ページの画像
PDF
ePub

SAMUEL TAYLOK COLERIDGE.

111

And she in the midnight wood will pray | And the lady, whose voice was faint and For the weal of her lover that's far away.

sweet,

Did thus pursue her answer meet :

She stole along, she nothing spoke, The sighs she heaved were soft and low, And naught was green upon the oak, But moss and rarest mistletoe: She kneels beneath the huge oak-tree, And in silence prayeth she.

The lady sprang up suddenly, The lovely lady, Christabel! It moaned as near as near can be, But what it is she cannot tell. On the other side it seems to be Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak-tree.

The night is chill; the forest bare; Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? There is not wind enough in the air To move away the ringlet curl From the lovely lady's cheek, There is not wind enough to twirl The one red leaf, the last of its clan, That dances as often as dance it can, Hanging so light, and hanging so high, On the topmost twig that looks up at the

sky.

Hush, beating heart of Christabel ! Jesu Maria, shield her well! She folded her arms beneath her cloak, And stole to the other side of the oak. What sees she there?

There she sees a damsel bright, Drest in a silken robe of white, That shadowy in the moonlight shone. The neck that made that white robe wan, Her stately neck, and arms were bare; Her blue-veined feet unsandalled were, And wildly glittered here and there The gems entangled in her hair. I guess, 't was frightful there to see A lady so richly clad as she, Beautiful exceedingly!

"Mary mother, save me now!" Said Christabel; "and who art thou?"

The lady strange made answer meet, And her voice was faint and sweet: "Have pity on my sore distress, I scarce can speak for weariness." "Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!" Said Christabel; "how camest thou here!"

"My sire is of a noble line, And my name is Geraldine: Five warriors seized me yestermorn, Me, even me, a maid forlorn;

They choked my cries with force and fright,

And tied me on a palfrey white.
The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
And they rode furiously behind.
They spurred amain, their steeds were
white,

And once we crossed the shade of night.
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
I have no thought what men they be;
Nor do I know how long it is
(For I have lain entranced, I wis)
Since one, the tallest of the five,
Took me from the palfrey's back,
A weary woman, scarce alive.
Some muttered words his comrades spoke:
He placed me underneath this oak;
He swore they would return with haste;
Whither they went I cannot tell-
I thought I heard, some minutes past,

Sounds as of a castle-bell.
Stretch forth thy hand" (thus ended she),
"And help a wretched maid to flee."

Then Christabel stretched forth her

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

As still as death with stifled breath! And now have reached her chamber door; And now doth Geraldine press down The rushes of the chamber floor.

The moon shines dim in the open air, And not a moonbeam enters here. But they without its light can see The chamber carved so curiously, Carved with figures strange and sweet, All made out of the carver's brain, For a lady's chamber meet: The lamp with twofold silver chain Is fastened to an angel's feet. The silver lamp burns dead and dim; But Christabel the lamp will trim. She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright, And left it swinging to and fro, While Geraldine, in wretched plight, | Sank down upon the floor below.

"O weary lady, Geraldine,

I pray you, drink this cordial wine!
It is a wine of virtuous powers;
My mother made it of wild flowers."

"And will your mother pity me, Who am a maiden most forlorn?" Christabel answered: "Woe is me! She died the hour that I was born. I have heard the gray-haired friar tell, How on her death-bed she did say, That she should hear the castle-bell Strike twelve upon my wedding-day. O mother dear! that thou wert here!" "I would," said Geraldine, "she were!' But soon with altered voice, said she: "Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine! I have power to bid thee flee." Alas! what ails poor Geraldine? Why stares she with unsettled eye? Can she the bodiless dead espy? And why with hollow voice cries she: "Off, woman, off! this hour is mine, Though thou her guardian spirit be, Off, woman, off! 'T is given to me."

Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side,

66

And raised to heaven her eyes so blue;
'Alas!" said she, "this ghastly ride,
Dear lady! it hath wildered you!"
The lady wiped her moist cold brow,
And faintly said, "T is over now!"

Again the wild-flower wine she drank: Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright,

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

And from the floor whereon she sank
The lofty lady stood upright;
She was most beautiful to see,
Like a lady of a far countrée.

And thus the lofty lady spake : "All they who live in the upper sky Do love you, holy Christabel! And you love them, and for their sake And for the good which me befell, Even I in my degree will try, Fair maiden, to requite you well. But now unrobe yourself; for I Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie."

Quoth Christabel, "So let it be!" And as the lady bade, did she. Her gentle limbs did she undress, And lay down in her loveliness.

But through her brain, of weal and woe So many thoughts moved to and fro, That vain it were her lids to close; So half-way from the bed she rose, And on her elbow did recline To look at the Lady Geraldine.

