NIGHT SCENES OF OTHER TIMES.
A Poem, in Three Parts.
1 "THE night winds bellow o'er my head
2 Dim grows the fading light;
3 Where shall I find some friendly shed
4 To screen me from the night?
5 "Ah! round me lies a desert vast,
6 No habitation near;
7 And dark and pathless is the waste
8 And fills my mind with fear.
9 "Thou distant tree, whose lonely top
10 Has bent to many a storm,
11 No more canst thou deceive my hope
12 And take my lover's form;
13 "For o'er thy head the dark cloud rolls,
14 Dark as thy blasted pride;
15 How deep the angry tempest growls
16 Along the mountain's side.
17 "Safely within the shaggy brake
18 Are couched the mountain deer;
19 A sound unbroken sleep they take;
20 No haunts of men are near.
21 "Beneath the fern the moorcock sleeps,
22 And twisted adders lie;
23 Back to his rock the night-bird creeps,
24 Nor gives his wonted cry.
25 "For angry spirits of the night
26 Ride on the troubled air,
27 And to their dens, in strange affright,
28 The beasts of prey repair.
29 "But thou, my love! where dost thou rest?
30 What shelter covers thee?
31 O may this cold and wintry blast
32 But only beat on me!
33 "Some friendly dwelling mayst thou find,
34 Where sleep may banish care
35 And thou feel not the chilly wind
36 That scatters Margaret's hair.
37 "Ah no! for thou didst give thy word
38 To meet me on the way:
39 Nor friendly roof nor social board
40 Will tempt a lover's stay.
41 "O raise thy voice if thou art near!
42 Its weakest sound were bliss;
43 What other sound my heart can cheer
44 In such a gloom as this?
45 "But from the hills with deafening roar
46 The dashing torrents fall,
47 And heavy beats the drifted shower,
48 And mock a lover's call.
49 "Ha! see, across the dreary waste,
50 A moving form appears,
51 It is my love, my cares are past;
52 How vain were all my fears!"
53 The form advanced, but sad and slow,
54 Not with a lover's tread;
55 And from his cheek the youthful glow
56 And greeting smile were fled.
57 Dim sadness sat upon his brow;
58 Fixed was his beamless eye;
59 His face was like a moon-light bow
60 Upon a wintry sky.
61 And fixed and ghastly to the sight
62 His strengthened features rose,
63 And bended was his graceful height,
64 And bloody were his clothes.
65 "My Margaret, calm thy troubled breast;
