Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LAST DAYS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH, by EDWARD GEORGE EARLE LYTTON BULWER-LYTTON



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LAST DAYS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Rise from thy bloody grave
Last Line: Sad as the dove, but, like the dove, surviving all!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bulwer, Edward; Lytton Of Knebworth, 1st Baron; Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer, Lord
Subject(s): Elizabeth I, Queen Of England (1533-1603


RISE from thy bloody grave,
Thou soft Medusa of the fated line,
Whose evil beauty look'd to death the brave;
Discrowned queen, around whose passionate shame
Terror and grief the palest flowers entwine,
That ever veil'd the ruins of a name
With the sweet parasites of song divine!
Arise, sad ghost, arise,
And if revenge outlive the tomb,
Thou art avenged. Behold the doomer brought to doom!
Lo, where thy mighty murdress lies,
The sleepless couch, the sunless room,
And, quell'd the eagle eye and lion mien,
The wo-worn shadow of the Titan queen!

There, sorrow-stricken, to the ground,
Alike by night and day,
The heart's blood from the inward wound
Ebbs silently away.
And oft she turns from face to face
A sharp and eager gaze,
As if the memory sought to trace
The sign of some lost dwelling-place,
Beloved in happier days;
Ah, what the clew supplies
In the cold vigil of a hireling's eyes!
Ah, sad in childless age to weep alone,
And start and gaze, to find no sorrow save our own!
Oh soul, thou speedest to thy rest away,
But not upon the pinions of the dove;
When death draws nigh, how miserable they
Who have outlived all love!
As on the solemn verge of night
Lingers a weary moon,
She wanes, the last of every glorious light
That bathed with splendour her majestic noon:
The stately stars that, clustering o'er the isle,
Lull'd into glittering rest the subject sea;
Gone the great masters of Italian wile,
False to the world beside, but true to thee!
Burleigh, the subtlest builder of thy fame,
The gliding craft of winding Walsinghame;
They who exalted yet before thee bow'd;
And that more dazzling chivalry, the band
That made thy court a faery land,
In which thou wert enshrined to reign alone,
The Gloriana of the diamond throne:
All gone, and left thee sad amid the cloud!

To their great sires, to whom thy youth was known,
Who from thy smile, as laurels from the sun,
Drank the immortal greenness of renown,
Succeeds the cold lip-homage scantly won
From the new race whose hearts already bear
The wise man's offerings to the unworthy heir
There, specious Bacon's unimpassion'd brow,
And crook-back'd Cecil's ever earthward eyes
Watching the glass in which the sands run low;
But deem not fondly there
To weep the fate or pour th' averting prayer
Have come those solemn spies!
Lo, at the regal gate
The impatient couriers wait;
To speed from hour to hour the nice account
That registers the grudged unpitied sighs
Which yet must joy delay, before
The Stuart's tottering step shall mount
The last great Tudor's throne, red with his mother's gore!
Oh piteous mockery of all pomp thou art,
Poor child of clay, worn out with toil and years!
As, layer by layer, the granite of the heart
Dissolving, melteth to the weakest tears
That ever village maiden shed above
The grave that robb'd her quiet world of love.
Ten days and nights upon that floor
Those weary limbs have lain;
And every hour but added more
Of heaviness to pain.
As gazing into dismal air
She sees the headless phantom there,
The victim round whose image twined
The last wild love of womankind;
That love which, in its dire excess,
Will blast where it can fail to bless,
And, like the lightning, flash and fade
In gloom along the ruins it has made.
'Twere sad to see from those stern eyes
The unheeded anguish feebly flow;
And hear the broken word that dies
In moanings faint and low;
But sadder still to mark, the while,
The vacant stare, the marble smile,
And think, that goal of glory won,
How slight a shade between
The idiot moping in the sun
And England's giant queen!

