Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works



          HIGH in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate,
          And Emont's murmur mingled with the Song.--
          The words of ancient time I thus translate,
          A festal strain that hath been silent long:--
          "From town to town, from tower to tower,
          The red rose is a gladsome flower.
          Her thirty years of winter past,
          The red rose is revived at last;
          She lifts her head for endless spring,
          For everlasting blossoming:                                 10
          Both roses flourish, red and white:
          In love and sisterly delight
          The two that were at strife are blended,
          And all old troubles now are ended.--
          Joy! joy to both! but most to her
          Who is the flower of Lancaster!
          Behold her how She smiles to-day
          On this great throng, this bright array!
          Fair greeting doth she send to all
          From every corner of the hall;                              20
          But chiefly from above the board
          Where sits in state our rightful Lord,
          A Clifford to his own restored!
            They came with banner, spear, and shield,
          And it was proved in Bosworth-field.
          Not long the Avenger was withstood--
          Earth helped him with the cry of blood:
          St. George was for us, and the might
          Of blessed Angels crowned the right.
          Loud voice the Land has uttered forth,                      30
          We loudest in the faithful north:
          Our fields rejoice, our mountains ring,
          Our streams proclaim a welcoming;
          Our strong-abodes and castles see
          The glory of their loyalty.
            How glad is Skipton at this hour--
          Though lonely, a deserted Tower;
          Knight, squire, and yeoman, page and groom:
          We have them at the feast of Brough'm.
          How glad Pendragon--though the sleep                        40
          Of years be on her!--She shall reap
          A taste of this great pleasure, viewing
          As in a dream her own renewing.
          Rejoiced is Brough, right glad I deem
          Beside her little humble stream;
          And she that keepeth watch and ward
          Her statelier Eden's course to guard;
          They both are happy at this hour,
          Though each is but a lonely Tower:--
          But here is perfect joy and pride                           50
          For one fair House by Emont's side,
          This day, distinguished without peer
          To see her Master and to cheer--
          Him, and his Lady-mother dear!
            Oh! it was a time forlorn
          When the fatherless was born--
          Give her wings that she may fly,
          Or she sees her infant die!
          Swords that are with slaughter wild
          Hunt the Mother and the Child.                              60
          Who will take them from the light?
          --Yonder is a man in sight--
          Yonder is a house--but where?
          No, they must not enter there.
          To the caves, and to the brooks,
          To the clouds of heaven she looks;
          She is speechless, but her eyes
          Pray in ghostly agonies.
          Blissful Mary, Mother mild,
          Maid and Mother undefiled,                                  70
          Save a Mother and her Child!
            Now Who is he that bounds with joy
          On Carrock's side, a Shepherd-boy?
          No thoughts hath he but thoughts that pass
          Light as the wind along the grass.
          Can this be He who hither came
          In secret, like a smothered flame?
          O'er whom such thankful tears were shed
          For shelter, and a poor man's bread!
          God loves the Child; and God hath willed                    80
          That those dear words should be fulfilled,
          The Lady's words, when forced away,
          The last she to her Babe did say:
          'My own, my own, thy Fellow-guest
          I may not be; but rest thee, rest,
          For lowly shepherd's life is best!'
            Alas! when evil men are strong
          No life is good, no pleasure long.
          The Boy must part from Mosedale's groves,
          And leave Blencathara's rugged coves,                       90
          And quit the flowers that summer brings
          To Glenderamakin's lofty springs;
          Must vanish, and his careless cheer
          Be turned to heaviness and fear.
          --Give Sir Lancelot Threlkeld praise!
          Hear it, good man, old in days!
          Thou tree of covert and of rest
          For this young Bird that is distrest;
          Among thy branches safe he lay,
          And he was free to sport and play,                         100
          When falcons were abroad for prey.
            A recreant harp, that sings of fear
          And heaviness in Clifford's ear!
          I said, when evil men are strong,
          No life is good, no pleasure long,
          A weak and cowardly untruth!
          Our Clifford was a happy Youth,
          And thankful through a weary time,
          That brought him up to manhood's prime.
          --Again he wanders forth at will,                          110
          And tends a flock from hill to hill:
          His garb is humble; ne'er was seen
          Such garb with such a noble mien;
          Among the shepherd grooms no mate
          Hath he, a Child of strength and state!
          Yet lacks not friends for simple glee,
          Nor yet for higher sympathy.
          To his side the fallow-deer
          Came, and rested without fear;
          The eagle, lord of land and sea,                           120
          Stooped down to pay him fealty;
          And both the undying fish that swim
          Through Bowscale-tarn did wait on him;
          The pair were servants of his eye
          In their immortality;
          And glancing, gleaming, dark or bright,
          Moved to and fro, for his delight.
          He knew the rocks which Angels haunt
          Upon the mountains visitant;
          He hath kenned them taking wing:                           130
          And into caves where Faeries sing
          He hath entered; and been told
          By Voices how men lived of old.
          Among the heavens his eye can see
          The face of thing that is to be;
          And, if that men report him right,
          His tongue could whisper words of might.
          --Now another day is come,
          Fitter hope, and nobler doom;
          He hath thrown aside his crook,                            140
          And hath buried deep his book;
          Armour rusting in his halls
          On the blood of Clifford calls;--
          'Quell the Scot,' exclaims the Lance--
          Bear me to the heart of France,
          Is the longing of the Shield--
          Tell thy name, thou trembling Field;
          Field of death, where'er thou be,
          Groan thou with our victory!
          Happy day, and mighty hour,                                150
          When our Shepherd, in his power,
          Mailed and horsed, with lance and sword,
          To his ancestors restored
          Like a re-appearing Star,
          Like a glory from afar,
          First shall head the flock of war!"

          Alas! the impassioned minstrel did not know
          How, by Heaven's grace, this Clifford's heart was framed,
          How he, long forced in humble walks to go,
          Was softened into feeling, soothed, and tamed.             160

          Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
          His daily teachers had been woods and rills,
          The silence that is in the starry sky,
          The sleep that is among the lonely hills.

          In him the savage virtue of the Race,
          Revenge, and all ferocious thoughts were dead:
          Nor did he change; but kept in lofty place
          The wisdom which adversity had bred.

          Glad were the vales, and every cottage hearth;
          The Shepherd-lord was honoured more and more;              170
          And, ages after he was laid in earth,
          "The good Lord Clifford" was the name he bore.



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