66 Thy sorrow now is vain;
67 Thy Edward from his peaceful rest
68 Shall ne'er return again.
69 "A treacherous friend has laid me low,
70 Has fixed my early doom,
71 And laid my corse with feigned woe
72 Beneath a vaunted tomb.
73 "To take thee to my home I sware,
74 And here we were to meet;
75 Wilt thou a narrow coffin share,
76 And part my winding sheet?
77 "But late the lord of many lands,
78 And now a grave is all:
79 My blood is warm upon his hands
80 Who revels in my hall.
81 "Yet think, thy father's hoary hair
82 Is watered with his tears;
83 He has but thee to soothe his care,
84 And prop his load of years.
85 "Remember Edward when he's gone
86 He only lived for thee;
87 And when thou art pensive and alone
88 Dear Margaret, call on me!
89 "Though deep beneath the mouldering clod
90 I rest my wounded head,
91 And terrible that call and loud
92 Which shall awake the dead!"
93 "No, Edward; I will follow thee,
94 And share thy hapless doom;
95 Companions shall our spirits be,
96 Though distant is thy tomb.
97 "O! never to my father's tower
98 Will I return again;
99 A bleeding heart has little power
100 To ease another's pain.
101 "Upon the wing my spirit flies,
102 I feel my course is run;
103 Nor shall these dim and weary eyes
104 Behold to-morrow's sun."
105 Like early dew, or hoary frost
106 Spent with the beaming day,
107 So shrunk the pale and watery ghost,
108 And dimly wore away.
109 No longer Margaret felt the storm,
110 She bowed her lovely head,
111 And, with her lover's fleeting form,
112 Her gentle spirit fled.
1 "LOUD roars the wind that shakes the wall,
2 It is no common blast;
3 Deep hollow sounds pass through my hall:
4 O would the night were past!
5 "Methinks the demons of the air
6 Upon the turrets growl,
7 While down the empty winding stair
8 Their deepening murmurs roll.
9 "The glimmering fire cheers not the gloom,
10 Blue burns the quivering ray,
11 And, like a taper in a tomb,
12 But spreads the more dismay.
13 "Athwart its melancholy light
14 The lengthened shadow falls;
15 My grandsires to my troubled sight
16 Lower on me from these walls.
17 "Methinks yon angry warrior's head
18 Doth in its panel frown,
19 And dart a look, as if it said,
20 'Where hast thou laid my son?'
21 "But will these fancies never cease?
22 O would the night were run!
23 My troubled soul can find no peace
24 But with the morning sun,
25 "Vain hope! the guilty never rest;
