« 上一頁繼續 »
I overheard her as she spake
Sad words to that mute Animal,
The White Doe, in the hawthorn brake;
She steeped, but not for Jesu's sake,
This Cross in tears: by her, and One
Unworthier far we are undone
Her recreant Brother -he prevailed
Over that tender Spirit-assailed
Too oft alas! by her whose head
In the cold grave hath long been laid:
She first, in reason's dawn beguiled
Her docile, unsuspecting Child :
Far back-far back my mind must go
To reach the well-spring of this woe!
While thus he brooded, music sweet
Of border tunes was played to cheer
The footsteps of a quick retreat;
But Norton lingered in the rear,
Stung with sharp thoughts; and ere the last
From his distracted brain was cast,
Before his Father, Francis stood,
And spake in firm and earnest mood.
"Though here I bend a suppliant knee
In reverence, and unarmed, I bear
In your indignant thoughts my share;
Am grieved this backward march to see
So careless and disorderly.
I scorn your Chiefs-men who would lead,
And yet want courage at their need:
Then look at them with open eyes!
Deserve they further sacrifice?—
If when they shrink, nor dare oppose
In open field their gathering foes,
(And fast, from this decisive day,
Yon multitude must melt away;)
If now I ask a grace not claimed
While ground was left for hope; unblamed Be an endeavour that can do
No injury to them or you.
My Father! I would help to find
A place of shelter, till the rage
Of cruel men do like the wind
Exhaust itself and sink to rest;
Be Brother now to Brother joined !
Admit me in the equipage
Of your misfortunes, that at least,
Whatever fate remain behind,
I may bear witness in my breast
To your nobility of mind !"
"Thou Enemy, my bane and blight! Oh! bold to fight the Coward's fight
Against all good"—but why declare,
At length, the issue of a prayer
Which love had prompted, yielding scope
Too free to one bright moment's hope?
Suffice it that the Son, who strove
With fruitless effort to allay
That passion, prudently gave way;
Nor did he turn aside to prove
His Brothers' wisdom or their love-
But calmly from the spot withdrew;
His best endeavours to renew,
Should e'er a kindlier time ensue.
"Tis night in silence looking down,
The Moon, from cloudless ether, sees
A Camp, and a beleaguered Town,
And Castle like a stately crown
On the steep rocks of winding Tees ;-
And southward far, with moor between,
Hill-top, and flood, and forest green,
The bright Moon sees that valley small
Where Rylstone's old sequestered Hall
A venerable image yields
of quiet to the neighbouring fields;
While from one pillared chimney breathes
The smoke, and mounts in silver wreaths.
-The courts are hushed;-for timely sleep
The grey-hounds to their kennel creep;
The peacock in the broad ash tree
Aloft is roosted for the night,
He who in proud prosperity
Of colours manifold and bright
Walked round, affronting the daylight;
And higher still, above the bower
Where he is perched, from yon lone Tower
The hall-clock in the clear moonshine
With glittering finger points at nine.
Ah! who could think that sadness here
Hath any sway? or pain, or fear?
A soft and lulling sound is heard
Of streams inaudible by day;
The garden pool's dark surface, stirred
By the night insects in their play,
Breaks into dimples small and bright;
A thousand, thousand rings of light
That shape themselves and disappear
Almost as soon as seen :-and lo!
Not distant far, the milk-white Doe-
The same who quietly was feeding
On the green herb, and nothing heeding,
When Francis, uttering to the Maid
His last words in the yew-tree shade,
Involved whate'er by love was brought
Out of his heart, or crossed his thought,
Or chance presented to his eye,
In one sad sweep of destiny-
The same fair Creature, who hath found
Her way into forbidden ground;
Where now-within this spacious plot
For pleasure made, a goodly spot,
With lawns and beds of flowers, and shades
Of trellis-work in long arcades,
And cirque and crescent framed by wall
Of close-clipt foliage green and tall,
Converging walks, and fountains gay,
And terraces in trim array-
Beneath yon cypress spiring high,
With pine and cedar spreading wide
Their darksome boughs on either side,
In open moonlight doth she lie;
Happy as others of her kind,
That, far from human neighbourhood,
Range unrestricted as the wind,
Through park, or chase, or savage wood.
