Henry James Pye


    A Tale

LENÓRE wakes from dreams of dread
At the rosy dawn of day,
‘Art thou false, or art thou dead?
‘William wherefore this delay?’
Join'd with Frederick's host he sought
On Praga's bloody field, the foe,
Since no tidings had been brought
Of his weal, or of his woe.
Tir'd of war, the royal foes
Bid the storm of battle cease,
And in mutual compact close
Terms of amity, and peace; 
Either host with jocund strain,
Drum, and cymbals chearing sound,
Seek their peaceful homes again,
All with verdant garlands crown'd.
Young and old, on every side
Croud the way, their friends to meet,
Many a mother, many a bride,
Sons, and husbands, fondly greet.
Pale and chearless mid the rest
Ah! the sad Lenore see!
None to clasp thee to his breast,
Not a glowing kiss for thee.
Now amid the warlike train
Running swift, with tearful eye,
All she asks, but all in vain.—
See the lingering rear pass by!—
Now she rends with frantic hand
Tresses of her raven hair,
Falling breathless on the sand,
Agonizing in despair. 
Lo! with grief her mother wild.—
"Pitying heaven! look down with grace.—
"O my child! my dearest child!"
And clasps her in a fond embrace.
‘Ah my mother all is o'er;
‘Desart now the world will prove.—
‘Heaven no mercy has in store.
‘Ah my lost, my slaughter'd love!’
"Aid her Heaven! her grief appease.—
"Breathe my child a fervent prayer.
"Ever just are Heaven's decrees,
"Heaven is ever prompt to spare."
‘Prayers alas! are useless all,
‘Heaven to me no mercy shews,
‘Vainly I for aid should call,
‘Unregarded are my woes.’
"Aid Lord! O aid! His parent sight
"Watchful guards each duteous child;
"Soon shall his high-honor'd rite
"Soothe to peace thy sorrows wild."— 
‘Ah! the pangs my heart that rive
‘Holy rites would soothe in vain;
‘Can they bid the dead revive?—
‘Bid my William breathe again?’
"Hear my child! in foreign lands
"Far away his troth he plights,
"Binds his faith by newer bands,
"Thee for newer loves he slights.—
"Unregarded let him rove,
"Short his visions of delight,
"Perjuries of treacherous love
"Heaven with vengeance will requite."
‘Mother, time returns no more;
‘I am wretched, lost, forlorn;
‘Every hope but death is o'er,
‘Woe the hour that I was born!
‘Wrap me deep in night, and shade,
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Heaven's mercy is no more display'd,
‘O my Love, my murder'd love!’ 
"God of Mercy! Hear! O hear!
"Frantic sorrow makes her wild;
"Judge not in thy wrath severe,
"Spare, O spare thy tortur'd child.
"O my child, forget thy woe,
"Lift to heaven thy sorrowing eye
"Endless blessings there to know,
"Bridal joys that never die."
‘Mother, what is endless bliss?
‘Endless pain, what, Mother?—Tell
‘All my Heaven was William's kiss,
‘William's loss is all my hell.
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Night and horror shroud my head.
‘Can I live to mourn my love?
‘Can I joy when William's dead?’
Thus the frenzy of despair
Thro' her swelling veins was driven,
Thus her madd'ning accents dare
War against the will of heaven; 
Frantic thro' the live-long day
Her breast she beat, her hands she wrung,
Till Sol withdrew his golden ray,
And heaven's high arch with stars was hung.
Thro' the stillness of the night
Hark!—a horse—he this way bends.—
Now she hears the rider 'light,
Now his foot the step ascends.
Hark?—the tinkling gate bell rung
Now her listening senses hear.—
Accents from a well-known tongue
Thro' the portal reach her ear.
"Rise my love—the bar remove—
"Dost thou wake or dost thou sleep?
"Think'st thou of thy absent love?—
"Dost thou laugh or dost thou weep?"—
‘William! Thou?—From sorrow's power
‘I have learn'd to weep, and wake.
‘Whence in midnight's gloomy hour,
‘Whence his course does William take?’ 
"We can only ride by night.—
"From Bohemia's plains I come,
"Late, ah late I come, but dight
"To bear thee to my distant home."—
‘William! William! hither haste.
‘Thro' the hawthorn blows the wind,
‘In my glowing arms embraced
‘Rest, and warmth, my love shall find.’
"Thro' the hawthorn let the winds
"Keenly blow with breath severe,
"The Courser paws, the spur he finds,
"Ah! I must not linger here.
"Lightly on the sable steed
"Come, my love,—behind me spring.
"Many a mile o'erpast with speed,
"To our bride-bed shall thee bring."
‘Many a mile o'er distant ground
‘Ere our nuptial couch we reach?—
