The White Doe Of Rylstone, Or, The Fate Of The Nortons - Canto Second

THE Harp in lowliness obeyed;
And first we sang of the greenwood shade
And a solitary Maid;
Beginning, where the song must end,
With her, and with her sylvan Friend;
The Friend who stood before her sight,
Her only unextinguished light;
Her last companion in a dearth
Of love, upon a hopeless earth.
For She it was--this Maid, who wrought
Meekly, with foreboding thought,
In vermeil colours and in gold
An unblest work; which, standing by,
Her Father did with joy behold,--
Exulting in its imagery;
A Banner, fashioned to fulfil
Too perfectly his headstrong will:
For on this Banner had her hand
Embroidered (such her Sire's command)
The sacred Cross; and figured there
The five dear wounds our Lord did bear;
Full soon to be uplifted high,
And float in rueful company!
It was the time when England's Queen
Twelve years had reigned, a Sovereign dread;
Nor yet the restless crown had been
Disturbed upon her virgin head;
But now the inly-working North
Was ripe to send its thousands forth,
A potent vassalage, to fight
In Percy's and in Neville's right,
Two Earls fast leagued in discontent,
Who gave their wishes open vent;
And boldly urged a general plea,
The rites of ancient piety
To be triumphantly restored,
By the stern justice of the sword!
And that same Banner, on whose breast
The blameless Lady had exprest
Memorials chosen to give life
And sunshine to a dangerous strife;
That Banner, waiting for the Call,
Stood quietly in Rylstone-hall.
It came; and Francis Norton said,
'O Father! rise not in this fray--
The hairs are white upon your head;
Dear Father, hear me when I say
It is for you too late a day!
Bethink you of your own good name:
A just and gracious Queen have we,
A pure religion, and the claim
Of peace on our humanity.--
'Tis meet that I endure your scorn;
I am your son, your eldest born;
But not for lordship or for land,
My Father, do I clasp your knees;
The Banner touch not, stay your hand,
This multitude of men disband,
And live at home in blameless ease;
For these my brethren's sake, for me;
And, most of all, for Emily!'
Tumultuous noises filled the hall;
And scarcely could the Father hear
That name--pronounced with a dying fall--
The name of his only Daughter dear,
As on the banner which stood near
He glanced a look of holy pride,
And his moist eyes were glorified;
Then did he seize the staff, and say:
'Thou, Richard, bear'st thy father's name,
Keep thou this ensign till the day
When I of thee require the same:
Thy place be on my better hand;--
And seven as true as thou, I see,
Will cleave to this good cause and me.'
He spake, and eight brave sons straightway
All followed him, a gallant band!
Thus, with his sons, when forth he came
The sight was hailed with loud acclaim
And din of arms and minstrelsy,
From all his warlike tenantry,
All horsed and harnessed with him to ride,--
A voice to which the hills replied!
But Francis, in the vacant hall,
Stood silent under dreary weight,--
A phantasm, in which roof and wall
Shook, tottered, swam before his sight;
A phantasm like a dream of night!
Thus overwhelmed, and desolate,
He found his way to a postern-gate;
And, when he waked, his languid eye
Was on the calm and silent sky;
With air about him breathing sweet,
And earth's green grass beneath his feet;
Nor did he fail ere long to hear
A sound of military cheer,
Faint--but it reached that sheltered spot;
He heard, and it disturbed him not.
There stood he, leaning on a lance
Which he had grasped unknowingly,
Had blindly grasped in that strong trance,
That dimness of heart-agony;
There stood he, cleansed from the despair
And sorrow of his fruitless prayer.
The past he calmly hath reviewed:
But where will be the fortitude
Of this brave man, when he shall see
That Form beneath the spreading tree,
And know that it is Emily?
He saw her where in open view
She sate beneath the spreading yew--
Her head upon her lap, concealing
In solitude her bitter feeling:
'Might ever son 'command' a sire,
The act were justified to-day.'
This to himself--and to the Maid,
Whom now he had approached, he said--
'Gone are they,--they have their desire;
And I with thee one hour will stay,
To give thee comfort if I may.'
She heard, but looked not up, nor spake;
And sorrow moved him to partake
Her silence; then his thoughts turned round,
And fervent words a passage found.
'Gone are they, bravely, though misled;
With a de
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William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was the husband of Eva Bartok. more…

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"The White Doe Of Rylstone, Or, The Fate Of The Nortons - Canto Second" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 17 Oct. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/42406/the-white-doe-of-rylstone,-or,-the-fate-of-the-nortons-----canto-second>.

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