Imatges de pÓgina
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XXV.

THE RIDING TO THE TOURNAMENT.

OVER meadows purple-flowered,
Through the dark lanes oak-embowered
Over commons dry and brown,
Through the silent red-roofed town,
Past the reapers and the sheaves,
Over white roads strewn with leaves,
By the gipsy's ragged tent,
Rode we to the Tournament.

Over clover wet with dew,
Whence the sky-lark, startled, flew,
Through brown fallows, where the hare
Leapt up from its subtle lair,
Past the mill-stream and the reeds
Where the stately heron feeds,
By the warren's sunny wall,
Where the dry leaves shake and fall,
By the hall's ancestral trees,
Bent and writhing in the breeze,
Rode we all with one intent,
Gaily to the Tournament.

Golden sparkles, flashing gem,
Lit the robes of each of them,
Cloak of velvet, robe of silk,
Mantle snowy-white as milk

Rings upon our bridle-hand,
Jewels on our belt and band,
Bells upon our golden reins,
Tinkling spurs and shining chains-
In such merry mub we went
Riding to the Tournament.

Laughing voices, scraps of song,
Lusty music loud and strong,
Rustling of the banners blowing,
Whispers as of rivers flowing,
Whistle of the hawks 2 we bore
As they rise and as they soar,
Now and then a clash of drums
As the rabble louder hums,
Now and then a burst of horns
Sounding over brooks and bourns,
As in merry guise we went
Riding to the Tournament.

There were abbots fat and sleek,
Nuns in couples, pale and meek,
Jugglers tossing cups and knives,
Yeomen 3 with their buxom wives,
Pages playing with the curls
Of the rosy village girls,
Grizzly knights with faces scarred,
Staring through their visors 4 barred,
Huntsmen cheering with a shout
At the wild stag breaking out,
Harper, stately as a king,
Touching now and then a string,
As our revel laughing went
To the solemn Tournament.

Charger with the massy chest,
Foam-spots flecking mane and breast,
Pacing stately, pawing ground,
Fretting for the trumpet's sound,
White and sorrel, roan and bay,
Dappled, spotted, black and grey,
Palfreys snowy as the dawn,
Ponies sallow as the fawn,
All together neighing went
Trampling to the Tournament.

Long hair scattered in the wind,
Curls that flew a yard behind,
Flags that struggled like a bird
Chained and restive—not a word
But half-buried in a laugh;
And the lance's gilded staff
Shaking when the bearer shook
At the jester's 5 merry look,
As he grins upon his mule,
Like an urchin leaving school,
Shaking bauble, tossing bells,
At the merry jest he tells-
So in happy mood we went,
Laughing to the Tournament.

What a bustle at the inn,
What a stir, without— within,
Filling flagons, brimming bowls
For a hundred thirsty souls :
Froth in snow-flakes flowing down,
From the pitcher big and brown,
While the tankards brim and bubble
With the balm for human trouble ;

How the maiden coyly sips,
How the yeoman wipes his lips,
How the old knight drains the cup
Slowly and with calmness up,
And the abbot, with a prayer,
Fills the silver goblet rare,
Praying to the saints for strength
As he holds it at arm's length;
How the jester spins the bowl
On his thumb, then quaffs the whole;
How the pompous steward bends
And bows to half-a-dozen friends,
As in thirsty mood we went
Dusty to the Tournament.

Then again the country over,
Through the stubble and the clover,
By the crystal-dropping springs,
Where the road-dust clogs and clings
To the pearl-leaf of the rose,
Where the tawdry nightshade blows,
And the bramble twines its chains
Through the sunny village lanes,
Where the thistle sheds its seed,
And the goldfinch loves to feed,
By the milestone green with moss,
By the broken wayside cross,
In a merry band we went
Shouting to the Tournament.

Pilgrims with their hood and cowl, Pursy burghers? cheek-by-jowl, Archers with the peacock's wing Fitting to the waxen string,

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Pedlars with their pack and bags,
Beggars with their coloured rags,
Silent monks, whose stony eyes
Rest in trance upon the skies,
Children sleeping at the breast,
Merchants from the distant West,
All in gay confusion went
To the royal Tournament.

Players with the painted face
And a drunken man's grimace,
Grooms who praise their raw-boned steeds,
Old wives telling maple beads, 8
Blackbirds from the hedges broke,
Black crows from the beeches croak,
Glossy swallows in dismay
From the mill-stream fled away,
The angry swan, with ruffled breast,
Frowned upon her osier nest,
The wren hopped restless on the brake,
The otter made the sedges shake,
The butterfly before our rout
Flew like a blossom blown about,
The coloured leaves, a globe of life,
Spun round and scattered as in strife)
Sweeping down the narrow lane
Like the slant shower of the rain,
The lark in terror from the sod,
Flew up and straight appealed to God,
As a noisy band we went
Trotting to the Tournament.

But when we saw the holy town,
With its river and its down,

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