But see the consecrated Maid Emerging from a cedar shade To open moonshine, where the Doe Beneath the cypress-spire is laid; Like a patch of April snowUpon a bed of herbage green, Lingering in a woody glade Or behind a rocky screenLonely relic! which, if seen By the shepherd, is passed by With an inattentive eye. Nor more regard doth She bestow Upon the uncomplaining Doe Now couched at ease, though oft this day Not unperplexed nor free from pain, When she had tried, and tried in vain, Approaching in her gentle way, To win some look of love, or gain Encouragement to sport or play; Attempts which still the heart-sick Maid Rejected, or with slight repaid.
Yet Emily is soothed ;-the breeze Came fraught with kindly sympathies. As she approached yon rustic Shed Hung with late-flowering woodbine, spread Along the walls and overhead, The fragrance of the breathing flowers Revived a memory of those hours
When here, in this remote alcove,
(While from the pendent woodbine came
Like odours, sweet as if the same)
A fondly-anxious Mother strove
To teach her salutary fears
And mysteries above her years.
Yes, she is soothed: an Image faint,
And yet not faint a presence bright
Returns to her that blessèd Saint
Who with mild looks and language mild
Instructed here her darling Child,
While yet a prattler on the knee,
To worship in simplicity
The invisible God, and take for guide
The faith reformed and purified.
'Tis flown-the Vision, and the sense Of that beguiling influence; "But oh! thou Angel from above, Mute Spirit of maternal love,
That stood'st before my eyes, more clear
Than ghosts are fabled to appear
Sent upon embassies of fear;
As thou thy presence hast to me
Vouchsafed, in radiant ministry
Descend on Francis ; nor forbear
To greet him with a voice, and say ;-
"If hope be a rejected stay,
Do thou, my christian Son, beware
"Of that most lamentable snare,
The self-reliance of despair!" "
Then from within the embowered retreat Where she had found a grateful seat Perturbed she issues. She will go ! Herself will follow to the war,
And clasp her Father's knees;-ah, no!
She meets the insuperable bar,
The injunction by her Brother laid;
His parting charge-but ill obeyed-
That interdicted all debate,
All prayer for this cause or for that;
All efforts that would turn aside
The headstrong current of their fate:
Her duty is to stand and wait;
In resignation to abide
The shock, AND FINALLY SECURE
O'ER PAIN AND GRIEF A TRIUMPH PURE. -She feels it, and her pangs are checked. But now, as silently she paced
The turf, and thought by thought was chased,
Came One who, with sedate respect,
Approached, and, greeting her, thus spake;
"An old man's privilege I take :
Dark is the time--a woeful day!
Dear daughter of affliction, say
How can I serve you? point the way."
"Rights have you, and may well be bold: You with my Father have grown old In friendship strive—for his sake goTurn from us all the coming woe: This would I beg; but on my mind A passive stillness is enjoined. On you, if room for mortal aid
Be left, is no restriction laid;
You not forbidden to recline
With hope upon the Will divine."
"Hope," said the old Man, "must abide With all of us, whate'er betide. In Craven's Wilds is many a den, To shelter persecuted men: Far under ground is many a cave, Where they might lie as in the grave, Until this storm hath ceased to rave: Or let them cross the River Tweed, And be at once from peril freed!"
"Ah tempt me not!" she faintly sighed ; "I will not counsel nor exhort, With my condition satisfied; But you, at least, may make report Of what befals;-be this your taskThis may be done ;-'tis all I ask!”
She spake and from the Lady's sight
The Sire, unconscious of his age,
Departed promptly as a Page
Bound on some errand of delight.
-The noble Francis-wise as brave,
Thought he, may want not skill to save.
With hopes in tenderness concealed,
Unarmed he followed to the field;
Him will I seek: the insurgent Powers
Are now besieging Barnard's Towers,—
"Grant that the Moon which shines this night
May guide them in a prudent flight!"
But quick the turns of chance and change, And knowledge has a narrow range; Whence idle fears, and needless pain, And wishes blind, and efforts vain.— The Moon may shine, but cannot be Their guide in flight-already she Hath witnessed their captivity. She saw the desperate assault Upon that hostile castle made ;But dark and dismal is the vault
Where Norton and his sons are laid!
