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But, Leicester, or I much am wrong,
Or 'tis not beauty lures thy vows;
Rather ambition's gilded crown
Makes thee forget thy humble spouse. Then, Leicester, why, again I plead —
(The injur'd surely may repine)— Why didst thou wed a country-maid,
When some fair princess might be thine ? Why didst thou praise my humble charms,
And, oh, then leave them to decay? Why didst thou win me to thy arms,
Then leave me mourn the live-long day?
The village-maidens of the plain
Salute me lowly as I go ;
Envious they mark my silken train,
Nor think a countess can have woe.
The simple nymphs ! they little know
How far more happy 's their estate;
To smile for joy—than sigh for woe;
To be content—than to be great.
How far less blest am I than them,
Daily to pine and waste with care !
Like the poor plant that from its stem
Divided feels the chilling air !
Nor, cruel earl, can I enjoy
The humble charms of solitude:
Your minions proud my peace destroy,
By sullen frowns or prating rude.
Last night, as sad I chanc'd to stray,
The village death-bell smote my ear : They wink'd aside, and seem’d to say,
Countess, prepare ; thy end is near! And now, while happy peasants sleep,
Here I sit lonely and forlorn ; No one to soothe me as I weep,
Save Philomel on yonder thorn. My spirits flag, my hopes decay
Still that dread death-bell smites my ear ; And many a boding seems to say,
•Countess, prepare ; thy end is near!” Thus, sore and sad, that lady griev'd,
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear; And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved,
And let fall many a bitter tear. And ere the dawn of day appeared
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear,
Full many a piercing scream was heard,
And many a cry of mortal fear.
The death-bell thrice was heard to ring;
An aerial voice was heard to call;
And thrice the raven flapp'd his wings
Around the towers of Čumnor Hall : The mastiff howl'd at village-door ;
The oaks were shatter'd on the green : Woe was the hour,-for never more
That hapless countess e'er was seen !
A GUILTY CONSCIENCE. And in that manor now no more
Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball;
For ever since that dreary hour
Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall !
The village-maids, with fearful glance,
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall,
Nor ever lead the merry dance
Among the groves of Cumnor Hall. Full many a trav’ller oft hath sigh’d,
And pensive wept the countess' fall, As, wand'ring onwards, he has spied
The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall.
A GUILTY CONSCIENCE.
Oh, I have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights !
Methought that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
And in my company my brother Glo'ster,
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches : thence we look'd tow’rd Eng-
And cited up a thousand heavy times
During the wars of York and Lancaster
That had befallen us. As we pac'd along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
A GUILTY CONSCIENCE.
Methought that Glo'ster stumbled, and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes !
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks,
A thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men's skulls ; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scattered.-
And then my dream was lengthen'd after life,
And then began the tempest to my soul!
I pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman that poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger-soul
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick,
Who cried aloud, “What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?” —
And so he vanish’d. Then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he shriek'd out aloud,
“ Clarence is come! — false, fleeting, perjur'd
That stabb’d me in the field by Tewkesbury:
ON HIS BLINDNESS. Seize on him, furies, take him to your torments ! With that, methought, a legion of foul fiends Environ'd me, and howled in mine ears Such hideous noises, that with the very noise I trembling wak’d, and, for a season after, Could not believe but that I was in bell; Such terrible impression made my dream.
ON HIS BLINDNESS.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man's work, or His own gifts: who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean, without rest :
They also serve who only stand and wait.”