« 前へ次へ »
Matil la, still and motionless,
With terror heard the dread address,
Pale as the sheeted maid who dies
To hopeless love a sacrifice ;
Then wrung her hands in agony,
And round her cast bewildered eye,
Now on the scaffold glanced, and now
On Wycliffe's unrelenting brow.
She veiled her face, and, with a voice
Scarce audible, --”I make my choice!
Spare but their lives !—for aught beside,
Let Wilfrid's cloom my fate decide.
He once was generous !” — As she spoke,
Dark Wycliffe's joy in triumph broke:-
“Wilfrid, where loitered ye so late?
Why upon Basil rest thy weight?
Art spell-bound by enchanter's wand?-
Kneel, kneel, and take her yielded hand;
Thank her with raptures, simple boy!
Should tears and trembling speak thy joy?"-
“O hush my sire! to prayer and tear
Of mine thou hast refused thine ear;
But now the awful hour draws on,
When truth must speak in loftier tone."30. He took Matilda's hand :-“Dear maid,
Couldst thou so injure me,” he said,
“Of thy poor friend so basely deem,
As blend him with this barbarous scheme?
Alas! my efforts, made in vain,
Might well have saved this added pain.
But now, bear witness earth and heaven,
That ne'er was hope to mortal given,
So twisted with the strings of life,
As this—to call Matilda wife!
I bid it now for ever part,
And with the effort bursts my heart."-
His feeble frame was worn so low,
With wounds, with watching, and with woe,
That nature could no more sustain
The agony of mental pain.
He kneeled-his lip her hand had pressed, -'
Just then he felt the stern arrest;
Lower and lower sunk his head,-
They raised him, but the life was fled !
Then first alarmed, his sire and train
Tried every aid, but tried in vain.
The soul, too sost its ills to bear,
Had left our mortal hemisphere,
Had sought in better world the meed
To blameless life by Heaven decreed. 31. The wretched sire beheld, aghast,
With Wilfrid all his projects passed ;
All turned and centred on his son,
On Wilfrid all—and he was gone.
“And am I childless now," he said,
“Childless, through that relentless maid !
A lifetime's arts, in vain essayed,
Are bursting on their artist's head !-
Here lies my Wilfrid dead and there
Comes hated Mortham for his heir,
Eager to knit in happy band
With Rokeby's heiress Redmond's hand.
And shall their triumph soar o'er all
The schemes deep-laid to work their fall ?
No!-deeds, which prudence might not dare,
Appal not vengeance and despair.
The murderess weeps upon his bier-
I'll change to real that feigned tear!
They all shall share destruction's shock;-
Ho! lead the captives to the block !”—-
But ill his provost could divine
His feelings, and forbore the sign.
“ Slave! to the block !---or I, or they,
Shall face the judgment-seat this day!”—
The outmost crowd have heard a sound,
Like horse's hoof on hardened ground;
Nearer it came, and yet more near,
The very deaths-men paused to hear.
'Tis in the churchyard now—the tread
Hath waked the dwelling of the dead !
Fresh sod, and old sepulchral stone,
Return the tramp in varied tone.
All eyes upon the gateway hung,
When through the Gothic arch there sprung
A Horseman armed, at headlong speed, -
Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed.
Fire from the finty foor was spurned,
The vaults unwonted clang returned !-
One instant's glance around he threw,
From saddle-bow his pistol drew.
Grimly determined was his look!
His charger with the spurs he strook -
All scattered backward as he came,
For all knew Bertram Risingham !
Three bounds that noble courser gave;
The first has reached the central nave,
The second cleared the chancel wide,
The third, he was at Wycliffe's side.
Full levelled at the Baron's head,
Rung the report—the bullet sped
And to his long account, and last,
Without a groan dark Oswald passed I
All was so quick, that it might seem
A flash of lightning, or a dream.
33. While yet the smoke the deed conceals,
Bertram his ready charger wheels;
But floundered on the pavement floor
The steed, and down the rider bore,
And, bursting in the headlong sway,
The faithless saddle-girths gave way.
'Twas while he toiled him to be freed,
And with the rein to raise the steed,
That from amazement's iron trance
All Wycliffe's soldiers waked at once.
