If thou canst tell it, in yon shed
Thou 'st won thy supper and thy bed."


Matilda smiled: "Cold hope," said she,

"From Harpool's love of minstrelsy!

But, for this harper, may we dare,

Redmond, to mend his couch and fare ?"—

"O, ask not me!—At minstrel-string

My heart, from infancy, would spring;

Nor can I hear its simplest strain,

But it brings Erin's dream again;

When, placed by Owen Lysagh's knee,

(The Filea of O'Neale was he,

A blind and bearded man, whose eld

Was sacred as a prophet's held,)

I 've seen a ring of rugged kerne,

With aspect shaggy, wild, and stern,

Enchanted by the master's lay,

Linger around the livelong day,

Shift from wild rage to wilder glee,

To love, to grief, to ecstasy,

And feel each varied change of soul

Obedient to the bard's control.—

Ah, Clandeboy! thy friendly floor

Slieve-Donard's oak shall light no more;

Nor Owen's harp, beside the blaze,

Tell maiden's love, or hero's praise!

The mantling brambles hide thy hearth,

Centre of hospitable mirth;

All undistinguish'd in the glade,

My sires' glad home is prostrate laid,

Their vassals wander wide and far,

Serve foreign lords in distant war,

And now the stranger's sons enjoy

The lovely woods of Clandeboy!"

He spoke, and proudly turn'd aside,

The starting tear to dry and hide.


Matilda's dark and soften'd eye -
Was glistening ere O'Neale's was dry.
Her hand upon his arm she laid,—
"It is the will of Heaven," she said.

"And think'st thou, Redmond, I can part

From this loved home with lightsome heart,

Leaving to wild neglect whate'er,

Even from my infancy, was dear?

For in this calm domestic hound

Were all Matilda's pleasures found.

That hearth, my sire was wont to grace,

Full soon may be a stranger's place;

This hall, in which a child I play'd,

Like thine, dear Redmond, lowly laid,

The bramble and the thorn may braid;

Or, pass'd for aye from me and mine,

It ne'er may shelter Rokeby's line.

Yet is this consolation given,

My Redmond,—'t is the will of Heaven."

Her word, her action, and her phrase

Were kindly as in early days;

For cold reserve had lost its power

In sorrow's sympathetic hour.

Young Redmond dared not trust his voice;

But rather had it been his choice

To share that melancholy hour,

Than, arm'd with all a chieftain's power,

In full possession to enjoy

Slieve-Donard wide, and Clandeboy.


The blood left Wilfrid's ashen cheek;
Matilda sees, and hastes to speak:—
"Happy in friendship's ready aid,
Let all my murmurs here be stay'd!
And Rokeby's maiden will not part
From Rokeby's hall with moody heart.
This night at least, for Rokeby's fame,
The hospitable hearth shall flame,
And, ere its native heir retire,
Find for the wanderer rest and fire,
While this poor harper, by the blaze,
Recounts the tale of other days.
Bid Harpool ope the door with speed,
Admit him, and relieve each need.
Meantime, kind Wilfrid, wilt thou try
Thy minstrel skill ?—Nay, no reply—

And look not sad! I guess thy thought,—

Thy verse with laurels would be bought:

And poor Matilda, landless now.

Has not a garland for thy brow.

True I must leave sweet Rokeby's glades,

Nor wander more in Greta shades;

But sure, no rigid jailer, thou

Wilt a short prison-walk allow,

Where summer flowers grow wild at will,

On Marwood-chase and Toller-hill;

Then holly green and lily gay

Shall twine in guerdon of thy lay."

The mournful youth, a space aside,

To tune Matilda's harp applied;

And then a low sad descant rung,

As prelude to the lay he sung.



O lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!
Too lively grow the lilies light,
The varnish'd holly's all too bright.
The May-flower and the eglantine
May shade a brow less sad than mine;
But, lady, weave no wreath for me,
Or weave it of the cypress-tree!

Let dimpled Mirth his temples twine
With tendrils of the laughing vine;
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due;
The myrtle-bough bids lovers live,
But that Matilda will not give;
Then, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!

Let merry England proudly rear
Her blended roses, bought so dear;
Let Albin bind her bonnet blue
With heath and harebell dipp'd in dew;
On favour'd Erin's crest be seen
The flower she loves of emerald green;
But, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!

Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair;
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves
With bloody hand the victor weaves,
Let the loud trump his triumph tell;
But when you hear the passing bell,
Then, lady, twine a wreath for me,
And twine it of the cypress-tree.

Yes! twine for me the cypress-bough;
But, O Matilda, twine not now!
Stay till a few brief months are past,
And I have look'd and loved my last!
When villagers my shroud bestrew
With pansies, rosemary, and rue,—
Then, lady, weave a wreath for me,
And weave it of the cypress-tree.


O'Neale observed the starting tear,

And spoke with kind and blithesome cheer—

"No, noble Wilfrid! ere the day

When mourns the land thy silent lay,

Shall many a wreath be freely wove

By hand of friendship and of love.

I would not wish that rigid Fate

Had doom'd thee to a captive's state,

Whose hands are bound by honour's law,

Who wears a sword he must not draw;

But were it so, in minstrel pride

The land together would we ride,

On prancing steeds, like harpers old,

Bound for the halls of barons bold.

Each lover of the lyre we 'd seek,

From Michael's Mount to Skiddaw's Peak,

Survey wild Albin's mountain strand,

And roam green Erin's lovely land,

While thou the gentler souls should move,

With lay of pity and of love,

And I, thy mate in rougher strain,

Would sing of war and warriors slain.

Old England's bards were vanquish'd then,

And Scotland's vaunted Hawthornden,

And, silenced on Iernian shore,
M'Curtin's harp should charm no more!"
In lively mood he spoke, to wile
From Wilfrid's woe-worn cheek a smile.


"But," said Matilda, " ere thy name,

Good Redmond, gain its destined fame,

Say, wilt thou kindly deign to call

Thy brother minstrel to the hall?

Bid all the household, too, attend,

Each in his rank a humble friend.

I know their faithful hearts will grieve,

When their poor mistress takes her leave:

So let the horn and beaker flow

To mitigate their parting woe."

The harper came;—in youth's first prime

Himself; in mode of olden time

His garb was fashion'd, to express

The ancient English minstrel's dress,

A seemly gown of Kendal green,

With gorget closed of silver sheen;

His harp in silken scarf was slung,

And by his side an unlace hung.

It seem'd some masquer's quaint array,

For revel or for holiday.


He made obeisance with a free
Yet studied air of courtesy.
Each look and accent, framed to please,
Seem'd to affect a playful ease;
His face was of that doubtful kind,
That wins the eye, but not the mind;
Yet harsh it seem'd to deem amiss
Of brow so young and smooth as this.
His was the subtle look and sly,
That, spying all, seems nought to spy;
Round all the group his glances stole,
Unmark'd themselves, to mark the whole;
Yet sunk beneath Matilda's look,
Nor could the eye of Redmond brook.
To the suspicious, or the old,
Subtle and dangerous and bold

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