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ROWENA, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Ceased the bold strain, then deep the saxon.
Last Line: Was wantoning about the festive hall.

CEASED the bold strain, then deep the Saxon drain'd
The ruddy cup, and savage joy uncouth
Lit his blue gleaming eyes: nor sate unmoved
The Briton chiefs; fierce thoughts began to rise
Of ancient wars, and high ancestral fame.
Sudden came floating through the hall an air
So strangely sweet, the o'erwrought sense scarce felt
Its rich excess of pleasure; softer sounds
Melt never on the enchanted midnight cool,
By haunted spring, where elfin dancers trace
Green circlets on the moonlight dews; nor lull
Becalmed mariner from rocks, where basks
At summer noon the sea-maid; he his oar
Breathless suspends, and motionless his bark
Sleeps on the sleeping waters. Now the notes
So gently died away, the silence seem'd
Melodious; merry now, and light and blithe
They danced on air: anon came tripping forth
In frolic grace a maiden troop, their locks
Flower-wreathed, their snowy robes from clasped zone
Fell careless drooping, quick their glittering feet
Glanced o'er the pavement. Then the pomp of sound
Swell'd up, and mounted; as the stately swan,
Her milk-white neck embower'd in arching spray,
Queens it along the waters, entered in
The lofty hall a shape so fair, it lull'd
The music into silence, yet itself
Pour'd out, prolonging the soft ecstasy,
The trembling and the touching of sweet sound.
Her grace of motion and of look, the smooth
And swimming majesty of step and tread,
The symmetry of form and feature, set
The soul afloat, even like delicious airs
Of flute or harp: as though she trod from earth,
And round her wore an emanating cloud
Of harmony, the lady moved. Too proud
For less than absolute command, too soft
For aught but gentle, amorous thought: her hair
Cluster'd, as from an orb of gold cast out
A dazzling and o'erpowering radiance, save
Here and there on her snowy neck reposed
In a soothed brilliance, some thin, wandering tress.
The azure flashing of her eye was fringed
With virgin meekness, and her tread, that seem'd
Earth to disdain, as softly fell on it
As the light dew-shower on a tuft of flowers.
The soul within seem'd feasting on high thoughts,
That to the outward form and feature gave
A loveliness of scorn, scorn that to feel
Was bliss, was sweet indulgence. Fast sank back
Those her fair harbingers, their modest eyes,
Downcast, and drooping low their slender necks
In graceful reverence; she, by wondering gaze
Unmoved, and stifled murmurs of applause,
Nor yet unconscious, slowly won her way
To where the king, amid the festal pomp,
Sate loftiest; as she raised a fair-chased cup,
Something of sweet confusion overspread
Her features; something tremulous broke in
On her half-failing accents, as she said
"Health to the king!" -- the sparkling wine laugh'd up,
As eager 'twere to touch so fair a lip.
A moment, and the apparition bright
Had parted; as before, the sound of harps
Was wantoning about the festive hall.

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