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And see! the lady Christabel
Gathers herself from out her trance ;
Her limbs relax, her countenance
Grows sad and soft; the smooth thin lids
Close o'er her eyes; and tears she sheds-
Large tears that leave the lashes bright!
And oft the while she seems to smile
As infants at a sudden light!
Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
Like a youthful hermitess,
Beauteous in a wilderness.
Who, praying always, prays in sleep.
And, if she move unquietly,
Perchance, 'tis but the blood so free,
Comes back and tingles in her feet.
No doubt, she hath a vision sweet.
What if her guardian spirit 'twere ?
What if she knew her mother near ?
But this she knows, in joys and woes,
That saints will aid if men will call :
For the blue sky bends over all !
Each matin bell, the baron saith,
Knells us back to a world of death.
These words Sir Leoline first said,
When he rose and found his lady dead :
These words Sir Leoline will say,
Many a morn to his dying day!
And hence the custom and law began,
That still at dawn the sacristan,
Who duly pulls the heavy bell,
Five and forty beads must tell
Between each stroke—a warning knell,
Which not a soul can choose but hear
From Bratha Head to Wyndermere.
Saith Bracy the bard, so let it knell !
And let the drowsy sacristan
Still count as slowly as he can!
There is no lack of such, I ween,
As well fill up
space between. In Langdale Pike and Witch's Lair, And Dungeon-ghyll so foully rent, With ropes of rock and bells of air Three sinful sextons' ghosts are pent, Who all give back, one after t’other, The death-note to their living brother; And oft too, by the knell offended, Just as their one! two! three! is ended, The devil mocks the doleful tale With a merry peal from Borodale.
The air is still ! through mist and cloud That merry peal comes ringing loud; And Geraldine shakes off her dread,
And rises lightly from the bed ;
Puts on her silken vestments white,
And tricks her hair in lovely plight,
And nothing doubting of her spell
Awakens the lady Christabel.
“Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel ?
I trust that you have rested well.”
And Christabel awoke and spied
The same who lay down by her side
O rather say, the same whom she
Raised up beneath the old oak tree !
Nay, fairer yet! and yet more fair!
For she belike hath drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep!
And while she spake, her looks, her air
Such gentle thankfulness declare,
That (so it seemed) her girded vests
Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts.
“ Sure I have sinned!” said Christabel,
“ Now heaven be praised if all be well!”
And in low faltering tones, yet sweet,
Did she the lofty lady greet
With such perplexity of mind
As dreams too lively leave behind.
So quickly she rose, and quickly arrayed Her maiden limbs, and having prayed That He, who on the cross did groan, Might wash away her sins unknown,
She forthwith led fair Geraldine
To meet her sire, Sir Leoline.
The lovely maid and the lady tall
Are pacing both into the hall,
And pacing on through page and groom,
Enter the baron's presence room.
The baron rose, and while he prest
His gentle daughter to his breast,
With cheerful wonder in his eyes
The lady Geraldine espies,
And gave such welcome to the same,
As might beseem so bright a dame!
But when he heard the lady's tale,
And when she told her father's name,
Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale,
Murmuring o'er the name again,
Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine ?
Alas! they had been friends in youth ;
But whispering tongues can poison truth ;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain ;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it chanced, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir Leoline.
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart's best brother:
They parted—ne'er to meet again!
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining-
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between ;-
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.
Sir Leoline, a moment's space,
Stood gazing on the damsel's face:
And the youthful lord of Tryermaine
Came back upon his heart again.
O then the baron forgot his age,
His noble heart swelled high with rage ;
He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side,
He would proclaim it far and wide
With trump and solemn heraldry,
That they who thus had wronged the dame,
Were base as spotted infamy!
66 And if they dare deny the same,
My herald shall appoint a week,
And let the recreant traitors seek
My tourney-court—that there and then
I may dislodge their reptile souls
From the bodies and forms of men !"
He spake: his eye in lightning rolls !