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Edward Lear

There was a Young Lady of Parma,
Whose conduct grew calmer and calmer;
When they said, 'Are you dumb?'
She merely said, 'Hum!'
That provoking Young Lady of Parma.

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There was a sweet lady

There was a sweet lady, named dame Murdoch, so true,
Who took to caring for many children like me and you;
The children's hospital was one of her places she cared about,
One thing was ths lady never got angry, or did shout.

She took the time to sit down, have a nice chat,
About sick children, who needed help, she got to that;
She raised help with money and support in every function,
Dame Murdoch, if you were running for mayor, you'd win the election.

Thank dear lady, you certainly gave in more ways than one,
You never gave in till the work for you was all done,
To live over the century, you've seen things come and go,
From every patient, family, friend, and everyone you did know.
Goodbye sweet lady, We'll see you in heavens hats so.

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Edward Lear

There was an Old Person of Buda,
Whose conduct grew ruder and ruder;
Till at last, with a hammer,
They silenced his clamour,
By smashing that Person of Buda.

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Edward Lear

There was an Old Person of Ischia,
Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier;
He danced hornpipes and jigs,
And ate thousands of figs,
That lively Old Person of Ischia.

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Once There Was Darkness

once there was darkness
that is the beginning of it all
actually.

And we did not like it really
and so we prayed for
light and Light was given
as asked.

And then we embrace dark
ness again as we get blinded
with so much light.

We shift between two states.
We know how is it to be blind
We know how is it to see.

In both states we see what the
other cannot singlehandedly
offer.

At the end, we find all of them
to be one. In unity. Then we
think we understand.

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There Was Nothing Left To Write

THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT TO WRITE

There was nothing left to write
Everything had already been written
And was being written over again and again
By thousands elsewhere-

There was nothing left to write
And nothing new to say -

And no need for anything he had to give-

It was over for him as a writer
Whether he accepted it or not-

No one would ever need or want anything he could do again-

And so when he despite all this still wrote

It seemed to many simply pathetic-

The obsessive reflex of an already lost soul-
Who wrote and wrote and wrote
Who writes and writes and writes

Who cannot stop
However senseless all he does, is.

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There Was One

There was one a-riding grand
On a tall brown mare,
And a fine gold band
He brought me there.

A little, gold band
He held to me
That would shine on a hand
For the world to see.

There was one a-walking swift
To a little, new song,
And a rose was the gift
He carried along,

First of all the posies,
Dewy and red.
They that have roses
Never need bread.

There was one with a swagger
And a soft, slow tongue,
And a bright, cold dagger
Where his left hand swung-

Craven and gilt,
Old and bad-
And his stroking of the hilt
Set a girl mad.

There was one a-riding grand
As he rode from me.
And he raised his golden band
And he threw it in the sea.

There was one a-walking slow
To a sad, Iong sigh.
And his rose drooped low,
And he flung it down to die.

There was one with a swagger
And a little, sharp pride,
And a bright, cold dagger
Ever at his side.

At his side it stayed
When he ran to part.
What is this blade
Struck through my heart?

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Delinquent

When not making trouble or hanging round bars
They're revving the engines of their battered old cars,
Or else they're repeating in some small degree
Something that they've heard or seen on T.V.
They'll turn up the volume as loud as they can
And you bloody well wish there was some kind of ban!
To judge by their laughter and insolent stares
They probably think we're a couple of squares,
And that's what we are, so let us be glad
We're no longer young, delinquent or mad!

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Heaven in these limbs

There was a tambourine in your shoulder,
drums in your feet and a guitar in your heart.

You seem angry, little boy,
haven’t you accepted God?

Pulsing deep black in the dead of night
we jump, lusting for the wine of our idols.

You’re going to Hell, girl,
for all your dancing and sin.

And when our remains fall to the scattered earth
the worms will fight over the same flesh.

