The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 375 pages of information about The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems.

“And he may see in the northern tower,
  Over yonder precipice,
A lone, dim light at the midnight hour
  Shine down the dark abyss. 
And over the chasm’s dungeon-gloom
  Shall a slender ladder hang;
And if alone he dare to come,—­
  Unarmed—­without a clang,

“More of his suit your chief shall hear
  Perhaps may win the prize;
Tell him the way is hedged with fear,—­
  One misstep and he dies. 
Nor will I pledge him safe retreat
  From out yon guarded tower;
My watchful warders all to cheat
  May be beyond my power.”

At midnight’s dark and silent hour
  The tall and gallant knight
Sought on the cliff the northern tower,
  And saw the promised light. 
With toil he climbed the cragged cliff,
  And there the ladder found;
And o’er the yawning gulf he clomb
  The ladder round by round.

And as he climbed the ladder bent
  Above the yawning deep,
But bravely to the port he went
  And entered at a leap
Full twenty warders thronged the hall
  Each with his blade in hand;
They caught the brave knight like a thrall
  And bound him foot and hand.

They tied him fast to an iron ring,
  At Maria’s stern command,
And then they jeered—­“God save the king
  And all his knightly band!”
They bound a bandage o’er his eyes,
  Then the haughty princess said: 
“Audacious knight, I hold a prize,—­
  My castle or your head!

“Now, mark!—­desert the king’s command,
  And join your sword with mine,
And thine shall be my heart and hand,
  This castle shall be thine. 
I grant one hour for thee to choose,
  My bold and gallant lord;
And if my offer you refuse
  You perish by the sword!”

He spoke not a word, but his face was pale
  And he prayed a silent prayer;
But his heart was oak and it could not quail,
  And a secret oath he sware. 
And grim stood the warders armed all,
  In the torches’ flicker and flare,
As they watch for an hour in the gloomy hall
  The brave knight pinioned there.

The short—­the flying hour is past,
  The warders have bared his breast;
The bugler bugles a doleful blast;
  Will the pale knight stand the test? 
He has made his choice—­he will do his part,
  He has sworn and he cannot lie,
And he cries with the sword at his beating heart,—­
  “Betray?—­nay—­better to die!

Suddenly fell from his blue eyes
  The silken, blinding bands,
And while he looked in sheer surprise
  They freed his feet and hands. 
“I give thee my castle,” Maria cried,
  “And I give thee my heart and hand,
And Maria will be the proudest bride
  In all this Magyar land.

“Grant heaven that thou be true to me
  As thou art to the king,
And I’ll bless the day I gave to thee
  My castle for a ring.” 
The red blood flushed to the brave knight’s face
  As he looked on the lady fair;
He sprang to her arms in a fond embrace,
  And he married her then and there.

Project Gutenberg
The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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