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1 In rapid round the Baron bent;
He sighed a sigh, and prayed a prayer: The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair. Stout Deloraine nor sighed nor prayed, Nor saint, nor ladye, called to aid; But he stooped his head, and couched his spear, And spurred his steed to full career. The meeting of these champions proud Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.
Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately Baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse's tail,
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.
But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;
Through shield, and jack, and acton past,
But when he reined his courser round, And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay, He bade his Page to staunch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate: His noble mind was inly moved For the kinsman of the maid he loved.
"This shalt thou do without delay;
Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode;The Goblin-Page behind abode:His lord's command he ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took,
The Dwarf espied the Mighty Book!Much he marvelled, a knight of pride Like a book-bosomed priest should ride:He thought not to search or staunch the wound, Until the secret he had found.
The iron band, the iron clasp,
For when the first he had undone, It closed as he the next begun. Those iron clasps, that iron band, Would not yield to unchristened hand, Till he smeared the cover o'er With the Borderer's curdled gore; A moment then the volume spread, And one short spell therein he read. It had much of glamour * might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;The cobwebs on a dungeon wall Seem tapestry in lordly hall;A nut-shell seem a gilded barge, A sheeling + seem a palace large, And youth seem age, and age seem youth— All was delusion, nought was truth.
He had not read another spell,
* Magical delusion. f A shepherd's hut So fierce, it stretched him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismayed,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he muttered, and no more—
"Man of age, thou smitest sore \"—
No more the Elfin Page durst try
Into the wonderous Book to pry;
The clasps, though smeared with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak.—
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;
It was not given by man alive.
Unwillingly himself he addressed,