Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

At length, by Peter's arm sustained,

With weary pace is drawing nighThe Woman rises from the ground

He sees the Ass — and nothing living "Oh, mercy, something must be done,

Had ever such a fit of joy “My little Rachael, you must run,

As hath this little orphan Boy, Some willing neighbour must be found.

For he has no misgiving! “Make haste — my little Rachael - do,

Towards the gentle Ass he springs, “ The first you meet with — bid him come, And up about his neck be climbs; “ Ask him to lend his horse to-night

In loving words he talks to him, " And this good Man, whom Heaven requite, He kisses, kisses face and limb, – “Will help to bring the body home.”

He kisses him a thousand times! Away goes Rachael weeping loud; –

This Peter sees, while in the shade An Infant waked by her distress,

He stood beside the cottage-door; Makes in the house a piteous cry;

And Peter Bell, the ruffian wild, And Peter hears the Mother sigh,

Sobs loud, he sobs even like a child, Seven are they, and all fatherless!"

“Oh! God, I can endure no more! And now is Peter taught to feel

- Here ends my Tale:— for in a trice That man's heart is a holy thing;

“History of the renowned Prince Arthur and his Knighu of the Round Table;" for the rest the Author is answerable: the goddess appearing to rise out of the full-blown flower, was suggested by the beautiful work of ancient art, once in

cluded among the Townley Marbles, and now in the British

Arrived a neighbour with his horse ; And Nature, through a world of death,

Peter went forth with him straightway; Breathes into him a second breath,

And, with due care, ere break of day, More searching than the breath of spring

Together they brought back the Corse. Upon a stone the Woman sits

And many years did this poor Ass, In agony of silent grief

Whom once it was my luck to see From his own thoughts did Peter start;

Cropping the shrubs of Leming-Lane, He longs to press her to his heart,

Help by his labour to maintain From love that cannot find relief.

The Widow and her family. But roused, as if through every limb

And Peter Bell, who, till that night, Had passed a sudden shock of dread,

Had been the wildest of his clan, The Mother o'er the threshold flies,

Forsook his crimes, renounced his folly, And up the cottage stairs she hies,

And, after ten months' melancholy,
And to the pillow gives her burning head.

Became a good and honest man.
And Pc:er turns his steps aside
Into a shade oi darksome trees,
Where he sits down, he knows not now.
With his hands pressed against his brow,

THE EGYPTIAN MAID;
His elbows on his tremulous knees.

THE ROMANCE OF THE WATER LILY. There, self-involved, does Peter sit Until no sign of life he makes, As if his mind were sinking deep Through years that have been long asleep!

(For the names and persons in the following poem, see the The trance is past away – he wakes, —

only it may be proper to add, that the Lotus, with the bus or He lifts his head - and sees the Ass Yet standing in the clear moonshine ; “When shall I be as good as thou ? “Oh! would, poor beast, that I had now

Museum.) "A heart but half as good as thine!"

WHILE Merlin paced the Cornish sands, But He who deviously hath sought

Forth-looking toward the Rocks of Scilly, His Father through the lonesome woods,

The pleased Enchanter was aware Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear

Of a bright Ship that seemed to hang in air, Of night his inward grief and fear

Yet was she work of mortal hands, lle comes escaped from fields and floods ; And took from

*°n her name — THE WATER LILY.

2

OR,

The Lily Boats no longer! - She hath perished.

T: Soft was the wind, that landward blew ;

Grieve for her, - She deserves no less; And, as the Moon, o'er some dark hill ascendant, So like, yet so unlike, a living Creature ! Grows from a little edge of light

No heart had she, no busy brain; To a full orb, this Pinnace bright

Though loved, she could not love again; Became, as nearer to the Coast she drew,

Though pitied, feel her own distress; More glorious, with spread sail and streaming pendant. Nor aught that troubles us, the fools of Nature.

l'pon this winged Shape so fair

Yet is there cause for gushing tears; Sage Merlin gazed with admiration :

So richly was this Galley laden; Her lineaments, thought he, surpass

A fairer than Herself she bore, Aught that was ever shown in magic glass ;

And, in her struggles, cast ashore; Was ever built with patient care;

A lovely One, who nothing hears 28 Or, at a touch, set forth with wondrous transformation. Of wind or wave - a meek and guileless Maiden.

