ページの画像
PDF
ePub

But, lady, weave no wreath for

me, Or weave it of the cypress-tree!

In lively mood he spoke, to wile
From Wilfrid's woe-worn cheek a smile.

Let dimpled mirth his temples twine
With tendrils of the laughing vine;
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due;
The myrtle-bough bids lovers live,
But that Matilda will not give ;
Then, lady, iwine no wrcatlı for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!

XV..
« But,» said Matilda, « ere thy name,
Good Redmond, gain its destined fame,
Say, wilt thou kindly deign to call ..,
Thy brother minstrel to the ball?
Bid all the household, too, attend,
Each in his rauk a humble friend;.
I know their faithful hearts will grieve,
When their poor mistress takes her leave,
So let the loro and beaker tlow
To mitigate their parting woe.»-
The harper came:-in youth's first prime
Ilimself; in mode of olden time
His garb was fashion'd, to express
The ancient English minstrel's dress; (9)
A seemly gown of Kendal green,
With
gorget

closed of silver sheen;
His harp in silken scarf was slung,
And by luis side an anlace hung.
It seem'd some masquer's quaint array,
For revel or for holiday.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Yes! wine for me the cypress-bouglı;
But, O Matilda, twine not now!
Stay till a few brief months are past,
And I have look'd and loved my last!
When villagers my shroud, bestrew
With paosies, rosemary, and rue, -
Theo, lady, weave a wreath for me,
And weave it of the cypress-tree.

XIV.
O'Neale observed the starting tear,
And spoke with kind and blithesome cheer-
« No, noble Wilfrid! ere the day
When mourns the land thy silent tay,
Shall many a wreath be freely wove
By hand of friendship and of love.
I would not wish that rigid Fate
Had doomd thee to a captive's state,
Whose hands are bound by honour's law,
Who wears a sword he must pot draw;
But were it so, in minstrel pride
The land together would we ride,
On prancing steeds, like harpers old,
Bound for the halls of barous bold.
Each lover of the lyre we 'd seek,
From Michael's mount to Skiddaw's peak,
Survey wild Albyn's mountain strand,
And roam green Erin's lovely land,
While thou the gentler souls should move,
With lay of pity and of love,
And I, thy mate, in rougher strain,
Would sing of war and warriors slain.
Old England's bards were vanquish'd then,
And Scotlaud's vaunted Hawthornden, (2)
And, silenced on lernian shore,
M Curtin's harp (8) should charm no more !»–

XVI. He made obeisance, with a free Yet studied air of courtesy. Each look and accent, framed to please, Seem'd to affect a playful ease; His face was of that doubtful kind, That wins the eye but not the mind; Yet harsh it seem'd to deem amiss Of brow so young and smooth as this. His was the subtle look and sly, That, spying all, seems nought to spy; Round all the group his glances stole, Unmark'd themselves, to mark the whole, Yet sunk beneath Matilda's look, Nor could the eye of Redmond brook. To the suspicious, or the old, Subtle and dangerous and bold Had sccm'd ibis self-invited guest; But young our lovers,--and the rest, Wrapt in their sorrow and their fear At parting of their mistress dear, Tear-blinded to the castle-hall Came, as to bear her funeral pa)].

XVII. All that expression base was gone, When waked the guest his minstrel tone ; It fled at inspiration's call, As erst the demon fled from Saul. More noble glance he cast around, More free-drawu breath inspired the sound, Nis pulse beat holder and more high, In all the pride of minstrelsy! Alas! too soon that pride was o'er, Sunk with the lay that bade it soar! His soul resumed, with habit's chain, Its vices wild and follies vain, And gave the talent, with him born, To be a common curse and scoco. Such was the youth whom Rokeby's maid, With condescending kindness, pray'd

Here to renew the strain she loved, At distance heard and well approved.

Whose fate has been, through good and ill,
To love his royal master still,
And, with your honour'd leave, would faia
Rejoice you with a loyal strain.»
Then, as assured by sign and look,
The warlike tone again he took;
And Harpool stopp'd, and turn'd to hear
A dirty of the cavalier.

XX

SONG.THE CAVALIER. While the dawn on the mountain was misty and gray, My true-love has mounted his steed and away, Over hill, over valley, o'er dale and o'er,down; Heaven shield the brave gallant that fights for the

crown!

XVIII.

SONG.--THE HARP.
I was a wild and wayward boy,
My childhood scorn'd each childish toy;
Retired from all, reserved and coy,

To musing prone,
I woo'd my solitary joy,

My harp alone.
My youth, with bold ambition's mood,
Despised the humble stream and wood
Where my poor father's cottage stood,

To fame unknown ;-
What should my soaring views make good ?

My harp alone.
Love came wil all his frantic fire,
And wild romance of vain desire;
The baron's daughter heard my lyre,

And praised the tone;-
What could presumptuous hope inspire ?

My harp alone.
At manhood's touch the bubble burst,
And manhood's pride the vision curst,
And all that had my folly nursed

Love's sway to own;
Yet spared the spell that lulld me first,

My harp alone.

He has doffd the silk doublet the breast-plate to bear, He has placed the steel-cap o'er his long-flowing hair, From his belt to his stirrup his broadsword hangs

down. Heaven shield the brave gallant that fights for the

crown!

For the rights of fair England that broadsword he

draws, Her king is his leader, her church is his cause; . His watch-word is honour, his pay is renown,Gop strike with the gallant that strikes for the crown!

They may boast of their Fairfax, their Waller, and all
The roundheaded rebels of Westminster-hall;
But tell these bold traitors of London's proud town,
That the spears of the north have encircled the crown.

There 's Derby and Cavendish, dread of their foes ;
There's Erin's high Ormond, and Scotland's Montrose!
Would you match the base Skippon, and Massy, and

Brown,
With the barons of England that fight for the crown?

Woe came with war, and want with woe;
And it was mine to undergo
Each outrage of the rebel foe:-

Can aught atone
My fields made waste, my cot laid low?

My harp alone!
Ambition's dreams I've seen depart,
Have rued of penury the smart,
Have felt of love the venom'd dart

When hope was flown;
Yet rests one solace to my heart,

My harp alone!.
Then, over mountain, moor, and hill,
My faithful harp, I 'll bear thee-still;
And when this life of want and ill

Is well nigh gone,
Thy strings mine elegy shall thrill,

My harp alone!

Now joy to the crest of the brave cavalier!
Be his banner unconquer'd, resistless his spear,
Till in peace and in triumph his toits he

may drown, Jn a pledge to fair England, her church, and her

crown!

XIX. « A pleasing lay!» Matilda said, But Harpool shook his old gray head, And took his baton and his torch, To seek his guard-room in the porch. Edmund observed with sudden change, Among the strings his fingers range, Until they waked a bolder glee Of military melody ; Then paused amid the martial sound, And look'd with well-feign'd fear around ;« None to this noble house belong,» He said, « that would a miastrel wrong,

XXI. « Alas !» Matilda said, « that strain, Good harper, now is heard in vain! The time has been, at such a sound, When Rokeby's vassals gather'd round, An hundred manly hearts would bound; But now, the stirring verse we hear, Like trump in dying soldier's ear! Listless and sad the notes we own, The power to answer them is flown. Yet not without bis meet applause Be he that sings the rightful cause, Even when the crisis of its fate To human eye seems desperate. While Rokeby's heir such power retains, Let this slight guerdon pay thy paios :And lend thy harp; I fain would try, If my poor skill can ayght supply, .

Ere yet I leave my father's hall;
To mourn the cause in which we fall.»

XXIV.
Let our halls and towers decay,

Be our name and line forgot,
Lands and manors pass away,

We but share our monarch's lot. If no more our annals show

Battles won and banners taken, Still in death, defeat, and woe,

Ours be loyalty uns haken! .

