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SAMUEL TAYLOK COLERIDGE.
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.
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
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.
And once we crossed the shade of night.
Sounds as of a castle-bell.
Then Christabel stretched forth her
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!
"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,
And raised to heaven her eyes so blue;
Again the wild-flower wine she drank: Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright,
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
And from the floor whereon she sank
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!
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
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
Amid the jagged shadows
Of mossy leafless boughs,
To make her gentle vows;
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!
Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep, "Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel?
"EACH matin-bell," the Baron saith,
And hence the custom and law began,
Saith Bracy the bard, "So let it knell!
The air is still! through mist and cloud
And Christabel awoke and spied
Soquickly she rose, and quickly arrayed
The lovely maid and the lady tall
The Baron rose, and while he prest
But when he heard the lady's tale,
Alas! they had been friends in youth;
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining;-
And on her lips and o'er her eyes
But neither heat nor frost nor thunder
Sir Leoline a moment's space
O, then the Baron forgot his age,
And now the tears were on his face,
(Ah, woe is me! Was it for thee,
Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
Were base as spotted infamy!
I may dislodge their reptile souls
And clothe you both in solemn vest,
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,
Yet he who saw this Geraldine
Nay, by my soul!" said Leoline.
Go thou, with music sweet and loud,
"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!