Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COEUR DE LION, SELECTION, by ELEANOR ANNE (PORDEN) FRANKLIN



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COEUR DE LION, SELECTION, by            
First Line: She left her steed beneath the beechen shade
Last Line: "oh! Touch the eagle's heart -- oh! Guide my wandering feet."
Subject(s): Richard I, King Of England (1157-1199)


She left her steed beneath the beechen shade,
"And art thou there? my best belov'd!" she said;
"Upbraiding all that to thy help should fly,
"Nor think'st what fond, what anxious heart is nigh."

Eve's last soft flushes fade, and all is still,
While veil'd in gloom, she climbs the arduous hill.
Rude was the path, nor oft by pilgrim worn,
O'er-grown with briars, long, wildering and forlorn:

Scarce might the horseman trace that dangerous way,
Through brakes, impervious to the summer day,
Now wrapt in night: while onward as she hies,
Scar'd at her step, the birds of carnage rise.

At last, yet shrouded in the castle's shade,
Cautious she cross'd its spacious esplanade;
Mark'd each strong wall, with towers begirt around,
The massy keep what lofty turrets crown'd;
The boy who never dreamt of war might know
Those awful ramparts would but mock the foe;
While not one light the abode of man confest,
Or gave the weary pilgrim hope of rest.
Those grated loopholes o'er the gate -- ah, there
Perchance her Richard wastes with secret care!
Whose gifts were kingdoms, now by famine dies --
His only prospect those relentless skies,
His only visitant the bats, that prowl
Round the grim tower, or nightly-hooting owl!

Mournful she stood; but soon the breeze that sighs
Through her lone harp, bids other thoughts arise.
"Yet, yet," she said, "some dear familiar strain
May reach his cell, and bolts and bars be vain;
While should some jealous warder mark the lay,
'T is but a minstrel sings to cheer his way.
Ah, me! that air to early love so dear,
Even in the tomb might rouse my Richard's ear;
Oh! could I pour his deep clear tones along,
And steal his accents as I steal his song!

'Frown, frown, Clorinda -- I would prize
Thy smile o'er all that arms might gain;
O'er wealth and fame: yet mock my sighs,
My faded cheek, my tears despise,
Nor I my fate arraign;
While every rival's grief I see,
And know that all are scorn'd like me.'"

She ceas'd, -- for from on high a fuller tone
Though faint in distance, blended with her own;
That voice, those words, could come from one alone.

"O smile not, if thou e'er bestow
On others, grace I think sincere;
Such smiles are like the beams that glow
On the dark torrent's bridge of snow,
And wreck the wretch they cheer.
Thine icy heart I well can bear,
But not the love that others share."

Bright hour of rapture! who may dare to tell
In her fond breast what blended feelings swell!
With parted lips, clos'd eyes, and hands comprest,
To still the' impetuous beatings of her breast,
Listening she stood: while conscious memory strays
To that blest hour when first she heard the lays.
Ecstatic dream -- at length her faltering tongue
Its grief express'd in emblematic song: --

"The widow'd dove can never rest,
The felon kite has robb'd her nest;
With wing untir'd she seeks her mate,
To share or change his dreadful fate."

Again she paus'd, and listening, from on high
Caught from the friendly gale the faint reply.

"But kites a higher power obey;
Th' Imperial Eagle claims the prey --
Hence! to his spacious eyrie go,
The Eagle is a nobler foe."

She strikes the harp -- "Farewell! farewell!"
Her thrilling notes of transport swell: --

"The monarch bird may build his nest
On oak, or tower, or mountain crest,
But love can match his daring flight,
Can fell the tree, or scale the height."

"Ho! who art thou --" a sturdy warder calls,
"That dar'st to sing beneath Trivallis' walls?" --
"A wandering bard, good friend, who fain would win
"These awful gates to let the weary in." --
"Nay, hence! nor dare to touch thy harp again,
"And thank thy saints 't was I that heard the strain:
"Tir'd as thou art, fly swiftly o'er the heath,
"And shun these walls as thou wouldst shun thy death."

But was that pilgrim weary? Oh! less fleet
The mountain chamois plies its fearless feet:
"Farewell! my ears are blest though not my eyes,
Thy chains shall fall," she warbles as she flies:
"Thou gentle guardian of my steps, my will,
Take my soul's blessing, and direct me still.
At Haguenau soon the empire's magnates meet,
Oh! touch the Eagle's heart -- oh! guide my wandering feet."





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