XXI. The barper, with a downcast look, And trembling hand, her bounty took. As yet, the conscious pride of art Had steeld him in his treach'rous part; A powerful spring, of force unguessid, That hath each gender mood suppress d, And reigo'd in many a human breast, From his that plans the red campaign, To bis that wastes the woodland reign. The falling wing, the bloodshot eye, The sportsman marks with apathy, Each feeling of his victim's ill Drown'd in his own successful skill. The veteran, too, who now no more Aspires to head the battle's roar, Loves still the triumph of his art, And traces on the pencilld chart Some stern invader's destined way, Through blood and ruin, to his prey; Patriots to death, and towns to flame, He dooms, to raise anoiher's name, And shares the guilt, though not the fame. What pays him for his span of time Spent in premeditated crime? What against pity arms his heart?It is the conscious pride of art.

Constant still in danger's hour,

Princes ownd our father's aid; Lands and honours, wealth and power,

Well their loyalty repaid. Perish wealth, and power, and pride!

Mortal boons by mortals given; But let constancy abide :

Constancy's the gift of Heaven,

XSIN. But principles in Edmund's mind Were baseless, vaguc, and undefined. His soul, like bark with rudder lost, On passion's changeful tide was lost; Nor vice nor virtue had the power Beyond the impression of the hour; And 0! when passion rules, how rare The hours that fall to virtue's share! Yet now she roused her-for the pride, That lack of sterner guilt supplied, Could scarce support him when arose The lay that mourn'd Matilda's woes.

XXV. While thus Matilda's Jay was heard, A thousand thoughts in Edmund stirr'd. In peasant life he might have known As fair a face, as sweet a tone ; But village notes could ne'er supply That rich and varied melody, And ne'er in cottage maid was seen The easy dignity of mien, Claiming respect, yet waving state,. That marks the daughters of the great. Yet not, perchance, had these alone His scheme of purposed guilt o'erthrown; But while her energy of mind Superior rose to griefs combined, Lending its kindling to her eye, Giving her form new majesty,To Edmund's thought Matilda seemd The

very object he bad dream'd, When, long e'er guilt his soul had known, In Winston bowers he mused alone, Taxing his fancy to combine The face, the air, the voice divine, Of princess fair, by cruel fate Reft of her honours, power, and state, Till to her rightful realm restored By destined hero's conquering sword.

SONG.–TAE FAREWELL.
The sound of Rokeby's woods I hear,

They mingle with the song;
Dark Greta's voice is in mine ear,

I must not hear them long, From every loved and native haunt

The native heir must stray, And, like a ghost whom sun-beams daunt,

Must part before the day.

Soon from the halls my fathers rear'd,

Their scutchcons may descend, A line so long beloved and fear'd

May soon obscurely end. No longer bere Matilda's tone

Shall bid these echoes swell, Yet shall they hear her proudly own

The cause in which we fell.

XXVI. « Such was my vision !» Edmund thought; « And have I then the ruin wrought Of such a maid, that fancy ne'er In fairest vision form'd her peer ? Was it my hand, that could unclose The postern to her ruthless foes! Foes, lost to honour, law, and faith, Their kindest mercy sudden death! Have I done this? I, who have swore, That if the globe such angel bore, I would have traced its circle broad, To kiss the ground on which she trod! And now-0! would that earth would rive, And close upon me while alive! Is there no hope? is all then lost?Bertram 's already on his post !

The lady paused, and then again Resumed the lay in loftier strain.

E'en now, beside the hall's arch'd door,
I saw his shadow cross the floor!
He was to wait my signal strain-
A little respite thus we gain :
By what I heard the menials say,
Young Wycliffe's troop are on their way
Alarm precipitates the crime !
My harp must wear away the time.»—
And then, in accents faint and low,
He falter'd forth a tale of woe.

XXVII.

BALLAD. « And whither would you lead me then ?»

Quoth the friar of orders gray ;. And the ruffians twain replied again,

« By a dying woman to pray.»

« I see,» he said, « a lovely sight,

A sight bodes little harm, A lady as a lily bright,

With an infant on her arm.»« Then do thine office, friar gray,

And see thou shrive her free; Else shall the sprite, that parts to-night,

Fling all its guilt on thee.