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed, And slowly rolled her eyes around; Then drawing in her breath aloud, Like one that shuddered, she unbound The cincture from beneath her breast: Her silken robe and inner vest Dropt to her feet, and full in view, Behold! her bosom and half her side, A sight to dream of, not to tell! O, shield her! shield sweet Christabel!

[blocks in formation]

But vainly thou warrest, For this is alone in Thy power to declare; That in the dim forest Thou heard'st a low moaning, And found'st a bright lady, surpassingly

fair:

113

And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity,

To shield her and shelter her from the damp air."

THE CONCLUSION TO PART I.

It was a lovely sight to see
The Lady Christabel, when she
Was praying at the old oak-tree.

Amid the jagged shadows

Of mossy leafless boughs,
Kneeling in the moonlight,

To make her gentle vows;
Her slender palms together prest,
Heaving sometimes on her breast;
Her face resigned to bliss or bale,
Her face, O, call it fair, not pale!
And both blue eyes more bright than clear,
Each about to have a tear.

With open eyes (ah, woe is me!) Asleep, and dreaming fearfully, Fearfully dreaming, yet, I wis, Dreaming that alone which is — O sorrow and shame! Can this be she, The lady, who knelt at the old oak-tree? And lo! the worker of these harms, That holds the maiden in her arms, Seems to slumber still and mild, As a mother with her child.

A star hath set, a star hath risen, O Geraldine! since arms of thine Have been the lovely lady's prison. O Geraldine! one hour was thine, Thou 'st had thy will! By tarn and rill, The night-birds all that hour were still. But now they are jubilant anew, From cliff and tower, tu-whoo! tu-whoo! Tu-whoo! tu-whoo! from wood and fell! 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!

[ocr errors]

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep, "Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel?
Like a youthful hermitess,
I trust that you have rested well."
Beauteous in a wilderness,
Who, praying always, prays in sleep.
And, if she move unquietly,
Perchance, 't is but the blood so free,
Comes back and tingles in her feet.
No doubt she hath a vision sweet.
What if her guardian spirit 't were?
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!

PART II

"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 the 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.

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 look, 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.

Soquickly she rose, and quickly arrayed
Her maiden limbs, and having prayed
That He who on the cross did groan
She forthwith led fair Geraldine
Might wash away her sins unknown,
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!

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

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 ;

And on her lips and o'er her eyes
Spread smiles like light!
With new surprise,
"What ails then my beloved child?"
The Baron said. His daughter mild
Made answer, "All will yet be well!"
I ween, she had no power to tell

But neither heat nor frost nor thunder
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been. Aught else; so mighty was the spell.

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
daine

And now the tears were on his face,
And fondly in his arms he took
Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
Prolonging it with joyous look.
Which when she viewed, a vision fell
Upon the soul of Christabel,
The vision of fear, the touch and pain!
She shrunk and shuddered, and saw
again-

(Ah, woe is me! Was it for thee,
Thou gentle maid! such sights to see?)
Again she saw that bosom old,
Again she felt that bosom cold,
And drew in her breath with a hissing
sound:

115

Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
And nothing saw but his own sweet maid,
With eyes upraised, as one that prayed.

Were base as spotted infamy!
"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 To bear thy harp, and learn thy song,

I may dislodge their reptile souls
From the bodies and forms of men!"
He spake his eye in lightning rolls!
For the lady was ruthlessly seized; and
he kenned

And clothe you both in solemn vest,
And over the mountains haste along,
Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,
Detain you on the valley road.
And when he has crossed the Irthing flood,
My merry bard he hastes, he hastes
Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth
Wood,

In the beautiful lady the child of his friend!

And reaches soon that castle good Which stands and threatens Scotland's wastes.

The touch, the sight, had passed away,
And in its stead that vision blest,
Which comforted her after-rest
While in the lady's arms she lay,
Had put a rapture in her breast,

Yet he who saw this Geraldine
Had deemed her sure a thing divine.
Such sorrow with such grace she blended,
As if she feared she had offended
Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid!
And with such lowly tones she prayed,
She might be sent without delay
Home to her father's mansion.

“Nay!

Nay, by my soul!" said Leoline.
"Ho! Bracy, the bard, the charge be
thine!

Go thou, with music sweet and loud,
And take two steeds with trappings proud,
And take the youth whom thou lov'st
best

"Bard Bracy! Bard Bracy! your horses are fleet,

Ye must ride up the hall, your music so sweet,

More loud than your horses' echoing feet!
And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,
Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall!
Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free,
Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me.
He bids thee come without delay
With all thy numerous array,
And take thy lovely daughter home;
And he will meet thee on the way
With all his numerous array
White with their panting palfreys' foam:
And by mine honor! I will say,
That I repent me of the day
When I spake words of fierce disdain
To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine!—

« 前へ次へ »