Disastrous issue !-he had said
"This night yon faithless Towers must yield,
Or we for ever quit the field.
-Neville is utterly dismayed,
For promise fails of Howard's aid;
And Dacre to our call replies
That he is unprepared to rise.
My heart is sick;—this weary pause
Must needs be fatal to our cause.
The breach is open-on the wall,
This night, the Banner shall be planted!"
-"Twas done: his Sons were with him--all;
They belt him round with hearts undaunted
And others follow ;-Sire and Son
Leap down into the court;-" "Tis won "-
They shout aloud-but Heaven decreed
That with their joyful shout should close
The triumph of a desperate deed
Which struck with terror friends and foes!
The friend shrinks back-the foe recoils
From Norton and his filial band;
But they, now caught within the toils,
Against a thousand cannot stand ;-
The foe from numbers courage drew,
And overpowered that gallant few.
"A rescue for the Standard!" cried
The Father from within the walls;
But, see, the sacred Standard falls!-
Confusion through the Camp spread wide:
Some fled; and some their fears detained:
But ere the Moon had sunk to rest
In her pale chambers of the west,
Of that rash levy nought remained.
HIGH on a point of rugged ground
Among the wastes of Rylstone Fell
Above the loftiest ridge or mound
Where foresters or shepherds dwell,
An edifice of warlike frame
Stands single-Norton Tower its name—
It fronts all quarters, and looks round
O'er path and road, and plain and dell,
Dark moor, and gleam of pool and stream
Upon a prospect without bound.
The summit of this bold ascentThough bleak and bare, and seldom free As Pendle-hill or Pennygent From wind, or frost, or vapours wetHad often heard the sound of glee
When there the youthful Nortons met,
To practise games and archery:
How proud and happy they! the crowd
Of Lookers-on how pleased and proud!
And from the scorching noon-tide sun,
From showers, or when the prize was won,
They to the Tower withdrew, and there
Would mirth run round, with generous fare;
And the stern old Lord of Rylstone-hall,
Was happiest, proudest, of them all!
But now, his Child, with anguish pale,
Upon the height walks to and fro;
"Tis well that she hath heard the tale,
Received the bitterness of woe :
For she had hoped, had hoped and feared,
Such rights did feeble nature claim;
And oft her steps had hither steered,
Though not unconscious of self-blame ;
For she her brother's charge revered,
His farewell words; and by the same,
Yea by her brother's very name,
Had, in her solitude, been cheered.
Beside the lonely watch-tower stood That grey-haired Man of gentle blood, Who with her Father had grown old In friendship; rival hunters they, And fellow warriors in their day; To Rylstone he the tidings brought ; Then on this height the Maid had sought, And, gently as he could, had told The end of that dire Tragedy, Which it had been his lot to see.
To him the Lady turned; "You said That Francis lives, he is not dead?"
"Your noble brother hath been spared; To take his life they have not dared; On him and on his high endeavour The light of praise shall shine for ever! Nor did he (such Heaven's will) in vain His solitary course maintain; Not vainly struggled in the might
Of duty, seeing with clear sight;
He was their comfort to the last, Their joy till every pang was past.
I witnessed when to York they cameWhat, Lady, if their feet were tied ; They might deserve a good Man's blame; But marks of infamy and shameThese were their triumph, these their pride;
Nor wanted 'mid the pressing crowd
Deep feeling, that found utterance loud,
'Lo, Francis comes,' there were who cried,
'A Prisoner once, but now set free!
'Tis well, for he the worst defied
Through force of natural piety;
He rose not in this quarrel, he,
For concord's sake and England's good,
Suit to his Brothers often made
With tears, and of his Father prayed—
And when he had in vain withstood
Their purpose-then did he divide,
He parted from them; but at their side
Now walks in unanimity.
Then peace to cruelty and scorn,
While to the prison they are borne,
Peace, peace to all indignity!'
And so in Prison were they laidOh hear me, hear me, gentle Maid, For I am come with power to bless, By scattering gleams, through your distress, Of a redeeming happiness. Me did a reverent pity move And privilege of ancient love; And, in your service, making bold, Entrance I gained to that strong-hold.