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

But Ocean under magic heaves,
And cannot spare the Thing he cherished :
Ab! what avails that She was fair,
Luminous, blithe, and debonair ?
The storm has stripped her of her leaves;

“What boots,” continued she, “to mourn?
To expiate thy sin endeavour !
From the bleak isle where she is laid,
Fetched by our art, the Egyptian Maid
May yet to Arthur's court be borne
Cold as she is, ere life be fled for ever

"My pearly Boat, a shining Light,
That brought me down that sunless river,
Will bear me on from wave to wave,
And back with her to this sea-cave;

Then, Merlin! for a rapid flight
Through air to thee my charge will I deliver.

And Nina heard a sweeter voice
Than if the Goddess of the Flower had spoken
“Thou hast achieved, fair Dame! what none
Less pure in spirit could have done;

Go, in thy enterprise rejoice!
Air, earth, sea, sky, and heaven, success betoken."

“The very swiftest of thy Cars

So cheered she left that Island bleak, Must, when my part is done, be ready;

A bare rock of the Scilly cluster; Meanwhile, for further guidance, look

And, as they traversed the smooth brine, Into thy own prophetic book;

The self-illumined Brigantine And, if that fail, consult the Stars

Shed, on the Slumberer's cold wan cheek To learn thy course; farewell ! be prompt and steady.” And pallid brow, a melancholy lustre,

[blocks in formation]

No quest was hers of vague desire,

Once more did gentle Nina lift Of tortured hope and purpose shaken ;

The Princess, passive to all changes : Following the margin of a bay,

The Car received her; then up-went She spied the lonely Cast-away,

Into the ethereal element Unmarred, unstripped of her attire,

The Birds with progress smooth and swift But with closed eyes, — of breath and bloom forsaken. As thought, when through bright regions memory

ranges.

Then Nina, stooping down, embraced,
With tenderness and mild emotion,
The Damsel, in that trance embound;
And, while she raised her from the ground,

And in the pearly shallop placed,
Sleep fell upon the air, and stilled the ocean.

Sage Merlin, at the Slumberer's side,
Instructs the Swans their way to measure ;
And soon Caerleon's towers appeared,
And notes of minstrelsy were heard

From rich pavilions spreading wide,
For some high day of long-expected pleasure.

The turmoil hushed, celestial springs
Of music opened, and there came a blending
Of fragrance, underived from earth,
With gleams that owed not to the Sun their birth,

And that soft rustling of invisible wings
Which Angels make, on works of love descending.

Awe-stricken stood both Knights and Dames
Ere on firm ground the Car alighted;
Eftsoons astonishment was past,
For in that face they saw the last,

Last lingering look of clay, that tames
All pride, by

!1 liappiness is blighted.

[blocks in formation]

"Alas! and I have caused this woe;

Abashed, Sir Dinas turned away;
For, when my prowess from invading Neighbours Even for Sir Percival was no disclosure;
Had freed his Realm, he plighted word

Though he, devoutest of all Champions, ere
That he would turn to Christ our Lord, .

He reached that ebon car, the bier And his dear daughter on a Knight bestow

Whereon diffused like snow the Damsel lay, Whom I should choose for love and matchless labours. Full thrice had crossed himself in meek composure.

[ocr errors]

“Her birth was heathen, but a fence
Of holy angels round her hovered ;
A Lady added to my court
So fair, of such divine report

And worship, seemed a recompense
For fifty kingdoms by my sword recovered.

Imagine (but ye Saints! who can?)
How in still air the balance trembled ;
The wishes, peradventure the despites
That overcame some not ungenerous Knights ;

And all the thoughts that lengthened out a span
Of time to Lords and Ladies thus assembled.

“Ask not for whom, O) champions true !
She was reserved by me, her life's betrayer;
She who was meant to be a bride
Is now a corse ; then put aside
Vain thoughts, and speed ye, with observance due
Of Christian rites, in Christian ground to lay her.”

