Page images
PDF
EPUB

tire poetry, if strictly confined to the great occur-treated, have still the interest and charm of novelrences of history, would be deprived of the indi-ty, and which thus prevents them from adding invidual interest which it is so well calculated to sipidity to their other more insuperable defecte. excite.

Modern poets may therefore be pardoned in THE BRIDAL OF TRIERMAIN. seeking simpler subjects of verse, more interesting in proportion to their simplicity. Two or three

INTRODUCTION.

I. figures, well grouped, suited the artist better than a crowd, for whatever purpose assembled. For COME, Lucy! while 'tis morning hour, the same reason a scene immediately presented to

The woodland brook we needs must pare; the imagiuation, and directly brought home to the So, ere the sun assume his power, feelings, though involving the fate but of one or two We shelter in our poplar bower, persons, is more favourable for poetry than the Where dew lies long upon the flower, political struggles and convulsions which influence Though vanished from the velvet grass. the fate of kingdoms. The former are within the Curbing the stream, this stony ridge reach and comprehension of all, and, if depicted May serve us for a sylvan bridge; with vigour, seldom fail to fix attention: the other, For here, compelled to disunite, if more sublime, are more vague and distant, less Round petty isles the runnels glide, capable of being distinctly understood, and infi And, chafing off their puny spite, nitely less capable of exciting those sentiments The shallow murmurs waste their might, which it is the very purpose of poetry to inspire.

Yielding to footsteps free and light To generalize is always to destroy effect. We A dry-shod pass from side to side. would, for example, be more interested in the fate

11. of an individual soldier in combat, thau in he

Nay, why this hesitating pause! grand event of a general action; with the happiness

And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws, of two lovers raised from misery and anxiety to Why sidelong eye the streanılet's brim! peace aod union, than with the successful exertions Titania's foot without a slip, of a whole nation. From what causes this may Like thine, though timid, light, and slim, originate, is a separate, and obviously an immate From stone to stone might safely trip, rial consideration. Before ascribing this peculia Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip rity to causes decidedly and odiously selfish, it is

That binds her slipper's silken rim. proper to recollect, that while men see only a li

Or trust thy lover's strength; nor fear mited space, and while their affections and con That this same stalwart arm of mine, duct are regulated, not by aspiring at an universal Which could yon oak's prone trunk upress, good, but by exerting their power of making them Shall sink beneath the burthen dear selves and others happy within the limited scale

Of form so slender, light, and fine.allotted to each individual, so long will individual

So,-now, the danger dared at last, history and individual virtue be the readier and Look back and smile at perils past! more accessible road to general interest and atten

III. tion; and perhaps we may add, that it is the more useful, as well as the more accessible, inasmuch

And now we reach the favourite glade, as it affords an example capable of being easily

Paled in by copse-wood, cliff, and stone, imitated.

Where never harsher sounds invade,

To break affection's whispering tone, According to the author's idea of Romantic Po

Than the deep breeze that waves the shade, etry, as distinguished from Epic, the former com

Than the small brooklet's feeble moan. prehends a fictitious narrative, framed and com

Come! rest thee on thy wonted seat; bined at the pleasure of the writer; beginning and

Moss'd is the stone, the turf is green, ending as he may judge best; which neither exacts por refuses the use of supernatural machinery;

A place where lovers best may meet,

Who would not that their love be seen. which is free from the technical rules of the Epée; and is subject only to those which good sense, good

The boughs, that dim the summer sky,

Shall bid, us from each lurking spy, taste, and good morals apply to every species of poetry without exception. The date may be in a

That fain would spread the invidious tale,

How Lucy of the lofty eye, remote age, or in the present; the story may deail the adventures of a prince or of a peasant. In

Noble in birth, in fortunes high, a word, the author is absolute master of his country

She for whom lords and barons sigh, and its inhabitants, and every thing is permitted

Meets her poor Arthur in the dale. to him, excepting to be heavy or prosaic, for which,

