1 WHERE the clear DERWENT'S waters glide
2 Along their mossy bed,
3 Close by the river's verdant side,
4 A castle rear'd its head.
5 The ancient pile by time eras'd,
6 And level'd with the ground,
7 Once many a sculptur'd trophy grac'd,
8 And banners wav'd around.
9 There liv'd a Chief, to fame well known,
10 A warlike, virtuous knight,
11 Who many a well-fought field had won
12 By valour and by might.
[Page 2]
13 What time in martial pomp he led
14 His chosen gallant train,
15 The foe that erst had conquer'd, fled,
16 Indignant fled the plain.
17 Yet milder virtues he possest,
18 More gentle passions felt;
19 And in his calm and yielding breast
20 Each soft affection dwelt.
21 Not all the rugged toils of war
22 His bosom e'er could steel;
23 He felt for every child of care,
24 His heart was apt to feel.
25 And much that heart was doom'd to bear,
26 And many a grief to prove;
27 To feel the fulness of despair,
28 The woes of hopeless love;
[Page 3]
29 To lose the partner of his breast,
30 Who sooth'd each rising care;
31 And with mild efforts charm'd to rest
32 The griefs she sought to share.
33 He mark'd the chilling damps of death
34 O'erspread her fading charms;
35 He saw her yield her quiv'ring breath,
36 And sink in death's cold arms.
37 From solitude he hop'd relief,
38 And this lone mansion sought,
39 To cherish there his sacred grief,
40 And nurse the tender thought.
41 Here, object of his fondest cares,
42 An infant daughter smil'd;
43 And oft the mourner's falling tears
44 Bedew'd his EMMA's child!
[Page 4]
45 These tears, as o'er the babe he hung,
46 Would tremble in his eye;
47 While blessings fault'ring on his tongue,
48 Were breath'd but in a sigh.
49 For many a sad revolving year
50 His hopeless griefs endure;
51 For ah! a sorrow so severe
52 'Tis death alone can cure.
53 Yet time can soften the deep wound
54 It has not power to heal;
55 And in his child he thought he found
56 His much-lov'd EMMA still.
57 In his ELTRUDA's gentle breast
58 His griefs he could repose;
59 With each endearing virtue blest,
60 She soften'd all his woes.
[Page 5]
61 Twas easy in her look to trace
62 An emblem of her mind:
63 There dwelt each mild attractive grace,
64 Each gentle charm combin'd.
65 Soft as the dews of morn arise,
66 And on the pale flower gleam,
67 So soft, so sweet her melting eyes
68 With love and pity beam.
69 As far retir'd the lonely flower
70 Smiles in the desart vale,
71 And blooms its balmy sweets to pour
72 Upon the flying gale;
73 So liv'd in solitude unseen
74 This lovely, peerless maid;
75 So sweetly grac'd the vernal scene,
76 And blossom'd in the shade.
[Page 6]
77 Yet love could pierce the lone recess,
78 For there he loves to dwell;
79 He scorns the noisy croud to bless,
80 And seeks the lowly cell.
81 There only his resistless dart
82 In all its power is known;
83 His empire sways each willing heart;
84 They live to love alone,
85 EDWIN, of every grace possest,
86 First taught her heart to prove
87 That gentlest passion of the breast,
88 To seel the power of love.
89 Tho' few the pastures he possest,
90 Tho' scanty was his store,
91 Tho' wealth ne'er swell'd his hoarded chest,
92 EDWIN could boast of more!
[Page 7]
