Paul Hamilton Hayne Poems >>
The Mountain Of The Lovers


LOVE scorns degrees! the low he lifteth high,
The high he draweth down to that fair plain
Whereon, in his divine equality,
Two loving hearts may meet, nor meet in vain;
'Gainst such sweet levelling Custom cries amain,
But o'er its harshest utterance one bland sigh,
Breathed passion-wise, doth mount victorious still,
For Love, earth's lord, must have his lordly will.

But ah! this sovereign will oft works at last
The deadliest bane, as happed erewhile to her,
Earl Godolf's daughter, many a century past:
She loved her father's low born forester,
About whose manful grace did breathe and stir
So clear a radiance, by soul-virtues cast,
He moved untouched of social blight or ban--
Nature's serene, true-hearted gentleman.

Yet she alone of all the household saw
That softy soul beneath his serf's attire;
But of the ruthless Earl so great her awe,
Close, close she kept her spirit's veiled desire,
Nor outward shone one spark of hidden fire.
Too well she knew to what stern feudal law
She and her hapless Love perforce must yield,
If once this tender secret were revealed.

Yea! even by Oswald's self her covert flame
Undreamed of burned; proud stood she, coldly fair,
When, to report of woodcraft lore, he came
To the Earl's hall, and she was lingering there.
"Cold heart!" thought he, "who 'midst her liegemen, dare
Play as I played with death a desperate game
For her sweet sake? and yet, alas! and yet,
She scorns the service and disowns the debt."

For sooth it was that one keen winter's night,
While slowly journeying homeward through a wood
Whose every deepest copse in moonshine bright
Glimmered from hoary trunk to frost-tipped bud,
On sire and child there burst a cry of blood,
Followed by hurrying feet, and the dread sight
Of scores of gray-skinned brutes--a direful pack
Of wolves half-starved that yelled along their track.

In vain his frantic team Earl Godolf smote,
With blended prayer and curse; nigh doom were they,
Riders and steeds, for now each ravening throat
Yawned like a foul tomb. On the bounding sleigh
The fierce horde gained, when from the silvery-gray,