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The Moth

The Moth
Goes near it
To seek some light
In its world of darkness
To seek some respite
In its desolate life
To seek some warmth
In its search for love,
Care and belongingness…

The Moth goes near it
Hoping to find
Some acceptance
Some reciprocation
Of its burning desire
For that source of light
But try as he might
He fails, he fails
And he miserably fails…

Every time he goes to it
He comes back
With less of warmth
And a lot less care…
Burns and Scalds
On its bruised body
Because of the Light
That hardly cares
To share its luminance
To shower its radiance
On this hapless victim
Of its crude ignorance…

And yet the Moth
Madly in love
Dedicated to its light
That source of “delight”
Which it hopes
Would be for him
One day –
And pine for him
As he does for her…
He would win over it,
Come what may…
Goes seeking her
Night after night
And every night
He returns back
Burned and scalded
As ever before…

So with all these scalds
And scars of burns
Which he accepts
As the kind
Give-aways
Of his beloved light,
Tired yet devoted
With wings so torn
He can hardly fly…
He still makes
One last attempt
To appease his Beloved -
That luminous light
On one last night.

And he burns and burns
And he so badly burns
His body in ashes…
All over his Beloved’s
Flame of Light.

And in that moment
Of despair and death
Not just the night
Mourns this grave loss
Of love and longing…
The candle-light
Burning bright
For all these nights
Realises the depth
Of the Moth’s
Eternal love for her…
And in a sense of shock
Gives up itself
To the world of
Darkness and Death.

So now the burnt-out,
Withered Wick
Remains the stoic witness
To tell this tragic tale
Of the Moth and the Light
How they met every night
Yet there was no love
Lost nor gained,
Neither realised
Nor reciprocated.
And yet when they couldn’t
Unite in life…
Death found a way out
Heralding their sacred union
In the after-life.
Amen!

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Patrick White

There Was Nothing Ever To Forgive You For

There was nothing ever to forgive you for
I'd say to you now if you were still alive.
Pain doesn't maintain an agent,
though as many who have lived
have been named as perpetrators;
it just occurs
like happiness just happens
like a stroke of luck, a touch of grace
in an astronomical lottery of famished chances.
Voices arise in my head to address you
in the immensities of time and sorrow
like spokesmen for my heart
and another part of me
listens from the audience to this play
that's been going on for light years without you.
I suspect I'm still trying to perfect the way I loved you
out of force of habit, knowing how
redundant and absurd that is
long after the play closed
and the plaster cherubs
on the Ionian cornices of the theatre
were buried in the rubble
along with the comic and tragic masks
that shed their petals when the lights went off
and everyone was left face to face with themselves.
You have drifted in and out of my poems for years
like a curtain at an open window
in an abandoned house,
like blue smoke from an autumn fire,
the fragrance of the bath you draw from the stars
and sweeten with the salts of lunar wildflowers
whenever you want to renew your virginity
like the kings' mistress
stepping out of the sea
like some Renaissance Venus
covering her sex up with a serpentine lock of hair.
You're the sparrow on the finger of Catullus' lover
except now you can only make it as far
as my windowsill
though I leave everything open to you
to come and go as you please and must.
No illusory skies. No broken necks.
No more finger-stroking the soft walnut of a bird's head
like a lost locket full of grief,
like a small lamp that can't grant anymore wishes
however you caress it.
Ah, the genie's out mingling with the Milky Way
like all unencompassed spirits of the night,
like dead souls in the bodies of Canada geese
heading southwest
though their echoes are veering northeast
as if their homeless ghosts
had a place and mind of their own,
an airy nothingness
without a local habitation or a name.
In my view of the world as picture-music
in an expanding universe with its foot to the floor
on a pedal of dark energy
the vision's always too big
for any frame or stage or star map
you bring to it to try and express
where things are improbably at now.
We were young together for awhile
and we sought to embrace the world
and everything in it
even if it meant kissing the dead on the forehead
to wake them up gently from their long dream
of flying in formation with Canada geese,
though it never did.
I tried it on you more than once.
I kissed every bead on a rosary of prophetic skulls.
And still to this day no one answers, no one hears.
I tried to scry the future
in the crystal balls of my tears
but all I ever saw was the same old moon,
the same old stars that crossed us off
their birthday guest list
like a calendar of total eclipses
that had already taken place.
And I knew the future was far behind us.
And your early death could only make you more beautiful
as the years wore out their threadbare flying carpets
and those rare bright nocturnal spirits of life
you were meant to meet and fall in love with
like the heart loves its bloodstream
like a waterclock loves the passage of time
when it's full to overbrimming
with water on the moon
grow rarer and further apart
like stars on the skin of our cosmic enlargements.
Just like this open window
that never lets eternity become a barrier to the dead.
I've never closed the curtains on the play.
I've never drawn a veil over
the fountains and the waterfalls
the wetlands and rapids of my mindstream
and said to the lady of the lake
in her garment of mist
this is live water
and that water's dead
as if there were a wave of difference
between the one that carries forth
and the one that carries away.
The cloud and the snow on the mountaintop
both speak the same language,
share the same mother-tongue
as does the fog in the valley
the ice, the rain, the dew,
as if what's false about the living
were true of the dead as well,
everything sublime, everything trivial.
Hydra-headed water shapeshifting
through our hands
like the desert sands of an hourglass
that dump the pyramid
and finally get out of the box.
Lunar landscapes
with transmogrifying mindstreams
that apply themselves like water
to mending gardens on the moon
while death waits like a stranger at the gate
to commend you on the green thumb
that's apparent in your choice of wildflowers.
I can still feel you bend time
like the body of a guitar
when you're around me
trying to tune the spider webs
in the corner of the room I write in
to your cosmic whole note of silence.
And just as you were a muse of mine in life
and I drew your intoxicating waters
deeply from the well
and we walked under the stars awhile
without caring where we were going
so even in death
I can feel you come to the dead branch sometimes
like inspiration to a night bird's heart
when it doesn't really matter
if anyone answers or not
because you flower like longing
in the roots of my solitude
and the moon blossoms
and my poems unfold like leaves.

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Lady Plumber

There was a young lady from Albuquerque
Whose cute little house had a plugged drain
Put her overalls on n’ crawled ‘neath the sink
As, she was not one to get mad or complain

She reached for a gallon of “Drano”
Determined to avoid using a wrench
If successful it would be a 'No brainer'
She poured but the clog was entrenched

She reached for a wrench n’ unscrewed
Drainpipe fittings ‘neath stubborn sink
With plumber’s snake the pipe did intrude
Unclogged the pipe before you can blink

With a satisfied look and a big smile
She assembled the pipe fittings anew
She’d broken a nail, mussed her hairstyle
But in a minute or two she looked good as new

She’d proven plumbing is not just for guys
And dispelled “Weaker sex” n’ all it implies


ROTMS

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The White Lady of Balete Drive

In my country there's a frightening story
Called the white lady of Balete Drive
And though the witnesses there have been many
The story is a legend that's still alive.

They say there was a beautiful young lady
Who went riding a taxi quite late
Alone in that taxi and the driver took a fancy
She met rape and murder as her fate.

Although there was no proof of a body
And the mystery had for years eluded ending,
The street Balete Drive became eerie
For a white lady there was appearing.

Some say she would flag down a taxi and ride
Through the same route, the drivers say.
But from the rearview mirror, there's no one inside
And the drivers, in horror, would run away.

Those who now ply this Balete Drive
Will speed through the street at night
They will not stop, for the dead or alive
And certainly not for that lady in white!

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There was a man

There was a man with a golden crop.
Started to see, the growth he had did stop;
Over a few months he noticed as he did look,
A cricket pitch, was now he saw it over took.

There was a lady of almost 60, and in a mood,
She looked in the mirror, found her chin growing a brood;
She tried to pull each new hair till it came out,
But a few weeks later, two no three, new ones came about.

These two met for a cuppa, and a sweet,
And spoke of their problems on their seat;
She said to him why is it to me, such a bother,
I'll soon need to shave, I'm not a guy I'm a mother.

He agreed, and started to laugh, at the situation,
That he also had a problem, a hair complication;
Then she said why do you laugh, it's no joke you know,
But; soon saw why he thought it was fun, said o blow.

He said dear girl, as we get older, I'm losing my locks,
But you sweet ladies start growing a beard so why the knocks?
From the younger generation, that we see everywhere,
After all one day it'll happen to them as well, and see if we care.

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When I Was A Young Girl

Sebastian mure
When I was a young girl I used to see pleasure
When I was a young girl I used to drink ale
Right out of the ale house and into the jail house
Right out of the bar room and down to my grave
Come mama come papa sit you beside me
Come mama come papa and pity my case
My poor heart is aching my heart it is breaking
My body salve-aided and Im bound to die
Go send for the preacher to come and pray for me
Go send for the doctor to heal up my
My poor heart is aching my heart it is breaking
My body salve-aided and hell is my home
I want three young ladies to bear up my coffin
I want three young ladies to take me along
I want them to carry a bunch of wild roses
To put on my body as I pass along
One morning one morning in may
One morning one morning in may
I spy this young lady all clad in white linnen
All clad in white linnen cold as a clay
When I was a young girl I used to see pleasure
When I was a young girl I used to drink ale
Right out of the bar room
Right out of the ale house and into the jail house
Right out of the bar room down to my grave

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When I Was A Young Girl

(A Song of Old Ballads)

WHEN I was a young girl, all in a green arbor,
When I was a young girl in Springtimes gone by
All the long days I went singing and smiling,
Down by the roses the sweet days beguiling,
Love in the arbor and love in the sky . . .
When I was a young girl, a young girl, a young girl,
When I was a young girl, how happy was I!

Oh, the long days I must sit at my sampler,
Oh, the slow way that the still time would go!
I longed to be running across the bright heather,
'Off with the silk gown and on with the leather,
Following the raggle-taggle gypsies, oh!'
When I was a young girl, a young girl, a young girl,
When I was a young girl, a long time ago!

When I was a young girl in days that were golden,
When I was a young girl, and life had no smart,
All the world seemed a place for my playing,
Full of great lovers to come to me, saying,
'Madam, I give you the keys of my heart . . .'
When I was a young girl, a young girl, a young girl,
When I was a young girl, and dreaming apart!

When I was a young girl, I dreamed of my lover,
A tall cavalier who should whisper me low,
'Love, on your lips are red roses a-blowing,
I am your true love, and fast is time going
Am I your true love? Oh, say yes or no!'
When I was a young girl, a young girl, a young girl–
When I was a young girl, a long time ago!

When I was a young girl there came my true lover,
Swiftly I knew him in glad days gone by;
Never a sword or a lovelock or feather,
But oh, at his touch 'twas our hearts came together,
Love in the arbor and love in the sky . . .
When I was a young girl, a young girl, a young girl,
When I was a young girl, how happy was I!

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As There Was No Other Option 2

...........When I blasted the earth with all life on it
There began a phase of silence in the solar system.
God ' the almighty ' further said, ' What next? '
I stared at him and asked, ' What do you mean? '
And a greater silence surrounded us next.

He said, 'Brother, your act leaves me null and void,
Along with this end you know, my relevance has been lost'.
I retorted, 'Your relevance was never my concern
And I have just righted a wrong done by causes unknown'.
God 'the almighty ' fumed within I knew, but He kept mum.

I said, 'Listen, the origin of life wasn`t an error,
As a choice wasn`t there within the first organism
And life had no pretentions of the kind.
Then, you weren`t there to create a relevance'.
You were not there as none thought and spoke of you'.

I said, 'Listen, then emerged the man the supreme
And he invited you into his lobby to wrong many a right.
Religions and their scriptures had you fattened....
Men and women and the old and the young
Sang hymns and your relevance got a glitter'.

Life on the planet was a mixture of pleasure and pain
And there blew the winds of disaster of might and wealth.
Crumbling the castles of ' civilization and humanity'.
Emerged many animals that crushed the hapless,
Still there were you, man said, everywhere signifying no relevance'.

I said, 'Listen, the pathos and the plight of the flora and the fauna
Spread over millenia necessitated my emergence.
From nothingness have I emerged thanks to you,
With blind eyes you saw your ghost pouncing somewhere'.
God 'the almighty' was disintegrating, the image was silent.

The planets minus the earth still revolved round the Sun
And there was an end to the dual notions of
The Great creation and The big bang.
The Milky way and the galaxies lingered on..
God 'the almighty' withered into the nothingness.

As there weren`t minds to think, nor mouths to speak next
The final philosophy of silence began and
I wasn`t there anymore for the work had been done.

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The Legend of Lady Gertrude

I.
Fallen the lofty halls, where vassal crowds
Drank in the dawn of Gertrude's natal day.
The dungeon roof an Alpine snow-wreath shrouds,
The strong, wild eagle's eyrie in the clouds—
The robber-baron's nest—is swept away.

II.
Bare is the mountain brow of lordly towers;
Only the sunbeams stay, the moon and stars,
The faithful saxifrage and gentian flowers,
The silvery mist, and soft, white, crystal showers,
And torrents rushing through their rocky bars.

