OSRIC — THE LION!
1 SWIFT roll the Rhine's billows, and water the plains,
2 Where Falkenstein Castle's majestic remains,
3 Their moss-cover'd turrets still rear;
4 Oft loves the gaunt wolf midst the ruins to prowl,
5 What Time from the battlements pours the lone owl
6 Her plaints in the passenger's ear.
7 No longer resound through the vaults of yon hall
8 The song of the minstrel, and mirth of the ball;
9 Those pleasures for ever are fled;
10 There now dwells the bat with her light-shunning brood;
11 There ravens and vultures now clamour for food,
12 And all is dark, silent, and dread!
13 Ha! Dost thou not see by the Moon's trembling light,
14 Directing his steps, where advances a Knight,
15 His eye big with vengeance and fate?
16 'Tis Osric — the Lion, his Nephew who leads,
17 And swift up the crackling old stair-case proceeds,
18 Gains the hall, and quick closes the gate.
19 Now round him young Carloman casting his eyes,
20 Surveys the sad scene with dismay and surprize,
21 And fear steals the rose from his cheeks;
22 His spirits forsake him, his courage is flown;
23 The hand of Sir Osric he clasps in his own,
24 And while his voice falters he speaks: —
25 "Dear Uncle," he murmurs, "why linger we here?
26 'Tis late, and these chambers are damp and are drear;
27 Keen blows through the ruins the blast!
28 Oh! let us away and our journey pursue;
29 Fair Blumenberg's Castle will rise on our view,
30 Soon as Falkenstein Forest is past.
31 "Why roll thus your eye-balls? Why glare they so wild?
32 Oh! chide not my weakness, nor frown, that a child
33 Should view these apartments with dread;
34 For know, that full oft have I heard from my Nurse,
35 There still on this Castle has rested a curse,
36 Since innocent blood here was shed.
37 "She said, too, bad spirits, and ghosts all in white,
38 Here use to resort at the dead time of night,
39 Nor vanish till breaking of day;
40 And still at their coming is heard the deep tone
41 Of a bell — loud and awful — Hark! hark! 'twas a groan!
42 Good Uncle, oh! let us away!"
43 "Peace, serpent!" thus Osric — the Lion, replies,
44 While rage and malignity gloom in his eyes;
45 "Thy journey and life here must close:
46 Thy Castle's proud turrets no more shalt thou see;
47 No more betwixt Blumenberg's Lordship and me
48 Shalt thou stand, and my greatness oppose.
49 "My Brother lies breathless on Palestine's plains,
50 And though once remov'd, to his noble domains
51 My right can no rival deny:
52 Then, stripling, prepare on my dagger to bleed;
53 No succour is near, and thy fate is decreed;
54 Commend thee to Jesus, and die!"
55 Thus saying, he seizes the boy by the arm,
56 Whose grief rends the vaulted hall's roof, while alarm
57 His heart of all fortitude robs:
58 His limbs sink beneath him; distracted with fears,
59 He falls at his Uncle's feet, bathes them with tears,
60 And — "Spare me! Oh! spare me!" he sobs.
61 But ah! 'tis in vain that he strives to appease
62 The miscreant; in vain does he cling round his knees,
63 And sue in soft accents for life:
64 Unmov'd by his sorrow — unmov'd by his pray'r,
65 Fierce Osric has twisted his hand in his hair,
66 And aims at his bosom a knife.
67 But e'er the steel blushes with blood, strange to tell!
68 Self-struck, does the tongue of the hollow-ton'd bell
69 The presence of midnight declare:
70 And while, with amazement, his hair bristles high,
71 Hears Osric a voice, loud and terrible, cry,
72 In sounds heart appalling — "Forbear!"
73 Straight curses and shrieks thro' the chambers resound,
74 With hellish mirth mingled; the walls shake around;
75 The groaning roof threatens to fall;
76 Loud bellows the thunder; blue lightnings still flash;
77 The casements they clatter; chains rattle; doors clash,
78 And flames spread their waves through the hall.
79 The clamour increases; the portals expand;
80 O'er the pavement's black marble now rushes a band
81 Of daemons all dropping with gore;
82 In visage so grim, and so monstrous in height,
83 That Carloman screams, as they burst on his sight,
84 And sinks without sense on the floor.
85 Not so his fell Uncle: he sees that the throng
86 Impels, loudly shrieking, a female along,
87 And well the sad spectre he knows:
88 The daemons with curses her steps onward urge;
89 Her shoulders with whips form'd of serpents they scourge,
90 And fast from her wounds the blood flows.
91 "Oh! welcome," she cry'd, and her voice spoke despair;
92 Oh! welcome, Sir Osric, the torments to share,
93 Of which thou hast made me the prey:
94 Twelve years have I languish'd thy coming to see;
95 Ulrilda, who perish'd dishonour'd by thee,
96 Now calls thee to anguish away!
97 My ruin compleated, thy love became hate;
98 Thy hand gave the draught which consign'd me to Fate;
99 Nor thought I death lurk'd in the bowl;
100 Unfit for the grave, stain'd with guilt, swell'd with pride,
101 Unblest, unabsolv'd, unrepenting I dy'd,
102 And daemons straight seiz'd on my soul!
103 "Thou com'st, and with transport I feel my breast swell!
104 Full long I have suffer'd the torments of hell,
105 And now shall its pleasures be mine!
106 See, see, how the fiends are athirst for thy blood!
107 Twelve years has my panting heart furnish'd their food,
108 Come, wretch, let them feast upon thine!"
109 She said, and the daemons their prey flock'd around;
110 They dash'd him with horrible yell on the ground,
111 And blood down his limbs trickl'd fast:
112 His eyes from their sockets with fury they tore;
113 They fed on his entrails, all reeking with gore,
114 And his heart was Ulrilda's repast.
115 But now the grey cock told the coming of day;
116 The fiends with their victim straight vanish'd away,
117 And Carloman's heart throbb'd again:
118 With terror recalling the deeds of the night,
119 He rose, and from Falkenstein speeding his flight,
120 Soon reach'd his paternal domain.
121 Since then all with horror the ruins behold;
122 No shepherd, though stray'd be a lamb from his fold,
123 No mother, though lost be her child,
124 The fugitive dares in these chambers to seek,
125 Where fiends nightly revel, and guilty ghosts shriek,
126 In accents most fearful and wild!
127 Oh! shun them, ye pilgrims, tho' late be the hour,
128 Tho' loud howl the tempest, and fast fall the show'r,
129 From Falkenstein Castle be gone!
130 There still their said banquet Hell's denizens share;
131 There Osric — the Lion, still raves in despair;
132 Breathe a prayer for his soul, and pass on!
About this text
Author: Matthew Gregory Lewis
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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.