance bard he has had to dree. And his proud spirit at length be free Sir King, Sir King, in thy secret heart, As the winds that sweep o'er the curling Malice and hatred have a part. sea!

It shall rue thee-woe is thee !"

Thus the errant damsels spoke.
And now the time is come at last,
The long, long year is past.

Hark to the commons' glad acclaim ! They lead him forth in the glad sunshine, Hark! knights and nobles raise the same! His heart is refreshed as a giant with See! through the press three damsels wine;

comeThere was vigour and life in the balmyair, If from their high and radiant home Ol! who could feel grief on a day so fair? Three angels were to visit earth, Though each step he makes is to the tomb, More beautiful they could not be, He thinks not on bis mournful doom Nor more ethereal than these three, To move once more in the golden light, But of forms of mortal or heavenly birth, To see once more the free bird's flight. There is not one that may compare To behold the thousand buds of spring With her that moves the chiefest there. In wild profusiou blossoming ;

Oh! it is she the fairy bride, To drink in the beauty of the sky

The ladye-love of Sir Lionel, With eager, pleasure-lighted eye,

Lovely as when in her beauty's pride And a gentle smile, as he thought that he She met him first by the ruined well ;Right soon with the angels there would be. And it seemed to all in presence there This was such thrilling ecstasy,

As if their minds were loftier, That it seemed as if, in that short space, Their thoughts more noble and more free, He had lived a thousand years,

As if all things smiled more joyously, Who, that beheld that furrowed face, When they gazed upon that lady bright. Streaming with joyous tears,

The sun seemed to shed a purer light, Would have known the brave Sir Lionel, All hearts to be filled with more delight, Who, with one lance, from knightly selle The birds more blithely for to sing,

While she is nigh.

And swore upon their knightly words, It seemed as if every thing

And by the cross of their good swords, Found all it had of bright in her,

They ne'er saw a lady fair as she. But more complete and lovelier.

Sir Lionel is free!

Will he his fairy bride recover ? Look but at her glorious eye,

She looked not at her rescued lover ; So full of fire-so soft-so meek;

But in the presence all did greet He who a spotless soul would see,

With gentle words, and gestures meet; When 'tis most heavenlike and fair, Then turned her palfrey's head away, In the splendour of its purity,

And through the wondering crowd made Need but to gaze in rapture there.

way. Oh! who that feels, as minstrels must, Enraptured by so dear a theme,

Sir Lionel stood as in a trance, Who crawls not abject in the dust, Pale was his cheek, and wild his glance; Whose life is not like a dull dream

And blended thoughts of pleasure and pain He must have felt in his inmost breast Dizzily rushed through his reeling brain. That strong desire that knows no rest, He had stood upon that mystic shore, That striving of the minstrel spirit

From across whose sea we return no more, To paint such beauties as they merit, And he scarcely yet belonged to this That chaos of wild thoughts that rise,

world; The visions that fit before our eyes, And now his ladye-love had hurled The rapture that the bosom feels, More anguish on him than his soul could The glorious hope that through it steals, brook, As 'mid this dimness light makes way, When she parted thus without word or Struggling to grow to perfect day.

look, Ah me! 'tis vain on such thoughts to As the wild billow, dwell;

Whose thundering shock, Who can paint the indescribable ?

From his haven of safety There is, there is beauty in earth and sea,

On the cold rock, In mountain, and forest, and pure blue Tears the spent sailor, sky;

Who, 'scaped from one wave,
There is not a floweret, or plant, or tree, Finds, after the tempest,
But is wonderful exceedingly

In another his grave.
And beautiful to the minstrel's eye; He wildly glanced from side to side,
Bat all the beauty of the skies,

His noble steed he hath espied.
All that within creation lies,

While the knight in his dungeon lay, Is powerless beside that light,

It bore the king each festal day; That concentration of things bright,

For of the noblest coursers there, Which sparkles and glows in woman's With that good steed might none compare. eyes.

As on his prey a gallant hound, The haugbty knights veiled cap and plume So sprang Sir Lionel at a bound Before that gem of loveliness ;

To the side of his well-known steed; Ev'n the dull hinds before her bent It served him once in his hour of need, The stubborn knee in lowliness;

But it serves him better now. And heralds in robes of office went, He is on the willing courser's back, And featly through the press made room. He follows in his lady's track; On her palfrey wbite she moves along There's a gleam of joy upon his brow, And stands before the king.

He hurries away-away-awayWith voice clear as the mavis' song,

Like a flash of meteor-light, And sweet as lover's communing,

At the close of a summer's day, “ It was thy doom, good King,” she said, He vanished from their sight. “ That if within a day and year

In the leafy solitude This knight's true lady were not here, Of a long resounding wood And was not found more bright and fair He saw the flutter of garments whiteThan the queen who sits in glory there, He is by the side of his lady bright. Sir Lionel should lose his head.

She turned not on bim her eyes, Thou hast sworn it, by the saints who Heeded not his prayers and sighsbled

Sir Lionel, in vain-in vain-
For the holy faith; and now on high Thou hopest that lady's ear to gain.
Thine oath, good king, is registered.

She rides calmly and slow-
This brave knight's lady-here am I-

She bent not to the left nor right, Let then thy noble peers decide

But in silence on did go; If thou or be have the fairer bride." And the knight, of hope bereft, Oh! could there be a doubt ?

With his heart like a withered leaf, The barons hailed her with a shout, For very bitter woe and grief,

« PreviousContinue »