The lamp's uncertain lustre gave
Their arms to gleam, their plumes to wave;
File after file in order pass,
Like forms on Banquo's mystic glass.
Then, halting at their leader's sign,
At once they form'd and curved their line,
Hemming within its crescent drear
Their victims, like a herd of deer.
Another sign, and to the aim
Levell’d at once their muskets came,
As waiting but their chieftain's word,
To make their fatal volley heard..

XXIX.
Back in a heap the menials drew,
Yet, even in mortal terror, true,
Their pale and startled group oppose
Between Matilda and the foes.
«Q haste thee, Wilfrid !» Redmond cried ;
« Undo that wicket by thy side!
Bear hence Matilda-gain the wood-
The pass may be awhile made good-
Thy band, ere this, must sure be nigh-
O speak nct-dally pot—but fly!»—
While yet the crowd their motions hide,
Through the low wicket door they glide,
Through vaulted passages they wind,
In Gothic intricacy twined;
'Wilfrid half led, and half he bore,
Matilda to the postern door,
And safe beneath the forest tree
The lady stands at liberty.
The moon-beams, the fresh gale's caress,
Renewd suspended consciousness: -
« Where's Redmond ?» eagerly she cries :
« Thou answer'st pot-he dies ! he dies!
And thou hast left him, all bereft
Of mortal aid-with murderers left!
I know it well—he would not yield
His sword to man-his doom is seala!
For my scorn'd life, which thou hast bought
Ac price of his, I thank thee not.»—

« Let mass be said, and trentals read,

When thou 'rt to convent gone, And bid the bell of St Benedict

Toll out its deepest tone.»

The shrift is done, the friar is gone,

Blindfolded as he came-
Next morning all in Littlecot-hall (10)

Were weeping for their dame.
Wild Darrell is an alter'd man,

The village crones can tell; He looks pale as clay, and strives to pray,

If he hears the convent bell.

4

If prince or peer cross Darrell's way,

He'll beard him his prideIf he meet a friar of orders gray, He droops and turns aside.

XXVIII. « Harper! inethinks thy magic lays,» Matilda said, “ can goblins raise ! Well nigh my fancy can discern, Near the dark porch, a visage stern ; E'en now, in yonder shadowy nook I see it!— Redmond, Wilfrid, look! A human form distinct and clearGod, for thy mercy !- It draws nearl»-She saw too true. Stride after stride, The centre of tbe chamber wide Fierce Bertram gaio'd; then made a stand, And, proudly waving with his hand, Thunder'd- « Be still, upon your lives! He bleeds who speaks, he dies who strives.»Behind their chief, the robber crew Forth from the darken'd portal drew, In silence-save that echo dread Return'd their heavy measured tread.

XXX.
The unjust reproach, the angry look,
The heart of Wilfrid could not brook.

Lady,» he said, « my band so near,
In safety thou mayst rest thee here.
For Redmond's death thou shalt not mourn,
If mine can buy his safe return.»—
He turn'd away-his heart throbb'd high,
The tèar was bursting from his eye.
The sense of her injustice pressid
Upon the maid's distracted breast, -
« Stay, Wilfrid, stay! all aid is vain !»--
He heard, but turu'd him not again ;
He reaches yow the postern door,
Now enters-and is seen no more.

XXXI. With all the agony that e'er Was gender'd 'twixt suspense and fear, She watch'd the line of windows tall Whose Gothic lattice lights the hall, Distinguish'd by the paly red The lamps in dim reflection shed,

Impetuous, active, fierce, and

young) Upon the advancing foes he sprung. Woe to the wretch at whom is bent His brandish'd falchion's sheer descent ! Backward they scatter'd as he came, Like wolves before the levin flame, When, 'mid their howling conclave driven, Hath glanced the thunderbolt of heaven. Bertram rush'd on—but Harpool clasp'd His knces, although in death be gasp'd, His falling corpse before him flung, And round the trammeld ruffian clung. Just then, the soldiers filld the dome, And, shouting, charged the felons home So fiercely; that, in panic dread, They broke, they yielded, fell, or fled. Bertram's stern voice they heed no more, Though heard above the battle's roar, While, trampling down the dying man, He strove, with vollied threat and ban, In scorn of odds, in fate's despite, To rally up the desperate fight.

