« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
And climbing up the hill, (it was at least
Nine roods of sheer ascent), Sir Walter found
Three several hoof-marks which the hunted beast
Had left imprinted on the verdant ground.
Sir Walter wiped his face, and cried, “ Till now
Such sight was never seen by living eyes :
Three leaps have borne him from this lofty brow,
Down to the very fountain where he lies.
“I'll build a pleasure-house upon this spot,
And a small arbour made for rural joy ;
'Twill be the traveller's shed, the pilgrim's cot,
A place of love for damsels that are coy.
“A cunning artist will I have to frame
A basin for that fountain in the dell !
And they who do make mention of the same
From this day forth shall call it Hart-Leap Well.
“And, gallant Stag ! to make thy praises known,
Another monument shall here be raised ;
Three several pillars, each a rough-hewn stone,
And planted where thy hoofs the turf have grazed..
"And in the summer-time, when days are long,
I will come hither with my paramour ;
And with the dancers, and the minstrel's song,
We will make merry in that pleasant bower.
“Till the foundations of the mountains fail, My mansion with its arbour shall endure :
The joy of them who till the fields of Swale,
And them who dwell among the woods of Ure !"
Then home he went, and left the Hart, stone dead,
With breathless nostrils stretched above the spring.–
Soon did the Knight perform what he had said.
And far and wide the fame thereof did ring.
Ere thrice the moon into her port had steered,
A cup of stone received the living well ;
Three pillars of rude stone Sir Walter reared,
And built a house of pleasure in the dell.
And near the fountain, flowers of stature tall,
With trailing plants and trees were intertwined, -
Which soon composed a little sylvan hall,
A leafy shelter from the sun and wind.
And thither, when the summer days were long,
Sir Walter led his wondering paramour ;
And with the dancers, and the minstrel's song,
Made merriment within that pleasant bower.
The Knight, Sir Walter, died in course of time,
And his bones lie in his paternal vale.
But there is matter for a second rhyme,
And I to this would add another tale.
The moving accident is not my trade :
To freeze the blood I have no ready arts :
'Tis my delight, alone in summer shade,
To pipe a simple song for thinking hearts.
As I from Hawes to Richmond did repair,
It chanced that I saw standing in a dell,
Three aspens at three corners of a square ;
And one, not four yards distant, near a well.
What this imported I could ill divine :
And, pulling now the rein, my horse to stop,
I saw three pillars standing in a line,
The last stone pillar on a dark hill-top.
The trees were gray, with neither arms nor head ;
Half-wasted the square mound of tawny green ;
So that you just might say, as then I said,
“Here, in old time, the hand of man hath been.”
I looked upon the hill both far and near,
More doleful place did'never eye survey ;
It seemed as if the spring-time came not here,
And Nature here were willing to decay.
I stood, in various thoughts and fancies lost,
When one who was in shepherd's garb attired,
Came up the hollow : him did I accost,
And what this place might be I then inquired.
The shepherd stopped, and that same story told
Which in my former rhyme I have rehearsed.
A jolly place,” said he, “in times of old !
But something ails it now; the spot is cursed.
“ You see these lifeless stumps of aspen wood
Some say that they are beeches, others elms-
These were the bower ; and here a mansion stood,
The finest palace of a hundred realms !
" The arbour does its own condition tell ;
You see the stones, the fountain, and the stream ;
But as to the great lodge ! you might as well
Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream.
“There's neither dog nor heifer, horse nor sheep,
Will wet his lips within that cup of stone ;
And oftentimes, when all are fast asleep,
This water doth send forth a dolorous groan.
“Some say that here a murder has been done,
And blood cries out for blood ; but for my part,
I've guessed, when I've been sitting in the sun,
That it was all for that unhappy Hart.
"What thoughts must through the creature's brain have
Even from the topmost stone, upon the steep,
Are but three bounds—and look, sir, at this last
O master ! it has been a cruel leap.
“ For thirteen hours he ran a desperate race ; And in my simple mind we cannot tell
What cause the Hart might have to love this place, And come and make his deathbed near the well.
"Here on the grass, perhaps, asleep he sank,
Lulled by the fountain in the summer-tide ;
This water was perhaps the first he drank,
When he had wandered from his mother's side.
“In April, here beneath the scented thorn,
He heard the birds their morning carols sing ;
And he, perhaps, for ought we know, was born
Not half a furlong from that self-same spring.
“Now here is neither grass nor pleasant shade,
The sun on drearier hollow never shone ;
So will it be, as I have often said,
Till trees and stones and fountain all are gone."
“Gray-headed shepherd, thou hast spoken well :
Small difference lies between thy creed and mine :
This beast not unobserved by Nature fell ;
His death was mourned by sympathy divine.
“The Being that is in the clouds and air,
That is in the green leaves among the groves,
Maintains a deep and reverential care
For the unoffending creatures whom He loves.
“The pleasure-house is dust ;-behind, before,
This is no common waste, no common gloom ;
But Nature, in due course of time, once more
Shall here put on her beauty and her bloom.