Sword, halbert, musket-butt, their blours
Hailed upon Bertram as he rose;
A score of pikes, with each a wound,
Bore down and pinned him to the ground;
But still his struggling force he rears,
'Gainst hacking brands and stabbing spears;
Thrice from assailants shook him free,
Once gained his feet, and twice his knee.
By tenfold odds oppressed at length,
Despite his struggles and his strength,
He took a hundred mortal wounds,
As mute as fox ’mongst mangling hounds;
And when he died, his parting groan
Had more of laughter than of moan!
-They gazed, as when a lion dies,
And hunters scarcely trust their eyes,
But bend their weapons on the slain,
Lest the grim king should rouse again!
Then blow and insult some renewed,
And from the trunk the head had hewed,
But Basil's voice the deed forbade;
A mantle o'er the corse he laid :-
"Fell as he was in act and mind,
He left no bolder heart behind :
Then give him, for a soldier meet,
A soldier's cloak for winding-sheet."34. No more of death and dying pang,
No more of trump and bugle-clang,
Though through the sounding woods there come
Banner and bugle, trump and drum.
Armed with such powers as well had free
Young Redmond at his utmost need,
And backed with such a band of horse,
As might less ample powers enforce;
Possessed of every proof and sign
That gave an heir to Mortham's line,
And yielded to a father's arms
An image of his Edith's charms, -
Mortham is come, to hear and see
Of this strange morn the history.
What saw he ?—not the church's floor,
Cumbered with dead and stained with gore;
What heard he?-not the clamorous crowd,
That shout their gratulations loud;
Redmond he saw and heard alone,
Clasped him, and sobbed, “My son, my son!”— 35. This chanced upon a summer morn,
When yellow waved the heavy corn;
But when brown August o'er the land
Called for the reapers' busy band,
A gladsome sight the sylvan road
From Eglistone to Mortham showed.
A while the hardy rustic leaves
The task to bind and pile the sheaves,
And maids their sickles fling aside,
To gaze on bridegroom and on bride,
And Childhood's wondering group draws near,
And from the gleaner's hand the ear
Drops, while she folds them for a prayer
And blessing on the lovely pair.
'Twas then the Maid of Rokeby gave
Her plighted troth to Redmond brave;
And Teesdale can remember yet
How Fate to Virtue paid her debt,
And, for their troubles, bade them prove
A lengthened life of peace and love.
Time and Tide had thus their sway,
Yielding, like an April day,
Smiling noon for sullen morrow,
Years of joy for hours of sorrow!
THE VALE OF ST. JOHN.
A LOVER'S TALE.-IN THREE CANTOS.
An elf-quene wol I love I wis,
For in this world no woman is
Worthy to be my make in toun:
All other women I forsake,
And to an elf-quene I me take
By dale and eke by doun.
RIME OF SIR THOPAS.
First published anonymously at Edinburgh in 1813.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION. In the Edinburgh Annual Register for the year 1809, three Fragmenti were inserted, written in imitation of Living Poets. It must have been apparent, that by these prolusions, nothing burlesque or disrespectful to the authors was intended, but that they were offered to the public as serious, though certainly very imperfect, imitations of that style of composition by which each of the writers is supposed to be distinguished. As these exercises attracted a greater degree of attention than the author anticipated, he been induced to complete one of them, and present it as a separate publication.
It is not in this place that an examination of the works of the master whom he has here adopted as his model, can, with propriety, be introduced : sinca his general acquiescence in the favourable suffrage of the public must necessarily be inferred from the attempt he has now made. He is induced, by the nature of his subject, to offer a few remarks on what has been called ROMANTIC POETRY ;-the popularity of which has been revived in the present day, under the auspices, and by the unparalleled success, of one individual.
The original purpose of poetry is either religious or historical, or, as inust frequently happen,' a mixture of both. To modern readers, the poems of Ilomer have many of the features of pure romance; but, in the estimation of his contemporaries, they probably derived their chief value from their sup. posed historical authenticity. The same may be generally said of the poetry of all early ages. The marvels and miracles which the poet blends with his song do not exceed in number or extravagance the figments of the historians of the same period of society; and, indeed, the difference betwixt poetry and prose, as the vehicles of historical truth, is always of late introduction. Poets, under various dencminations of Bards, Scalds, Chroniclers, and so forth, are