Jacqueline - Poem by Samuel Rogers
'Twas Autumn; thro' Provence had ceased
The vintage, and the vintage-feast.
The sun had set behind the hill,
The moon was up, and all was still,
And from the Convent's neighbouring tower
The clock had tolled the midnight-hour,
When Jacqueline came forth alone,
Her kerchief o'er her tresses thrown;
A guilty thing and full of fears,
Yet ah, how lovely in her tears!
She starts, and what has caught her eye?
What -- but her shadow gliding by?
She stops, she pants; with lips apart
She listens -- to her beating heart!
Then, thro' the scanty orchard stealing,
The clustering boughs her track concealing,
She flies, nor casts a thought behind,
But gives her terrors to the wind;
Flies from her home, the humble sphere
Of all her joys and sorrows here,
Her father's house of mountain-stone,
And by a mountain-vine o'ergrown.
At such an hour, in such a night,
So calm, so clear, so heavenly bright,
Who would have seen, and not confessed
It looked as all within were blessed.?
What will not woman, when she loves?
Yet lost, alas! who can restore her?--
She lifts the latch, the wicket moves;
And now the world was all before her.
Up rose St. Pierre, when morning shone;
-- And Jacqueline, his child, was gone!
Oh what the maddening thought that came?
Dishonour coupled with his name!
By Condé at Rocroy he stood;
By Turenne, when the Rhine ran blood.
Two banners of Castile he gave
Aloft in Notre Dame to wave;
Nor did thy cross, St. Louis rest
Upon a purer, nobler breast.
He slung his old sword by his side,
And snatched his staff and rushed to save:
Then sunk -- and on his threshold cried,
'O lay me in my grave!
-- Constance! Claudine! where were ye then?
But stand not there. Away! away!
Thou, Frederic, by thy father stay.
Though old, and now forgot of men,
Both must not leave him in a day.'
Then, and he shook his hoary head,
'Unhappy in thy youth!' he said,
'call as thou wilt, thou call'st in vain;
No voice sends back thy name again.
To mourn is all thou hast to do;
Thy play-mate lost, and teacher too.'
And who but she could soothe the boy
Or turn his tears to tears of joy?
Long had she kissed him as he slept,
Long o'er his pillow hung and wept;
And, as she passed her father's door,
She stood as she would stir no more.
But she is gone, and gone for ever!
No, never shall they clasp her -- never!
They sit and listen to their fears;
And he, who through the breach had led
Over the dying and the dead,
Shakes if a cricket's cry he hears!
Oh! she was good as she was fair.
None -- none on earth above her!
As pure in thought as angels are,
To know her was to love her.
When little, and her eyes, her voice,
Her every gesture said, 'rejoice,'
Her coming was a gladness;
And, as she grew, her modest grace,
Her down-cast look 'twas heaven to trace,
When, shading with her hand her face
She half inclined to sadness.
Her voice, whate'er she said, enchanted;
Like music to the heart it went.
And her dark eyes -- how eloquent!
Ask what they would, 'twas granted.
Her father loved her as his fame;
-- And Bayard's self had done the same!
Soon as the sun the glittering pane
On the red floor in diamonds threw,
His songs she sung and sung again,
Till the last light withdrew.
But she is dead to him, to all!
Her lute hangs silent on the wall;
And on the stairs, and at the door
Her fairy-step is heard no more!
At every meal an empty chair
Tells him that she is not there;
She, who would lead him where he went,
Charm with her converse while he leant;
Or, hovering, every wish prevent;
At eve light up the chimney-nook,
Lay there his glass within his book;
And that small chest of curious mould,
(Queen Mab's, perchance, in days of old,)
Tusk of elephant and gold;
Which, when a tale is long, dispenses
Its fragrant dust to drowsy senses.
In her who mourned not, when they missed her,
The old a child, the young a sister?
No more the orphan runs to take
From her loved hand the barley-cake.
No more the matron in the school
Expencts her in the hour of rule,
To sit amid the elfin brood,
Praising the busy and the good.
The widow trims her hearth in vain.
She comes not -- nor will come again.
Not now, his little lesson done,
With Frederic blowing bubbles in the sun;
Nor spinning by the fountain side,
(Some story of the days of old,
Barbe Bleue or Chaperon Rouge half-told
To him who would not be denied);
Not now, to while an hour away,
Gone to the falls in Valombrè,
Where 'tis night at noon of day;
Nor wandering up and down the wood,
To all but her a solitude,
Where once a wild deer, wild no more,
Her chaplet on his antlers wore,
And at her bidding stood.
