Page images
PDF
EPUB

She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering

sod,

Inwrapt tenfold in slothful shame, Lay there exiled from eternal God, Lost to her place and name;

And death and life she hated equally,
And nothing saw, for her despair,
But dreadful time, dreadful eternity,
No comfort anywhere;

Remaining utterly confused with fears,
And ever worse with growing time,
And ever unrelieved by dismal tears,
And all alone in crime :

Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round
With blackness as a solid wall,

Far off she seemed to hear the dully sound
Of human footsteps fall.

As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,
In doubt and great perplexity,

A little before moon-rise hears the low
Moan of an unknown sea;

And knows not if it be thunder or a sound
Of rocks thrown down, or one deep cry
Of great wild beasts; then thinketh, "I have found
A new land, but I die."

She howled aloud, "I am on fire within.
There comes no murmur of reply.
What is it that will take away my sin,
And save me lest I die?"

So when four years were wholly finished,
She threw her royal robes away.
“Make me a cottage in the vale," she said.
"Where I may mourn and pray.

Yet pull not down my palace towers, that are So lightly, beautifully built : Perchance I may return with others there When I have purged my guilt."

LADY CLARA VERE DE VERE.

LADY Clara Vere de Vere,
Of me you shall not win renown;
You thought to break a country heart
For pastime, ere you went to town.
At me you smiled, but unbeguiled

I saw the snare, and I retired:
The daughter of a hundred Earls,
You are not one to be desired.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

I know you proud to bear your name;
Your pride is yet no mate for mine,

Too proud to care from whence I came.
Nor would I break for your sweet sake

A heart that dotes on truer charms.
A simple maiden in her flower

Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

Some meeker pupil you must find,
For were you queen of all that is,

I could not stoop to such a mind.
You sought to prove how I could love,
And my disdain is my reply.
The lion on your old stone gates
Is not more cold to you than I.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

You put strange memories in my head

Not thrice your branching limes have blown
Since I beheld young Laurence dead.
O your sweet eyes, your low replies:

A great enchantress you may be;
But there was that across his throat
Which you had hardly cared to see.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

When thus he met his mother's view, She had the passions of her kind,

She spake some certain truths of you. Indeed, I heard one bitter word

That scarce is fit for you to hear; Her manners had not that repose

Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

There stands a spectre in your hall: The guilt of blood is at your door:

You changed a wholesome heart to gall. You held your course without remorse,

To make him trust his modest worth, And, last, you fixed a vacant stare,

And slew him with your noble birth.

Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,

From yon blue heavens above us bent The grand old gardener and his wife

Smile at the claims of long descent. Howe'er it be, it seems to me,

'Tis only noble to be good. Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood.

I know you, Clara Vere de Vere:
You pine among your halls and towers,
The languid light of your proud eyes
Is wearied of the rolling hours.
In glowing health, with boundless wealth,

But sickening of a vague disease,
You know so ill to deal with time,

You needs must play such pranks as these.

Clara, Clara Vere de Vere,

If Time be heavy on your hands,
Are there no beggars at your gate,

Nor any poor about your lands?
O! teach the orphan-boy to read,

Or teach the orphan-girl to sew,
Pray Heaven for a human heart,

And let the foolish yeoman go.

THE MAY QUEEN.

I.

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;

To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;

Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day;

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

II.

There's many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;

There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caro

line:

But none so fair as little Alice in all the land, they say:

So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

III.

I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,

If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break:

But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands gay,

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

IV.

As I came up the valley, whom think ye should I see, But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazeltree?

He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,

But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

V.

He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white,

And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light.

They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say,

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

VI.

They say he's dying all for love, but that can never be:

They say his heart is breaking, mother-what is that to me?

There's many a bolder lad 'ill woo me any summer day,

And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May. 6

VOL. I.

« PreviousContinue »