IV. free and unembarrassed as he is, he has no man How deep that blush!-how deep that sigh! ner of apology: Those, it is probable, will be found And why does Lucy shun mine eye? the peculiarities of this species of composition: Is it because that crimson draws and, before joining the outcry against the vitiated Its colour from some secret cause, taste that fosters and encourages it, the justice and Some hidden movement of the breast, grounds of it ought to be made perfectly apparent. She would not that her Arthur guess'd! If the want of sieges and battles and great military 0! quicker far is lovers'ken evolutions in our poetry is complained of, let us Than the dull glance of common men, reflect, that the campaigns and heroes of our day And by strange sympathy, can spell are perpetuated in a record that neither requires The thoughts the loved one will not tell! nor admits of the aid of fiction; and if the complaint And mine, in Lucy's blush, saw met refers to the inferiority of our bards, let us pay a The hue of pleasure and regret; just tribute to their modesty, limiting them, as it Pride mingled in the sigh her voice, does, to subjects, which, however indifferently And shared with Love the crimson glows

Well pleased that thou art Arthur's choice, For Lucy loves, --like Collins, ill-starr'd name!

Yet shamed thine own is placed so low. Whose lay's requital was, that tardy fame, Thou turn'st thy self-confessing cheek,

Who bound no laurel round his living head, As if to meet the breeze's cooling;

Should hang it o'er his monument when dead, Then, Lucy, hear thy tutor speak,

For Lucy loves to tread enchanted strand, For Love, too, has his hours of schooling. And thread, like him, the maze of fairy-land; V.

Of golden battlements to view the gleam, Too oft my anxious eye has spied

And slumber soft by some Elysian stream: That secret grief thou fain would'st hide, Such lays she loves, -and, such my Lucy's choice, The passing pang of humbled pride:

What other song can claiin ber poet's voice! Too oft, when through the splendid hall, The load-star of each heart and eye,

CANTO I.
My fair one leads the glittering ball,

I.
Will her stolen glance on Arthur fall, WHERE is the maiden of mortal strain,
With such a blush and such a sigh!

That may watch with the baron of Triermain! Thou would'st not yield, for wealth or rank, She must be lovely and constant and kind,

The heart thy worth and beauty won, Holy and pure and humble of mind, Nor leave me on this mossy bank,

Blith of cheer and gentle of mood, To meet a rival on a throne:

Courteous and generous and noble of bloodWhy, then, should vain repinings rise, Lovely as the sun's first ray, That to thy lover fate denies

When it breaks the clouds of an April day; A pobler name, a wide domain,

Constant and true as the widow'd dove, A baron's birth, a menial train,

Kind as a minstrel that sings of love;
Since heaven assign'd him, for his part, Pure as the fountain in rocky cave,
A lyre, a falchion, and a heart?

Where never sun-beam kissed the wave:
VI.

Humble as maiden that loves in vain,
My sword- its master must be dumbs Holy as hermit's vesper strain;

But, when a soldier names my name, Gentle as breeze that but whispers and dies, Approach, my Lucy! fearless come,

Yet blith as the light leaves that dance in its sighs; Nor dread to hear of Arthur's shame. Courteous as monarch the morn he is crown'd, My heart-imid all yon courtly crew,

Gen'rous as spring-dews that bless the glad ground, Of lordly rank and lofty line,

Noble her blood as the currents that met Is there to love and honour true,

In the veins of the noblest PlatagenetThat boasts a pulse so warm as mine? Such must her form be, her mood, and her strair I hey praised thy diamond's lustre rare-- That shall match with sir Roland of Triermain. Matched with thine eyes, I thought it faded;

II. They praised the pearls that bound thy hair- Sir Roland de Vaux he hath laid him to sleep, I only saw the locks they braided;

His blood it was fevered, his breathing was deep. They talked of wealthy dower and land,

He had been pricking against the Scot, And titles of high birth the token

The foray was long and the skirmish hot; I thought of Lucy's heart and hand,

His dinted helm and his buckler's plight Nor knew the sense of what was spoken.