The day was in the golden west;
And, curtained close by leaf and flower,
The doves had cooed themselves to rest
In Jacqueline's deserted bower;
The doves -- that still would at her casement peck,
And in her walks had ever fluttered round
With purple feet and shining neck,
True as the echo to the sound.
That casement, underneath the trees,
Half open to the western breeze,
Looked down, enchanting Garonnelle,
Thy wild and mulberry-shaded dell,
Round which the Alps of Piedmont rose,
The blush of sunset on their snows:
While, blithe as lark on summer-morn,
When green and yellow waves the corn,
When harebells blow in every grove,
And thrushes sing 'I love! I love!'
Within (so soon the early rain
Scatters, and 'tis fair again;
Though many a drop may yet be seen
To tell us where a cloud has been)
Within lay Frederic, o'er and o'er
Building castles on the floor,
And feigning, as they grew in size,
New troubles and new dangers;
With dimpled cheeks and laughing eyes,
As he and Fear were strangers.
St. Pierre sat by, nor saw nor smiled.
His eyes were on his loved Montaigne;
But every leaf was turned in vain.
Then in that hour remorse he felt,
And his heart told him he had dealt
Unkindly with his child.
A father may awhile refuse;
But who can for another choose?
When her young blushes had revealed
The secret from herself concealed,
Why promise what her tears denied,
That she should be De Courcy's bride?
-- Wouldst thou, presumptuous as thou art,
O'er Nature play the tyrant's part,
And with the hand compel the heart?
Oh rather, rather hope to bind
The ocean-wave, the mountain-wind;
Or fix thy foot upon the ground
To stop the plant rolling round.
The light was on his face, and there
You might have seen the passions driven --
Resentment, Pity, Hope, Despair --
Like clouds across the face of Heaven.
Now he sighed heavily; and now,
His hand withdrawing from his brow,
He shut the volume with a frown,
To walk his troubled spirit down:
--When (faithful as that dog of yore
Who wagged his tail and could no more)
Manchon, who long had snuffed the ground,
And sought and sought but never found,
Leapt up and to the casement flew,
And looked and barked, and vanished thro'.
''Tis Jacqueline! 'Tis Jacqueline!'
Her little brother laughing cried.
'I know her by her kirtle green,
She comes along the mountain-side;
Now turning by the traveller's seat,--
Now resting in the hermit's cave,--
Now kneeling, where the pathways meet,
To the cross on the stranger's grave.
And, by the soldier's cloak, I know
(There, there along the ridge they go)
D'Arcy so gentle and so brave!
Look up -- why will you not?' he cries,
His rosy hands before his eyes;
For on that incense-breathing eve
The sun shone out, as loth to leave.
'See -- to the rugged rock she clings!
She calls, she faints, and D'Arcy springs;
D'Arcy so dear to us, to all;
Who, for you told me on your knee,
When in the fight he saw you fall,
Saved you for Jacqueline and me!'
And true it was! And true the tale!
When did she sue, and not prevail?
Five years before -- it was the night
That on the village-green they parted,
The lilied banners streaming bright
O'er maids and mothers broken-hearted;
The drum -- it drowned the last adieu,
When D'Arcy from the crowd she drew.
'One charge I have and one alone,
Nor that refuse to take,
My father -- if not for his own,
Oh for his daughter's sake!'
Inly hge vowed -- 'twas all he could;
And went and sealed it with his blood.
Nor can ye wonder. When a child,
And in her playfulness she smiled,
Up many a ladder-path he guided
Where meteor-like the chamois glided,
Thro' many a misty grove.
They loved -- but under Friendship's name;
And Reason, Virtue fanned the flame,
Till in their houses discord came,
And 'twas a crime to love.
Then what was Jacqueline to do?
Her father's angry hours she knew,
And when to soothe, and when persuade;
And now her path De Courcy crossed,
Led by his falcon through the glade --
He turned, beheld, admired the maid;
And all her little arts were lost!
De Courcy, Lord of Argentiere!
Thy poverty, thy pride, St. Pierre,
Thy thirst for vengeance sought the snare.
