Now the merry bugle-horn
Through the forest sounded far;
When on the lofty tow'r, forlorn,
The lady watch'd the evening star;
The evening star that seemed to be
Rising from the dark'ned sea.
The summer sea was dark and still,
The sky was streak'd with lines of gold,
The mist rose grey above the hill,
And low the clouds of amber roll'd:
The lady on the lofty tow'r
Watch'd the calm and silent hour.
And while she watch'd, she saw advance
A ship, with painted streamers gay:
She saw it on the green wave dance,
And plunge amid the silver spray;
While from the forest's haunts forlorn,
Again she heard the bugle horn.
The sails were full; the breezes rose;
The billows curl'd along the shore;
And now the day began to close--
The bugle horn was heard no more.
But, rising from the wat'ry way
An airy voice was heard to say--
"Watch no more the evening star;
Watch no more the billowy sea;
Lady, from the holy war,
Thy lover hastes to comfort thee:
Lady, lady, cease to mourn;
Soon thy lover will return."
Now she hastens to the bay;
Now the rising storm she hears:
Now the sailors smiling say,
"Lady, lady, check your fears:
Trust us, lady; we will be
Your pilots o'er the stormy sea."
Now the little bark she view'd,
Moor'd beside the flinty steep;
And now, upon the foamy flood,
The tranquil breezes seemed to sleep.
The moon arose; her silver ray
Seem'd on the silent deep to play.
Now music stole across the main:
It was a sweet but mournful tone;
It came a slow and dulcet strain;
It came from where the pale moon shone:
And while it pass'd across the sea,
More soft and soft it seem'd to be.
Now on the deck the lady stands.
The vessel steers across the main;
It steers towards the Holy Land,
Never to return again:
Still the sailors cry, "We'll be
Your pilots o'er the stormy sea."
Now she hears a low voice say,
"Deeper, deeper, deeper still;
Hark! the black'ning billows play;
Hark! the waves the vessel fill:
Lower, lower, down we go;
All is dark and still below."
Now a flash of vivid light
On the rolling deep was seen!
And now the lady saw the knight,
With doublet rich, of gold and green:
From the sockets of his eyes,
A pale and streaming light she spies.
And now his form transparent stood,
Smiling with a ghastly mien:
And now the calm and boundless flood
Was like the emerald, bright and green;
And now 'twas of a troubled hue,
While "Deeper, deeper," sang the crew.
Slow advanced the morning light,
Slow they plough'd the wavy tide;
When, on a cliff of dreadful height,
A castle's lofty tow'r they spied:
The lady heard the sailor-band
Cry, "Lady, this is Holy Land.
"Watch no more the glitt'ring spray;
Watch no more the weedy sand;
Watch no more the star of day;
Lady, this is Holy Land:
This castle's lord shall welcome thee;
Then, lady, lady, cheerful be!"
Now the castle-gates they pass;
Now across the spacious square,
Cover'd high with dewy grass,
Trembling steals the lady fair:
And now the castle's lord was seen,
Clad in a doublet gold and green.
He led her through the Gothic hall,
With bones and skulls encircled round;
"Oh, let not this thy soul appal!"
He cried, "for this is holy ground."
He led her through the chambers lone,
'Mid many a shriek and many a groan.
Now to the banquet-room they came:
Around a table of black stone,
She mark'd a faint and vapoury flame;
Upon the horrid feast it shone--
And there, to close the madd'ning sight,
Unnumber'd spectres met the light.
Their teeth were like the brilliant, bright;
Their eyes were blue as sapphire clear;
Their bones were of a polish'd white;
Gigantic did their ribs appear!
And now the knight the lady led,
And placed her at the table's head!
Just now the lady woke:--for she
Had slept upon the lofty tow'r,
And dreams of dreadful phantasie
Had fill'd the lonely moonlight hour:
Her pillow was the turret stone,
And on her breast the pale moon shone.
But now a real voice she hears:
It was her lover's voice; for he,
To calm her bosom's rending fears,
That night had cross'd the stormy sea:
"I come," said he, "from Palestine,
To prove myself, sweet Lady, thine."
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Previous: The Lady Of The Black Tower