26 Dismay is always near;
27 There is a midnight in the breast
28 No morn shall ever cheer.
29 "Now soundly sleeps the weary hind,
30 Though lowly lies his head;
31 An easy lair the guiltless find
32 Upon the hardest bed.
33 "The beggar, in his wretched haunt,
34 May now a monarch be;
35 Forget his woe, forget his want,
36 For all can sleep but me.
37 "I've dared whate'er the boldest can,
38 Then why this childish dread?
39 I never feared a living man,
40 And shall I fear the dead?
41 "No; whistling blasts may shake my tower,
42 And passing spirits scream:
43 Their shadowy arms are void of power,
44 And but a gloomy dream.
45 "But, lo! a form advancing slow
46 Across the dusky hall,
47 Art thou a friend? — art thou a foe?
48 O answer to my call!"
49 Still nearer to the glimmering light
50 The stately figure strode,
51 Till full, and horrid to the sight,
52 The murthered Edward stood.
53 A broken shaft his right hand swayed,
54 Like Time's dark, threatening dart,
55 And pointed to a rugged blade
56 That quivered in his heart.
57 The blood still trickled from his head,
58 And clotted was his hair;
59 His severed vesture stained and red;
60 His mangled breast was bare.
61 His face was like a muddy sky
62 Before the coming snow;
63 And dark and dreadful was his eye,
64 And cloudy was his brow.
65 Pale Conrad shrunk, but drew his sword —
66 Fear thrilled in every vein;
67 His quivering lips gave out no word;
68 He paused, and shrunk again.
69 Then utterance came — "At this dread hour
70 Why dost thou haunt the night?
71 Has the deep gloomy vault no power
72 To keep thee from my sight?
73 "Why dost thou glare and slowly wave
74 That fatal shaft of strife?
75 The deed is done, and from the grave
76 Who can recall to life? [Page 44]
77 "Why roll thine eyes beneath thy brow
78 Dark as the midnight storm?
79 What dost thou want? O let me know,
80 But hide thy dreadful form.
81 "I'd give the life-blood from my heart
82 To wash my crime away:
83 If thou a spirit art, depart,
84 Nor haunt a wretch of clay!
85 "Say, dost thou with the blessed dwell? —
86 Return and blessed be!
87 Or comest thou from the lowest hell? —
88 I am more cursed than thee."
89 The form advanced with solemn steps
90 As if it meant to speak,
91 And seemed to move its pallid lips,
92 But silence did not break.
93 Then sternly stalked with heavy pace
94 Which shook the floor and wall,
95 And turned away its fearful face,
96 And vanished from the hall.
97 Transfixed and powerless, Conrad stood;
98 Ears ring, and eyeballs swell;
99 Back to his heart runs the cold blood;
100 Into a trance he fell.
101 Night fled, and through the windows 'gan
102 The early light to play;
103 But on a more unhappy man
104 Ne'er shone the dawning day.
105 The gladsome sun all nature cheers,
106 But cannot charm his cares;
107 Still dwells his mind with gloomy fears,
108 And murdered Edward glares.
1 "No rest nor comfort can I find:
2 I watch the midnight hour;
3 I sit and listen to the wind
4 That beats upon my tower.
5 "Methinks low voices from the ground
6 Break mournful on my ear,
7 And through these empty chambers sound
8 So dismal and so drear!
9 "The ghost of some departed friend
10 Doth in my sorrows share;
11 Or is it but the rushing wind
12 That mocketh my despair?
13 "Sad through the hall the pale lamp gleams
14 Upon my father's arms;
15 My soul is filled with gloomy dreams,
16 I fear unknown alarms.
17 "O, I have known this lonely place
18 With every blessing stored,
19 And many a friend with cheerful face
20 Sit smiling at my board!
21 "While round the hearth, in early bloom,
22 My harmless children played,
23 Who now within the narrow tomb
24 Are with their mother laid.
25 "Now sadly bends my wretched head,
26 And those I loved are gone:
27 My friends, my family, all are fled,
28 And I am left alone.
29 "Oft as the cheerless fire declines,
30 In it I sadly trace,
31 As lone I sit, the half-formed lines
32 Of many a much-loved face.
33 "But chiefly, Margaret, to my mind,
34 Thy lovely features rise;
35 I strive to think thee less unkind,
36 And wipe my streaming eyes.
37 "For only thee I had to vaunt,
38 Thou wert thy mother's pride;
39 She left thee like a shooting plant,
40 To screen my widowed side.
41 "But thou forsakest me, weak, forlorn,
42 And chilled with age's frost,
43 To count my weary days and mourn
44 The comforts I have lost.
45 "Unkindly child! why didst thou go?
46 O, had I known the truth!
47 Though Edward's father was my foe,
48 I would have blessed the youth.
49 "Could I but see that face again,
50 Whose smile calmed every strife,
51 And hear that voice which soothed my pain,
52 And made me wish for life!
53 "Thy harp hangs silent by the wall:
54 My nights are sad and long,
55 And thou art in a distant hall,
56 Where strangers raise the song.
57 "Ha! some delusion of the mind
58 My senses doth confound!
59 It is the harp, and not the wind,
60 That did so sweetly sound." [Page 50]
61 Old Arno rose all wan as death,
62 And turned his eager ear,
63 And checked the while his quickened breath
64 The sound again to hear.
65 When like a full, but distant choir,
66 The swelling notes returned;
67 And with the softly trembling wire
68 Surrounding echoes mourned;
69 Then softly whispered o'er the song
70 That Margaret loved to play,
71 Its well-known measure lingered long,
72 And faintly died away.
73 His dim-worn eyes to heaven he cast,
74 Where all his griefs were known,
75 And smote upon his troubled breast,
76 And heaved a heavy groan.
77 "I know it is my daughter's hand,
78 But 'tis no hand of clay;
79 And here a lonely wretch I stand,
80 All childless, bent, and grey.
81 "And art thou low, my lovely child,
82 And hast thou met thy doom,
83 And has thy flattering morning smiled,
84 To lead but to the tomb?
85 "O let me see thee ere we part,
86 For souls like thine are blest;
87 O let me fold thee to my heart,
88 If aught of form thou hast!
89 "This passing mist conceals thy shape,
90 But it is shrunk or flown;
91 Why dost thou from mine arms escape,
92 Art thou not still mine own? [Page 52]
93 "Thou'rt fled like the low evening breath,
94 That sighs upon the hill:
95 O stay! though in thy weeds of death, —
96 Thou art my daughter still."
97 Loud waked the sound, then fainter grew,
98 And long and sadly mourned,
99 And softly sighed a long adieu,
100 And never more returned.
101 Old Arno stretched him on the ground;
102 Thick as the gloom of night,
103 Death's misty shadows gathered round,
104 And swam before his sight.
105 He heaved a deep and deadly groan,
106 That rent his labouring breast,
107 And long before the morning shone,
108 His spirit was at rest.