Carisbrook Castle Poem by Anne Hunter

Carisbrook Castle



QUEEN of inventive thought, thy dreams
Have mark'd the colour of my fate;
Still lend thy lightly quivering beams,
Guide me through wilds untrodden yet;
Lead me where dim the days of old
Their dark historic page unfold,
Thy power alone can time subdue,
Retrace his pathless way, and bring the past to view.
On the gigantic phantom flies,
His waving pinions bright appear,
But o'er his track deep shadows rise,
And darkness closes on his rear.
Imperial realms, the world's proud boast,
In the oblivious shade are lost;
Pomp, wealth, and pow'r he sweeps away,
The muse alone withstands his arbitrary sway.

As through the deep uncertain gloom
I watch the ruins of the past,
Search the pale records of the tomb,
And mark faint traces while they last;
In pensive musing oft I stray,
When ev'ning spreads her mantle gray,
And floating in her train appear
The shades of many a long departed year.
Methinks I pass the foaming deep,
Where Victus rears his verdant head;
Be still, ye winds, ye waters, sleep,
Again those favour'd shores I tread,
Again his fertile fields behold,
Waving in vegetable gold;
Again my eager steps are bent
To view the ruin'd tow'r and mould'ring battlement.
Nor shall thy charms my thoughts detain,
Medina, on thy tufted side,
Thou green-hair'd daughter of the main,
Whose urn receives the rushing tide;

O'er heath and hill, through winding dale,
I seek the stream, I seek the vale,
Where o'er the hamlet's humble bowers,
Lone Carisbrook, appear thy long-unguarded towers.
Slow up the hill, my footsteps trace
The peaceful bastion's silent way,
While on the ruin's awful face
Still faintly gleams departing day.
Methinks I pause, a secret dread
Howls in the blast around my head,
And fearful I my path pursue,
Till nightfall's gloomy shade obscures my aching view.
Beneath the ramparts broken side,
Hark, melancholy night-birds call!
While distant echoes faintly chide,
And darkness drops her sable pall.
Now in the portal way I stand,
Where fancy waves her potent wand,
Till forms unknown, unnumber'd rise,
And ages long forgotten swim before my eyes.

Hark! sure I heard the loud rebound
As open flew the iron gate,
Yon towers return the sullen sound,
Where high they frown in idle state;
Behold with haughty mien advance,
High waves his plume, bright beams his lance,
An armed knight, of royal race,
From Withgar's ancient line the genius of the place.
Through his dim form yon trembling star
Gleams, as I see the spectre stand;
Pale shadow of the sons of war,
Why dost thou wave thy nerveless hand?
Again he beckons; I obey,
And follow where he leads the way;
Up time-worn steps with briars o'ergrown,
I mount the lofty keep with force till now unknown.
' Behold (he cried) those rising forms
Of Britain's ancient sons appear,
'Mid ages rude, and threat'ning storms,
They rais'd a savage bulwark here,

When bold to wage unequal war,
The Roman eagle came from far,
And from his piercing eye-ball throws
A light before unknown amidst his vanquish'd foes.
' 'Tis past with time, new powers prevail,
The walls in form embattled rise;
Behold the Saxon cas'd in mail,
His sinewy arm, his giant size;
A royal chief, he pants for fame,
And gives the fort his mighty name.
Vain was the warrior's haughty boast,
His towers are fall'n to dust, and e'en their name is lost.
' A sudden radiance beams around,
New works arise 'midst war's alarms,
Earl Baldwin bravely keeps his ground,
A female cause his courage arms;
While hope remains he courts the fight,
And proves a bold and loyal knight;

The tyrant's power at length prevails,
Nor Maud's imperial rights, nor valour aught avails.
' No more the pond'rous feudal yoke
The crouching vassal shall sustain;
Now and for ever crush'd and broke
The petty tyrant's galling chain;
But ere the sun of freedom's day
Darts forth its bright meridian ray,
Dark storms his genial powers controul,
And willingly I close the deep ensanguin'd scroll.
' Years follow years, slow rolling on,
Like fleecy clouds before the wind,
No daring deeds of valour done,
No record meets the searching mind,
Till on this spot a monarch's fate
Stain'd with disgrace Britannia's state;
When civil discord shakes her brand
Dark treason wields the ax, and faction fires the land.

' Unhappy man, ill-fated prince!
What star malignant mark'd thy birth?
The virtues of thy soul evince
Worth to improve and grace the earth;
But by mistaken maxims led,
Thy faults were of opinion bred,
And form'd by links unseen the chain
Of sad disastrous chance that clos'd in blood thy reign.
' Why didst thou seek this luckless strand,
Where for thy life the toils were spread?
Hypocrisy rul'd o'er the land,
Good faith and gratitude were fled;
Yet still a loyal few remain'd,
Whose hearts allegiance true maintain'd:
But fate forbad their hope to save,
And led thee through a maze of sorrow to the grave.
' Here melancholy mark'd the day,
And solitude with care combin'd,
To give each sad reflection way
That preys upon a feeling mind:

Flattery no more, in courtly guise,
Bade vain self-love's illusions rise,
Known to himself, the man remain'd,
Religious hope alone his sinking soul sustain'd.
' When the fell ruffian band appear'd,
To bear him o'er the briny wave,
Alas! no tempest interfer'd,
No pitying power arose to save;
But yet he felt the kindly power
Of friendship in that trying hour;
And with a faithful subject left
A pledge of gratitude, of all things else bereft.
' Within these walls hard-hearted pride
Spurn'd at the monarch's fallen state,
And tyranny the shaft would guide,
That aggravates the ills of fate.
A princess, in life's early bloom,
Descends a captive to the tomb;
With thorns her couch of death is strewn,
Denied a parent's care, unpitied, and alone.

' Fair blossom of a hapless race!
Doom'd in a prison's gloom to fall,
Death sav'd thee from more foul disgrace,
Beneath his dark and sacred pall;
In innocence and blameless youth,
Unsullied by the rancorous tooth
Of fiendlike malice, thy last hour
Was peace and heav'n to his who thus abus'd his power.
' Sad monument of ruthless deeds,
A ruin shall these walls remain;
No hero hence his phalanx leads,
To guard the hills or scour the plain:
But while the world is wrap'd in sleep,
My visionary watch I keep,
Or guide some poet's wand'ring eye
In time's forgotten way thro' dim obscurity.'
He ceas'd; while quick I drew my breath
The gloomy spectre by me swept;
I shudder'd at the scenes of death,
And with indignant sorrow wept.

Sure dastard fear must have supprest
The groan which heav'd a nation's breast:
'Tis ours in happier times to prove
The monarch's safety in his people's love.

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