93 EDWIN could boast the liberal mind,
94 The gen'rous, ample heart;
95 And every virtue heav'n inclin'd
96 To bounty, can impart.
97 The maxims of this servile age,
98 The mean, the selfish care,
99 The sordid views that now engage
100 The mercenary pair,
101 Whom riches can unite or part,
102 To them were all unknown;
103 For then the sympathetic heart
104 Was link'd by love alone.
105 They little knew that wealth had power
106 To make the constant rove;
107 They little knew the splendid dower
108 Could add a bliss to love.
[Page 8]
109 They little knew the human breast
110 Could pant for sordid ore;
111 Or, of a faithful heart possest,
112 Could ever wish for more.
113 And tho' her peerless beauty warms
114 His heart to love inclin'd;
115 Not less he felt the lasting charms,
116 The beauties of her mind.
117 Not less his gentle soul approv'd
118 The virtues glowing there;
119 For surely Virtue to be lov'd
120 Needs only to appear.
121 The sweets of dear domestic bliss
122 Each circling hour beguil'd;
123 And meek-ey'd hope, and inward peace
124 On the lone mansion smil'd.
[Page 9]
125 Oft o'er the daisy-sprinkled mead,
126 They wander'd far away,
127 Some lambkin to the fold to lead,
128 That haply chanc'd to stray.
129 Her heart, where pity lov'd to dwell,
130 With sadness oft was wrung;
131 For the bruis'd insect as it fell,
132 Her soft tear trembling hung.
133 As roving o'er the flow'ry waste,
134 A sigh would heave her breast
135 The while her gentle hand replac'd
136 The linnet's falling nest.
137 Then would she seek the vernal bow'r,
138 And haste with tender care
139 To nurse some pale declining flow'r,
140 Some op'ning blossom rear.
[Page 10]
141 And oft with eager steps she flies
142 To chear the lonely cot,
143 Where the poor widow pour her sighs,
144 And wails her hapless lot.
145 Their weeping mother's trembling knees
146 Her lisping infants clasp;
147 Their meek imploring look she fees,
148 She feels their tender grasp.
149 Wild throbs her aching bosom swell!
150 They mark the bursting sigh
151 (Nature has form'd the soul to feel)
152 They weep, unknowing why.
153 HER hands the lib'ral boon impart,
154 And much her tear avails
155 To sooth the mourner's bursting heart,
156 Where feeble utterance fails.
[Page 11]
157 On the pale cheek where hung the tear
158 Of agonizing woe,
159 She bids the gush of joy rise there,
160 The tear of rapture flow.
161 If greater plenty to impart
162 She e'er would heav'n implore,
163 'Twas only that her ample heart
164 Still panted to do more.
165 Thus soft the gliding moments flew,
166 (Tho' love would court their stay)
167 While some new virtue rose to view,
168 And mark'd each fleeting day.
169 Peace, long condemn'd the world to roam,
170 Like the poor wand'ring dove,
171 Here softly-resting found a home,
172 And wish'd no more to rove.
[Page 12]
173 The youthful poet's soothing dream
174 Of golden ages past,
175 The Muses' fond ideal theme
176 Was realiz'd at last.
177 Joy springs amid' encircling cares
178 To breasts where virtue glows;
179 For Virtue, in this vale of tears,
180 A paradise bestows.
181 But vainly here we hope that bliss
182 Unchanging will endure;
183 Ah, in a world so vain as this,
184 What heart can rest secure?
185 For now arose the death-fraught day,
186 For civil discord fam'd,
187 When YORK from LANCASTER's proud sway,
188 The Royal sceptre claim'd.
[Page 13]
189 The passing moments now were fraught
190 With desolating rage;
191 And now the bloody deeds were wrought
192 That swell th' historic page.
193 The good old ALBERT vows again
194 To seek the hostile field;
195 The cause of HENRY to maintain,
196 The spear for him to wield.
197 But oh, a thousand sacred ties
198 That bind the hero's soul,
199 A thousand tender claims arise,
200 And EDWIN's breast controul,
201 And link the youth to HENRY's foes
202 But ah, it rends his heart
203 The aged ALBERT to oppose;
204 To bear an adverse part.
[Page 14]
