“Arrest thy steps! On these sad plains,
Fair dame, no farther go!
But listen to the martial strains,
Whose wildness speaks of woe!
Hark! strife is forward on the field,
I hear the trumpet’s bray!
Now spear to spear, and shield to shield,
Decides the dreadful day!
Unfit for thee, oh! Lady fair!
The scenes where men engage;
Thy gentle spirit could not bear
The fearful battle’s rage.”
“I prithee, stranger, let me fly!
Though pallid is my cheek,
The lightning’s flash delights my eye,
I love the thunder’s break.
And oft beneath our castle tow’rs,
When tempests rush’d along,
My steady hand has painted flowers,
Or voice has rais’d the song.”
“Oh Lady! that bewilder’d eye
Is red with recent tears;
Already that heart-startling sigh
Proclaims thy anxious fears.
Then let a stranger’s words prevail,
Nor thus in danger roam!
Here many frightful ills assail,
But safety is at home!”
“No, in some peasant’s lowly cot
Perhaps she may abide,
To consecrate the humble spot,
But not where I reside.
In Hubert’s halls, my father’s foe,
From childhood have I dwelt,
And for his wily murderer too,
A filial fondness felt.
Ah me! how often have I press’d
The lips which seal’d his doom!
How oft the cruel hand caress’d
Which sent him to the tomb!
My nurse reveal’d the dreadful truth,
And, as she told the tale,
A sickly blight pass’d o’er my youth,
And turn’d its roses pale.
The heavy secret on my heart
Like deadly poison prey’d;
For she forbade me to impart
A word of what she said.
I, who so blithely sung before,
So peacefully had slept,
Fancied gaunt murder at the door,
And listen’d, shook, and wept.
No longer with an open smile,
I greeted all around;
My fearful looks were fix’d the while,
In terror on the ground.
All saw the change, and kindly strove
My sadness to relieve;
Base Hubert feign’d a parent’s love,
Which could not see me grieve.
A painful anger flush’d my cheek,
My lip indignant smil’d,
I cried, “And did he e’er bespeak
Thy friendship for his child?”
“Ellen! when death was drawing nigh,
Thou wert his only care;
Oh! guard her, Hubert, if I die,
It is my latest prayer.
To none, dear friend, but thee,” he cried,
“Whose love and truth are known,
Could I this precious charge confide,
To cherish, as thy own!”
I pledg’d my honour, to fulfil
My dearest friend’s desire!
And I have ever acted still,
As honour’s laws require!
Thy mind, dear Ellen, is the proof
Of my paternal care,
Since form’d beneath this friendly roof,
So excellent and fair.
Then why that cloud upon thy brow,
That sullen, fearful sigh!
That something which we must not know,
That cold and altered eye?
Why must thy proud, suspicious air,
Give every heart a pain?
Why must my son, my Edgar bear
I hung my bead, my fault’ring tongue
In feeble murmurs spoke,
His specious art my bosom wrung,
I shudder’d at his look.
And thus, bewildered with my woes,
I faint and careless rove;
For oh! I cannot dwell with those
I must no longer love.”
“Fair lady, calm that anxious heart,
And to my voice attend!
Thy father died by Hubert’s dart,
And yet he was his friend.
For Lancaster Sir Philip rose,
And many a Yorkist slew;
Till, singling him amidst his foes,
Lord Hubert’s arrow flew.
But soon we saw the victor stand
Beside, in sorrow drown’d;
And soon Sir Philip took the hand,
Which gave the deadly wound.
“My friend, unweeting was thy aim,
And is by me forgiv’n,
But oh! one sacred oath I claim,
In sight of men, and heav’n!
Oh! promise with a father’s zeal,
My Ellen to protect!
Nor let her like an orphan feel
Dependence, and neglect!
And then, almost without regret,
I can my charge resign;
For, during life, I never met
So true a heart as thine.”
Lord Hubert pledg’d his sacred word,
He wept, and, kneeling, swore,
In England ne’er to wield a sword,
Or shoot an arrow more.
From civil war, whose daily crimes
This island long shall rue,
From all the evil of the times,
In anguish he withdrew.
I wonder that, by nature bold,
He stoop’d to wear disguise,
Or leave the hapless tale untold,
Which wakens thy surprise!
Yet the sad shame that fill’d his breast,
May well thy pity crave,
A turtle dove may build her nest
Upon thy father’s grave–“
“Stranger, that warrior from the east,
Who comes with headlong speed,
Is Edgar, Hubert’s son, at least,
He rides on Edgar’s steed!”
“Be calm, fair maid! Thou gallant knight,
Who speedest o’er the plain,
Give us some tidings of the fight,
The victor and the slain!
One moment stay! for many a care
Now fills us with alarm!
Is Edward King? Is Hubert’s heir,
Escap’d from death and harm?”
“The sun of Lancaster is set,
And never more to rise;”
Return’d the knight, “I know not yet
If Edgar lives or dies!”
And scarce he check’d the flowing rein,
In hurried accents spoke,
And, dull and hollow was the strain
That through the helmet broke.
“Where is he?” shriek’d fair Ellen forth,
He started at the sound,
And, leaping sudden on the earth,
His armour rang around.
“Queen of my destiny!” he cried,
“Thy faithful Edgar see!
Whose welfare thou canst best decide,
For it depends on thee!
I sav’d our youthful Monarch’s life,
Whose bounteous hand accords,
A dower to grace the noblest wife
That England’s realm affords.
With thee his splendid gifts I share,
Or soon this youthful head
A solemn monk’s dark cowl shall wear,
To love and glory dead.
Perhaps that tear upon thy cheek
Foretels a milder doom!
Thou wilt again our mansion seek,
Oh! let me lead thee home!”
More Poetry from Matilda Betham:Matilda Betham Poems based on Topics: Mind, Love, Friendship, Sadness, Youth, Smiling, Life, Fear, Art, Fairness, Sense & Perception
- The Lay Of Marie - Canto First (Matilda Betham Poems)
- The Lay Of Marie - Canto Second (Matilda Betham Poems)
- The Lay Of Marie - Canto Third (Matilda Betham Poems)
- The Old Sheperd's Recollections (Matilda Betham Poems)
- Cen'lin, Prince Of Mercia (Matilda Betham Poems)
- The Outlaw (Matilda Betham Poems)
Readers Who Like This Poem Also Like:Based on Topics: Love Poems, Man Poems, Life Poems, Mind Poems, Sadness Poems, Death & Dying Poems, War & Peace Poems, Youth Poems, Fairness Poems, Sense & Perception Poems, Friendship Poems
Based on Keywords: lancaster, pledg, hubert, singling, speedest, foretels, yorkist
- The Minstrel ; Or, The Progress Of Genius - Book II. (James Beattie Poems)
- The Little Dog (Jean de La Fontaine Poems)
- M'Fingal - Canto III (John Trumbull Poems)
- The Hind And The Panther, A Poem In Three Parts : Part I. (John Henry Dryden Poems)
- The Tragedy of White Injustice (Marcus Mosiah Garvey Poems)