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They had less of mastery to shake her now,
Than the quivering, erewhile, of an aspen bough.
She search'd into many an unclosed eye,
That look'd, without soul, to the starry sky;
She bow'd down o'er many a shatter'd breast,
She lifted up helmet and cloven crest –
Not there, not there he lay! “ Lead where the most hath been dared and done, Where the heart of the battle hath bled, — lead on!”
And the vassal took the way.
He turn'd to a dark and lonely tree
That waved o’er a fountain red;
Oh! swiftest there had the currents free,
From noble veins been shed.
Thickest there the spear-heads gleam'd,
And the scatter'd plumage stream'd,
And the broken shields were tossid,
And the shiver'd lances cross'd,
And the mail-clad sleepers round
Made the harvest of that ground.
He was there! the leader amidst his band,
Where the faithful had made their last vain stand ;
He was there! but affection's glance alone
The darkly-changed in that hour had known;
With the falchion yet in his cold hand grasp'd,
And a banner of France to his bosom clasp'd,
And the form that of conflict bore fearful trace,
And the face-oh! speak not of that dead face!
As it lay to answer love's look no more,
Yet never so proudly loved before!
She quell'd in her soul the deep floods of woe,
The time was not yet for their waves to flow;
She felt the full presence, the might of death,
Yet there came no sob with her struggling breath,
And a proud smile shone o'er her pale despair,
As she turn'd to his followers — “Your Lord is there!
Look on him! know him by scarf and crest ! -
Bear him away with his sires to rest !”
Another day-another night
And the sailor on the deep
Hears the low chant of a funeral rite
From the lordly chapel sweep:
It comes with a broken and muffled tone,
As if that rite were in terror done;
Yet the song 'midst the seas hath a thrilling power,
And he knows 'tis a chieftain's burial hour.
Hurriedly, in fear and woe,
Through the aisle the mourners go;
With a hush'd and stealthy tread,
Bearing on the noble dead,
Sheathed in armour of the field-
Only his wan face reveal'd,
Whence the still and solemn gleam
Doth a strange sad contrast seem
To the anxious eyes of that pale band,
With torches wavering in every hand,
For they dread each moment the shout of war,
And the burst of the Moslem scimitar.
There is no plumed head o'er the bier to bend,
No brother of battle, no princely friend;
No sound comes back like the sounds of yore,
Unto sweeping swords from the marble floor;
By the red fountain the valiant lie,
The flower of Provençal chivalry,
But one free step, and one lofty heart,
Bear through that scene, to the last, their part.
She hath led the death-train of the brave
To the verge of his own ancestral grave;
She hath held o'er her spirit long rigid sway,
But the struggling passion must now have way.
In the cheek, half seen through her mourning veil,
By turns does the swift blood flush and fail ;
The pride on the lip is lingering still,
But it shakes as a flame to the blast might thrill ;
Anguish and Triumph are met at strife,
Rending the chords of her frail young life;
And she sinks at last her warrior's bier,
Lifting her voice, as if Death might hear.-
“I have won thy fame from the breath of
My soul hath risen for thy glory strong!
Now call me hence, by thy side to be,
The world thou leavest has no place for me.
The light goes with thee, the joy, the worth
Faithful and tender! Oh! call me forth!
Give me my home on thy noble heart,
Well have we loved, let us both depart!”
And pale on the breast of the dead she lay,
The living cheek to the cheek of clay;
CORONATION OF INEZ DE CASTRO.
The living cheek !-Oh! it was not vain,
That strife of the spirit to rend its chain;
She is there at rest in her place of pride,
In death how queen-like-a glorious bride!
Joy for the freed One!-she might not stay
When the crown had fallen from her life away;
She might not linger-a weary thing,
A dove, with no home for its broken wing,
Thrown on the harshness of alien skies,
That know not its own land's melodies.
From the long heart-withering early gone;
She hath lived-she hath loved her task is done!
CORONATION OF INEZ DE CASTRO.
Tableau, où l'Amour fait alliance avec la Tombe: union redoutable de la mort et de la vie !. Madame de Stael.
THERE was music on the midnight ;
From a royal fane it rollid,
And a mighty bell, each pause between,
Sternly and slowly tolld.
Strange was their mingling in the sky,
It hush'd the listener's breath;
For the music spoke of triumph high,
The lonely bell, of death.
There was hurrying through the midnight
A sound of many feet:
But they fell with a muffled fearfulness,
Along the shadowy street:
And softer, fainter, grew their tread,
As it near'd the minster-gate,
Whence a broad and solemn light was shed
From a scene of royal state.
Full glow'd the strong red radiance,
In the centre of the nave,
Where the folds of a purple canopy
Swept down in many a wave;
Loading the marble pavement old
With a weight of gorgeous gloom, For something lay 'midst their fretted gold,
Like a shadow of the tomb.
And within that rich pavilion,
High on a glittering throne, A woman's form sat silently,
'Midst the glare of light alone.
Her jewell'd robes fell strangely still —
The drapery on her breast
Seem'd with no pulse beneath to thrill,
So stone-like was its rest!
But a peal of lordly music
Shook e'en the dust below,
When the burning gold of the diadem
Was set on her pallid brow!
Then died away that haughty sound,
And from the encircling band