205 Tho' passion pleads in HENRY's cause,
206 And EDWIN's heart would sway,
207 Yet honour's stern imperious laws
208 The brave will still obey.
209 Oppress'd with many a mingled care,
210 Full oft ELTRUDA sigh'd,
211 And mourn'd the rugged brow of war
212 Should those she lov'd divide.
213 At length the fatal morn arose
214 In gloomy vapours drest;
215 The pensive maiden's sorrow flows,
216 And pale fear heav'd her breast.
217 A thousand pangs the father feels,
218 A thousand tender fears;
219 While at his feet she trembling kneels,
220 And bathes them with her tears.
[Page 15]
221 A falling drop bedew'd his cheek,
222 From the sad scene he flew;
223 The tender father could not speak
224 He could not say adieu!
225 Then EDWIN, hapless EDWIN came;
226 He saw her pallid look,
227 And tremblings seize her tender frame,
228 While thus he fault'ring spoke:
229 "This cruel tenderness but wounds
230 " The heart it means to bless:
231 "Those falling tears, those plaintive sounds,
232 " Increase the soft distress!
233 "Then be to wretched EDWIN kind,
234 " Nor mourn, dear tender maid "
235 At length, on EDWIN's breast reclin'd,
236 ELTRUDA faintly said:
[Page 16]
237 "If fate relentless has decreed,
238 " On yonder hostile plain,
239 "My EDWIN's destin'd heart to bleed,
240 " And swell the heaps of slain;
241 "Trust me, my love, I'll not complain,
242 " I'll shed no feeble tear;
243 "Not one weak drop my cheek shall stain,
244 " Or tell what passes here!
245 "Ah, let thy fate of others claim
246 " A tear, a tender sigh;
247 "I'll only murmur thy dear name
248 " Call on my love and die. "
249 'Twere vain for feeble words to tell
250 The pangs their bosoms prov'd;
251 They only can conceive it well
252 Whose hearts have trembling lov'd.
[Page 17]
253 The timid Muse forbears to say
254 What laurels EDWIN won;
255 Nor paints the gallant deeds that day
256 By aged ALBERT done.
257 On softer themes alone she dwells,
258 As trembling thro' the grove,
259 Of friendship's woes she sad'ning tells,
260 Or sings of hapless love.
261 Tho' long the beaming day was fled,
262 The fight they still maintain;
263 While night a deeper horror shed
264 O'er the ensanguin'd plain.
265 The martial trump invades the ear,
266 And drowns the orphan's cry:
267 No more the widow's shriek they hear,
268 The love-lorn virgin's sigh!
[Page 18]
269 The pangs those dear-bought laurels yield,
270 Alas, what tongue can speak?
271 Perchance not one that strews the field
272 But leaves some heart to break.
273 To ALBERT's breast the faulshion flew
274 He felt a mortal wound;
275 The drops that warm'd his heart, bedew
276 And stain the flinty ground.
277 The Foe who aim'd the deadly dart,
278 Heard his expiring sighs;
279 Soft pity touch'd his yielding heart,
280 To ALBERT streight he flies
281 While round the Chief his arms he cast,
282 While oft his bosom sigh'd,
283 And seem'd as if it mourn'd the past
284 Old ALBERT faintly cry'd,
[Page 19]
285 "Tho' nature heaves these feeble groans,
286 " Without complaint I die.
287 "Yet one dear care my heart still owns,
288 " Still feels one tender tie.
289 "For YORK, a youth well known to fame
290 " Uplifts the hostile spear;
291 "EDWIN's the blooming heroe's name,
292 " To ALBERT's bosom dear;
293 "Ah, tell him my expiring sigh,
294 " Say my last words besought
295 "To my despairing child to fly,
296 "'Ere fame the tidings brought: "
297 He spoke! but oh, what mournful strain
298 In sadness apt to melt,
299 What moving numbers can explain
300 The pangs that EDWIN felt!
[Page 20]
301 For EDWIN 'twas himself that held
302 The dying warrior prest,
303 (Whom the dark shades of night conceal'd)
304 Close to his throbbing breast.
305 "Ah, fly (he cry'd) my touch profane!
306 " Oh how the rest impart?
