There still is shown at Dowielee,
Within the ancient corbeiled tower,
A chamber once right fair to see,
And called the Ladye Olive’s bower.
Right o’er the old carved mantelpiece
A portrait hung in frame of gold,
O’er which was spread by strange caprice
A pall of crape in double fold;
And it was said, as still they say,
’Twas spread by good Sir Gregory,
And that when it was ta’en away,
The Ladye Olive thou might’st see,
With eyne of blue so softly bright,
Like those we feign in fairie dreams,
Where love shines like that lambent light
That in the opal softly swims.
But they could carry maddening fires,
As when they inspired Sir Evan’s breast,
And roused therein those wild desires
That stole from Dowielee his rest.
And led to that, oh, fatal night!
When, less beguiling than beguiled,
She fled, and left in her maddened flight
The good Sir Gregory and her child.
The castle menials hear in bed
Their master’s foot-fall overhead—
All in the silent midnight hour,
All under unrest’s chafing power,
On and on upon the floor,
On and on both back and fore—
Bereaved, betrayed, disgraced, forlorn,
His brain on fire, his bosom torn
By fancy’s images—sad lumber
Of man’s proud spirit—care and cumber
Waxing brighter as they keep
From the vexed soul the frightened sleep.
By balustrade and corridor
That lead him to his lady’s bower,
He stands before that crape-draped frame—
Its hidden face of beauteous shame—
And holds aloft in his shaking hand
The glimmering lamp, nor can withstand
The fierce desire to feed his eye
With that fair-painted treachery.
He lifts the crape, he peers below—
The fire of wrath upon his brow;
He lets it fall—he lifts again,
To feed on the pleasure of his pain,
And gazes without stint or measure
To gloat on the pain that is his pleasure;
He turns the picture upon its face,
And reads the curse of his broken peace.
He turns the picture round again,
Then away to toss in his bed of pain.
Some moral thrusts can stab the heart,
And love bestowed returned in hate
May play with some a deadlier part
Than strokes that seem of sterner fate.
In yonder vault down by the aisle
Thou’lt read the good Sir Gregory’s name—
His death the sequel of the tale
Inscribed upon that pictured frame.
Yet not forgot while rustic swain
Atunes his throat to melodie,
And warbles forth the soft refrain,
“Alace! alace I for Dowielee.”