Bore token of a stubborn fight. And yet, if ranked in fortune's roll,

All in the castle must hold them still, I might have learn'd their choice unwise,

Harpers must lull him to his rest, Who rate the dower above the soul,

With the slow soft tunes he loves the best, And Lucy's diamonds o'er her eyes.

Till sleep sink down upon his breast,
VII.

Like the dew on a summer hill.
My lyre-it is an idle toy,
That borrows accents not its own,

NII.
Like warbler of Columbian sky.

It was the dawn of an autumn day; That sings but in a mimic tone.

The sun was struggling with frost fog gray, Ne'er did it sound o’er sainted well,

That like a silvery crape was spread Nor boasts it aught of border spell;

Round Skiddaw's dim and distant head, Its strings no feudal slogan pour,

And faintly gleam'd each painted pane Its heroes draw no broad claymore;

Of the lordly halls of Triermain, No shouting clans applauses raise,

When that baron bold awoke. Because it sung their father's praise;

Starting he woke, and loudly did call, On Scottish moor, or English down,

Rousing his menials in bower and hall, It ne'er was graced with fair renown,

While hastily he spoke.
Nor won,-best meed to minstrel true,--

IV.
One favouring smile from fair BUCCLEUCH!
By one poor streamlet sounds its tone,

“ Hearken, my minstrels! Which of ye all And heard by one dear maid alone,

Touch'd his harp with that dying fall,
VIII.

So sweet, so soft, so faint,
But, if thou bid'st, these tones shall tell

It seem'd an angel's whisper'd call

To an expiring saint?
Of errant knight and damozelle;
Of the dread knot a wizard tied,

And hearken, my merrymen! what time or where In punishment of maiden's pride,

Did she pass, that maid with her heav'nly brow.

With her look 80 sweet and her eyes so fair, In notes of marvel and of fear, That best may charm romantic ear.

And her graceful step and her angel air,

And the eagle plume in her dark brown hair, • The Moeking bird.

That pass'd from my bower e'en now?”.

[graphic]

V.

Till on the fragment of a rock, Answer'd him Richard de Brettville; he Struck from its base by lightning shock, Was chief of the baron's minstrelsy,

He saw the hoary sage: “Silent, noble chieftain, we

The silver moss and lichen twined, Have sate since midnight close,

With fern and deer-hair check'd and lined, When such lulling sounds as the brooklet sings, A cushion fit for age; Murmur'd from our melting strings,

And o'er him shook the aspen tree, And hush'd you to repose.

A restless rustling canopy. Had a harp-note sounded here,

Then sprung young Henry from his selle, It had caught my watchful ear,

And greeted Lyulph grave, Although it fell as faint and shy

And then his master's tale did tell, As bashful maiden's half-form’d sigh,

And then for counsel crave. When she thinks her lover near.”

The man of years mused long and deep, Answer'd Philip of Fasth waite tall,

Of time's lost treasures taking keep, He kept guard in the outer hall,

And then, as rousing from a sleep, “Since at eve our watch took post,

His solemn answer gave.
Not a foot has thy portal crossd;
Else had I heard the steps, though low

IX.
And light they fell as when earth receives,

“ That maid is born of middle carth, in morn of frost, the withered leaves,

And may of man be won, That drop when no winds blow.”

Though there have glided since her birth, VI.

Five hundred years and one. « Then come thou hither, Henry, my page,

But where's the knight in all the north, Whom I saved from sack of Hermitage,

That dare the adventure follow forth, When that dark castle, tower, and spire,

So perilous to knightly worth, Rose to the skies a pile of fire,

In the valley of saint John
And redden'd all the Nine-stane hill,

Listen, youth, to what I tell,
And the shrieks of death, that wildly broke And bind it on thy memory well:
Thro' devouring flame and smothering smoke,

Nor muse that I commence the rhyme
Made the warrior's heart-blood chill!

