Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

A LEGEND OF BRITTANY.

PART FIRST.

I.

Fair as a summer dream was Margaret,

Such dream as in a poet's soul might start, Musing of old loves while the moon doth set :

Her hair was not more sunny than her heart, Though like a natural golden coronet

It circled her dear head with careless art, Mocking the sunshine, that would fain have lent To its frank grace a richer ornament.

II.

His loved-one's eyes could poet ever speak,

So kind, so dewy, and so deep were hers,— But, while he strives, the choicest phrase, too weak,

Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs; As one may see'a dream dissolve and break

Out of his grasp when he to tell it stirs, Like that sad Dryad doomed no more to bless The mortal who revealed her loveliness.

III.

She dwelt forever in a region bright,

Peopled with living fancies of her own, Where nought could come but visions of delight,

Far, far aloof from earth's eternal moan:
A summer cloud thrilled through with rosy light,

Floating beneath the blue sky all alone,
Her spirit wandered by itself, and won
A golden edge from some unsetting sun.

IV.

The heart grows richer that its lot is poor,

God blesses want with larger sympathies,Love enters gladliest at the humble door,

And makes the cot a palace with his eyes ;-
So Margaret's heart a softer beauty wore,

And grew in gentleness and patience wise,
For she was but a simple herdsman's child,
A lily chance-sown in the rugged wild.

V.

There was no beauty of the wood or field

But she its fragrant bosom-secret knew, Nor any but to her would freely yield Some grace that in her soul took root and

grew : Nature to her glowed ever new-revealed, All rosy

fresh with innocent morning dew, And looked into her heart with dim, sweet eyes That left it full of sylvan memories.

VI.

0, what a face was hers to brighten light,

And give back sunshine with an added glow, To wile

each moment with a fresh delight, And part of memory's best contentment grow ! 0, how her voice, as with an inmate's right,

Into the strangest heart would welcome go, And make it sweet, and ready to become Of white and gracious thoughts the chosen home!

VII.

None looked upon her but he straightway thought

Of all the greenest depths of country cheer, And into each one's heart was freshly brought

What was to him the sweetest time of year,

So was her every look and motion fraught

With out-of-door delights and forest lere ;
Not the first violet on a woodland lea
Seemed a more visible gift of Spring than she.

VIII.

Is love learned only out of poets' books ?

Is there not somewhat in the dropping flood, And in the nunneries of silent nooks,

And in the murmured longing of the woo
That could make Margaret dream of lovelorn

looks,
And stir a thrilling mystery in her blood
More trembly secret than Aurora's tear
Shed in the bosom of an eglaterre ?

IX

Full many a sweet forewarning hath the mind,

Full many a whispering of vague desire, Ere comes the nature destined to unbind

Its virgin zone, and all its deeps inspire, Low stirrings in the leaves, before the wind

Wakes all the green strings of the forest lyre, Faint heatings in the calyx, ere the rose Its warm voluptuous breast doth all unclose.

X.

Long in its dim recesses pines the spirit,

Wildered and dark, despairingly alone; Though many a shape of beauty wander near it,

And many a wild and half-remembered tone Tremble from the divine abyss to cheer it,

Yet still it knows that there is only one Before whom it can kneel and tribute bring, At once a happy vassal and a king.

XI.

To feel a want, yet scarce know what it is,

To seek one nature that is always new, Whose glance is warmer than another's kiss,

Whom we can bare our inmost beauty to,
Nor feel deserted afterwards,—for this

But with our destined co-mate we can do,-
Such longing instinct fills the mighty scope
Of the young soul with one mysterious hope.

XII.

So Margaret's heart grew brimming with the lore

Of love's enticing secrets ; and although She had found none to cast it down before,

Yet oft to Fancy's chapel she would go To pay her vows, and count the rosary o’er

Of her love's promised graces :-haply so Miranda's hope had pictured Ferdinand Long ere the gaunt wave tossed him on the

strand.

XIII.

A new-made star that swims the lonely gloom,

Unwedded yet and longing for the sun, Whose beams, the bride-gifts of the lavish groom,

Blithely to crown the virgin planet run, Her being was, watching to see the bloom

Of love's fresh sunrise roofing one by one Its clouds with gold, a triumph-arch to be For him who came to hold her heart in fee.

XIV.

Not far from rgaret's cottage dwelt a knight

Of the proud Templars, a sworn celibate, Whose heart in secret fed upon the light

And dew of her ripe beauty, through the grate

Of his close vow catching what gleams he might

Of the free heaven, and cursing—all too lateThe cruel faith whose black walls hemmed him

in And turned life's crowning bliss to deadly sin.

XV.

For he had met her in the wood by chance,

And, having drunk her beauty's wildering spelt, His heart shook like the pennon of a lance

That quivers in a breeze's sudden swell, And thenceforth, in a close-enfolded trance,

From mistily golden deep to deep he fell; Till earth did waver and fade far away Beneath the hope in whose warm arms he lay.

XVI.

A dark, proud man he was, whose half-blown

youth Had shed its blossoms even in opening, Leaving a few that with more winning ruth Trembling around grave manhood's stem might

cling, More sad than cheery, making, in good sooth,

Like the fringed gentian, a late autumn spring : A twilight nature, braided light and gloom, A youth half-smiling by an open tomb.

XVII.

Fair as an angel, who yet inly wore

A wrinkled heart foreboding his near fall; Who saw him alway wished to know him more,

As if he were some fate's defiant thrall And nursed a dreaded secret at its core;

Little he loved, but power most of all, And that he seemed to scorn, as one who knew By what foul paths men choose to crawl thereto.

« ElőzőTovább »