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If thou canst tell it, in yon shed
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 -
"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;
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.
SONG. THE CYPRESS WREATH.
O lady, twine no wreath for me,
Let dimpled Mirth his temples twine
Let merry England proudly rear
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
Yes! twine for me the cypress-bough;
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,
"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