Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Garci Perez de Vargas
By John Gibson Lockhart (1794–1854)
 
From Spanish Ballads

KING FERDINAND alone did stand one day upon the hill,
Surveying all his leaguer, and the ramparts of Seville;
The sight was grand when Ferdinand by proud Seville was lying,
O’er tower and tree far off to see the Christian banners flying.
 
Down chanced the king his eye to fling, where far the camp below        5
Two gentlemen along the glen were riding soft and slow;
As void of fear each cavalier seemed to be riding there,
As some strong hound may pace around the roebuck’s thicket lair.
 
It was Don Garci Perez; and he would breathe the air,
And he had ta’en a knight with him that as lief had been elsewhere:        10
For soon this knight to Garci said, “Ride, ride, or we are lost!
I see the glance of helm and lance,—it is the Moorish host!”
 
The Lord of Vargas turned him round, his trusty squire was near;
The helmet on his brow he bound, his gauntlet grasped the spear;
With that upon his saddle-tree he planted him right steady,—        15
“Now come,” quoth he, “whoe’er they be, I trow they’ll find us ready.”
 
By this the knight that rode with him had turned his horse’s head,
And up the glen in fearful trim unto the camp had fled.
“Ha! gone?” quoth Garci Perez: he smiled, and said no more,
But slowly on with his esquire rode as he rode before.        20
 
It was the Count Lorenzo, just then it happened so,
He took his stand by Ferdinand, and with him gazed below;
“My liege,” quoth he, “seven Moors I see a-coming from the wood,
Now bring they all the blows they may. I trow they’ll find as good;
For it is Don Garci Perez,—if his cognizance they know,        25
I guess it will be little pain to give them blow for blow.”
 
The Moors from forth the greenwood came riding one by one,
A gallant troop with armor resplendent in the sun;
Full haughty was their bearing, as o’er the sward they came;
But the calm Lord of Vargas, his march was still the same.        30
 
They stood drawn up in order, while past them all rode he;
But when upon his shield they saw the sable blazonry,
And the wings of the Black Eagle, that o’er his crest were spread,
They knew Don Garci Perez, and never word they said.
 
He took the casque from off his brow, and gave it to the squire;        35
“My friend,” quoth he, “no need I see why I my brows should tire.”
But as he doffed the helmet he saw his scarf was gone,
“I’ve dropped it, sure,” quoth Garci, “when I put my helmet on.”
 
He looked around and saw the scarf, for still the Moors were near,
And they had picked it from the sward, and looped it on a spear.        40
“These Moors,” quoth Garci Perez, “uncourteous Moors they be,—
Now, by my soul, the scarf they stole, yet durst not question me!
 
Now reach once more my helmet.” The esquire said him nay,
“For a silken string why should ye fling perchance your life away?”
“I had it from my lady,” quoth Garci, “long ago,        45
And never Moor that scarf, be sure, in proud Seville shall show.”
 
But when the Moslem saw him, they stood in firm array:
He rode among their armèd throng, he rode right furiously;
“Stand, stand, ye thieves and robbers, lay down my lady’s pledge!”
He cried; and ever as he cried they felt his falchion’s edge.        50
 
That day the Lord of Vargas came to the camp alone;
The scarf, his lady’s largess, around his breast was thrown;
Bare was his head, his sword was red, and from his pommel strung
Seven turbans green, sore hacked I ween, before Don Garci hung.
 
 
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