Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LINES WRITTEN AT WARWICK, by GEORGE CRABBE

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LINES WRITTEN AT WARWICK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Hail! Centre-county of our land, and known
Last Line: Feel not one change of all that time has made.

HAIL! centre-county of our land, and known
For matchless worth and valour all thine own --
Warwick! renown'd for him who best could write,
Shakspeare the Bard, and him so fierce in fight,
Guy, thy brave Earl, who made whole armies fly,
And giants fall -- Who has not heard of Guy?
Him sent his Lady, matchless in her charms,
To gain immortal glory by his arms,
Felice the fair, who, as her bard maintain'd,
The prize of beauty over Venus gain'd;
For she, the goddess, had some trivial blot
That marr'd some beauty, which our nymph had not:
But this apart, for in a fav'rite theme
Poets and lovers are allow'd to dream --
Still we believe the lady and her knight
Were matchless both: He in the glorious fight,
She in the bower by day, and festive hall by night.
Urged by his love, th' adventurous Guy proceeds,
And Europe wonders at his warlike deeds;
Whatever prince his potent arm sustains,
However weak, the certain conquest gains;
On every side the routed legions fly,
Numbers are nothing in the sight of Guy:
To him the injured made their sufferings known,
And he relieved all sorrows, but his own:
Ladies who owed their freedom to his might
Were grieved to find his heart another's right:
The brood of giants, famous in those times,
Fell by his arm, and perish'd for their crimes.
Colbrand the strong, who by the Dane was brought,
When he the crown of good Athelstan sought,
Fell by the prowess of our champion brave,
And his huge body found an English grave.
But what to Guy were men, or great or small,
Or one or many? -- he despatch'd them all;
A huge dun Cow, the dread of all around,
A master-spirit in our hero found:
'Twas desolation all about her den --
Her sport was murder, and her meals were men.
At Dunmore Heath the monster he assail'd,
And o'er the fiercest of his foes prevail'd.
Nor fear'd he lions more than lions fear
Poor trembling shepherds, or the sheep they shear:
A fiery dragon, whether green or red
The story tells not, by his valour bled;
What more I know not, but by these 'tis plain
That Guy of Warwick never fought in vain.
When much of life in martial deeds was spent,
His sovereign lady found her heart relent,
And gave her hand. Then, all was joy around,
And valiant Guy with love and glory crown'd;
Then Warwick Castle wide its gate display'd,
And peace and pleasure this their dwelling made.
Alas! not long -- a hero knows not rest;
A new sensation fill'd his anxious breast.
His fancy brought before his eyes a train
Of pensive shades, the ghosts of mortals slain;
His dreams presented what his sword had done;
He saw the blood from wounded soldiers run,
And dying men, with every ghastly wound,
Breathed forth their souls upon the sanguine ground.
Alarm'd at this, he dared no longer stay,
But left his bride, and as a pilgrim gray,
With staff and beads, went forth to weep and fast and pray.
In vain his Felice sigh'd -- nay, smiled in vain;
With all he loved he dared not long remain,
But roved he knew not where, nor said, 'I come again.'
The widow'd countess pass'd her years in grief,
But sought in alms and holy deeds relief;
And many a pilgrim ask'd, with many a sigh,
To give her tidings of the wandering Guy.
Perverse and cruel! could it conscience ease,
A wife so lovely and so fond to tease?
Or could he not with her a saint become,
And, like a quiet man, repent at home?
How different those who now this seat possess!
No idle dreams disturb their happiness:
The Lord who now presides o'er Warwick's towers,
To nobler purpose dedicates his powers:
No deeds of horror fill his soul with fear,
Nor conscience drives him from a home so dear:
The lovely Felice of the present day
Dreads not her lord should from her presence stray;
He feels the charm that binds him to a seat
Where love and honour, joy and duty, meet.
But forty days could Guy his fair afford;
Not forty years would weary Warwick's lord:
He better knows how charms like hers control
All vagrant thoughts, and fill with her the soul;
He better knows that not on mortal strife,
Or deeds of blood, depend the bliss of life;
But on the ties that first the heart enchain,
And every grace that bids the charm remain:
Time will, we know, to beauty work despite,
And youthful bloom will take with him its flight;
But Love shall still subsist, and, undecay'd,
Feel not one change of all that Time has made.

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