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In the lost battle,
Borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war's rattle,
With groans of the dying.
Eleu loro, &c. There shall he be lying.
Her wing shall the eagle flap,
O'er the false-hearted;
His warm blood the wolf shall lap,
Ere life be parted.
Shame and dishonour sit
By his grave ever;
Blessing shall hallow it,
Never, O never.
Eleu loro, &c. Never, 0 never.,
It ceased, the melancholy sound;
And silence sunk on all around.
The air was sad; but sadder still
It fell on Marmion's ear,
And plained as if disgrace and ill,
And shameful death, were near.
He drew his mantle past his face,
Between it and the band,
And rested with his head a space,
Reclining on his hand.
His thoughts I scan not; but I ween,
That, could their import have been seen,
The meanest groom in all the hall,
That e'er tied courser to a stall,
Would scarce have wished to be their prey,
For Lutterward and Fontenaye.
High minds, of native pride and force,
Most deeply feel thy pangs, Remorse!
Fear, for their scourge, mean villians have,
Thou art the torturer of the brave;
Yet, fatal strength, they boast to steel
Their minds to bear the wounds they feel;
E’en while they writhe beneath the smart
Of civil conflict in the heart.
For soon Lord Marmion raised his head,
And, smiling, to Fitz-Eustace said:—
“Is it not strange, that, as ye sung,
Seemed in mine ear a death-peal rung,
Such as in nunneries they toll
For some departing sister's soul?
Say, what may this portend?”—
Then first the Palmer silence broke,
(The live-long day he had not spoke,)
“The death of a dear friend.”
Marmion, whose steady heart and eye
Ne'er changed in worst extremity;
Marmion, whose soul could scantly brook,
E’en from his King, a haughty look;
Whose accent of command controlled,
In camps, the boldest of the bold—
Thought, look, and utterance, failed him now,
Fallen was his glance, and flushed his brow:
For either in the tone,
Or something in the Palmer's look,
So full upon his conscience strook,
That answer he found none.
Thus oft it haps, that when within
They shrink at sense of secret sin,
A feather daunts the brave;
A fool's wild speech confounds the wise,
And proudest princes veil their eyes
Before their meanest slave.
Well might he falter!—by his aid
Was Constance Beverley betrayed;
Not that he augur'd of the doom,
Which on the living closed the tomb;
But, tired to hear the desperate maid
Threaten by turns, beseech, upbraid;
And wroth, because, in wild despair
She practised on the life of Clare;
Its fugitive the church he gave,
Though not a victim but a slave;
And deemed restraint in convent strange,
Would hide her wrongs, and her revenge.
Himself, proud Henry's favourite peer,
Held Romish thunders, idle fear;
Secure his pardon he might hold,
For some slight mulct of penance-gold.
Thus judging, he gave secret way,
When the stern priests surprised their prey;
His train but deemed the favourite page
Was left behind, to spare his age;
Or other if they deemed, none dared
To mutter what he thought and heard:
Wo to the vassal, who durst pry
Into Lord Marmion's privacy!
XVI. His conscience slept—he deemed her well, And safe secured in distant cell; But wakened by her favourite lay, And that strange Palmer's boding say, That fell so ominous and drear, Full on the object of his fear, To aid remorse's venomed throes, Dark tales of convent vengeance rose; And Constance, late betrayed and scorned, All lovely on his soul returned: Lovely as when, at treacherous call, She left her convent's peaceful wall, Crimsoned with shame, with terror mute, Dreading alike escape, pursuit, Till love, victorious o'er alarms, Hid fears and blushes in his arms.
XVII. “Alas!” he thought, “how changed that mien: How changed these timid looks have been, Since years of guilt, and of disguise, Have steeled her brow, and armed her eyes! No more of virgin terror speaks The blood that mantles in her cheeks; Fierce, and unfeminine, are there, Frenzy for joy, for grief, despair; And I the cause—for whom were given Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven— “Would,” thought he, as the picture grows, “I on its stalk had left the rose! Oh why should man's success remove The very charms that wake his love!— Her convent's peaceful solitude Is now a prison harsh and rude; And, pent within the narrow cell, How will her spirit chafe and swell! How brook the stern monastic laws! The penance how—and I the cause!— Vigil and scourge—perchance e'en worse!”— And twice he rose to cry “to horse!” And twice his sovereign's mandate came, Like damp upon a kindling flame; And twice he thought, “Gave I not charge She should be safe, though not at large? They durst not, for their island, shred One golden ringlet from her head.”