The Daughter Of Plantagenet - Fytte The First

'Tis midnight, and the broad full moon
Pours on the earth her silver noon;
Sheeted in white, like spectres of fear,
Their ghostly forms the towers uprear;
And their long dark shadows behind them are cast,
Like the frown of the cloud when the lightning hath past.

The warder sleeps on the battlement,
And there is not a breeze to curl the Trent;
The leaf is at rest, and the owl is mute—
But list! awaked is the woodland lute:
The nightingale warbles her omen sweet
On the hour when the ladye her lover shall meet.

She waves her hand from the loophole high,
And watcheth, with many a struggling sigh,
And hearkeneth in doubt, and paleth with fear,—
Yet tremblingly trusts her true knight is near;—
And there skims o'er the river—or doth her heart doat?—
As with wing of the night-hawk—her lover's brave boat.

His noble form hath attained the strand,
And she waves again her small white hand:
And breathing to heaven, in haste, a prayer.
Softly glides down the lonely stair;
And there stands by the portal, all watchful and still,
Her own faithful damsel awaiting her will.

The midnight lamp gleams dull and pale,—
The maidens twain are weak and frail,—
But Love doth aid his votaries true,
While they the massive bolts undo,—
And a moment hath flown, and the warrior knight
Embraceth his love in the meek moonlight.

The knight his love-prayer, tenderly,
Thus breathed in his fair one's ear
'Oh! wilt thou not, my Agnes, flee?'—
And, quelling thy maiden fear,
'Away in the fleeting skiff with me,
'And, for aye, this lone heart cheer?'

'O let not bold Romara seek'—
Soft answered his ladye-love,—
'A father's doating heart to break,
'For should I disdainful prove
'Of his high behests, his darling child
'Will thenceforth be counted a thing defiled;
'And the kindling eye of my martial sire
'Be robbed of its pride, and be quenched its fire:
'Nor long would true Romara deem
'The heart of his Agnes beat for him,
'And for him alone—if that heart, he knew,
'To its holiest law could be thus untrue.'

His plume-crowned helm the warrior bows
Low o'er her shoulder fair,
And bursting sighs the grief disclose
His lips can not declare;
And swiftly glide the tears of love
Adown the ladye's cheek;—
Their deep commingling sorrows prove
The love they cannot speak!

The moon shines on them, as on things
She loves to robe with gladness,—
But all her light no radiance brings
Unto their hearts' dark sadness:
Forlornly, 'neath her cheerless ray,—
Bosom to bosom beating,—
In speechless agony they stay,
With burning kisses greeting;—
Nor reck they with what speed doth haste
The present hour to join the past.

'Ho! lady Agnes, lady dear!'
Her fearful damsel cries;
'You reckon not, I deeply fear,
'How swift the moontide flies!
'The surly warder will awake,
'The morning dawn, anon,—
'My heart beginneth sore to quake,—
'I fear we are undone!'

But Love is mightier far, than Fear:
The ladye hasteth not:
The magnet of her heart is near,
And peril is forgot!

She clingeth to her knight's brave breast
Like a lorn turtle-dove,
And 'mid the peril feeleth rest,—
The full, rapt rest of Love!

'I charge thee, hie thee hence, sir knight!'
The damsel shrilly cries;
'If this should meet her father's sight,
'By Heaven! my lady dies.'

The warrior rouseth all his pride,
And looseth his love's caress,—
Yet slowness of heart doth his strength betide
As he looks on her loveliness:—
But again the damsel their love-dream breaks,—
And self-reproachingly,
The knight his resolve of its fetters shakes,
And his spirit now standeth free.

Then, came the last, absorbing kiss,
True Love can ne'er forego,—
That dreamy plenitude of bliss
Or antepast of woe,—
That seeming child of Heaven, which at its birth
Briefly expires, and proves itself of earth.

The ladye hieth to her couch;—
And when the morn appears,
The changes of her cheek avouch,
Full virginly her fears;—
But her doating father can nought discern
In the hues of the rose and the lily that chase
Each other across her lovely face,—
Save a sweetness that softens his visage stern.