Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WARRIOR; A SKETCH, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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THE WARRIOR; A SKETCH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The warrior went forth in the morning light
Last Line: They bear the young chieftain cold on his bier!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia

THE warrior went forth in the morning light, --
Waved like a meteor his plume of white,
Scarce might his gauntleted hand restrain
The steed that snorted beneath the rein;
Yet curb'd he its pride, for upon him there
Gazed the dark eye of his ladye fair.
She stood on the tower to watch him ride, --
The maiden whose hand on his bosom had tied
The scarf she had work'd; -- she saw him depart
With a tearless eye, though a beating heart;
But when the knight of her love was gone,
She went to her bower to weep alone.
The warrior pass'd, -- but first he took
At the castle wall one parting look,
And thought of the evening when he should bring
His lady his battle-offering;
Then like a thought he dash'd o'er the plain,
And with banner and brand came his vassal train.
It was a thrilling sound to hear
The bugle's welcome of warlike cheer;
It was a thrilling sight to see
The ranks of that gallant company:
Many were there stately and tall,
But EDITH'S knight was the first of all. --
The day is past, and the moonbeams weep
O'er the many that rest in their last cold sleep;
Near to the gash'd and the nerveless hand
Is the pointless spear and the broken brand;
The archer lies like an arrow spent,
His shafts all loose and his bow unbent;
Many a white plume torn and red,
Bright curls rent from the graceful head,
Helmet and breast-plate scatter'd around,
Lie a fearful show on the well-fought ground;
While the crow and the raven flock over head,
To feed on the hearts of the helpless dead,
Save when scared by the glaring eye
Of some wretch in his death-agony.

Lighted up is that castle wall,
And twenty harpers wait in the hall;
On the board is mantling the purple wine,
And wreaths of white flowers the maidens twine;
For distant and faint is heard the swell
Of bugles and voices from yonder dell, --
The victors are coming; and by the tower
Had EDITH watch'd for the midnight hour.

Oh! that lone sickness of the heart,
Which bids the weary moments depart,
Yet dreads their departing; the cross she held fast,
And kiss'd off the tears -- they are come at last!
But has not the bugle a plaining wail,
As the notes of its sadness come on the gale;
Why comes there no shout of the victor's pride,
As red from the battle they homewards ride?
Yet high o'er their ranks is their white banner borne,
While beneath droops the foeman's, blood-stain'd and torn
Said not that young warrior thus it should be,
When he talk'd to his EDITH of victory?
Yet, maiden, weep o'er thy loneliness.
Is not yon dark horse riderless?
She flew to the gate, -- she stood there alone, --
Where was he who to meet her had flown?
The dirge grew plain as the troop came near, --
They bear the young chieftain cold on his bier!

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