What patient confidence was here!
And there how many bosoms panted!
While drawing toward the Car Sir Gawaine, mailed,
For tournament, his Beaver vailed,

And softly touched; but, to his princely cheer
And high expectancy, no sign was granted.

" The tomb," said Merlin, "may not close Upon her yet, earth hide her beauty ; Not froward to thy sovereign will Esteem me, Liege! if I, whose skill Waited her hither, interpose l'o check this pious haste of erring duty.

2 B

Next, disencumbered of his harp,
Sir Tristram, dear to thousands as a brother,
Came to the proof, nor grieved that there ensued
No change, – the fair Izonda he had wooed

With love too true, a love with pangs too shard,
From hope too distant, not to dread another.

18 *

[ocr errors]

Not so Sir Launcelot; - from Heaven's grace In silence watched the gentle strife
A sign he craved, tired slave of vain contrition ;

Of Nature leading back to life;
The royal Guinever looked passing glad

Then eased his Soul at length by praise When his touch failed. — Next came Sir Galahad ; of God, and Heaven's pure Qeeen — the blissful Mary

He paused, and stood entranced by that still face Whose features he had seen in noontide vision.

Then said he, " Take her to thy heart,

Sir Galahad! a treasure that God giveth, For late, as near a murmuring stream

Bound by indissoluble ties to thee He rested ’mid an arbour green and shady

Through mortal change and immortality; Nina, the good Enchantress, shed,

Be happy and unenvied, thou who art A light around his mossy bed;

A goodly Knight that hath no Peer that liveth !" And, at her call, a waking dream

Not long the nuptials were delayed; Prefigured to his sense the Egyptian Lady.

And sage tradition still rehearses

The pomp, the glory of that hour
Now, while his bright-haired front he bowed, When toward the Altar from her bower
And stood, far-kenned by mantle furred with ermine, King Arthur led the Egyptian Maid,
As o'er the insensate Body hung

And Angels carolled these far-echoed verses -
The enrapt, the beautiful, the young,

Who shrinks not from alliance
Belief sank deep into the crowd
That he the solemn issue would determine.

Of evil with good Powers,
To God proclaims defiance,

And mocks whom he adores.
Nor deem it strange; the Youth had worn
That very mantle on a day of glory,

A Ship to Christ devoted
The day when he achieved that matchless feat,

From the Land of Nile did go; The marvel of the PERILOUS SEAT,

Alas! the bright Ship floated, Which whosoe'er approached of strength was shorn,

An Idol at her Prow. "Though King or Knight the most renowned in story.

By magic domination, He touched with hesitating hand,

The Heaven-permitted vent And lo! those Birds, far-famed through Love's

Of purblind mortal passion, dominions,

Was wrought her punishment. The Swans, in triumph, clap their wings;

The Flower, the Form within it, And their necks play, involved in rings,

What served they in her need? Like sinless snakes in Eden's happy land ;

Her port she could not win it, Mine is she," cried the Knight ; — again they clap

Nor from mishap be freed. ped their pinions.

The tempest overcame her, “Mine was she - mine she is, though dead,

And she was seen no more ; And to her name my soul shall cleave in sorrow ;"

But gently gently blame her, Whereat, a tender twilight streak

She cast a Pearl ashore. Of colour dawned upon the Damsel's cheek;

The Maid to Jesu hearkened, And her lips, quickening with uncertain red,

And kept to him her faith, Seemed from each other a faint warmth to borrow.

Till sense in death was darkened,

Or sleep akin to death.
Deep was the awe, the rapture high,
Of love emboldened, hope with dread entwining,

But Angels round her pillow
When, to the mouth, relenting Death

Kept watch, a viewless band; Allowed a soft and flower-like breath,

And, billow favouring billow, Precursor to a timid sigh,

She reached the destined strand: "To lifted eyelids, and a doubtful shining.

Blest Pair! whate'er befall you,

Your faith in Him approve In silence did King Arthur gaze

Who from frail earth can call yo Upon the signs that pass away or tarry ;

To bowers of endless love!

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »