Imatges de pÓgina
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SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

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And she in the midnight wood will pray | And the lady, whose voice was faint and For the weal of her lover that's far away.

She stole along, she nothing spoke, The sighs she heaved were soft and low, And naught was green upon the oak, But moss and rarest mistletoe: She kneels beneath the huge oak-tree, And in silence prayeth she.

The lady sprang up suddenly, The lovely lady, Christabel! It moaned as near as near can be, But what it is she cannot tell. On the other side it seems to be Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak-tree.

The night is chill; the forest bare; Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? There is not wind enough in the air To move away the ringlet curl From the lovely lady's cheek, There is not wind enough to twirl The one red leaf, the last of its clan, That dances as often as dance it can, Hanging so light, and hanging so high, On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

Hush, beating heart of Christabel ! Jesu Maria, shield her well!

She folded her arms beneath her cloak, And stole to the other side of the oak. What sees she there?

There she sees a damsel bright, Drest in a silken robe of white, That shadowy in the moonlight shone. The neck that made that white robe wan, Her stately neck, and arms were bare; Her blue-veined feet unsandalled were, And wildly glittered here and there The gems entangled in her hair. I guess, 't was frightful there to see A lady so richly clad as she, Beautiful exceedingly!

"Mary mother, save me now!" Said Christabel; "and who art thou?"

The lady strange made answer meet, And her voice was faint and sweet: "Have pity on my sore distress, I scarce can speak for weariness.” "Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!"

Said Christabel; "how camest thou here?"

sweet,

Did thus pursue her answer meet:

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They choked my cries with force and fright,

And tied me on a palfrey white.
The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
And they rode furiously behind.
They spurred amain, their steeds were
And once we crossed the shade of night.
white,
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
I have no thought what men they be;
Nor do I know how long it is
(For I have lain entranced, I wis)
Since one, the tallest of the five,
Took me from the palfrey's back,
A weary woman, scarce alive.
Some muttered words his comrades spoke:
He placed me underneath this oak;
He swore they would return with haste;

Whither they went I cannot tell-
I thought I heard, some minutes past,

Sounds as of a castle-bell.

Stretch forth thy hand" (thus ended she), "And help a wretched maid to flee."

Then Christabel stretched forth her

hand

And comforted fair Geraldine:
"O well, bright dame! may you command
The service of Sir Leoline;
And gladly our stout chivalry
Will he send forth, and friends withal,
To guide and guard you safe and free
Home to your noble father's hall."

She rose and forth with steps they
passed

That strove to be, and were not, fast.
Her gracious stars the lady blest,
And thus spake on sweet Christabel:
"All our household are at rest,
The hall as silent as the cell;
Sir Leoline is weak in health,
And may not well awakened be,
But we will move as if in stealth,
And I beseech your courtesy,
This night, to share your couch with me."

They crossed the moat, and Christabel Took the key that fitted well;

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As still as death with stifled breath!
And now have reached her chamber door;
And now doth Geraldine press down
The rushes of the chamber floor.

The moon shines dim in the open air, And not a moonbeam enters here. But they without its light can see The chamber carved so curiously, Carved with figures strange and sweet, All made out of the carver's brain, For a lady's chamber meet: The lamp with twofold silver chain Is fastened to an angel's feet. The silver lamp burns dead and dim; But Christabel the lamp will trim. She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright, And left it swinging to and fro, While Geraldine, in wretched plight, Sank down upon the floor below.

I

"O weary lady, Geraldine, pray you, drink this cordial wine! It is a wine of virtuous powers; My mother made it of wild flowers."

"And will your mother pity me, Who am a maiden most forlorn?" Christabel answered: "Woe is me! She died the hour that I was born. I have heard the gray-haired friar tell, How on her death-bed she did say, That she should hear the castle-bell Strike twelve upon my wedding-day. O mother dear! that thou wert here!" "I would," said Geraldine, “she were!" But soon with altered voice, said she: "Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine! I have power to bid thee flee." Alas! what ails poor Geraldine? Why stares she with unsettled eye? Can she the bodiless dead espy? And why with hollow voice cries she: "Off, woman, off! this hour is mine, Though thou her guardian spirit be, Off, woman, off! 'Tis given to me.'

Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side,

And raised to heaven her eyes so blue; "Alas!" said she, "this ghastly ride, Dear lady! it hath wildered you!" The lady wiped her moist cold brow, And faintly said, "T is over now!"

--

Again the wild-flower wine she drank: Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright,

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

And from the floor whereon she sank
The lofty lady stood upright;
She was most beautiful to see,
Like a lady of a far countrée.

And thus the lofty lady spake : "All they who live in the upper sky Do love you, holy Christabel!

And you love them, and for their sake
And for the good which me befell,
Even I in my degree will try,
Fair maiden, to requite you well.
But now unrobe yourself; for I
Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie.'

Quoth Christabel, "So let it be!"
And as the lady bade, did she.
Her gentle limbs did she undress,
And lay down in her loveliness.

But through her brain, of weal and woe So many thoughts moved to and fro, That vain it were her lids to close; So half-way from the bed she rose, And on her elbow did recline To look at the Lady Geraldine.

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed, And slowly rolled her eyes around; Then drawing in her breath aloud, Like one that shuddered, she unbound The cincture from beneath her breast: Her silken robe and inner vest Dropt to her feet, and full in view, Behold! her bosom and half her side, A sight to dream of, not to tell! O, shield her! shield sweet Christabel!

Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs ;
Ah what a stricken look was hers!
Deep from within she seems half-way
To lift some weight with sick assay,
And eyes the maid and seeks delay;
Then suddenly as one defied
Collects herself in scorn and pride,
And lay down by the maiden's side!—
And in her arms the maid she took,
Ah well-a-day!

And with low voice and doleful look,
These words did say:

"In the touch of this bosom there worketh

a spell Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel! Thou knowest to-night, and wilt know

to-morrow

This mark of my shame, this seal of my

sorrow;

But vainly thou warrest,

For this is alone in Thy power to declare;

That in the dim forest

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A star hath set, a star hath risen, O Geraldine! since arms of thine Have been the lovely lady's prison. O Geraldine! one hour was thine, Thou 'st had thy will! By tarn and rill, The night-birds all that hour were still. But now they are jubilant anew, From cliff and tower, tu-whoo! tu-whoo! Tu-whoo! tu-whoo! from wood and fell! And see! the Lady Christabel Gathers herself from out her trance; Her limbs relax, her countenance Grows sad and soft; the smooth thin lids Close o'er her eyes; and tears shesheds, Large tears that leave the lashes bright! And oft the while she seems to smile As infants at a sudden light!

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep, "Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel?
Like a youthful hermitess,
Beauteous in a wilderness,

Who, praying always, prays in sleep.
And, if she move unquietly,
Perchance, 't is but the blood so free,
Comes back and tingles in her feet.
No doubt she hath a vision sweet.
What if her guardian spirit 't were ?
What if she knew her mother near?
But this she knows, in joys and woes,
That saints will aid if men will call;
For the blue sky bends over all!

PART II.

"EACH matin-bell," the Baron saith, "Knells us back to a world of death." These words Sir Leoline first said, When he rose and found his lady dead: These words Sir Leoline will say Many a morn to his dying day!

And hence the custom and law began, That still at dawn the sacristan, Who duly pulls the heavy bell, Five-and-forty beads must tell Between each stroke, a warning knell,

Which not a soul can choose but hear From Bratha Head to Wyndermere.

Saith Bracy the bard, "So let it knell! And let the drowsy sacristan Still count as slowly as he can! There is no lack of such, I ween, As well fill up the space between. In Langdale Pike and Witch's Lair, And Dungeon-ghyll so foully rent, With ropes of rock and bells of air Three sinful sextons' ghosts are pent, Who all give back, one after t' other, The death-note to their living brother; And oft, too, by the knell offended, Just as their one! two! three! is ended, The devil mocks the doleful tale With a merry peal from Borodale."

The air is still through mist and cloud That merry peal comes ringing loud; And Geraldine shakes off her dread, And rises lightly from the bed; Puts on her silken vestments white, And tricks her hair in lovely plight, And, nothing doubting of her spell, Awakens the Lady Christabel.

I trust that you have rested well.”

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And Christabel awoke and spied The same who lay down by her side, O, rather say, the same whom she Raised up beneath the old oak-tree! Nay, fairer yet! and yet more fair! For she belike hath drunken deep Of all the blessedness of sleep! And while she spake, her look, her air, Such gentle thankfulness declare, That (so it seemed) her girded vests Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts. "Sure I have sinned!" said Christabel, "Now Heaven be praised if all be well!" And in low faltering tones, yet sweet, Did she the lofty lady greet, With such perplexity of mind As dreams too lively leave behind.

So quickly she rose, and quickly arrayed
Her maiden limbs, and having prayed
That He who on the cross did groan
She forthwith led fair Geraldine
Might wash away her sins unknown,
To meet her sire, Sir Leoline.

Are pacing both into the hall,
The lovely maid and the lady tall
And pacing on through page and groom,
Enter the Baron's presence-room.

The Baron rose, and while he prest
His gentle daughter to his breast,
With cheerful wonder in his eyes,
The Lady Geraldine espies,

And gave such welcome to the same
As might beseem so bright a dame!

But when he heard the lady's tale,
And when she told her father's name,
Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale,
Murmuring o'er the name again,
Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine?

Alas! they had been friends in youth;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above,
And life is thorny, and youth is vain,
And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it chanced, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir Leoline.
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart's best brother:
They parted, ne'er to meet again!

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining ;-
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder,
A dreary sea now flows between;
But neither heat nor frost nor thunder
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.

Sir Leoline a moment's space
Stood gazing on the damsel's face,
And the youthful Lord of Tryermaine
Came back upon his heart again.

O, then the Baron forgot his age,
His noble heart swelled high with rage;
He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side
He would proclaim it far and wide
With trump and solemn heraldry,
That they who thus had wronged the

dame

Were base as spotted infamy!
"And if they dare deny the same,
My herald shall appoint a week,
And let the recreant traitors seek
My tourney court, that there and then
I may dislodge their reptile souls
From the bodies and forms of men!"
He spake his eye in lightning rolls!
For the lady was ruthlessly seized; and

he kenned

In the beautiful lady the child of his friend!

And now the tears were on his face,
And fondly in his arms he took
Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
Prolonging it with joyous look.
Which when she viewed, a vision fell
Upon the soul of Christabel,

The vision of fear, the touch and pain! She shrunk and shuddered, and saw again

(Ah, woe is me! Was it for thee,
Thou gentle maid! such sights to see?)
Again she saw that bosom old,
Again she felt that bosom cold,
And drew in her breath with a hissing

sound:

Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
And nothing
saw but his own sweet maid,
With eyes upraised, as one that prayed.

And in its stead that vision blest,
The touch, the sight, had passed away,
Which com forted her after-rest
While in the lady's arms she lay,
Had put a rapture in her breast,

And on her lips and o'er her eyes Spread smiles like light!

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With new surprise, "What ails then my beloved child?" The Baron said. His daughter mild Made answer, "All will yet be well!" I ween, she had no power to tell Aught else; so mighty was the spell.

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Go thou, with music sweet and loud,
And take two steeds with trappings proud,
And take the youth whom thou lov'st
best

To bear thy harp, and learn thy song,
And clothe you both in solemn vest,
And over the mountains haste along,
Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,
Detain you on the valley road.

And when he has crossed the Irthing flood,
My merry bard he hastes, he hastes
Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth
Wood,

And reaches soon that castle good Which stands and threatens Scotland's wastes.

"Bard Bracy! Bard Bracy! your horses are fleet,

Ye must ride up the hall, your music so

sweet,

More loud than your horses' echoing feet!
And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,
Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall!
Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free, -
Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me.
He bids thee come without delay
With all thy numerous array,
And take thy lovely daughter home;
And he will meet thee on the way
With all his numerous array
White with their panting palfreys' foam:
And by mine honor! I will say,
That I repent me of the day
When I spake words of fierce disdain
To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine !—

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