While all beside in wan moon-light
Each grated casement glimmer'd white.
No sight of harm, no sound of ill,
It is a deep and midnight still.
Who look'd upon the scene had guess'd
All in the castle were at rest :
When sudden on the windows shone
A lightning flash, just seen and gone!
A shot is heard- Again the flame,
Flash'd thick and fast—a volley came!
Then echoed wildly, from within,
or shout and scream the mingled din,
And weapon clash, and maddening cry
Of those who kill, and those who die !
As fill'd the hall with sulphurous smoke,
More red, more dark, the death-flash broke,
And forms were on the lattice cast,
That struck, or struggled, as they past.

XXXII.
What sounds upon the midnight wind
Approach so rapidly behind ?
It is, it is, the tramp of steeds !
Matilda hears the sound, she speeds,
Seizes upon the leader's rein-
«O haste to aid, cre aid be vain!
Fly to the postern- gain the hall!»-
From saddle spring the troopers all; ,
Their gallant steeds, at liberty,
Run wild along the moon-light lea.
But ere they burst upon the scene,
Full stubborn had the conflict been.
When Bertram mark'd Matilda's Night,
It gave the signal for the fight;
And Rokeby's veterans, seam'd with scars
Of Scotland's and of Erin's wars,
Their momentary panic o'er,
Stood to the arms which then they bore
(For they were weapon'd, and prepared
Their mistress on her way to guard).
Then cheer'd them to the fight O'Neale,
Then peal'd the shot, and clash'd the steel;
The war-smoke soon with sable breath
Darken'd the scene of blood and death,
While on the few defenders close
The bandits with redoubled blows,
And, twice driven back, yet fierce and fell,
Renew the charge with frantic yell.

XXXI.
Wilfrid has fallin-bui o'er him stood
Young Redmond, soild with smoke and blood,
Cheering his mates, with leart and hand
Still to make good their desperate stand.

Up, comrades, up! in Rokeby halls
Nc'er be it said our courage falls.
What! faint ye for their savage cry,
Or do the smoke-wreaths daunt your eye?
These rafters have return'd a shout
As loud at Rokeby's wassail rout,
As thick a smoke these hearths have given
At Hallowtide or Christmas even. (1)
Stand to it yet! renew the fight,
For Rokeby's and Matilda's riglit!
These slaves! they dare not, hand to deand,
Bide buffet from a truc man's brand.»--

XXXIV. Soon murkier clouds the ball enfold, Than e'er from battle-thunders rolld; So dense, the combatants scarce know To aim or to avoid the blow. Smothering and blindfold grows the fightBut soon shall dawn a dismal light! 'Mid cries, and clashing arms, there came The hollow sound of rushing flame; New horrors on the tumult dire Arise--the castle is on fire! Doubtful if chance had cast the brand, Or frantic Bertram's desperate hand. Matilda saw—for frequent broké From the dim casements gusts of smoke. Yon tower, which late so clear defined, On the fair hemisphere reclined, That, pencill'd on its azure pure, The eye

could count cach embrazure, Now, swathed within the sweeping cloud, Seems giant-spectre in his shroud ; Till from each loop-hołe flashing light, A spout of fire shines ruddy bright, And, gathering to united glare, Streams high into the midnight air, A dismal beacon, far and wide That waken'd Greta's slumbering side. Soon all beneath, through gallery long, And pendent arch, the fire flash'd strong, Spatching whatever could maintain, Raise, or extend, its furious reign, Startling, with closer cause of dread, The females who the conflict fled, And now rush'd forth upon the plain, Filling the air with clamours vain.

.

[ocr errors]

XXXV.
· But ceased not yet, the hall within,

The shriek, the shout, the carnage-din,
Till bursting lattices give proof
The flames have caught the rafter'd roof.
What! wait they till its beams amain
Crash on the slayers and tbe slain ?

« 前へ次へ »