When Astraled was lying, like to die
Of love's green sickness, all his bed was strown
With buds of crocus and anemone,
For other flowers yet were barely none,
And these he loved. And so it came to pass
That, when they deemed he slept, then one by one
The watchers left him for the Candlemas;
And thus he chanced upon his bed alone
When the day broke. You might have deemed he was
An image of Hope slain by drear Oblivion.
The chamber where he lay was hushed as sorrow,
Which is joy's anteroom. The holy night,
In silent expectation of the morrow,
Gazed on the moon, as some fair anchorite
On her own chastity, until the sight
Made her heart ache. But, as the morning broke,
Down the dim lobby came Somandolin,
With her thick hair around her like a cloak,
Even to her feet. I wot she might have been
The dawn's own sister. Clad in mystic white,
More beautiful than awe, came that fair woman in.
Long while she stood before the dreaming boy,
Still as he lay on crimson cushions piled.
And when she bent o'er him, her breath did toy
With his dank hair. Long while she stood and smiled
As smiled Elisha on the widow's child
In Shunam. For although her lips were sad
As a broken bow, if you had read their meaning
You would have learned the sense that smiling had
Was less of sorrow than of joy beguiled
To grief at the sad world and its revealing,
As when the name of Death is whispered to a child.
Doubtless that lady knew the spell to win
The life--blood back; for, when she bent her down
And laid her cheek to his that was so thin,
The shut lips quivered and let fall a moan,
As in sweet pain. And next Somandolin
Put her white hand upon the sleeper's arm
Entangled in his tresses. She could feel
The curls crisp back like leaves when they grow warm
Before a watchfire. Then she took his chin
In her two palms, and bade his eyes unseal
Their close--shut lids, and laid her lips upon his own.
Slowly, as in a trance of wonderment,
Those blue eyes opened wide, as from the dead
His spirit stole. Old memories came and went
Like summer lightnings, and a murmur sped
To his dull ear, until he deemed it said,
In a new tongue which none might heed but he,
``Arise and worship, for behold thy bed
And all about thee is as holy ground!''
And then he cried, ``Behold, dear love, I rise!''
And on a sudden, waking from his swound,
A countenance of tearful majesty
And strange ecstatic love looked in his eyes.
These things were written for a mystery
In the Book of Life, lest lovers in their need
Should faint for hunger by the road and die.
Thus were they written. Though a god should read,
He could not choose but learn a newer creed,
Transcending his own knowledge. For anon,
The Mass being ended, came the rest with speed,
Bearing with them the blest viaticum
And holy oils, nor guessed he needed not,
Who sought him a long hour. The warder told
Erewhile a knight, belike Sir Astraled,
With a white lady rode the castle out,
And all his harness was of burnished gold,
Who, pricking fast towards the rising sun,
Was gone beyond the hills upon his battle--steed.