Far distant 'mid the wrecks of time. The trustiest thou of all my train,

The mystic tale, by bard and sage,
My fleetest courser thou must rein,

Is handed down from Merlin's age.”
And ride to Lyulph's tower,
And from the baron of Triermain
Greet well that sage of power.

LYULPH'S TALE.

KING ARTHUR has ridden from merry Carlisle, He is sprung from druid sires, And British bards that tuned their lyres

When pentecost was o'er; To Arthur's and Pendragon's praise,

He journeyed like errant knight the while And his who sleeps at Dunmailraise. 3

And sweetly the summer sun did smile Gifted like his gifted race,

On mountain, moss, and moor. He the characters can trace,

Above his solitary track Graven deep in elder time

Rose Glaramara's ridgy back, Upon Helvellyn's cliffs sublime;

Amid whose yawning gulfs the sun Sign and sigii well doth he know,

Cast umbered radiance red and dun, And can bode of weal and wo,

Though never sun-beam could discern Of kingdoms' fall, and fate of wars,

The surface of that sable tarn,6 From mystic dreams and course of stars.

In whose black mirror you may spy He shall tell if middle earth

The stars, while noontide lights the sky. To that enchanting shape gave birth,

The gallant king, he skirted still Or if 'twas but an airy thing,

The margin of that mighty hill; Such as fantastic slumbers bring,

Rocks upon rocks incumbent hung, Framed from the rainbow's varying dyes,

And torrents, down the gullies fi Or fading tints of western skies.

Join'd the rude river that brawl'd un, For, by the blessed rood I swear,

Recoiling now from crag and stone, If that fair form breathe vital air,

Now diving deep from human ken, No other maiden by my side

And raving down its darksome glen. Shall ever rest De Vaux's bride!”

The monarch judged this desert wild,

With such romantic ruin piled,
VII.

Was theatre by Nature's hand
The faithful page he mounts his steed,
And soon he cross'd green Irthing's mead,

For feat of high achievement plann'd.
Dash'd o'er Kirkoswald's verdant plain,

XI. And Eden barr'd his course in vain.

O rather he chose, that monarch bold, He pass'd red Penrith's Table Round, 4

On vent'rous quest to ride, For feats of chivalry renown'd,

In plate and mail, by wood and wold, Left Myburgh's mound and stones of pow'r,5 Than, with ermine trapp'd and cloth of gold, By druids raised in magic hour,

In princely bower to bide; And traced the Eamont's winding way,

The bursting crash of a foeman's spear,
Till Ulfo's lake beneath him lay.

As it shiver'd against his mail,
VIII.

Was merrier music to his ear
Onward he rode, the path-way still

Than courtier's whisper'd tale: Winding betwixt the lake and hill;

And the clash of Caliburn more dear,

When on the hostile casque it rung,

And he stood the outward arch below,
Than all the lays

And his bugle horn prepar'd to blow,
To their monarch's praise

In summons blith and bold,
That the harpers of Reged sung.

Deeming to rouse from iron sleep
He loved better to rest by wood or river, The guardian of this dismal keep,
Than in bower of his bride, dame Guenever; Which well he guess'd the hold
For he left that lady so lovely of cheer,

Of wizard stern, or goblin grim,
To follow adventures of danger and fear; Or pagan of gigantic limb,
And the frank hearted monarch full little did wot, The tyrant of the wold.
That she smiled, in his absence, on brave Lancelot.

XV.
XII.

The ivory bugle's golden tip
He rode, till over down and dell

Twice touched the monarch's manly lip, The shade more broad and deeper fell;.

And twice his hand withdrew, And though around the mountain's head

Think not but Arthur's heart was good! Flow'd streams of purple, and gold, and red, His shield was cross'd by the blessed rood, Dark at the base, unblest by beam,

Had a pagan host before him stood, Frown'd the black rocks, and roar'd the stream. He had charged them through and through; With toil the king his way pursued

Yet the silence of that ancient place By lonely Threlkeld's waste and wood,

Sunk on his heart, and he paused a space Till on his course obliquely shone

Ere yet his horn he blew. The narrow valley of SAINT John,

But, instant as its larum rung, Down sloping to the western sky,

The castle-gale was open fung, Where lingering sun-beams love to lie.