‘The iron bells of midnight sound,
‘Soon the midnight fiends will screech.’— 
"See how clear the moon's full ray,
"Soon the dead's swift course is sped,
"Long, O long ere dawn of day
"We shall reach the bridal bed."
‘Who shall tend thy nuptial bower
‘Who thy nuptial couch shall spread?’
"Silent, cold, and small, our bower,
"Form'd of planks our nuptial bed.
"Yet for me, for thee there's space—
"Lightly on the courser bound,
"Deck'd is now our bridal place,
"Guests expecting wait around."
Won by fond affection's charm
On the horse she lightly sprung,
Roud her love, her lilly arm
Close the love-sick virgin flung.
On they press their rapid flight
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints a sparkling light
Marks the steed's unceasing course. 
On the left, and on the right,
Heaths, and meads, and fallow'd grounds,
Seem receding from their sight;
How each bridge they pass resounds.
"Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear,
"Swift the course of death is sped.
"Does my Love the dead now fear?"—
‘No, ah! no!—Why name the dead?’
Hark! The solemn dirge, and knell!
Croaking round the raven flies,—
Hear the death song!—hear the bell—
See a grave fresh opened lies.
See the sad funereal rite,
See the coffin and the bier,
Hear the shriek of wild affright,
Groans of lamentation hear!
"While sounds the dirge, while death-bells ring,
"The corpse interr'd at midnight see.—
"Home my blooming bride I bring,
"You our bridal guests must be.—   
"Sexton come, come with thy choir,
"Songs of love before us sing;
"O'er the couch of fond desire
"Priest thy nuptial blessings fling."
Down the sable bier was laid,
Hush'd the knell, and hush'd the dirge.
All his voice at once obey'd.
All their flight behind him urge.
On the steed still speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force;
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
To the left, and to the right,
As they pass with lightning speed,
Mountains vanish from their sight,
Streams, and woods, and towns recede.
"Fears my love?—The moon shines clear.—
"Swift the course of death is sped,—
"Does my Love the dead now fear?"—
‘Leave, ah leave at peace the dead.’   
Wheels, and racks, and gibbets, see
By the pale moon's trembling glance;
Crowding sprites, with horrid glee,
Round the seats of terror dance:
"Come, ye goblins! hither come,
"Hither let your footsteps tread,
"Follow to our distant home,
"Dance around our bridal bed."
Soon they hear, and follow fast,
Loudly murmuring as they move,
Like the shrill autumnal blast
Whistling thro' the wither'd grove.
Far the steed now speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
Far, shewn by the moon's pale light,
Far the distant landscape flies.
Far, receding from their sight,
Fly the clouds, the stars, the skies.   
"Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear.—
"Swift the course of death is sped.
"Does my Love the dead now fear?"—
"Leave! O leave at rest, the dead.
"Crows the cock—dark courser hear—
"Soon the sand will now be run.
"Now I scent the morning air,
"Sable steed thy toil is done;—
"Now our labour is compleat;
"Swift's the passage of the dead;
"We have reach'd our destin'd seat,
"Open now the nuptial bed."
'Gainst an iron-grated door
Fierce with loosen'd rein he drives;
The ponderous bars resist no more,
Even a touch their hinges rives.   
Over tombs with clattering sound
Now they urge their destin'd way;
Scatter'd grave-stones gleam around
In the wan moon's glimmering ray.
Turn, O instant turn, the eye,
See a ghastly wonder shewn!—
The horseman's flesh, like tinder dry,
Drops piecemeal from each naked bone.
From the skull now falls the hair,
Drear the death-like Phantom stands,
A skeleton expos'd and bare,
Scythe and hour-glass in his hands.
See the black steed wildly rear—
Sparkling streams of horrid light
From his snorting nostrils glare,
Down he sinks to endless night.—
On the breeze loud shrieks are borne,
Groan the graves with boding breath;
Lenore's heart by tortures torn,
Vibrates now 'tween life and death.   
Hand and hand in fatal ring
By the pale moon's fading ray,
Demons round them dance, and sing,
Howling forth this dreadful lay.—
"Patient bear th' heart-rending blast,
"Wage not impious war with Heaven,
"Here on earth thy days are past.
"Mercy to thy soul be given!"

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