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She replies, in accents fainter,

* There is none I love like thee.' He is but a landscape-painter,

And a village maiden she. He to lips, that fondly falter,

Presses his without reproof : Leads her to the village altar,

And they leave her father's roof. 'I can make no marriage present :

Little can I give my wife.
Love will make our cottage pleasant,

And I love thee more than life.'
They by parks and lodges going

See the lordly castles stand :
Summer woods, about them blowing,

Made a murmur in the land.
From deep thought himself he rouses,

Says to her that loves him well,
Let us see these handsome houses

Where the wealthy nobles dwell.' So she goes by him attended,

Hears him lovingly converse, Sees whatever fair and splendid

Lay betwixt his home and hers ; Parks with oak and chestnut shady,

Parks and order'd gardens great,
Ancient homes of lord and lady,

Built for pleasure and for state.
All he shows her makes him dearer :

Evermore she seems to gaze
On that cottage growing nearer,
Where they twain will spend their

days. O but she will love him truly !

He shall have a cheerful home; She will order all things duly,

When beneath his roof they come. Thus her heart rejoices greatly,

Till a gateway she discerns With armorial bearings stately,

And beneath the gate she turns ; Sees a mansion more majestic

Than all those she saw before :

Many a gallant gay domestic

Bows before him at the door. And they speak in gentle murmur,

When they answer to his call,
While he treads with footstep firmer,

Leading on from hall to hall.
And, while now she wonders blindly,

Nor the meaning can divine,
Proudly turns he round and kindly,

All of this is mine and thine.' Here he lives in state and bounty,

Lord of Burleigh, fair and free,
Not a lord in all the county

Is so great a lord as he.
All at once the colour flushes

Her sweet face from brow to chin :
As it were with shame she blushes,

And her spirit changed within. Then her countenance all over

Pale again as death did prove : But he clasp'd her like a lover,

And he cheer'd her soul with love. So she strove against her weakness,

Tho' at times her spirit sank : Shaped her heart with woman's meek

ness

To all duties of her rank : And a gentle consort made he,

And her gentle mind was such That she grew a noble lady,

And the people loved her much. But a trouble weigh'd upon her,

And perplex'd her, night and morn, With the burthen of an honour

Unto which she was not born. Faint she grew, and ever fainter,

And she murmur'd, 'Oh, that he Were once more that landscape-painter,

Which did win my heart from me!' So she droop'd and droop'd before him,

Fading slowly from his side: Three fair children first she bore him,

Then before her time she died.

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SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN GUINEVERE.

133

SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN

GUINEVERE.

A FRAGMENT.

LIKE souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.

In crystal vapour everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laugh'd between,
And far, in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree gather'd green

From draughts of balmy air.

Her face was evermore unseen,

And fixt upon the far sea-line ;
But each man murmur'd, O my Queen,
I follow till I make thee mine.'

IX.
And now we lost her, now she gleam'd

Like Fancy made of golden air,
Now nearer to the prow she seem'd

Like Virtue firm, like Knowledge fair, Now high on waves that idly burst Like Heavenly Hope she crown'd the

sea, And now, the bloodless point reversed, She bore the blade of Liberty.

x. And only one among us—him

We pleased not—he was seldom pleased: He saw not far : his eyes were dim :

But ours he swore were all diseased. *A ship of fools,' he shriek'd in spite,

' A ship of fools,' he sneer'd and wept. And overboard one stormy night He cast his body, and on we swept.

XI.
And never sail of ours was furld,

Nor anchor dropt at eve or morn;
We lov'd the glories of the world,

But laws of nature were our scorn. For blasts would rise and rave and cease, But whence were those that drove the

sail
Across the whirlwind's heart of peace,
And to and thro' the counter gale ?

XII.
Again to colder climes we came,

For still we follow'd where she led :
Now mate is blind and captain lame,

And half the crew are sick or dead, But, blind or lame or sick or sound,

We follow that which flies before : We know the merry world is round,

And we may sail for evermore.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song :
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong :
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheeld along,
Hush'd all the groves from fear of wrong:

By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,

Above the teeming ground.

Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
Rode thro' the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.

She seem'd a part of joyous Spring :
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before ;
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore

Closed in a golden ring.

Now on some twisted ivy.net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mixt with violet
Her cream-white mule his pastern set :

And fleeter now she skimm'd the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings

With jingling bridle-reins.

134

A FAREWELL-THE BEGGAR MAID--THE EAGLE.

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Come not, when I am dead,

To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave, To trample round my fallen head,

And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst

not save.

THE BEGGAR MAID. Her arms across her breast she laid ;

She was more fair than words can say : Bare-footed came the beggar maid

Before the king Cophetua. In rcbe and crown the king stept down,

To meet and greet her on her way; It is no wonder,' said the lords,

'She is more beautiful than day.' As shines the moon in clouded skies,

She in her poor attire was seen : One praised her ancles, one her eyes,

One her dark hair and lovesome mien.

There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;

But thou, go by. Child, if it were thine error or thy crime

I care no longer, being all unblest : Wed whom thou wilt, but I am sick of

Time, And I desire to rest. Pass on, weak heart, and leave me where

I lie :

Go by, go by.

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