III.
More than three hundred years ago, the flag
Charged with that dread device, an Alpine bear—
By many storm-winds rent—a grim, grey rag—
Floated above the castle on the crag,
Above the last whose heads were shelter'd there.

IV.
He was the proudest of an ancient race,
The fiercest of the robber chieftain's band,
That haughty Freiherr, with the iron face:
And she—his lady-sister, by God's grace—
The sweetest, gentlest maiden in the land.

V.
'Twas a rude nest for such a tender bird,
That lonely fortress, with its warrior-lord.
Aye drunken revels the night-stillness stirred;
From morn till eve the battle-cries were heard,
The sound of jingling spur and clanking sword.

VI.
And Lady Gertrude was both young and fair,

A mark for lawless hearts and roving eyes,—
With sweet, grave face, and amber-tinted hair,
And a low voice soft-thrilling through the air,
Filling it full of subtlest melodies.

VII.
But the great baron, proudest of his line,
Fetter'd, with jealous care, his white dove's wing;
Guarded his treasure in an inner shrine,
Till such a day as knightly hands should twine
Her slender fingers with the marriage-ring.

VIII.
From all her household rights was she debarred—
Her chair and place within the castle-hall,
Her palfrey's saddle in the castle-yard,
Her nursing ministries when blows fell hard
In border struggles—she was kept from all.

IX.
A stone-paved chamber, and the parapet
Opening above its winding turret-stair;
The castle-chapel, where few men were met,—
Round these the brother's boundaries were set.
The sweet child-sister was so very fair!

X.
She had her faithful nurse, her doves, her lute,
Her broidery and her distaff, and the hound—
Best prized of all—the grand, half-human brute,
Who aye watched near her, beautiful and mute,
With ears love-quicken'd, listening from the ground.

XI.
But the wild bird, so honourably caged,
Grew sick and sad in its captivity;
Longed—like those hills which time nor storm had aged,
And those deep glens where Danube waters raged—
In God's own wind and sunshine to be free.

XII.
And on a day, when she had seen them ride,
Baron and troopers, on some border raid,
Wooed by the glory of the summer tide,
The hound's soft-slouching footstep at her side,
Adown the valley Lady Gertrude stray'd.

XIII.
Adown the crag, whose shadow, still and black,
Lay like the death-sleep on a mountain pool;
Through rocky glen, by silvery torrent's track,
Through forest glade, 'neath wild vines, fluttering back
From softest zephyr kisses, green and cool.

XIV.
E'en till the woods and hamlets down below,
And summer meadows, were all broad and clear;
The river, moving statelily and slow,
A crimson ribbon in the sunset glow—
The dim, white, distant city strangely near.

XV.
She sat her down, a-weary, on the ground,
With tremulous long-drawn breath and wistful eyes;
Caress'd the velvet muzzle of the hound,
And listen'd vainly for some little sound
To come up from her world of mysteries.

XVI.
She had forgotten of the time and place,
When clank of warrior's harness smote her dream.
A growl, a spring, a shadow on her face,
And one strode up, with slow and stately pace,
And stood before her in the soft sun-gleam.

XVII.
An armèd knight, in noblest knightly guise,
From golden spur to golden dragon-crest;
Through open vizor gazing with surprise
Into the fair, flush'd face and startled eyes,
While horse and hound stood watchfully at rest.

XVIII.
The sun went down, and, with long, stealthy stride,
The shadows came, blurring the summer light;
And there was none the lady's step to guide
Up the lost pathway on the mountain-side—
None to protect her but this stranger knight!

XIX.
He placed her gently on his dappled grey,
Clothed in his mantle—for the air was chill;
He led her all the long and devious way,
Through glens, where starless night held royal sway,
And vine-tressed woodlands, where the leaves were still:

XX.
Through pathless ravines, where swift waters roll'd;
Up dark crag-ramparts, perilously steep,
Where eagles and a she-bear watch'd the fold;—
Facing the mountain breezes, clear and cold—
In shy, sweet silence, eloquent and deep.

XXI.
Holding his charger by the bridle-rein,
He led her through the robber-chieftain's lands;
Led her, unchallenged by the baron's train,
E'en to the low-brow'd castle-gate again,
And there he humbly knelt to kiss her hands.

XXII.
Brave lips, o'er tender palms bent down so low,
Silent and reverent, as it were to bless—
'Twas e'en a knightly love they did bestow,
Love true as steel and undefiled as snow;
No common courtesy, no light caress.