Call back the gorgeous past!
Lo, England white-robed for a holyday!
While, choral to the clarion's kingly blast,
Peals shout on shout along the virgin's way;
As through the swarming streets rolls on the long array.
Mary is dead! Look from your fire-won homes,
Exulting martyrs! on the mount shall rest
Truth's ark at last! the avenging Lutheran comes,
And clasps the Book ye died for to her breast!
With her the flower of all the land,
The high-born gallants ride,
And, ever nearest of the band,
With watchful eye and ready hand,
Young Dudley's form of pride!
Ah, e'en in that exulting hour
Love half allures the soul from power,
And blushes half-suppress'd betray
The woman's hope and fear;
Like blooms which in the early May
Bud forth beneath a timorous ray,
And mark the mellowing year,
While steals the sweetest of all worship, paid
Less to the monarch than the maid,
Melodious on the ear!
Call back the gorgeous past!
The lists are set, the trumpets sound,
Bright eyes, sweet judges, throned around;
And stately on the glittering ground
The old chivalric life!
"Forward." The signal word is given;
Beneath the shock the greensward shakes;
The lusty cheer, the gleaming spear,
The snow-plume's falling flakes,
The fiery joy of strife!
Thus, when, from out a changeful heaven
O'er waves in eddying tumult driven
A stormy smile is cast,
Alike the gladsome anger takes
The sunshine and the blast!
Who is the victor of the day?
Thou of the delicate form, and golden hair,
And manhood glorious in its midst of May;
Thou who upon thy shield of argent bearest
The bold device, "The loftiest is the fairest!"
As bending low thy stainless crest,
"The vestal throned by the west"
Accords the old Provencal crown
Which blends her own with thy renown;
Arcadian Sidney, nursling of the muse,
Flower of fair chivalry, whose bloom was fed
With daintiest Castaly's most silver dews,
Alas! how soon thy amaranth leaves were shed;
Born, what the Ausonian minstrel dream'd to be
Time's knightly epic pass'd from earth with thee!

Call back the gorgeous past!
Where, bright and broadening to the main,
Rolls on the scornful river;
Stout hearts beat high on Tilbury's plain,
Our Marathon for ever!
No breeze above, but on the mast
The pennon shook as with the blast.
Forth from the cloud the day-god strode,
O'er bristling helms the splendour glow'd,
Leaped the loud joy from earth to heaven,
As, through the ranks asunder riven,
The warrior-woman rode!
Hark, thrilling through the armed line
The martial accents ring,
"Though mine the woman's form, yet mine
The heart of England's king!"
Wo to the island and the maid!
The pope has preach'd the new crusade,
His sons have caught the fiery zeal;
The monks are merry in Castile;
Bold Parma on the main;
And through the deep exulting swee
The thunder-steeds of Spain.
What meteor rides the sulphurous gale?
The flames have caught the giant sail!
Fierce Drake is grappling prow to prow;
God and St. George for victory now!
Death in the battle and the wind;
Carnage before and storm behind;
Wild shrieks are heard above the hurtling roar
By Orkney's rugged strands and Erin's ruthless shore.
Joy to the island and the maid!
Pope Sixtus wept the last crusade;
His sons consumed before his zeal,
The monks are woful in Castile;
Your monument the main,
The glaive and gale record your tale,
Ye thunder-steeds of Spain!

Turn from the gorgeous past:
Its lonely ghost thou art!
A tree, that, in the world of bloom,
Droops, spectral in its leafless gloom,
Before the grinding blast;
But art thou fallen then so low?
Art thou so desolate? wan shadow, No!
Crouch'd, suppliant by the grave's unclosing portal,
Love, which proclaims thee human, bids thee know
A truth more lofty in thy lowliest hour
Than shallowest glory taught to deafen'd power,
"WHAT'S HUMAN IS IMMORTAL!"
'Tis sympathy which makes sublime!
Never so reverent in thy noon of time
As now, when o'er thee hangs the midnight pall;
No comfort, pomp; and wisdom no protection;
Hope's "cloud-capp'd towers and solemn temples" gone --
Mid memory's wrecks, eternal and alone;
Type of the woman-deity AFFECTION;
That only Eve which never knew a fall,
Sad as the dove, but, like the dove, surviving all!





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