307 "'Twas EDWIN plung'd rever'd old man
308 " The dagger in thy heart. "
309 His dying eyes he feebly rais'd,
310 Which seem'd for ever clos'd;
311 On the pale youth they piteous gaz'd
312 And then in death repos'd.
313 "I'll go (the hapless EDWIN said)
314 " And breathe a last adieu;
315 "And with the drops despair will shed,
316 " My mourning love bedew.
[Page 21]
317 "I'll go the tender maid to seek,
318 " To catch her bursting sigh,
319 "To wipe the tear from her pale cheek,
320 " And at her feet to die. "
321 And as the tender maid to seek
322 The frantic mourner flew,
323 To wipe the tear from her pale cheek,
324 And breathe a last adieu,
325 Appall'd his startling fancy sees
326 His true love's sorrows flow;
327 And hears in every passing breeze
328 The plaintive sounds of woe.
329 Mean while the weeping maid, whose prayers
330 In vain would heav'n implore,
331 Of ALBERT's fate despairing hears,
332 But yet had heard no more.
[Page 22]
333 She saw her much-lov'd EDWIN near
334 She saw, and piteous sigh'd;
335 The sight chill'd every falling tear
336 At length she faintly cry'd,
337 "Eternal woes this heart must prove;
338 " Its tenderest ties are broke:
339 "Ah say, what ruthless arm, my love,
340 " Could aim the deadly stroke!
341 "Could not thy hand, my EDWIN, thine,
342 " Have warded off the blow?
343 "For, ah, he was not only mine,
344 " He was thy father too!
345 No longer EDWIN could endure
346 The pangs no strains can tell;
347 From death he fondly hop'd a cure,
348 As senseless, cold, he fell.
[Page 23]
349 She flew she gave her sorrows vent
350 A thousand tears she pour'd;
351 Her mournful voice, her moving plaint,
352 The youth to life restor'd.
353 "Why wildly throbs each shiv'ring vein?
354 " (She cry'd) my EDWIN speak
355 "Or all unable to sustain
356 " These pangs, my heart will break. "
357 "Yes it will break, (he frantic cry'd)
358 " For me will life resign
359 "Then trembling know thy father died,
360 " And know the guilt was mine. "
361 "It is enough!" with short quick breath,
362 Exclaim'd the mournful maid:
363 She spoke no more, but seem'd from death
364 To hope for instant aid.
[Page 24]
365 But lo! a pensive, silent train
366 With downcast looks appear;
367 Who ALBERT'S pallid corse sustain,
368 Plac'd on a sable bier.
369 For hapless EDWIN fondly thought
370 It might some comfort yield,
371 If good old ALBERT'S corse were brought
372 From off the blood-stain'd field.
373 He thought 'twould sooth ELTRUDA'S pains,
374 O'er the dear hallow'd urn
375 Which ALBERT'S sacred dust contains,
376 A while her griefs to mourn.
377 But ah, all frantic at the sight,
378 A hurried glance she threw;
379 Then starting wild with pale affright,
380 That hurried glance withdrew.
[Page 25]
381 Trembling she rush'd, and in her arms
382 The dear remains she prest;
383 But sudden, paleness veil'd her charms
384 So late in beauty drest.
385 In plaintive accents EDWIN cries,
386 "And have I murder'd thee?
387 " To other worlds thy spirit flies,
388 "And mine this stroke shall free."
389 His hand the death-fraught weapon grasp'd,
390 The steel he firmly prest,
391 When sudden she arose, and clasp'd
392 Him wildly to her breast.
393 "Methought (she cry'd with panting breath)
394 " My EDWIN talk'd of peace,
395 "I knew 'twas only found in death,
396 " And fear'd that sad release.
[Page 26]
397 "I clasp him still 'twas but a dream
398 " Help yon wide wound to close,
399 "From which a father's spirits stream,
400 " A father's life-blood flows.
401 "But see, from thee he shrinks! nor would
402 " Be blasted by thy touch
403 "Ah, tho' my EDWIN spilt thy blood,
404 " Yet once he lov'd thee much.
405 "My father, yet in pity stay!
