Изображения страниц

But stopped, because that woeful maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essayed;
Twice she essayed, and twice, in vain,
Her accents might no utterance gain ;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip:

”Twixt each attempt all was so still,
You seemed to hear a distant rill-

'Twas ocean's swells and falls ;
For though this vault of sin and fear
Was to the sounding surge so near,
A tempest there you scarce could hear,

So massive were the walls.

At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled to her heart,

And light came to her eye,
And colour dawned upon her cheek,
A hectic and a fluttered streak,

Like that left on the Cheviot peak,

By Autumn's stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke, she gathered strength,

And arm’d herself to bear.
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,

In form so soft and fair.

[ocr errors]

.“ I speak not to implore your grace;
Well know I for one minute's space

Successless might I sue :
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;
For if a death of lingering pain,
To cleanse my sins, be penance vain,

Vain are your masses too.-
I listened to a traitor's tale,
I left the convent and the veil,

For three long years I bowed my pride,
A horse-boy in his train to ride ;
And well my folly's meed he gave,
Who forfeited, to be his slave,
All here, and all beyond the grave.
He saw young Clara's face more fair,
He knew her of broad lands the heir,
Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
And Constance was beloved no more.-
'Tis an old tale, and often told;

But, did my fate and wish agree,
Ne’er had been read, in story old,
Of maiden true betrayed for gold,

That loved, or was avenged, like me.

XXVIII. “ The king approved his favourite's aim; In vain a rival barred his claim,

Whose faith with Clare's was plight,

For he attaints that rival's fame
With treason's charge—and on they came,
In mortal lists to fight.

Their oaths are said,
Their prayers are prayed,

Their lances in the rest are laid,
They meet in mortal shock;
And hark! the throng, with thundering cry,
Shout “ Marmion, Marmion, to the sky!

De Wilton to the block !"
Say ye, who preach heaven shall decide,
When in the lists two champions ride,

Say, was heaven's justice here?
When, loyal in his love and faith,
Wilton found overthrow or death,

Beneath a traitor's spear. How false the charge, how true he fell, This guilty packet best can tell ”— Then drew a packet from her breast, Paused, gathered voice, and spoke the rest.

XXIX. “ Still was false Marmion's bridal staid; To Whitby's convent fled the maid,

The hated match to shun. · Ho ! shifts she thus ?' king Henry cried, • Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,

If she were sworn a nun.'
One way remained—the king's command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land :
I lingered here, and rescue plann'd

For Clara and for me :
This caitiff monk, for gold, did swear,
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And, by his drugs, my rival fair

A saint in heaven should be.
But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice hath undone us both.

XXX. “ And now iny tongue the secret tells, Not that remorse my bosom swells,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »