The yellow sunlight, coming from the east,
Through the great Minster windows, arched and high,
That tell the story of our blessed Lord
In colours royal with significance,
Takes many hues, and falls upon the head
Of a fair boy before the altar-rail.
It is the son of the brave knight Noel,
Cut off, alas! too early in his prime,
Now lying dead beneath yon sculptured stone,
But living in the hearts of the small group
In the old Minster on this sunny morn.
The proud young head is bowed in reverence
Before the holy priest of God, whose face
Is glowing with paternal love that shines
Through dignity of the official calm.
Who loves not Christalan for his blithe grace?—
For his dear eyes, so true, so fathomless,
So full of tenderness, his mother thought
They were the reflex of the steadfast love
She bore her lord Noel? Who loves him not
For his bright joyance and his laughter sweet?
But now he stands, all merry laughter stilled
By awe that groweth slowly in his eyes,
In silent quietude, a knightly lad,
Clad in a doublet of unspotted white,
Embroidered at the breast with these two words,
Wrought by his mother’s hand, Valiant and True.
He hears at last the stirring words that move
His soul as it has never yet been moved;
Words that have haunted his imagining
For days and nights, making his young heart yearn
With restless longing for this present hour;
Words that presage the glory of his life,
The consecrated purpose of his youth
In its fulfilment and accomplishment;
The holy, sacred, solemn, early vow
Of future knighthood for the noble lad.
And now his father’s sword is shown to him;
His daring spirit, of a knightly race,
Leaps out to grasp it, though his hand may not
Until he grows to manhood. O the years
That he must wait, and serve, and work for that!
Why is it not to-morrow? He is strong,
And, never having seen the great, wide world,
With boyish confidence, that is the germ
All undeveloped of man’s later strength,
He feels he is its master. For a space
The altar and the holy man of God
Are veiled before his earnest, searching gaze,
By sudden picture which his fancy paints:
He sees a tournament, himself a knight—
“God’s peace be with thee, valiant boy
In the name of God the Father, and of the Son
And of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Nor tournament before his vision now,—
Swift in his boyish heart, so full of dreams
Of fame, there springs a new, intense resolve
Of consecration, an unconscious prayer
For God’s peace, though he knows not what it means.
The Lady Agathar stands, robed in black,
Behind the buoyant boy she loves so well.
She still has youth, and beauty, and desire;
But each full throb of her true, wifely heart
Beats for her lord, though he be gone,—all else
In life is naught to her but Christalan,
And Greane, the winsome maiden by her side.