406 " I see his white beard wave
407 "A spirit beckons him away,
408 " And points to yon cold grave.
409 "E'en now, my love, I trembling hear
410 " Him breath a last adieu!
411 "I see, my love, the falling tear
412 " His furrow'd cheek bedew!
[Page 27]
413 "I feel within his aged arms
414 " His poor ELTRUDA prest:
415 "I hear him speak the fond alarms
416 " That wring a parent's breast.
417 "He's gone! and here his ashes sleep;
418 " I do not heave a sigh
419 "His child a father does not weep,
420 " For, ah, my brain is dry!
421 "But come, together let us rove
422 " At the pale hour of night,
423 "When the moon glimm'ring thro' the grov
424 " Shall shed her faintest light:
425 "We'll gather from the rosy bow'r
426 " The fairest wreaths that bloom;
427 "We'll cull, my love, each op'ning flow '
428 " To deck his hallow'd tomb.
[Page 28]
429 "We'll thither from the distant dale,
430 " A weeping willow bear;
431 "And plant a lily of the vale,
432 " A drooping lily there!
433 "We'll shun the glaring face of day,
434 " Eternal silence keep;
435 "Thro' the dark wood we'll chearless stray,
436 " And only live to weep.
437 "But hark! 'tis come the fatal time
438 " When, EDWIN, we must part;
439 "Some angel tells me 'tis a crime
440 " To hold thee to my heart.
441 "My father's spirit hovers near:
442 " Alas, he comes to chide
443 "Is there no means, my EDWIN dear,
444 " The fatal deed to hide?
[Page 29]
445 "None, none for wheresoe'er we go
446 " Lo, streams of blood proceed!
447 "And should the torrent cease to flow,
448 " Yet still our hearts would bleed.
449 "Our hearts the secret would betray,
450 " The tale of death reveal;
451 "Angels would come in dread array,
452 " The bloody deed to tell.
453 "Yet, EDWIN, if th' offence be thine
454 " Too soon I can forgive;
455 "But, oh, the guilt would all be mine,
456 " Could I endure to live.
457 "Farewell, my love! for, ah, I faint:
458 " Of pale despair I die.
459 "And see that hoary murder'd saint
460 " Descends from yon blue sky.
[Page 30]
461 "Poor, weak old man! he comes, my love,
462 " To lead to heav'n the way;
463 "He knows not heaven will joyless prove,
464 " While EDWIN is away. "
465 "It is too much!" (he frantic cry'd)
466 Then to his bosom prest
467 The dying maid, who piteous sigh'd
468 And sunk to endless rest.
469 He saw her dying eye-lids close,
470 He heard her latest sigh,
471 And yet no tear of anguish flows
472 Fast streaming from his eye.
473 For, ah, the fulness of despair,
474 The pang of high-wrought woe,
475 Admits no silent trembling tear,
476 No lenient drop to flow.
[Page 31]
477 He feels within his shivering veins
478 A mortal chillness rise;
479 Her pallid corse he feebly strains
480 And on her bosom dies!
481 No longer may their hapless lot
482 The mournful Muse engage;
483 She wipes away the tears that blot
484 The melancholy page.
485 For heav'n in love dissolves the ties
486 That chain the spirit here;
487 And distant far for ever flies
488 The blessing held most dear;
489 To bid the suff'rer's soul aspire
490 A higher bliss to prove,
491 To wake the pure, refin'd desire,
492 The hope that rests above!


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): EDWIN AND ELTRUDA.
Themes: mythology
Genres: narrative verse
Headnote: First published in 1782. A reworked shorter version was published in 1823.

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Source edition

Williams, Helen Maria, 1762-1827. Edwin and Eltruda: A legendary tale. By a young lady. London: printed for T. Cadell, 1782, pp. []-31. [4],iii,[1],31,[1]p.; 4⁰. (ESTC T81521; OTA K066811.000) (Page images digitized by University of Michigan Library.)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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Other works by Helen Maria Williams