"Sir Raymond of the Castle." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
The following little Poems are written after the Model of the Old English Ballads, and are inscribed to those who admire the simplicity of that kind of versification.
Taken from the French.
NEAR GLARIS, on a mountain's side,
Beneath a shad'wy wood,
With walls of ivy compass'd round,
An ancient Castle stood.
By all rever'd, by all ador'd,
There dwelt a wealthy dame;
One peerless daughter bless'd her age,
A maid of spotless fame !
While one fair son, a gallant boy,
Whose VIRTUE was his shield,
Led on the dauntless sons of war,
Amidst the crimson'd field:
For o'er the land dissension reign'd
Full many a direful year,
And many a heart's best blood had stain'd
The proud oppressor's spear.
Young ELLA'S charms had spread her fame
O'er all the country wide;
And youths of high descent and brave,
Had sought her for their bride !
Amongst the rest SIR RAYMOND came,
Sprung from a princely race;
Right valiant in each warlike art,
And blest with ev'ry grace !
In tournaments renown'd afar,
For manly feats admir'd;
His brilliant fame, his bold exploits,
The damsel's bosom fir'd.
Her blushing cheek, her down-cast eye
Her secret flame confess'd;
The gallant RAYMOND'S circling arm,
The beauteous ELLA press'd.
From her fond mother's doating eyes
The radiant gem he bore;
The weeping maids and village swains
Beheld her charms no more.
Where the swift billows of the RHINE
Their shining curls disclose;
With many a gilded turret crown'd
His splendid Palace rose.
The festive scene had scarce began,
When near the Castle wall,
A messenger of warlike mein,
On RAYMOND'S name did call;
"Come forth thou valiant Knight," he said,
"Thy prowess quickly show,
With speed prepare thy lance and shield
To meet the dauntless foe:
"The blood of many a noble Swiss
Doth stain the country round,
And many a brave aspiring youth
Lies vanquish'd on the ground.
"The daring Chief, whose shining spear
With purple gore is dy'd;
Oh ! direful news, prepare to meet
THE BROTHER OF THY BRIDE."
Enrag'd, the haughty RAYMOND cried,
"Base wretch receive thy doom,
For thy bold errand thou shalt die
Within a dungeon's gloom."
Speechless the mournful ELLA stood,
Despair her heart did wound;
When from the echoing tow'r she heard,
Th' larum-bell's dreadful sound !
Her cold wan cheek, her quiv'ring lip,
Bespoke her soul's deep woe,
From her blue eye the crystal drop
In silent grief did flow,
"For shame, shake off those woman's tears,"
The frowning bridegroom cried,
"And know, SIR RAYMOND'S warlike breast
Disdains a timid bride.
"In vain you weep, ignoble dame,
Behold yon neighing steed;
My soldiers wait, my bosom burns
TO CONQUER or to BLEED."
Forth went the Knight;–the frantic bride
To the high rampart flew;
With trembling knee she climb'd the wall,
Th' embattled plain to view.
On either side, by turns she thought
Proud vict'ry grac'd the field;
'Till vanquish'd by her BROTHER'S sword,
She saw her HUSBAND yield.
For refuge to his Castle gate,
The bleeding warrior flew;
And from the battlements on high,
His daring gauntlet threw !
Three days from dawn to setting sun,
The hardy soldiers stood,
'Till faint with toil, by famine press'd,
They saw their chief subdu'd.
"Oh! haste my page," SIR RAYMOND said,
"The captive youth set free,
And bid him to the conqu'rer's feet
This message bear from me.
"Treasures immense of massy gold,
Rich gems, and jewels rare,
As ransom will I freely give,
If he our lives will spare;
"If he consents, let garlands green
His peaceful brows adorn;
If hostile yet, beneath our walls,
Thrice sound his bugle horn."
Gaily he pass'd the outward gate;
But sadly he return'd;
His bugle horn he sounded thrice,
—No wreath his brows adorn'd.
"Thy gold" he cried " the conqu'ror scorns,
He claims thy forfeit LIFE,
Thy precious gems, and jewels rare,
He gives thy beauteous wife."
"Your lands are free, your soldiers too,
And for young ELLA'S sake
To prove his truth, the gen'rous chief
This solemn vow did make:"
"That whatsoe'er she holds most dear,
At morrow's dawn of day:
Her pages, to some distant place,
May safely bear away;"
At dawn of light fair ELLA came,
Fresh as the rose of May;
SIR RAYMOND in a chest of gold,
Her pages bore away !
She pass'd the gate with throbbing heart,
She pass'd the ranks among;
The praises of her peerless charms,
Fell fast from ev'ry tongue !
"Halt, halt," they cried, "right noble dame,
'Tis fit we should behold
Whether thy coffer ought contains
But gems and messy gold;"
"O stay me not ye gallant youths,
For soon it shall appear;
This burnish'd coffer doth contain
ALL THAT I HOLD MOST DEAR !"
"Take heed, my Brother, ah, take heed,
Nor break thy sacred word;
Nor let thy kinsman's blood degrade
The glories of thy sword !"
The Hero smil'd–fair ELLA'S cheek
Glow'd with vermilion dye;
Fear chill'd her heart, the starting tear
Stood trembling in her eye.
Subdu'd, abash'd, her brother flew
And clasp'd her to his breast,
Then with an angel's pitying voice,
The vanquish'd chief address'd:
"Come forth SIR RAYMOND, valiant knight,
Behold thy peerless wife;
Receive thy sword, and from HER hand
Accept thy forfeit life.
"Here shall the bloody contest end,
Let peace o'erspread the land;
More homage than the conqueror's sword
CAN BEAUTY'S TEARS COMMAND !"