XXIII.
He rode away; and she to turret-lair
Sped, swift and trembling, like a hunted doe.
But wherefore, on the loopholed winding stair
Knelt she till morning, weeping, watching there?—
Because he was her brother's deadliest foe.

XXIV.
Because the golden dragon's blood had mixt
In all those mountain streams, had dyed the grass
Now trodden for her sake; because betwixt
Those two proud barons such a gulf was fixt
As never bridge of peace might overpass.

XXV.
A bitter, passionate feud, that was begun
In ages long forgotten, and bequeath'd
With those rich baronies by sire to son—
A sacred charge, a great work never done,
A sharp and fiery weapon never sheath'd.

XXVI.
Yet, e'er a month slipped by, as summer slips
On noiseless wings, another kiss was laid,
Not on white palms or rosy finger-tips,
But softly on shut eyes and quivering lips;
And vows were sealèd in the forest glade.

XXVII.
The robber baron, who had hedged about
That fairest blossom of the sacred plant,
Saw he the insolent mailèd hand stretch'd out
To break down all his barriers, strong and stout?
Knew he aught of that gracious covenant?

XXVIII.
His pride serenely slept. Nor did it wake
Till, in amaze, he saw his enemy stand
In his own castle, praying him to take
The pledge of peace for Lady Gertrude's sake—
Praying him humbly for the lady's hand.

XXIX.
Slowly the knitted brows grew fierce and black;
Slowly the eagle eyes began to shine.

“Sir knight,” he said, “I pray you get you back.
But one hour—and the Bears are on your track.
There's naught but fire and sword 'twixt mine and thine.”

XXX.
And then the doors were barred on every side
Upon the innocent traitor, who had done
Such doubly-shameful despite to his pride.
Mocking, “I'll satisfy your heart,” he cried,
“An' you will have a husband, pretty one!”

XXXI.
Yet did she send a message stealthily,
Spurred by the torture of this ominous threat.
“Thou wilt not suffer it?” she said. And he,
“Fear not. To-morrow will I come for thee,—
At eve to-morrow, when the sun has set.”

XXXII.
And on the morrow, when the autumn light
Of red and gold had faded into grey,
She heard his signal up the echoing height,
Like hoarse owl-whistle, quivering through the night;
And in the dark she softly slipped away.

XXXIII.
Her faithful nurse, with trembling hands, untwined
The new-forged fetters and drew back the bars.
The hound look'd up into her face, and whined,
And scratch'd the door; he would not stay behind.
And so she went—watch'd only by the stars.

XXXIV.
Adown the mountain passes, with wing'd feet
And bright, blank eyes—her hand fast clutch'd around
A ragged slip of myrtle, white and sweet;
The hound beside her, velvet-footed, fleet
And silent, with his muzzle to the ground.

XXXV.
The knight was waiting, with his dappled steed,
Hard by the black brink of the waveless pool.
In his strong, tender arms—now safe indeed—
She cross'd the valley, with the wild bird's speed,
Fanned by the whispering night-wind, clear and cool.

XXXVI.
Away—away—far from the trysting-place—
Over the blood-stain'd border-lands at last!
One wandering hind alone beheld the race;
A sudden rush—a shadow on his face—
A glint of golden scales—and she was past.

XXXVII.
She felt the shadow of a mighty wall,
And then the glow of torchlight, and again
The gloom of cloister'd stair and passage, fall
Upon her vacant eyes. She heard a call;
And, in the echoing mountains, its refrain.

XXXVIII.
Then all around her a great silence lay;
She knew not why, nor greatly seem'd to care,
Till, in low tones, she heard the baron say,
“Hast thou confess'd, my little one, to-day?”—
The while he weaved the myrtle in her hair.

XXXIX.
She glanced up suddenly, in blank amaze;
And then remember'd. 'Twas an altar, hung
With silk and rich embroidery, met her gaze;
'Twas perfumed, waxen altar-tapers' blaze
On her chill'd face and troubled spirit flung.

XL.
A holy father, with his open book,
Stood by the threshold of the chapel door.
Slowly, with bated breath and hands that shook,
Soft-clasped together—drawn with but a look—
She went, and knelt down humbly on the floor.