Your Father gave me cordial greeting; But to his purposes, that burned Within him, instantly returned: He was commanding and entreating, And said- We need not stop, my Son! Thoughts press, and time is hurrying on '— And so to Francis he renewed His words, more calmly thus pursued.
'Might this our enterprise have sped, Change wide and deep the Land had seen, A renovation from the dead,
A spring-tide of immortal green :
The darksome altars would have blazed
Like stars when clouds are rolled away;
Salvation to all eyes that gazed,
Once more the Rood had been upraised
To spread its arms, and stand for aye.
Then, then-had I survived to see
New life in Bolton Priory;
The voice restored, the eye of Truth
Re-opened that inspired my youth;
To see her in her pomp arrayed-
This Banner (for such vow I made)
Should on the consecrated breast
Of that same Temple have found rest:
I would myself have hung it high, Fit offering of glad victory!
A shadow of such thought remains To cheer this sad and pensive time; A solemn fancy yet sustains One feeble Being-bids me climb Even to the last-one effort more To attest my Faith, if not restore.
Hear then,' said he, while I impart,
My Son, the last wish of my heart.
The Banner strive thou to regain;
And, if the endeavour prove not vain,
Bear it-to whom if not to thee
Shall I this lonely thought consign?—
Bear it to Bolton Priory,
And lay it on Saint Mary's shrine;
To wither in the sun and breeze
'Mid those decaying sanctities.
There let at least the gift be laid,
The testimony there displayed;
Bold proof that with no selfish aim,
But for lost Faith and Christ's dear name,
I helmeted a brow though white,
And took a place in all men's sight;
Yea offered up this noble Brood,
This fair unrivalled Brotherhood,
And turned away from thee, my Son!
And left-but be the rest unsaid,
The name untouched, the tear unshed
My wish is known, and I have done :
Now promise, grant this one request,
This dying prayer, and be thou blest!'
Then Francis answered-Trust thy Son, For, with God's will, it shall be done!'—
The pledge obtained, the solemn word Thus scarcely given, a noise was heard, And Officers appeared in state To lead the prisoners to their fate. They rose, oh! wherefore should I fear To tell, or, Lady, you to hear? They rose embraces none were given-They stood like trees when earth and heaven Are calm; they knew each other's worth, And reverently the Band went forth. They met, when they had reached the door, One with profane and harsh intent Placed there that he might go before And, with that rueful Banner borne Aloft in sign of taunting scorn, Conduct them to their punishment:
So cruel Sussex, unrestrained
By human feeling, had ordained.
The unhappy Banner Francis saw,
And, with a look of calm command
Inspiring universal awe,
He took it from the soldier's hand;
And all the people that stood round
Confirmed the deed in peace profound.
-High transport did the Father shed
Upon his Son-and they were led,
Led on, and yielded up their breath;
Together died, a happy death!—
But Francis, soon as he had braved
That insult, and the Banner saved,
Athwart the unresisting tide
Of the spectators occupied
In admiration or dismay,
Bore instantly his Charge away."
These things, which thus had in the sight And hearing passed of Him who stood With Emily, on the Watch-tower height, In Rylstone's woeful neighbourhood, He told; and oftentimes with voice Of power to comfort or rejoice; For deepest sorrows that aspire, Go high, no transport ever higher. "Yes-God is rich in mercy," said The old Man to the silent Maid,
"Yet, Lady! shines, through this black night, One star of aspect heavenly bright;
Your Brother lives he lives-is come
Perhaps already to his home;
Then let us leave this dreary place."
She yielded, and with gentle pace,
Though without one uplifted look,
To Rylstone-hall her way she took.
WHY comes not Francis?-From the doleful City
He fled,—and, in his flight, could hear
The death-sounds of the Minster-bell:
That sullen stroke pronounced farewell
To Marmaduke, cut off from pity!
To Ambrose that! and then a knell
For him, the sweet half-opened Flower!
For all-all dying in one hour!
-Why comes not Francis? Thoughts of love
Should bear him to his Sister dear
With the fleet motion of a dove;
Yea, like a heavenly messenger
Of speediest wing, should he appear.