Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume II. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 386 pages of information about Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume II..
Know ’t is two years gone and a day
Since I, walking lone and late,
Pondered sore mine ill estate;
Open murmurers, foes concealed,
Famines dire i’ the marches round,
Neighbour kings unfriendly found,
Ay, and treacherous plots revealed
Where I trusted.  I bid stay
All my knights at the high crossway,
And did down the forest fare
To bethink me, and despair. 
’Ah! thou gilded toy a throne,
If one mounts to thee alone,
Quoth I, mourning while I went,
Haply he may drop content
As a lark wing-weary down
To the level, and his crown
Leave for another man to don;
Throne, thy gold steps raised upon. 
But for me—­O as for me
What is named I would not dree,
Earn, or conquer, or forego
For the barring of overthrow.’


’Aloud I spake, but verily
Never an answer looked should be. 
But it came to pass from shade
Pacing to an open glade,
Which the oaks a mighty wall
Fence about, methought a call
Sounded, then a pale thin mist
Rose, a pillar, and fronted me,
Rose and took a form I wist,
And it wore a hood on ’ts head,
And a long white garment spread,
And I saw the eyes thereof.


Then my plumed cap I doff,
Stooping.  ’T is the white-witch.  ‘Hail,’
Quoth the witch, ’thou shalt prevail
An thou wilt; I swear to thee
All thy days shall glorious shine,
Great and rich, ay, fair and fine,
So what followeth rest my fee,
So thou’lt give thy sleep to me.’


While she spake my heart did leap. 
Waking is man’s life, and sleep—­
What is sleep?—­a little death
Coming after, and methought
Life is mine and death is nought
Till it come,—­so day is mine
I will risk the sleep to shine
In the waking. 
                And she saith,
In a soft voice clear and low,
’Give thy plumed cap also
For a token.’ 
                ‘Didst thou give?’
Quoth the queen; and ’As I live
He makes answer ’none can tell. 
I did will my sleep to sell,
And in token held to her
That she asked.  And it fell
To the grass.  I saw no stir
In her hand or in her face,
And no going; but the place
Only for an evening mist
Was made empty.  There it lay,
That same plumed cap, alway
On the grasses—­but I wist
Well, it must be let to lie,
And I left it.  Now the tale
Ends, th’ events do testify
Of her truth.  The days go by
Better and better; nought doth ail
In the land, right happy and hale
Dwell the seely folk; but sleep
Brings a reckoning; then forth creep
Dreaded creatures, worms of might. 
Crested with my plumed cap
Loll about my neck all night,
Bite me in the side, and lap
My heart’s blood.  Then oft the weird
Drives me, where amazed, afeard,
I do safe on a river strand
Mark one sinking hard at hand
While fierce sleuth-hounds that me track
Fly upon me, bear me back,
Fling me away, and he for lack
Of man’s aid in piteous wise
Goeth under, drowns and dies.

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Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume II. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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