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Her shape was all that thought can form
Of elegance and grace,
Reflected in her face.
Again the abbess cried :
Again the virgin sighed.
'T was love that shook her breast; And thus, in accent soft and mild,
The mournful fair addrest.
“ My daughter dear! as to thy friend,
Be all thy cares confest:
And wish to give thee rest.
It summons us to prayer;
Thy wasted strength repair.”
Of Edwy's hap shall tell ;
That gallant youth befell.-
He took his lonely way;
His erring footsteps stray.
Trembling among the trees,
A holy man he sees. —
“ O father! deign a luckless youth
This night with thee to shield; I am no robber, though my arm
This deadly weapon wield.”
For I have nought to lose;
In this poor cell repose :
The holy man he cried ; “ Still welcome here, is he whom fate
Has left without a guide. “Whence, and what art thou, gentle youth ?”
The noble Edwy said, “ I go to rouse Earl Osrick's power,
And seek Lord Redwald's aid. “My father is a wealthy Lord,
Who now with Alfred stays; And me he left to guard his seat,
Whilst he his duty pays.
The devastator came;
War's all-destructive flame.
I with my sister fled;
A shelter to her head :
Range wildly through the night, And with impatient heart expect
The morning's friendly light.”
So Edwy spake; and wondering, gazed
Upon his hermit host:
Unchilled by age's frost !
“ Know - there was once a day, This tale of thine would fire my heart,
And bid me join thy way. “ But luckless love dejects my soul,
And casts my spirits down; Thou see'st the wretch of woman's pride,
Of follies not my own! “ I once, amid my Sovereign's train,
Ranked a distinguished youth; But blighted is my former fame,
By sorrow's cankering tooth.
I to this district came,
First woke in me a flame.
“ Her father was a noble Lord,
Of an illustrious race, Who joined to rustic honesty
The court's transcendent grace.
“ 'Twas then I told my artless tale,
By love alone inspired;
In flattering guise attired. “ At first she heard, or seemed to hear,
The tender voice of love;
Did she deceitful prove !
“ She drove me, scornful, from her sight
Rejected and disdained :
In vain my looks complained !
Ever relentless be!
Have ever frowns for me!
I live, recluse from man ;
The hermit's life began.”
“O, stain to honour!” Edwy cried ;
“ 0, foul disgrace to arms! What, — when thy country claims thy aid,
And shakes with war's alarms
“ Canst thou, inglorious! here remain,
And strive thyself to hide; Assume the monkish coward life,
All for a woman's pride?"
With louder voice, and warmer look,
His hermit host rejoined “ Think'st thou, vain youth ! the chains of fear
Could here a warrior bind ? “ Know, then, thou see'st Hermanrick here!
Well versed in war's alarms ;
Nor unrenowned in arms.
“O, Athelgiva !-yet too dear!
Did I thy danger know, Yet would I fly to thy relief,
And crush the invading foe.”
With flustered cheek, young Edwy turned
At Athelgiva's name ; And, “ gracious powers ! it must be he !"
He cried ; " it is the same! “ I know full well, I have not now
More of thy tale to learn ; "T was heard this morn, ere from the wave
You could the sun discern.
By all the saints on high!
She told, with many a sigh.
Thy limbs with steel enfold !
Who late thy heart did hold?”
“ I heard her brother's name; T is said, he was a gallant youth
Who fought abroad for fame.”
Then Edwy sprang to his embrace,
And clasped him to his breast ; “ And thou shalt be my brother too !"
He said - and looked the rest.
“ But now let honour fill thy mind,
Be love's high laws obeyed ;'T is Athelgiva claims thy sword,
'T is she demands thy aid !
“She, with impatient anxious heart,
Expects my quick return ; And, till again she sees me safe,
The hapless maid will mourn.