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LADY OF CASTLENORE; A.D. 1700, by             Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Bretagne had not her peer. In the province far or near
Last Line: Would seem cast in gentler mould, would seem full of love and spring.
Subject(s): Love


BRETAGNE had not her peer. In the Province far or near
There were never such brown tresses, such a faultless hand;
She had youth, and she had gold, she had jewels all untold,
And many a lover bold wooed the Lady of the Land.


But she, with queenliest grace, bent low her pallid face,
And "Woo me not, for Jesus' sake, fair gentlemen," she said.
If they woo'd, then -- with a frown she would strike their
passion down:
She might have wed a crown to the ringlets on her head.


From the dizzy castle-tips, hour by hour she watched the ships,
Like sheeted phantoms coming and going evermore,
While the twilight settled down on the sleepy seaport town,
On the gables peaked and brown, that had sheltered kings of yore.


Dusky belts of cedar-wood partly claspt the widening flood;
Like a knot of daisies lay the hamlets on the hill;
In the hostelry below sparks of light would come and go,
And faint voices, strangely low, from the garrulous old mill.


Here the land in grassy swells gently broke; there sunk in dells
With mosses green and purple, and prongs of rock and peat;
Here, in statue-like repose, an old wrinkled mountain rose,
With its hoary head in snows, and wild-roses at its feet.


And so oft she sat alone in the turret of gray stone,
And looked across the moorland, so woful, to the sea,
That there grew a village-cry, how her cheek did lose its dye,
As a ship, once, sailing by, faded on the sapphire lea.


Her few walks led all one way, and all ended at the gray
And ragged, jagged rocks that fringe the lonely beach;
There she would stand, the Sweet! with the white surf at her feet,
While above her wheeled the fleet sparrow-hawk with startling screech.


And she ever loved the sea, with its haunting mystery,
Its whispering weird voices, its never-ceasing roar:
And 't was well that, when she died, they made her a grave beside
The blue pulses of the tide, by the towers of Castelnore.


Now, one chill November morn, many russet autumns gone,
A strange ship with folded wings lay dozing off the lea;
It had lain throughout the night with its wings of murky white
Folded, after weary flight -- the worn nursling of the sea.


Crowds of peasants flocked the sands; there were tears and
clasping hands;
And a sailor from the ship stalked through the church-yard gate.
Then amid the grass that crept, fading, over her who slept,
How he hid his face and wept, crying, Late, alas! too late!


And they called her cold. God knows ... Underneath the winter snows
The invisible hearts of flowers grow ripe for blossoming!
And the lives that look so cold, if their stories could be told,
Would seem cast in gentler mould, would seem full of love and spring.

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