The day was named, the guests invited;
The bride-groom, at the gate, alighted;
When up the windings of the dell,
A pastoral pipe was heard to swell,
And lo, an humble Piedmontese,
Whose music might a lady please,
This message thro' the lattice bore,
(She listened, and her trembling frame
Told her at once from whom it came)
'Oh let us fly -- to part no more!'
That morn ('twas in Ste Julienne's cell,
As at Ste Julienne's sacred well
Their dream of love began),
That morn, ere many a star was set,
Their hands had on the alter met
Before the holy man.
-- And now the village gleams at last;
The woods, the golden meadows passed,
Where, when Toulouse, thy splendour shone
The troubadour would journey on
Transported -- or, from grove to grove,
Framing some roundelay of love,
Wander till the day was gone.
'All will be well, my Jacqueline!
Oh tremble not -- but trust in me.
The good are better made by ill,
As odours crushed are sweeter still;
And gloomy as thy past has been,
Bright shall thy future be!'
So saying, through the fragrant shade
Gently along he led the maid,
While Manchon round and round her played,
And, as that silent glen they leave,
Where by the spring the pitchers stand,
Where glow-worms light their lamps at eve,
And fairies dance -- in fairy-land,
(When Lubin calls, and Blanche steals round,
Her finger on her lip, to see;
And many an acorn cup is found
Under the greenwood tree)
From every cot above, below,
They gather as they go --
Sabot, and coif, and collerette,
The housewife's prayer, the grandam's blessing!
Girls that adjust their locks of jet,
And look and look and linger yet,
The lovely bride caressing;
Babes that had learnt to lisp her name,
And heroes he had led to fame.
But what felt D'Arcy, when at length
Her father's gate was open flung?
Ah, then he found a giant's strength;
For round him, as for life, she clung!
And when, her fit of weeping o'er,
Onward they move a little space,
And saw an old man sitting at the door,
Saw his wan cheek, and sunken eye
That seemed to gaze on vacancy.
Then, at the sight of that beloved face,
At once to fall upon his neck she flew;
But -- not encouraged -- back she drew.
And trembling stood in dread suspense,
Her tears her only eloquence!
All, all -- the while -- an awful distance keeping,
Save D'Arcy, who nor speaks nor stirs;
And one, his little hand in hers,
Who weeps to see his sister weeping.
Then Jacqueline the silence broke.
She clasped her father's knees and spoke,
Her brother kneeling too;
While D'Arcy as before looked on,
Tho' from his manly cheek was gone
Its natural hue.
'His praises from your lips I heard,
Till my fond heart was won;
And, if in aught his Sire has erred,
Oh turn not from the Son!--
She, whom in joy, in grief you nursed;
Who climbed and called you father first,
By that dear name conjures --
On her you thought -- but to be kind!
When looked you up, but you inclined?
These things for ever in her mind,
Oh are they gone from yours?
Two kneeling at your feet behold;
One -- one how young; -- nor yet the other old.
Oh spurn them not -- nor look so cold --
If Jacqueline be cast away,
Her bridal be her dying day.
-- Well, well might she believe in you!
She listened, and she found it true.'
He shook his aged locks of snow;
And twice he turned, and rose to go.
She hung; and was St. Pierre to blame,
If tears and smiles at length together came?
'Oh no -- begone, I'll hear no more.'
But, as he spoke, his voice relented.
'That very look thy mother wore
When she implored, and old Le Roc consented.
True, I have done as well as suffered wrong,
Yet still I love him as my own!
-- Nor canst thou, D'Arcy, feel resentment long;
For she herself shall plead, and I atone.
Henceforth,' he paused awhile, unmanned,
For D'Arcy's tears bedewed his hand;
'Let each meet each as friend to friend,
All things by all forgot, forgiven.
And that dear Saint -- may she once more descend
To make our home a heaven!--
But now, in my hands, your's with her's unite.
A father's blessing on your heads alight!
.....Nor let the least be sent away.
All hearts shall sing 'Adieu to sorrow!'
St. Pierre has found his child to-day;
And old and young shall dance to-morrow.'
Had Louis then before the gate dismounted,
Lost in the chase at set of sun;
Like Henry when he heard recounted
The generous deeds himself had done,
(What time the miller's maid Colette
Sung, while he supped, her chansonnette)
Then -- when St. Pierre addressed his village-train,
Then had the monarch with a sigh confessed
A joy by him unsought and unpossessed,
--Without it what are all the rest?--
To love, and to be loved again.
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