Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A BALLAD FOUNDED ON A REAL INCIDENT WHICH OCCURED IN HIGH LIFE, by JANET HAMILTON



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A BALLAD FOUNDED ON A REAL INCIDENT WHICH OCCURED IN HIGH LIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Within a princely chamber sat
Last Line: For him is set for ever.
Alternate Author Name(s): Hamilton, Janet Thompson
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Marriage; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


WITHIN a princely chamber sat
A lady, not alone;
Her queenly brow, so white and high,
No shadow lay upon.

Her slender fingers lightly press'd
The jewel, bright and rare,
That on her heaving bosom gleam'd—
Her lord had placed it there.

"There let it rest, my peerless one,"
Her noble husband said;
"And take the lustrous pearls I bring,
Thy raven hair to braid.

"Come, I will lead thee to a scene
In my ancestral halls,
Where genius, art, and beauty shine
Upon the pictured walls.

"There many a form of grace and love
The painter's hand hath thrown
Upon the canvas—form like thine
His art hath never shown."

The palace gallery was rich
In paintings rare and old;
With sculptured marbles ranged between
Of value all untold.

And all along that gallery fair
They wandered side by side—
She gazing on the paintings rare,
He on his beauteous bride.

Oft through the garden walks they strayed,
Amid the flush of flowers;
Or sat with clasped hands beneath
The lovely Eden bowers.

And when she rode, or walked, she found
Him ever by her side;
On "angel wings" that happy year
The moments seem'd to glide.

"I go, my love, but with thy leave,
To try my racer's speed
Upon the course—a noble Earl
And I have so agreed."

"Then go, my love," she smiling said,
"Thy will is ever mine;
From friends and pleasures I would not
Thee ever thus confine."

He rode afar into the west;
And when he came again,
"I fear," he said, "my own beloved,
My stay hath caused thee pain."

She smiled; he took her in his arms,
And pressed her to his breast;
"How could I go, how could I stay
Of love like thine possess'd?"

O serpent! hid among the leaves
Of love's most fragrant flower,
Thou now hast left thy trail within
Thy lady's stainless bower.

And oft she saw him go and come;
But though she inly pined,
Suspicion of his broken vows
Ne'er touched her generous mind.

She in her princely chamber sat;
But now she sat alone;
Her queenly brow, so white and pure,
A shadow lay upon.

"Go thou, my maid," she said, "and bring
The pot of soft perfume
With which I wont to dress my hair,
'Tis in his lordship's room."

The maiden went, an open note
Within the drawer lay—
She saw, she knew the name below,
A lady light and gay.

She gave it to her lady's hand;
"And oh! forgive," she said,
"If I am wrong—alas! I fear
Thou foully art betrayed."

And when she read the fatal note,
Her cheek grew cold and pale;
Yet, noble heart and lofty soul,
Would neither yield nor quail.

Full proof the cruel missive gave
Of what had passed between
The guilty pair; and named a place
Where they might meet unseen.

She from her finger tore the ring,
The jewel from her breast,
The pearls from her hair, and firm
Her foot upon them press'd.

Then picked the shining fragments up
And cast them on the flame:
"I ne'er shall look on him again,
Or bear his hated name.

"Go, maiden, tell my servant true
To take my carriage round
Behind the wood—by dawn of day
I will not here be found."

Then down the marble stairs she stole;
The night was still and dark;
And leaning on her maiden's arm,
They sped across the park.

They found the carriage, stepp'd within,
And swiftly drove away;
The lordly towers were far behind
At dawning of the day.

Four nights and days they posted on,
And only stopp'd to bait
And rest the horses—longer time
The lady would not wait.

"To England—to my father's halls:
Thank God, no blood of thine,
Thou recreant false, shall mingle with
My father's spotless line."

Surprise and wonder, scorn and ire,
Flushed on the father's face
At what he heard; he clasped his child
In loving, long embrace.

"Go to thy mother's room; for she
Will take thee to her heart,
And from her loving arms no more
Her darling will depart."

But what of him, that lord so false?
Next day, at twilight hour,
He came, and soon went up to see
His lady in her bower.

He softly knock'd and gently call'd,
But answer there was none;
He ask'd her page if that he knew
His lady forth had gone.

"I know not, O my lord," he said—
"She was not seen to-day,
And none within the palace saw
My lady go away."

Again he softly knock'd and call'd,
But still no answer came;
All night he watched beside the door,
Still calling on her name.

Then they unlock'd the chamber door,
And in he wildly rushed;
The rooms, the bed, were empty—all
In deadly silence hush'd.

He search'd the chamber o'er and found,
Upon the window seat,
A note that made his bold eye quail
And guilty bosom beat.

His lady's hand the note inscrib'd;
But when he looked within,
He only found the fatal note
That told his shame and sin.

What need we say?—he saw, he felt,
The guilty, secret love
The note revealed had scared to flight
His pure and faithful dove.

The beauteous star, whose light benign
His palace halls illum'd,
Will shine no more upon a name
By truth and honour doom'd.

The holy bands that bound their hands
Stern law came in to sever;
The star that shone on life's young dream
For him is set for ever.





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