Page images

I moved my lips--the Pilot shriek'd, But in the garden-bower the bride
And fell down in a fit;

And bride-maids singing are :
The holy Hermit raised his eyes, And hark! the liule vesper-bell,
And pray'd where he did sit. Which biddeth me to prayer.

I took the oars: the Pilot's boy, O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Who now doth crazy go,

Alone on a wide wide sca:
Laugh'd loud and long, and all the So lonely 't was, that God himself

Scarce seemed there to be.
His eyes went to and fro.
“Ha! ha!" quoth he, “ full plain I see,

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
The Devil knows how to row."

'Tis sweeter far to me,
And now, all in my own countrée,

To walk together to the kirk,

With a goodly company !
I stood on the firm land !
The Hermit stepp'd forth from the

To walk together to the kirk,
And scarcely he could stand.

And all together pray,

While each to his great Father bends, The ancient Ma- "O shrive me, shrive me, holy man!" Old men, and babes, and loving Aner earnestly en- The Hermit cross'd his brow.

friends, ceateth the Hermit to shrive him; “ Say quick,” quoth he, “ I bid thee And youihs and maidens gay! and the penance

say of lifo falls on

And to teach, by -What manner of man art thou?" Farewell, farewell! but this I tell

his own example him.

To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!

love aod reverForthwith this frame of mine was He prayeth well, who loveth well

ence to all thi3g wrench'd Both man and bird and beast.

that God made With a woful agony,

and loveth. Which forced me to begin my tale And then it left me free.

He prayeth best, who loveth best

All things both great and small; And ever and Since then, at an uncertain hour,

For the dear God who loveth us, anon throughout That agony returns :

He made and loveth all. his future life an

And till my ghastly tale is told, agony constraineth him to travel This heart within me burns.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright, from land to land,

Whose beard with age is hoar,
I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;

Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest

Turn'd from the bridegroom's door.
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me :
To him my tale I teach.

He went like one that hath been

What loud uproar bursts from that And is of sense forlorn,

A sadder and a wiser man
The wedding-guests are there : He rose the morrow morn.


year 1500


at either of the former periods, or if even the first
and second part had been published in the
the impression of its originality would have been

much greater than I dare at present expect. But The first part of the following poem was written in for this, I have only my own indolence to blame. the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety- The dates are mentioned for the exclusive purpose seven, at Stowey in the county of Somerset. The of precluding charges of plagiarism or servile ira); second part, afier my return from Germany, in the tation from myself. For there is amongst us a set ol year one thousand eighi hundred, at Keswick. Cum- critics, who seem to hold, that every possible thought berland. Since the latter date, my poetic powers and image is traditional; who have no potion that there have been, till very lately, in a state of suspended are such things as fountains in the world, small as animation. But as, in my very first conception of the well as great; and who would therefore charitably tale, I had the whole presení to my mind, with the derive every rill they behold flowing, from a perhris wholeness, no less than with the loveliness of a tion made in some other man's tank. I am confider'

, vision, I trust thai I shall you be able to embody in however, that as far as the present poem is concerned, verse the three parts yet to come.

the celebrated poets whose writings I might be 82 It is probable. that if the poem had been finished pected of having imitated, either in particular preko

sages, or in the tone and the spirit of the whole, would be among the first to vindicate me from the

To the edition of 1816.

charge, and who, on any striking coincidence, would The lady sprang up suddenly, permit me to address them in this doggrel version of The lovely lady, Christabel i two monkish Latin hexameters.

It moan'd as near, as near can be,
'Tis mine and it is likewise yours;

But what it is, she cannot tell.-
But an' if this will not do,

On the other side it seems to be,
Let it be mine, good friend! for I

Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak-tree. Am the poorer of the iwo. I have only to add that the metre of the Christa The night is chill; the forest bare; bel is not, properly speaking, irregular, though it Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? may seem so from its being founded on a new prin There is not wind enough in the air ciple: namely, that of counting in each line the ac- To move away the ringlet curl cents, not the syllables. Though the latter may vary From the lovely lady's cheekfrom seven to twelve, yet in each line the accents There is not wind enough to twirl will be found to be only four. Nevertheless this oc The one red leaf, the last of its clan, casional variation in number of syllables is not in That dances as often as dance it can, troduced wantonly, or for the mere ends of conveni Hanging so light, and hanging so high, ence, but in correspondence with some transition, in On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky. the nature of the imagery or passion.

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?

"Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
And the owls have awaken'd the crowing cock;
Tu-whit! Tu-whoo!
And hark, again! the crowing cock,
How drowsily it crew.

There she sees a damsel bright,
Drest in a silken rabe of white,
That shadowy in the moonlighi shone :
The neck that made that white robe wan,
Her stately neek, and arnis, were bare ;
Her blue-vein'd feet unsandall'd were,
And wildly glitter'd here and there
The gems entangled in her hair.
I guess, 'I was frightful there to see
A lady so richly clad as she-
Beautiful exceedingly!

Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff, which
From her kennel beneath the rock
Maketh answer to the clock,
Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over-loud;
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.

Is the night chilly and dark ?
The night is chilly, but not dark.
The thin gray cloud is spread on high,
It covers but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full;
And yet she looks boih small and dull.
The night is chill, the cloud is gray:
"Tis a month before the month of May,
And the Spring comes slowly up this way.

Mary mother, save me now!
(Said Christabel), And who art thon?
The lady strange made answer meet,
And her voice was faint and sweet :-
Hlave pity on my sore distress,
I scarce can speak for weariness :
Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!
Said Christabel, How cames thou here?
And the lady, whose voice was faint and sweet
Did thus pursue her answer ineet :-

The lovely lady, Christabel,
Whom her father loves so well,
What makes her in the wood so late,
A furlong from the castle gate?
She had dreams all yesternight
Of her own betrothed knight;
And she in the midnight wood will pray
For the weal of her lover that's far away

My sire is of a noble line,
And my name is Geraldine:
Five warriors seized me yestermorn,
Me, even me, a maid forlorn :
They choked my cries with force and fright,
And tied me on a palsrey white.
The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
And they rode furiously behind.
They spurr'd amain, their sieeds were white;
And once we cross'd the shade of night.
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 mutter'd words his comrades spoke
He placed me underneath this oak,

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 misletoe :
She kneels beneath the huge oak-tree,
And in silence prayeth she.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

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 she sheds
Large tears that leave the lashes bright!
And ost the while she seems to smile
As infants at a sudden light!

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
Thou heardest a low moaning,

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weer
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 !

[blocks in formation]

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

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 Borrowdale.

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!
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 beiween.
But neither heal, 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.

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.
“ Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel ?
I trust that you have rested well.”

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 looks, her air
Such gentle thankfulness declare,
That (so it seem'd) her girded vests
Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts.
" Sure I have sinn'd,” said Christabel,
“ Now Heaven be praised if all he 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.

O then the Baron forgot his age !
His noble heart swellid 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 wrongd the damo
Were buse 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 hcrud
In the beautiful lady the child of his friend!

So quickly she rose, and quickly array'd Her maiden limbs, and having pray'd That He, who on the cross did groan, Might wash away her sins unknown.

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.

« PreviousContinue »