XLI.
The baron left her, lowly crouching there,
Her bright, starred tresses trailing on the stones;
And waited, kneeling on the altar-stair—
Holding his sword-hilt to his lips, in prayer—
The while she pleaded in her tremulous tones.

XLII.
A warning voice upon the still air dwelt,
A long, low cry of mingled hope and dread;—
A pause—a solemn silence—and she felt
The sweet absolving whisper as she knelt,
And hands of blessing covering her head.

XLIII.
The knight arose in silence, with a brow
Haughty and pale; and, softly drawing nigh,—
Love, life, and death in the new “I and thou”—
He gave and took each solemn marriage vow,
With all his arm'd retainers standing by.

XLIV.
The soft light fell upon their faces—still,
And calm, and full of rest. None now to part
The golden link between them!—naught to chill
The blest assurance that the father's will
Laid hand in hand, and gather'd heart to heart.

XLV.
And so 'twas done. Each finger now had worn
The rings that aye ring'd in the double life;
From each the pledge had been withdrawn in turn,
As one by one the hallow'd oaths were sworn;
And Lady Gertrude was the baron's wife.

XLVI.
He led her to her chamber, when the glow
Of dawn began to quicken earth and sky;
They watch'd the rosy wine-cup overflow
The pale, cool, silvery track upon the snow
Of Alpine crests, uplifted far and high.

XLVII.
They saw the mountain floodgates open'd wide,
The downward streaming of unfetter'd day;
In blessed stillness, standing side by side—
Stillness that told how they were satisfied,
Those hearts whereon the new-born glamour lay.

XLVIII.
And then, down cloister'd aisle and sculptured stair,
Through open courts, all bathed in shining mist,
They pass'd together, knight and lady fair;
She with the matron's coif upon her hair,
Her golden hair by lip and finger kiss'd.

XLIX.
He throned her proudly in his castle hall,
High on the daïs above the festive board,
'Neath shields and pennons drooping from the wall;
And they below the salt rose, one and all,
To greet the bride of their puissant lord.

L.
Loud were the shouts, and fair with smiling grace
The blue eyes of the lady baroness;
And bright and eager was the haughty face
Of her brave husband, towering in his place,
Yet aye low-stooping for a mute caress.

LI.
There came a sudden pause—a thunder-cloud,
Darkening the sunshine of the golden noon—
An ominous stillness in the armèd crowd,
While slowly stiffening lips, all stern and proud,
Shut in the kindly laughter—all too soon!

LII.
“To arms! To arms!” A passionate crimson flush
Rose, sank, and blanched the fair face of the bride.
“To arms!” The cry smote sharply on the hush,
And broke it;—all was one tumultuous rush—
“The Bears have cross'd the border-land!” they cried.

LIII.
But a few hours had Lady Gertrude dwelt
With her dear lord. Sad honours now were hers,
With white, hot hands she clasp'd his silver belt;
She held his dinted shield and sword; and knelt,
Like lowly squire, to don his golden spurs.

LIV.
“Thou wilt not fight with him?—thou wilt forbear
For my sake?” So she pleaded, while the sun
Shone on her falling tears—each tear a prayer.
He whisper'd gravely, as he kissed her hair,
“I know not if I can, my little one.”

LV.
She held his hands, with infinite mute desire
To hold him back; then watch'd him to the field
With hungry, feverish eyes that could not tire,
Till sunny space absorb'd the fitful fire
Of the bright dragons on his crest and shield.

LVI.
When he was gone—quite gone—she crept away,
Back to the castle chapel, still and dim;
And knelt where he had knelt but yesterday,
Low on the altar step, to watch and pray—
To pour her heart out for the love of him.

LVII.
Her bower-maidens sat alone and spun
The while she pray'd, the terror-stricken wife.
The long hours slowly wanèd, one by one,
And evening came, and, with the setting sun,
The sudden darkness that eclipsed her life.

LVIII.
She listen'd, and she heard the sound at last,—
The ominous pause, the heavy, clanging tread;
She saw the strange, long shadow weirdly cast
Upon the floor, the red blood streaming fast,
The dear face grey and stiffen'd;—he was dead!

LIX.
“Ay, dead, my lady baroness; and slain
By him you call your brother. Curses light
Upon his caitiff soul! Ah, 'tis in vain
To murmur thus,—he will not hear again—
He cannot heed your whisperings to-night.”

