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But the dragon he shuddered, and turned his tail
About with a short uneasy motion.' Iron and steel, for an early meal,
He stomached with ease, or the Muse is a liar; But out of all question, he failed in digestion,
If ever he ventured to swallow a Friar !
Monstrous brute !-his dread renown
Made whispers and terrors in country and town;
Nothing was babbled by boor or knight,
But tales of his civic appetite.
At last, as after dinner he lay,
Hid from the heat of the solar ray,
By boughs that had woven an arbour shady,
He chanced to fall in with the Headless Lady.
Headless ! alas ! 't was a piteous gibe ;
I'll drink Aganippe, and then describe.
Her father had been a stout yeoman,
Fond of his jest and fond of his can,
But never over-wise ;
And once, when his cups had been many and deep,
He met with a dragon fast asleep,
'Twas a faery in disguise :
In a dragon's form she had ridden the storm,
The realm of the sky invading ;
Sir Grahame's ship was stout and fast,
But the faery came on the rushing blast,
And shivered the sails, and shivered the mast,
And down went the gallant ship at last,
With all the crew and lading.
And the fay laughed out, to see the rout,
As the last dim hope was fading;
And this she had done in a love of fun,
And a love of masquerading.
She lay that night in a sunny vale,
And the yeoman found her sleeping ;
Fiercely he smote her glittering tail,
But oh! his courage began to fail,
When the faery rose all weeping. “ Thou hast lopped,” she said, “ beshrew thine hand ! The fairest foot in faery land !
“ Thou hast an infant in thine home!
Never to her shall reason come,
For weeping or for wail,
Till she shall ride with a fearless face
On a living dragon's scale,
And fondly clasp to her heart's embrace
A living dragon's tail.”
The faery's form from his shuddering sight
Flowed away in a stream of light.
Disconsolate that youth departed,
Disconsolate and poor ;
And wended, chill and broken-hearted,
To his cottage on the moor ;
Sadly and silently he knelt
His lonely hearth beside ;
Alas! how desolate he felt
As he hid his face and cried.
The cradle where the babe was laid
Stood in its own dear nook,
But long-how long ! he knelt, and prayed,
And did not dare to look.
He looked at last ; his joy was there,
And slumbering with that placid air
Which only babes and angels wear.
Over the cradle he leaned his head :
The cheek was warm, and the lip was red ;
And he felt, he felt, as he saw her lie,
A hope—which was a mockery.
The babe unclosed her eye's pale lid :-
Why doth he start from the sight it hid ?
He hath seen in the dim and fitful ray,
That the light of the soul hath gone away!
Sigh nor prayer he uttered there,
In mute and motionless despair,
But he laid him down beside his child,
And Lillian saw him die—and smiled.
The mother! she had gone before ;
And in the cottage on the moor,
With none to watch her and caress,
No arm to clasp, no voice to bless,
The witless child grew up alone,
And made all Nature's book her own.
If, in the warm and passionate hour
When Reason sleeps in Fancy's bower,
If thou hast ever, ever felt
A dream of delicate beauty melt
Into the heart's recess,
Seen by the soul, and seen by the mind,
But indistinct its loveliness,
Adored, and not defined ;
A bright creation, a shadowy ray,
Fading and flitting in mist away,
Nothing to gaze on, and nothing to hear,
But something to cheat the eye and ear
With a fond conception and joy of both,
So that you might, that hour, be loth
To change for some one's sweetest kiss
The visions of unenduring bliss,
Or lose some one's sweetest tone,
The murmur thou drinkest all alone
If such a vision hath ever been thine,
Thou hast a heart that may look on mine!
For, oh! the light of my saddened theme
Was like to nought but a poet's dream,
Or the forms that come on the twilight's wing,
Shaped by the soul's imagining.
Beautiful shade, with her tranquil air,
And her thin white arm, and her flowing hair,
And the light of her eye so boldly obscure,
And the hue of her cheek so pale and pure !
Reason and thought she had never known,
Her heart was as cold as a heart of stone ;