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THOMAS THE RHYMER [RYMER]: MODERN, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: When seven years more had come and gone
Last Line: Again was thomas seen.
Subject(s): Thomas Of Erceldoune (1220-1297); Thomas The Rhymer; Thomas The Rymer; Thomas Learmont


WHEN seven years more had come and gone,
Was war through Scotland spread,
And Ruberslaw showed high Dunyon
His beacon blazing red.

Then all by bonny Coldingknow,
Pitched palliouns took their room,
And crested helms, and spears a rowe,
Glanced gaily through the broom.

The Leader, rolling to the Tweed,
Resounds the ensenzie;
They roused the deer from Caddenhead,
To distant Torwoodlee.

The feast was spread in Ercildoune,
In Learmont's high and ancient hall;
And there were knights of great renown,
And ladies, laced in pall.

Nor lacked they, while they sat at dine,
The music, nor the tale,
Nor goblets of the blood-red wine,
Nor mantling quaighs of ale.

True Thomas rose, with harp in hand,
When as the feast was done;
(In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land,
The elfin harp he won.)

Hushed were the throng, both limb and tongue,
And harpers for envy pale;
And armed lords leaned on their swords,
And hearkened to the tale.

In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet poured along;
No after bard might e'er avail
Those numbers to prolong.

Yet fragments of the lofty strain
Float down the tide of years,
As, buoyant on the stormy main,
A parted wreck appears.

He sung King Arthur's table round;
The warrior of the lake;
How courteous Gawaine met the wound,
And bled for ladies' sake.

But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,
The notes melodious swell;
Was none excelled in Arthur's days,
The knight of Lionelle.

For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,
A venomed wound he bore;
When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,
Upon the Irish shore.

No art the poison might withstand;
No med'cine could be found,
Till lovely Isolde's lily hand
Had probed the rankling wound.

With gentle hand and soothing tongue,
She bore the leech's part;
And, while she o'er his sick-bed hung,
He paid her with his heart.

O fatal was the gift, I ween!
For, doomed in evil tide,
The maid must be rude Cornwall's queen,
His cowardly uncle's bride.

Their loves, their woes, the gifted bard
In fairy tissue wove;
Where lords, and knights, and ladies bright.
In gay confusion strove.

The Garde Joyeuse, amid the tale,
High reared its glittering head;
And Avalon's enchanted vale
In all its wonders spread.

Brengwain was there, and Segramore,
And fiend-born Merlin's gramarye;
Of that famed wizard's mighty lore,
O who could sing but he?

Through many a maze the winning song
In changeful passion led,
Till bent at length the listening throng
O'er Tristrem's dying bed.

His ancient wounds their scars expand;
With agony his heart is wrung:
O where is Isolde's lily hand,
And where her soothing tongue?

She comes, she comes! like flash of flame
Can lovers' footsteps fly;
She comes, she comes! she only came
To see her Tristrem die.

She saw him die: her latest sigh
Joined in a kiss his parting breath:
The gentlest pair that Britain bare
United are in death.

There paused the harp; its lingering sound
Died slowly on the ear;
The silent guests still bent around,
For still they seemed to hear.

Then woe broke forth in murmurs weak:
Nor ladies heaved alone the sigh;
But, half ashamed, the rugged cheek
Did many a gauntlet dry.

On Leader's stream, and Learmont's tower,
The mists of evening close;
In camp, in castle, or in bower,
Each warrior sought repose.

Lord Douglas, in his lofty tent,
Dreamed o'er the woful tale;
When footsteps light, across the bent,
The warrior's ears assail.

He starts, he wakes: -- "What, Richard, ho!
Arise, my page, arise!
What venturous wight, at dead of night,
Dare step where Douglas lies!"

Then forth they rushed: by Leader's tide,
A selcouth sight they see --
A hart and hind pace side by side,
As white as snow on Fairnalie.

Beneath the moon, with gesture proud,
They stately move and slow;
Nor scare they at the gathering crowd,
Who marvel as they go.

To Learmont's tower a message sped,
As fast as page might run;
And Thomas started from his bed,
And soon his clothes did on.

First he woxe pale, and then woxe red;
Never a word he spake but three; --
"My sand is run; my thread is spun;
This sign regardeth me."

The Elfin harp his neck around,
In minstrel guise, he hung;
And on the wind, in doleful sound,
Its dying accents rung.

Then forth he went; yet turned him oft
To view his ancient hall;
On the gray tower, in lustre soft,
The autumn moonbeams fall.

And Leader's waves, like silver sheen,
Danced shimmering in the ray:
In deep'ning mass, at distance seen,
Broad Soltra's mountains lay.

"Farewell, my fathers' ancient tower!
A long farewell," said he:
"The scene of pleasure, pomp, or power
Thou never more shalt be.

"To Learmont's name no foot of earth
Shall here again belong,
And on thy hospitable hearth,
The hare shall leave her young.

'Adieu! Adieu!" again he cried,
All as he turned him roun' --
"Farewell to Leader's silver tide!
Farewell to Ercildoune!"

She hart and hind approached the place,
As lingering yet he stood;
And there, before Lord Douglas' face,
With them he crossed the flood.

Lord Douglas leaped on his berry-brown steed,
And spurred him the Leader o'er;
But, though he rode with lightning speed,
He never saw them more.

Some said to hill, and some to glen,
Their wondrous course had been;
But ne'er in haunts of living men
Again was Thomas seen.





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