ページの画像
PDF
ePub

XXIII.

Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek, Well might her paleness terror speak! For there were seen, in that dark wall, Two niches, narrow, deep, and tall. Who enters at such griesly door, Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more. In each a slender meal was laid, Of roots, of water, and of bread: By each, in Benedictine dress, Two haggard monks stood motionless ; Who, holding high a blazing torch, Shewed the grim entrance of the porch : Reflecting back the smoky beam, The dark-red walls and arches gleam. Hewn stones and cement were displayed, And building tools in order laid.

XXIV.
These executioners were chose,
As men who were with mankind foes,

And, with despite and envy fired,
Into the cloister had retired;

Or who, in desperate doubt of grace,
Strove, by deep penance, to efface

Of some foul crime the stain ;
For, as the vassals of her will,
Such men the church selected still,
As either joyed in doing ill,

. Or thought more grace to gain, If, in her cause, they wrestled down Feelings their nature strove to own. By strange device were they brought there, They knew not how, and knew not where.

XXV.
And now that blind old Abbot rose,

To speak the Chapter's doom,
On those the wall was to inclose,

Alive, within the tomb;

But stopped, because that woeful maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essayed.
Twice she essayed, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain ;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip:
'Twixt each attempt all was so still,
You seemed to hear a distant rill-

'Twas ocean's swells and falls ;
For though this vault of sin and fear
Was to the sounding surge so near,
A tempest there you scarce could hear,

So massive were the walls.

XXVI.

At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled to her heart,

And light came to her eye,
And colour dawned upon her cheek,
A hectic and a fluttered streak,

Like that left on the Cheviot peak,

By Autumn's stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke, she gathered strength,

And arm'd herself to bear.
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,

In form so soft and fair.

XXVII.

," I speak not to implore your grace;
Well know I, for one minute's space

Successless might I sue:
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain;
For if a death of lingering pain,
To cleanse my sins, be penance vain,

Vain are your masses too.
I listened to a traitor's tale,
I left the convent and the veil,

For three long years I bowed my pride,
A horse-boy in his train to ride;
And well my folly's meed he gave,
Who forfeited, to be his slave,
All here, and all beyond the grave.---
He saw young Clara's face more fair,
He knew her of broad lands the heir,
Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
And Constance was beloved no more.-
'Tis an old tale, and often told;

But, did my fate and wish agree,
Ne’er had been read, in story old;
Of maiden true betrayed for gold,

That loved, or was avenged, like me!

XXVIII.

« The king approved his favourite's aim ; In vain a rival barred his claim,

Whose faith with Clare's was plight,

« 前へ次へ »