* * * * *
Within a vale, each infant year,
When earliest larks first carol free,
To humble shepherds doth appear
A wondrous maiden, fair to see.
Not born within that lowly place—
From whence she wander’d, none could tell;
Her parting footsteps left no trace,
When once the maiden bade farewell.
And blessed was her presence there—
Each heart, expanding, grew more gay;
Yet something loftier still than fair
Kept man’s familiar looks away.
From fairy gardens, known to none,
She brought mysterious fruits and flowers—
The things of some serener sun—
Some Nature more benign than ours.
With each, her gifts the maiden shared—
To some the fruits, the flowers to some;
Alike the young, the aged fared;
Each bore a blessing back to home.
Though every guest was welcome there,
Yet some the maiden held more dear,
And cull’d her rarest sweets whene’er
She saw two hearts that loved draw near.
* * * * *
THE GLOVE (1797)
Before his lion-court,
To see the gruesome sport,
Sate the king;
Beside him group’d his princely peers;
And dames aloft, in circling tiers,
Wreath’d round their blooming ring.
King Francis, where he sate,
Raised a finger—yawn’d the gate,
And, slow from his repose,
A LION goes!
Dumbly he gazed around
The foe-encircled ground;
And, with a lazy gape,
He stretch’d his lordly shape,
And shook his careless mane,
And—laid him down again!
[Illustration: THE KNIGHT SCORNS CUNIGONDE Eugen Klimsch]
A finger raised
And nimbly have the guard
A second gate unbarr’d;
Forth, with a rushing spring,
A TIGER sprung!
Wildly the wild one yell’d
When the lion he beheld;
And, bristling at the look,
With his tail his sides he strook,
And roll’d his rabid tongue;
In many a wary ring
He swept round the forest king,
With a fell and rattling sound;—
And laid him on the ground,
The king raised his finger; then
Leap’d two LEOPARDS from the den
With a bound;
And boldly bounded they
Where the crouching tiger lay
And he gripped the beasts in his deadly hold;
In the grim embrace they grappled and roll’d;
Rose the lion with a roar!
And stood the strife before;
And the wild-cats on the spot,
From the blood-thirst, wroth and hot,
Now from the balcony above,
A snowy hand let fall a glove:—
Midway between the beasts of prey,
Lion and tiger; there it lay,
The winsome lady’s glove!