Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
Alnwick Castle
Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790–1867)
 
HOME of the Percys’ high-born race,
  Home of their beautiful and brave,
Alike their birth and burial place,
  Their cradle and their grave!
Still sternly o’er the castle gate        5
Their house’s Lion stands in state,
  As in his proud departed hours;
And warriors frown in stone on high,
And feudal banners “flout the sky”
  Above his princely towers.        10
 
A gentle hill its side inclines,
  Lovely in England’s fadeless green,
To meet the quiet stream which winds
  Through this romantic scene
As silently and sweetly still        15
As when, at evening, on that hill,
  While summer’s wind blew soft and low,
Seated by gallant Hotspur’s side,
His Katherine was a happy bride,
  A thousand years ago.        20
 
I wandered through the lofty halls
  Trod by the Percys of old fame,
And traced upon the chapel walls
  Each high, heroic name,
From him who once his standard set        25
Where now, o’er mosque and minaret,
  Glitter the Sultan’s crescent moons,
To him who, when a younger son,
Fought for King George at Lexington,
  A major of dragoons.        30
 
That last half-stanza,—it has dashed
  From my warm lips the sparkling cup;
The light that o’er my eyebeam flashed,
  The power that bore my spirit up
Above this bank-note world, is gone;        35
And Alnwick ’s but a market town,
And this, alas! its market day,
And beasts and borderers throng the way;
Oxen and bleating lambs in lots,
Northumbrian boors and plaided Scots,        40
  Men in the coal and cattle line;
From Teviot’s bard and hero land,
From royal Berwick’s beach of sand,
  From Wooller, Morpeth, Hexham, and
  Newcastle-upon-Tyne.        45
 
These are not the romantic times
So beautiful in Spenser’s rhymes,
  So dazzling to the dreaming boy;
Ours are the days of fact, not fable,
Of knights, but not of the round table,        50
  Of Bailie Jarvie, not Rob Roy;
’T is what “Our President,” Monroe,
  Has called “the era of good feeling;”
The Highlander, the bitterest foe
To modern laws, has felt their blow,        55
Consented to be taxed, and vote,
And put on pantaloons and coat,
  And leave off cattle-stealing:
Lord Stafford mines for coal and salt,
The Duke of Norfolk deals in malt,        60
  The Douglas in red herrings;
And noble name and cultured land,
Palace, and park, and vassal band,
Are powerless to the notes of hand
  Of Rothschilds or the Barings.        65
 
The age of bargaining, said Burke,
Has come: to-day the turbaned Turk
(Sleep, Richard of the lion heart!
Sleep on, nor from your cerements start)
  Is England’s friend and fast ally;        70
The Moslem tramples on the Greek,
  And on the Cross and altar-stone,
  And Christendom looks tamely on,
And hears the Christian maiden shriek,
  And sees the Christian father die;        75
And not a sabre-blow is given
For Greece and fame, for faith and heaven,
  By Europe’s craven chivalry.
 
You ’ll ask if yet the Percy lives
  In the armed pomp of feudal state.        80
The present representatives
  Of Hotspur and his “gentle Kate,”
Are some half-dozen serving-men
In the drab coat of William Penn;
  A chambermaid, whose lip and eye,        85
And cheek, and brown hair, bright and curling
  Spoke Nature’s aristocracy;
And one, half groom, half seneschal,
Who bowed me through court, bower, and hall,
From donjon keep to turret wall,        90
  For ten-and-six-pence sterling.
 
 
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