Portcullis rose with crashing groan, Right glad to feel those beams again,

Full harshly up its groove of stone; The king drew up his charger's rein;

'The balance beams obeyed the blast, With gauntlet raised he skreen'd his sight, And down the trembling draw-bridge cast; As dazzled with the level light,

The vaulted arch before him lay, And, from beneath his glove of mail,

With nought to bar the gloomy way, Scann'd at his ease the lovely vale,

And onward Arthur paced, with hand While 'gainst the sun his armour bright

On Caliburn's resistless brand. Gleam'd ruddy like the beacon's light.

XVI.

A hundred torches, flashing bright,
XIII.
Paled in by many a lofty hill,

Dispelled at once the gloomy night

That loured along the walls, The narrow dale lay smooth and still,

And showed the king's astonished sight And, down its verdant bosom led,

The inmates of the halls. A winding brooklet found its bed.

Nor wizard stern, nor goblin grim, But, midmost of the vale, a mound

Nor giant huge of form and limb, Arose, with airy turrets crown'd,

Nor heathen knight was there; Buttress and rampire's circling bound,

But the cressets, which odours Aung aloft, And mighty keep and tower;

Showed, by their yellow light and soft, Seem'd some primeval giant's hand

A band of damsels fair. The castle's massive walls had plann'd,

Onward they came, like summer ware
A ponderous bulwark, to withstand

That dances to the shore;
Ambitious Nimrod's power.
Above the moated entrance slung,

An hundred voices welcome gave,
The balanced draw-bridge trembling hang,

And welcome o'er and o'er!

An hunılred lovely hands assail As jealous of a foe;

The bucklers of the monarch's mail, Wicket of oak, as iron hard,

And busy laboured to unbasp With iron studded, clenched, and barr'd,

Rivet of steel and iron clasp. And prong'd portcullis, joined to guard

One wrapp'd him in a mantle fair, The gloomy pass below.

And one Hung odours on his hair; But the gray walls no banners crown'd,

His short curled ringlets one smooth'd down, Upon the watch tower's airy round

One wreathed them with a myrtle crowo. No warder stood his horn to sound,

A bride, upon her wedding day,
No guard beside the bridge was found,
And, where the Gothic gateway frown'd,

Was tended ne'er by troop so gay.
Glanced neither bill nor bow.

XVII.

Loud laughed they all,--the king, in vain, XIV.

With questions tasked the giddy traia; Beneath the castle's gloomy pride,

Let him entreat, or crave, or call, In ample round did Arthur ride

'Twas one reply,-- loud laughed they all. Three times; nor living thing,he spied,

Then o'er him mimic chains they fing, Nor heard a living sound,

Framed of the fairest flowers of spring. Save that, awakening from her dream,

While some their gentle force unite, The owlet now began to scream,

Onward to drag the wondering knight, In concert with the rushing stream,

Some, bolder, urge his pace with blows, That washed the battled mound.

Dealt with the lily or the ruse. He lighted from his goodly steed,

Behind him were in triumph borne And he left him to graze ón bank and mead; The warlike arms he late had worn, And slowly he climbed the narrow way,

Four of the train combined to rear That reached the entrance grim and gray, The terrors of Tintagel's spear;?

Two, taughing at their lack of strength, The banquet rose at her behest;
Dragg'd Caliburn in cumbrous length;8

With lay and tale, and laugh and jest,
One, while she aped a martial stride,

Apace the evening flew. Placed on her brows the helmet's pride,

XXI. Taen scream'd, 'twixt laughter and surprise,

The lady sate the monarch by, To feel its depth o'erwhelm her eyes.

Now in her turn abashed and shy, With revel-shout and triumph-song,

And with indifference seemed to hear
Thus gayly marched the giddy throng.

