Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
Fitz-Greene Halleck. 1790–1867
9. Alnwick Castle
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
Gaze on the Abbey's ruined pile: 
  Does not the succoring ivy, keeping 
Her watch around it, seem to smile, 
  As o'er a loved one sleeping? 
One solitary turret gray  25
  Still tells, in melancholy glory, 
The legend of the Cheviot day, 
  The Percys' proudest border story. 
That day its roof was triumph's arch; 
  Then rang, from isle to pictured dome,  30
The light step of the soldier's march, 
  The music of the trump and drum; 
And babe, and sire, the old, the young, 
And the monk's hymn, and minstrel's song, 
And woman's pure kiss, sweet and long,  35
  Welcomed her warrior home. 
Wild roses by the Abbey towers 
  Are gay in their young bud and bloom: 
They were born of a race of funeral flowers 
That garlanded, in long-gone hours,  40
  A templar's knightly tomb. 
He died, the sword in his mailed hand, 
On the holiest spot of the Blessed land, 
  Where the Cross was damped with his dying breath, 
When blood ran free as festal wine,  45
And the sainted air of Palestine 
  Was thick with the darts of death. 
Wise with the lore of centuries, 
What tales, if there be "tongues in trees," 
  Those giant oaks could tell,  50
Of beings born and buried here; 
Tales of the peasant and the peer, 
Tales of the bridal and the bier, 
  The welcome and farewell, 
Since on their boughs the startled bird  55
First, in her twilight slumbers, heard 
  The Norman's curfew-bell! 
I wandered through the lofty halls 
  Trod by the Percys of old fame, 
And traced upon the chapel walls  60
  Each high heroic name, 
From him who once his standard set 
Where now, o'er mosque and minaret, 
  Glitter the Sultan's crescent moons; 
To him who, when a younger son,  65
Fought for King George at Lexington, 
  A major of dragoons. 
That last half stanza—it has dashed 
  From my warm lips the sparkling cup; 
The light that o'er my eyebeam flashed,  70
  The power that bore my spirit up 
Above this bank-note world—is gone; 
And Alnwick 's but a market town, 
And this, alas! its market day, 
And beasts and borderers throng the way;  75
Oxen and bleating lambs in lots, 
Northumbrian boors and plaided Scots, 
  Men in the coal and cattle line; 
From Teviot's bard and hero land, 
From royal Berwick's beach of sand,  80
From Wooller, Morpeth, Hexham, and 
These are not the romantic times 
So beautiful in Spenser's rhymes, 
  So dazzling to the dreaming boy:  85
Ours are the days of fact, not fable, 
Of knights, but not of the round table, 
  Of Bailie Jarvie, not Rob Roy: 
'T is what "our President" Monroe 
  Has called "the era of good feeling":  90
The Highlander, the bitterest foe 
To modern laws, has felt their blow, 
Consented to be taxed, and vote, 
And put on pantaloons and coat, 
  And leave off cattle-stealing:  95
Lord Stafford mines for coal and salt, 
The Duke of Norfolk deals in malt, 
  The Douglas in red herrings; 
And noble name and cultured land, 
Palace, and park, and vassal band, 100
Are powerless to the notes of hand 
  Of Rothschild or the Barings. 
The age of bargaining, said Burke, 
Has come: to-day the turbaned Turk 
(Sleep, Richard of the lion heart! 105
Sleep on, nor from your cerements start), 
  Is England's friend and fast ally; 
The Moslem tramples on the Greek, 
  And on the Cross and altar-stone, 
  And Christendom looks tamely on, 110
And hears the Christian maiden shriek, 
  And sees the Christian father die; 
And not a sabre-blow is given 
For Greece and fame, for faith and heaven, 
  By Europe's craven chivalry. 115
You 'll ask if yet the Percy lives 
  In the armed pomp of feudal state? 
The present representatives 
  Of Hotspur and his "gentle Kate," 
Are some half-dozen serving-men 120
In the drab coat of William Penn; 
  A chambermaid, whose lip and eye, 
And cheek, and brown hair, bright and curling, 
  Spoke nature's artistocracy; 
And one, half groom, half seneschal, 125
Who bowed me through court, bower, and hall, 
From donjon-keep to turret wall, 
  For ten-and-sixpence sterling. 

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