LX.
She lay down on her bridal couch—the stone
Whereon he lay in his eternal rest;
They, pitying, pass'd out, leaving her alone,
To kiss the rigid lips, and cry, and moan,
With her white face upon his bleeding breast.


* * * * *

LXI.
'Twas night—wakeful, restless, troubled night,
Both wild and soft—fair;
With clouds fast flying through the domheight,
And shrieking winds, and silvery shining light,
And clear bells piercing the transparent air.

LXII.
Down vale and fell a lonely figure stray'd,—
Now a dark shadow on the moonlit ground,
Now flickering white and ghostly in the shade
Of haunted glen and scented forest-glade—
A woman, watched and followed by a hound.

LXIII.
'Twas Lady Gertrude, widow'd and forlorn,
Returning to the wild birds' mountain nest;
Sent out with smiling insult and with scorn,
And creeping to the home where she was born,
To hide her sorrow, to lie down and rest.

LXIV.
She reach'd the gate and cross'd the castle-yard,
And stood upon the threshold, chill'd with fear.
The baron rose and faced her, breathing hard:
“Troopers,” he thunder'd, “let the doors be barred
And double-barred!—we'll have no traitors here.”

LXV.
Such was her welcome. As she turn'd away,
Groping with sightless eyes and hands outspread,
The hound, unnoticed, slowly made his way
Along the hall, as if in track of prey,
With glistening teeth and stealthy velvet tread.

LXVI.
There was no clarion cry, none heard the sound
Of knightly challenge, till the champion rose,
Avenging. Lo! they saw upon the ground
The baron struggling with the savage hound,
And grim death grimly waiting for the close!

LXVII.
'Twas done. He lay there unassoilzied, dead,
Ere scarcely fell'd by the relentless paws.
And the fierce hound, with painful, limping tread,
Was following still where Lady Gertrude led,
His own red life-blood dripping from his jaws.

LXVIII.
'Neath shadowy glades, with moonbeams interlaced,
Through valleys, at day—dawning, soft and dim,
Up mountain steeps at sunrise—uplands paced
By her dead lord in childhood—she retraced
The long miles stretching betwixt her and him.

LXIX.
She reach'd the castle, ere the torches' glare
Had wanèd in the brightness of the sky—
Another lord than hers was feasting there!
She shudder'd at the sounds that fill'd the air,
Of drunken laughter and loud revelry,

LXX.
And softly up the cloister'd stairs she crept,
Back to the lonely chapel, where all sound
Of human life in solemn silence slept.
With weary heart and noiseless feet she stept
Beneath the doorway into hallow'd ground.

LXXI.
Low at the altar, wrapped in slumber sweet
And still and deep, her murder'd lord lay here;
With waxen tapers at his head and feet—
Forcing reluctant darkness to retreat—
And cross-embroider'd pall upon his bier.

LXXII.
The blood-hound blindly stumbled, and fell prone
Across the threshold. Something came and prest
His huge head downward, stiffening him to stone.
And Lady Gertrude, passing up alone,
Spread her white arms above the baron's breast.

LXXIII.
The weapons which his lowly coffin bore—
His sword and spurs, his helm and shield and belt—
Like him, to rest from battle evermore,
Whose long-drawn shadows barred the chapel floor,—
She kiss'd them, for his dear sake, as she knelt.

LXXIV.
She laid her cheek upon the velvet pall,
With one long, quivering sigh; and tried to creep
Where the soft shadow of the rood would fall,
'Mid light of sunrise and of tapers tall,
Upon them both, and there she fell asleep.


* * * * *

LXXV.
She woke no more. But where her track had been,
On that last night, became a haunted ground.
And when the wild wind blows upon the sheen
Of summer moonlight, there may still be seen
The phantom of a lady and a hound.

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There was a young lady of Spain
Who couldn't go out in the rain;
For she'd lent her umbrella
To Queen Isabella,
Who never returned it again.

limerick from Punch, or The London Charivari (30 March 1904)Report problemRelated quotes
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There was a young lady named Laura,
Who went to the wilds of Angora,
She came back on a goat
With a beautiful coat,
And notes of the fauna and flora.

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Edward Lear

There was a Young Lady of Poole,
Whose soup was excessively cool;
So she put it to boil
By the aid of some oil,
That ingenious Young Lady of Poole.

limerick by from A Book of Nonsense (1846)Report problemRelated quotes
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