The toys he whispered in her ear.
XVIII.

Her bearing modest was and fair,
Through many a gallery and hall

Yet shadows of constraiut were there, They led, I weeu, their royal thrall;

That show'd an over-cautious care At length, beueath a fair arcade

Some inward thought to hide; Their march and song at once they staid.

Oft did she pause iu full reply, The eldest maiden of the band,

And oft cast down her large dark eye, (The lovely maid was scarce eighteen,

Oft check'd the soft voluptuous sigh, Raised, with imposing air, her hand,

That heav'd her bosom's pride. And reverend silence did command,

Slight symptoms these; but shepherds know On entrance of their queen;

How hot the mid-day sun shall glow, And they were mute.—But as a glance

From the mist of morning sky; They steal on Arthur's countenance,

And so the wily monarch guess'd, Bewildered with surprise,

That this assumed restraint express'd Their smothered mirth again 'gan speak,

More ardent passions in the breast, In archly dimpled chin and cheek,

Than ventured to the eye. And laughter-lighted eyes.

Closer he press'd, while beakers rang,

While maidens laughed and minstrels sang, XIX.

Still closer to her earThe attributes of those high days

But why pursue the common tale? Now only live in minstrel lays,

Or wherefore show how knights prevail For nature, now exhausted, still

When ladies dare to hear Was theo profuse of good and ill.

Or wherefore trace, from what slight cause Strength was gigantic, valour high,

Its source one tyrant passion draws, And wisdom soar'd beyond the sky,

Till, mastering all within, And beauty had such matchless beam,

Where lives the man that has not tried, As lights not now a lover's dream.

How mirth can into folly glide,
Yet, e'en in that romantic age,

And folly into sin!
Ne'er were such charms by mortal seon
As Arthur's dazzled eyes engage,

CANTO II.
When forth on that enchanted stage,

LIULPL'S TALE, CONTINUED. With glittering train of maid and page,

1. Advanced the castle's queen!

Another day, another day,
While up the hall she slowly passed,
Her dark eye on the king she cast,

And yet another, glides away!
That flash'd expression strong;

The Saxon stern, the pagan Dane,

Maraud on Britain's shores again.
The longer dwelt that lingering look,
Her cheek the livelier colour took,

Arthur, of Christendom the flower,

Lies loitering in a lady's bower; And scarce the shame-faced king could brook

The horn, that foemen wont to fear, The gaze that lasted long.

Sounds but to wake the Cumbrian deer, A sage, who had that look espied,

And Caliburn, the British pride, Where kindling passion strove with pride,

Hangs useless by a lorer's side.
Had whisper'd, “ Prince, beware!

II.
From the chafed tyger rend the prey,
Rush on the lion when at bay,

Another day, another day,
Bar the fell dragon's blighted way,

And yet another, glides away! But shun that lovely snare!"

Heroic plans in pleasure drown'd,

He thinks not of the Table Round;
XX.

In lawless love dissolved his life,
At once, that inward strife suppressid,

He thinks not of his beauteous wife; The dame approached her warlike guest. Better he loves to snatch a flower With greeting in that fair degree,

From bosom of his paramour, Where female pride and courtesy

Than from a Saxon knight to wrest Are blended with such passing art

The honours of his heathen crest; As awes at once and charms the beart.

Better to wreath, 'mid tresses brown, A courtly welcome first she gave,

The heron's plume her hawk struck down, Then of his goodness 'gan to crave

Than o'er the altar give to flow Construction fair and true

The banners of a Paynim foe. Of her light maidens' idle mirth,

Thus, week by week, and day by day, Who drew from lonely glens their birth,

His life inglorious glides away; Nor knew to pay to stranger worth

But she, that sooths his dream, with fear And dignity their due;

Beholds his hour of waking near. And then she pray'd that he would rest

III. That night her castle's honoured guest.

Much force have mortal charms to stay The monarch meetly thanks express'd;

Our peace in Virtue's toilsome way;

« PreviousContinue »