The mist, that like a sheet of white
The field of battle cloaked,
Melted anon; with hideous din
The daws flew up and croaked.
In thousands on the bloody plain
Lay strewn the piteous corses,
Wounded and torn and maimed and stripped,
Among the fallen horses.
The woman stopped not for the blood;
She waded barefoot through,
And from her fixed and staring eyes
The arrowy glances flew.
Long, with the panting monks behind,
And pausing but to scare
The greedy ravens from their food,
She searched with eager care.
She searched and toiled the livelong day,
Until the night was nigh;
Then sudden from her breast there burst
A shrill and awful cry.
For on the battle-field at last
His body she had found.
She kissed, without a tear or word,
The wan face on the ground.
She kissed his brow, she kissed his mouth,
She clasped him close, and pressed
Her poor lips to the bloody wounds
That gaped upon his breast.
His shoulder stark she kisses too,
When, searching, she discovers
Three little scars her teeth had made
When they were happy lovers.
The monks had been and gotten boughs,
And of these boughs they made
A simple bier, whereon the corse
Of the fallen king was laid.
To Waltham Abbey to his tomb
The king was thus removed;
And Edith of the Swan’s Neck walked
By the body that she loved.
She chanted litanies for his soul
With a childish, weird lament
That shuddered through the night. The monks
Prayed softly as they went.
* * * * *
THE ASRA (1855)
Every evening in the twilight,
To and fro beside the fountain
Where the waters whitely murmured,
Walked the Sultan’s lovely daughter.
And a youth, a slave, was standing
Every evening by the fountain
Where the waters whitely murmured;
And his cheek grew pale and paler.
Till one eve the lovely princess
Paused and asked him on a sudden:
“I would know thy name and country;
I would know thy home and kindred.”
And the slave replied, “Mohammed
Is my name; my home is Yemen;
And my people are the Asras;
When they love, they love and die.”
* * * * *
I dreamt that once upon a summer night
Beneath the pallid moonlight’s eerie glimmer
I saw where, wrought in marble dimly bright,
A ruin of the Renaissance did shimmer.
Yet here and there, in simple Doric form,
A pillar like some solitary giant
Rose from the mass, and, fearless of the storm,
Reared toward the firmament its head defiant.