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And said I that my limbs were old,
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fied,
And my poor withered heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love ?-
How could I, to the dearest theme
That ever warmed a minstrel's dream,
So foul, so false a recreant prove! How could I name love's very name, Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!
In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
III. So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween, While, pondering deep the tender scene, He rode through Branksome's hawthorns green. But the page shouted wild and shrill,
And scarce his helmet could he don, When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on. That warrior's steed, so dapple-grey, Was dark with sweat, and splashed with clay;
His armour red with many a stain : He seemed in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;
For it was William of Deloraine.
But no whit weary did he seem,
When, dancing in the sunny beam,
He marked the crane on the baron's crest;
For his ready spear was in his rest.
Few were the words, and stern and high,
That marked the foemen's feudal hate;
For question fierce, and proud reply.
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seemed to know
That each was other's mortal foe,
And snorted fire, when wheeled around,
To give each knight his vantage-ground.
In rapid round the baron bent;
He sighed a sigh, and prayed a prayer; The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair.
Stout Deloraine nor sighed nor prayed,
Nor saint nor ladye called to aid;
But he stooped his head, and couched his spear,
And spurred his steed to full career.
The meeting of these champions proud
Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.
Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse's tail,
And his plumes went scattering on the gale:
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.
But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;
Through shield, and jack, and acton, past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last.
Still sate the warrior, saddle-fast,
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurled on a heap lay man and horse.
The baron onward passed his course;
Nor knew-so giddy rolled his brain-
His foe lay stretched upon the plain.
But when he reined his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He bade his page to staunch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay,
And tend him in his doubtful state,
And lead him to Branksome castle-gate:
His noble mind was inly moved
For the kinsman of the maid he loved.
"This shalt thou do without delay:
No longer here myself may stay;
Unless the swifter I speed away,
Short shrift will be at my dying day.'
Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode;
The goblin-page behind abode;
His lord's command he ne'er withstood,
Though small his pleasure to do good.
As the corslet off he took,
The dwarf espied the mighty book!
Much he marvelled a knight of pride,
Like a book-bosomed priest should ride:
He thought not to search or staunch the wound,
Until the secret he had found.
The iron band, the iron clasp,
Resisted long the elfin grasp:
For when the first he had undone,
It closed as he the next begun.
Those iron clasps, that iron band,
Would not yield to unchristened hand,
Till he smeared the cover o'er
With the Borderer's curdled gore;
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read,
It had much of glamour might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nutshell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth-
All was delusion, nought was truth.
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet sell,
So fierce, it stretched him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismayed,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he muttered, and no more,
'Man of age, thou smitest sore!'-
No more the elfin rage durst try
Into the wondrous book to pry;
The clasps, though smeared with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak.
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;
It was not given by man alive.
XI. Unwillingly himself he addressed To do his master's high behest : He lifted up the living corse, And laid it on the weary horse; He led him into Branksome Hall, Before the beards of the warders all; And each did after swear and say, There only passed a wain of hay. He took him to Lord David's tower, Even to the Ladye's secret bower; And, but that stronger spells were spread, And the door might not be opened, He had laid him on her very bed. Whate'er he did of gramarye, Was always done maliciously; He flung the warrior on the ground, And the blood welled freshly from the wound.
As he repassed the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport:
He thought to train him to the wood ;
For, at a word, be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seemed to the boy, some comrade gay
Led him forth to the woods to play ;
On the drawbridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.