The Falcon

Who would not be Sir Hubert, for his birth and bearing fine,
His rich sky-skirted woodlands, valleys flowing oil and wine;
Sir Hubert, to whose sunning all the rays of fortune shine?
So most men praised Sir Hubert, and some others warm'd with praise
Of Hubert noble-hearted, than whom none went on his ways
Less spoilt by splendid fortune, whom no peril could amaze.
To Ladies all, save one, he was the rule by which the worth
Of other men was reckon'd; so that many a maid, for dearth
Of such a knight to woo her, love forswore, and with it mirth.
No prince could match his banquets, when proud Mabel was his guest;
And shows and sumptuous triumphs day by day his hope express'd
That love e'en yet might burgeon in her young unburgeon'd breast.
Time pass'd, and use for riches pass'd with hope, which slowly fled;
And want came on unheeded; and report in one day spread
Of good Sir Hubert houseless, and of Mabel richly wed.
Forth went he from the city where she dwelt, to one poor farm,
All left of all his valleys: there Sir Hubert's single arm
Served Hubert's wants; and labour soon relieved love's rankling harm.
Much hardship brought much easement of the melancholy freight
He bore within his bosom; and his fancy was elate
And proud of Love's rash sacrifice which led to this estate.
One friend was left, a falcon, famed for beauty, skill, and size,
Kept from his fortune's ruin, for the sake of its great eyes,
That seem'd to him like Mabel's. Of an evening he would rise,
And wake its royal glances and reluctantly flapp'd wings,
And looks of grave communion with his lightsome questionings,
That broke the drowsy sameness, and the sense like fear that springs
At night, when we are conscious of our distance from the strife
Of cities, and the memory of the spirit in all things rife
Endows the silence round us with a grim and ghastly life.
His active resignation wrought, in time, a heartfelt peace,
And though, in noble bosoms, love once lit can never cease,
He could walk and think of Mabel, and his pace would not increase.
Who say, when somewhat distanced from the heat and fiercer might,
‘Love's brand burns us no longer; it is out,’ use not their sight
For ever and for ever we are lighted by the light:
And ere there be extinguish'd one minutest flame, love-fann'd,
The Pyramids of Egypt shall have no place in the land,
But as a nameless portion of its ever-shifting sand.
News came at last that Mabel was a widow; but, with this,
That all her dead Lord's wealth went first to her one child and his;
So she was not for Hubert, had she beckon'd him to bliss;
For Hubert felt, tho' Mabel might, like him, become resign'd
To poverty for Love's sake, she might never, like him, find
That poverty is plenty, peace, and freedom of the mind.
One morning, while he rested from his delving, spade in hand,
He thought of her and blest her, and he look'd about the land,
And he, and all he look'd at, seem'd to brighten and expand.
The wind was newly risen; and the airy skies were rife
With fleets of sailing cloudlets, and the trees were all in strife,
Extravagantly triumphant at their newly gotten life.
Birds wrangled in the branches, with a trouble of sweet noise;
Even the conscious cuckoo, judging wisest to rejoice,
Shook round his ‘cuckoo, cuckoo,’ as if careless of his voice.
But Hubert mused and marvell'd at the glory in his breast;
The first glow turn'd to passion, and he nursed it unexpress'd;
And glory gilding glory turn'd, at last, to sunny rest.
Then again he look'd around him, like an angel, and, behold,
The scene was changed; no cloudlets cross'd the serious blue, but, roll'd
Behind the distant hill-tops, gleam'd aërial hills of gold.
The wind too was abated, and the trees and birds were grown
As quiet as the cloud-banks; right above, the bright sun shone,
Down looking from the forehead of the giant sky alone.
Then the nightingale, awaken'd by the silence, shot a throng
Of notes into the sunshine: cautious first, then swift and strong;
Then he madly smote them round him, till the bright air throbb'd with song,
And suddenly stopp'd singing, all amid his ecstasies:—
Myrtles rustle; what sees Hubert? sight is sceptic, but his knees
Bend to the Lady Mabel, as she blossoms from the trees.
She spoke, her eyes cast downwards, while upon them, dropp'd half way,
Lids fairer than the bosom of an unblown lily lay:
‘In faith of ancient amity, Sir Hubert, I this day
‘Would beg a boon, and bind me your great debtor.’ O, her mouth
Was sweet beyond new honey, or the bean-perfumed South,
And better than pomegranates to a pilgrim dumb for drouth!
She look'd at his poor homestead; at t
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Coventry Patmore

Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore was an English poet and critic best known for The Angel in the House, his narrative poem about an ideal happy marriage. more…

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"The Falcon" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/7385/the-falcon>.

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