Frances Anne Kemble

(27 November 1809 - 15 January 1893 / London, England)

A German Legend - Poem by Frances Anne Kemble

Round thy steep castle walls,
Who seeks thy love must ride,
Who from their dizzy summit falls,
Must death abide.
O Lady proud and fair,
'Tis not too much;
Gladly that death I dare
Thy lovely lips to touch.
Tears in thy blue eyes springing,
Gathering I see,
Thou kneel'st thy white hands wringing
For me!—is it for me?
Fear not—I shall return,
For one so blest as I,
Whom thou couldst love and mourn,
He cannot die.
Give me one kiss—one kiss,
And so farewell,
From yonder dread abyss
That be my spell.

Steady, good steed and true,
One false step were thy last,
Which thou and I should rue,
Down to perdition cast.
Steady, my gallant gray,
Paw not the ground,
To tilt or tourney gay
We are not bound.
Many a field of death
Have we gone o'er,
But such a dreadful path
Never before.
Toss not thy noble mane,
Champ not the bit,
Lightly I guide thy rein
And lightly, lightly sit.
Now, now the hideous round
Is almost won,
Now one more step—one bound,
O God, 'tis done!
Hence not thy smiles to meet,
Have I that doom defied,
It was to spurn thee from my feet
Not clasp thee as my bride.

Fiend with an angel's face
And heart of stone,
In thy perfidious grace
Woman alone.
Hurl'd from thy cruel cursed wall,
My brother met his fate;
Thou had'st his love—his life—his all:
Thou hast my scorn, my hate.
Oh, never on thy flinty breast
May loyal lover lie!
By baby lips ne'er be it prest:
Live lonely—lonely die!
Well done, good gallant gray!
Thou shalt be shod with gold,
And thy brave ride to-day
In song and story told.
Now from this fatal place
Speed like the wind,
Gallop apace, apace,
And leave this slaughter-house behind.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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