The Lady Of The Black Tower





BY MRS. ROBINSON.





"Watch no more the twinkling stars;

Watch no more the chalky bourne;

Lady, from the holy wars

Never will thy love return!

Cease to watch, and cease to mourn;

Thy lover never will return!



"Watch no more the yellow moon,

Peering o'er the mountain's head;

Rosy day, returning soon,

Will see thy lover pale and dead!

Cease to weep, and cease to mourn:

Thy lover will no more return.



"Lady, in the holy wars,

Fighting for the cross, he died;

Low he lies, and many scars

Mark his cold and mangled side;

In his winding-sheet he lies.

Lady, check those rending sighs.



"Hark! the hollow-sounding gale

Seems to sweep in murmurs by,

Sinking slowly down the vale;

Wherefore, gentle lady, sigh?

Wherefore moan, and wherefore sigh?

Lady, all that live must die.



"Now the stars are fading fast,

Swift their brilliant course are run:

Soon shall dreary night be past,

Soon shall rise the cheering sun!

The sun will rise to gladden thee;

Lady, lady, cheerful be."



So spake a voice; while, sad and lone,

Upon a lofty tow'r reclin'd,

A lady sat: the pale moon shone,

And sweetly blew the summer wind;

Yet still, disconsolate in mind,

The lovely lady sat reclin'd.



The lofty tow'r was ivy-clad;

And round a dreary forest rose;

The midnight bell was tolling sad,

'Twas tolling for a soul's repose.

The lady heard the gates unclose,

And from her seat in terror rose.



The summer moon shone bright and clear;

She saw the castle gates unclose;

And now she saw four monks appear,

Loud chanting for a soul's repose.

Forbear, O lady! look no more:

They pass'd--a livid corpse they bore.



They pass'd, and all was silent now;

The breeze upon the forest slept;

The moon stole o'er the mountain's brow;

Again the lady sigh'd and wept.

She watch'd the holy fathers go

Along the forest path below.



And now the dawn was bright; the dew

Upon the yellow heath was seen;

The clouds were of a rosy hue,

The sunny lustre shone between:

The lady to the chapel ran,

While the slow matin pray'r began.



And then, once more, the fathers grey

She mark'd, employ'd in holy pray'r;

Her heart was full, she could not pray,

For love and fear were masters there!

Ah, lady! thou wilt pray, ere long,

To sleep those lonely aisles among!



And now the matin pray'rs were o'er;

The barefoot monks, of order grey,

Were thronging to the chapel door:

When there the lady stopp'd the way;

"Tell me," she cried, "whose corpse so pale

Last night ye bore along the vale?"



"O lady! question us no more:

No corpse did we bear down the dale."

The lady sunk upon the floor,

Her quiv'ring lip was deathly pale!

The barefoot monks now whisper'd, sad,

"God grant our lady be not mad!"



The monks departing, one by one,

The chapel gates in silence close,

When from the altar steps of stone

The trembling lady feebly goes;

While morning sheds a ruby light,

The painted windows glowing bright.



And now she heard a hollow sound;

It seem'd to come from graves below;

And now again she look'd around,

A voice came murm'ring sad and slow

And now she heard it feebly cry,

"Lady, all that live must die!



"Watch no more from yonder tow'r,

Watch no more the star of day!

Watch no more the dawning hour,

That chases sullen night away!

Cease to watch, and cease to mourn;

Thy lover will no more return!"



She look'd around, and now she view'd,

Clad in a doublet gold and green,

A youthful knight: he frowning stood,

And noble was his mournful mien;

And now he said, with heaving sigh,

"Lady, all that live must die."



She rose to quit the altar's stone,

She cast a look to heav'n, and sigh'd:

When, lo! the youthful knight was gone;

And, scowling by the lady's side,

With sightless skull and bony hand,

She saw a giant spectre stand!



His flowing robe was long and clear,

His ribs were white as drifted snow.

The lady's heart was chill'd with fear;

She rose, but scarce had power to go:

The spectre grinn'd a dreadful smile,

And walk'd beside her down the aisle.



And now he wav'd his ratt'ling hand;

And now they reach'd the chapel door,

And there the spectre took his stand;

While, rising from the marble floor,

A hollow voice was heard to cry,

"Lady, all that live must die.



"Watch no more the evening star!

Watch no more the glimpse of morn!

Never from the holy war,

Lady, will thy love return!

See this bloody cross; and, see,

His bloody scarf he sends to thee!"



And now again the youthful knight

Stood smiling by the lady's side!

His helmet shone with crimson light,

His sword with drops of blood was dy'd:

And now a soft and mournful song

Stole the chapel aisles among.



Now from the spectre's paley cheek

The flesh began to waste away;

The vaulted doors were heard to creak,

And dark became the summer day!

The spectre's eyes were sunk, but he

Seem'd with their sockets still to see;



The second bell is heard to ring:

Four barefoot monks, of orders grey,

Again their holy service sing,

And round their chapel altar pray:

The lady counted o'er and o'er,

And shudder'd while she counted four!



"Oh! fathers, who was he, so gay,

That stood beside the chapel door?

Oh! tell me, fathers, tell me, pray,"

The monks replied, "We fathers four:

Lady, no other have we seen,

Since in this holy place we've been!"





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