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From his fair hall on Greta banks,
The Knight of Rokeby led his ranks,
To aid the valiant northern Earls,
Who drew the sword for royal Charles.
Mortham, by marriage near allied,-
His sister had been Rokeby's bride,
Though long before the civil fray,
In peaceful grave the lady lay.
Philip of Mortham rais'd his band,
And march'd at Fairfax's command;
While Wycliffe, bound by many a train
Of kindred art with wily Vane,
Less prompt to brave the bloody field,
Made Barnard's battlements his shield,
Secur'd them with the Lunedale powers,
And for the Commons held the towers.
The lovely heir of Rokeby's Knight
Waits in his halls the event of fight;
For England's war rever'd the claim
Of every unprotected name,
And spar'd, amid its fiercest rage,
Childhood and womanhood and age.
But Wilfrid, son to Rokeby's foe,
Must the dear privilege forego,
By Greta's side, in evening grey,
To steal upon Matilda's way,
Striving, with fond hypocrisy,
For careless step and vacant eye;
Calming each anxious look and glance,
To give the meeting all to chance,
Or framing as a fair excuse,
The book, the pencil, or the muse;
Something to give, to sing, to say,
Some modern tale, some ancient lay.
Then, while the long'd-for minutes last-
Ah! minutes quickly over-past-
Recording each expression free,
Of kind or careless courtesy,
Each friendly look, each softer tone,
As food for fancy when alone.
All this is o'er-but still, unseen,
Wilfrid may lurk in Eastwood green,
To watch Matilda's wonted round,
While springs his heart at every sound.
She comes 'tis but a passing sight,
Yet serves to cheat his weary night;
She comes not-He will wait the hour,
When her lamp lightens in the tow'r;
Tis something yet, if, as she past,
Her shade is o'er the lattice cast.
"What is my life, my hope?" he said;
"Alas! a transitory shade."
Thus wore his life, though reason strove
For mastery in vain with love,
Forcing upon his thoughts the sum
Of present woe and ills to come,
While still he turn'd impatient ear
From Truth's intrusive voice severe.
Gentle, indiff'rent, and subdued,
In all but this, unmov'd he view'd
Each outward change of ill and good:
But Wilfrid, docile, soft, and mild,
Was Fancy's spoil'd and wayward child;
In her bright car she bade him ride,
With one fair form to grace his side,
Or, in some wild and lone retreat,
Flung her high spells around his seat,
Bath'd in her dews his languid head,
Her fairy mantle o'er him spread,
For him her opiates gave to flow,
Which he who tastes, can ne'er forego,
And plac'd him in her circle, free
every stern reality.
Till, to the Visionary, seem
Her day-dreams truth, and truth a dream.
Woe to the youth, whom Fancy gains,
Winning from Reason's hand the reins,
Pity and woe! for such a mind
Is soft contemplative, and kind;
And woe to those who train such youth,
And spare to press the rights of truth,
The mind to strengthen and anneal,
While on the stithy glows the steel!
O teach him, while your lessons last
To judge the present by the past;
Remind him of each wish pursued,
How rich it glow d with promis'd good;
Remind him of each wish enjoy'd,
How soon his hopes possession cloy'd!
Tell him, we play unequal game,
Whene'er we shoot by Fancy's aim !
And, ere he strip him for her race,
Show the conditions of the chase.
Two sisters by the goal are set,
Cold Disappointment and Regret;
One disenchants the winner's eyes,
And strips of all its worth the prize.
While one augments its gaudy show
More to enhance the loser's woe.
The victor sees his fairy gold,
Transform'd, when won, to drossy mould,
But still the vanquish'd mourns his loss,
And rues, as gold, that glittering dross.
More wouldst thou know-yon tower survey,
Yon couch unpress'd since parting day,
Yon untrimm'd lamp, whose yellow gleam,
Is mingling with the cold moonbeam,
And yon thin form!--the hectic red
On his pale cheek unequal spread;
The head reclin'd, the loosen'd hair,
The limbs relax'd, the mournful air.-
See, he looks up;-a woful smile
Lightens his wo-worn cheek a while,-
"Tis fancy wakes some idle thought,
To gild the ruin she has wrought;
For, like the bat of Indian brakes,
Her pinions fan the wound she makes,
And soothing thus the dreamer's pain,
She drinks his life-blood from the vein.
Now to the lattice turn his eyes,
Vain hope to see the sun arise.
The moon with clouds is still o'ercast,
Still howls by fits the stormy blast;
Another hour must wear away,
Ere the East kindle into day;
And hark! to waste that weary hour,
He tries the minstrel's magic power.
Hail to thy cold and clouded beam,
Pale pilgrim of the troubled sky!
Hail, though the mists that o'er thee stream
Lend to thy brow their sullen dye!
How should thy pure and peaceful eye
Untroubled view our scenes below,
Or how a tearless beam supply
To light a world of war and wo!
Fair Queen! I will not blame thee now,
As once by Greta's fairy side;
Each little cloud that dimm'd thy brow
Did then an angel's beauty hide.
And of the shades I then could chide,
Still are the thoughts to mem'ry dear,
For, while a softer strain I tried,
They hid my blush, and calm'd my fear.
Then did I swear thy ray serene
Was form'd to light some lonely dell,
By two fond lovers only seen,
Reflected from the crystal well,
Or sleeping on their mossy cell,
Or quivering on the lattice bright,
Or glancing on their couch, to tell
How swiftly wanes the summer night!
He starts a step at this lone hour!
A voice-his father seeks the tow',
With haggard look and troubled sense,
Fresh from his dreadful conference.
"Wilfrid-what, not to sleep address'd?
Thou hast no cares to chase thy rest.
Mortham has fall'n on Marston-moor;
Bertram brings warrant to secure
His treasures, bought by spoil and blood,
For the state's use and public good.
The menials will thy voice obey;
Let his commission have its way,
In every point, in every word."
Then, in a whisper,-"Take thy sword!
Bertram is what I must not tell.
I hear his hasty step-farewell !"
FAR in the chambers of the west,
The gale had sigh'd itself to rest
The moon was cloudless now and clear,
But pale, and soon to disappear.
The thin grey clouds wax dimly light
On Brusleton and Houghton height;
And the rich dale, that eastward lay,
Waited the wakening touch of day,
To give its woods and cultur'd plain,
And tow'rs and spires, to light again.
But, westward, Stanmore's shapeless swell,
And Lunedale wild, and Kelton-fell,
And rock-begirdled Gilmanscar,
And Arkingarth, lay dark afar;
While, as a livelier twilight falls,
Emerge proud Barnard's banner'd walls
High crown'd he sits, in dawning pale,
The sovereign of the lovely vale.
What prospects, from his watch-tower high, Gleam gradual on the warder's eye!