Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BERNARDO DEL CARPIO, by FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS



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BERNARDO DEL CARPIO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The warrior bowed his crested head, and tamed his heart of fire
Last Line: Of spain.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, Felicia Dorothea
Subject(s): Bernardo Del Carpio; Spain; Tragedy


THE warrior bowed his crested head, and tamed
his heart of fire,
And sued the haughty king to free his long-im
prisoned sire;
"I bring thee here my fortress keys, I bring my
captive train,
I pledge thee faith, my liege, my lord I -- oh, break
my father's chain!

"Rise, rise! even now thy father comes, a ran-
somed man this day;
Mount thy good horse, and thou and I will meet
him on his way."
Then lightly rose that loyal son, and bounded on
his steed,
And urged, as if with lance in rest, the charger's
foamy speed.

And lo! from far, as on they pressed, there came
a glittering band,
With one that 'midst them stately rode, as a leader
in the land;
"Now haste, Bernardo, haste! for there, in very
truth, is he,
The father whom thy faithful heart hath yearned
so long to see."

His dark eye flashed, his proud breast heaved, his
cheek's blood came and went;
He reached that gray-haired chieftain's side, and
there, dismounting bent;
A lowly knee to earth he bent, his father's hand
he took, --
What was there in its touch that all his fiery
spirit shook?

That hand was cold, -- a frozen thing, -- it dropped
from his like lead, --
He looked up to the face above, -- the face was of
the dead!
A plume waved o'er the noble brow, -- the brow
was fixed and white; --
He met at last his father's eyes, -- but in them was
no sight!

Up from the ground he sprung, and gazed, but
who could paint that gaze?
They hushed their very hearts, that saw its horror
and amaze;
They might have chained him, as before that stony
form he stood,
For the power was stricken from his arm, and
from his lip the blood.

"Father!" at length he murmured low, and wept
like childhood then:
Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of
warlike men!
He thought on all his glorious hopes, and all his
young renown;
He flung the falchion from his side, and in the
dust sate down.

Then covering with his steel-gloved hands his
darkly mournful brow, --
"No more, there is no more," he said, "to lift the
sword for now;
My king is false, my hope betrayed; my father --
oh! the worth.
The glory, and the loveliness, are passed away
from earth!

"I thought to stand where banners waved, my
sire! beside thee yet,
I would that there our kindred blood on Spain's
free soil had met!
Thou wouldst have known my spirit then; for thee
my fields were won;
And thou hast perished in thy chains, as though
thou hadst no son!"

Then, starting from the ground once more, he
seized the monarch's rein
Amidst the pale and wildered looks of all the
courtier train;
And with a fierce o'ermastering grasp, the raging
war-horse led,
And sternly set them face to face, -- the king be-
fore the dead!

"Came I not forth upon thy pledge, my father's
hand to kiss?
Be still, and gaze thou on, false king, and tell me
what is this?
The voice, the glance, the heart I sought -- give
answer, where are they
If thou wouldst clear thy perjured soul, send life
through this cold clay!

"Into these glassy eyes put light; -- be still! keep
down thine ire!
Bid these white lips a blessing speak, this earth
is not my sire!
Give me back him for whom I strove, for whom
my blood was shed,
Thou canst not? -- and a king! -- his dust be moun-
tains on thy head!"

He loosed the steed; his slack hand fell; upon the
silent face
He cast one long, deep, troubled look, -- then
turned from that sad place
His hope was crushed, his after-fate untold in
martial strain:
His banner led the spears no more amidst the hills
of Spain.




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