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Or when his spirit, with more calm intent,
Leaps to the honours of a tournament,
And makes the gazers round about the ring
Stare at the grandeur of the balancing!
No, no! this is far off: - then how shall I
Revive the dying tones of minstrelsy,
Which linger yet about long gothic arches,
In dark green ivy, and among wild larches ?
How sing the splendour of the revelries,
When butts of wine are drank off to the lees ?
And that bright lance, against the fretted wall,
Beneath the shade of stately banneral,
Is slung with shining cuirass, sword, and shield ?
Where ye may see a spur in bloody field,
Light-footed damsels move with gentle paces
Round the wide hall, and show their happy faces;
Or stand in courtly talk by fives and sevens:
Like those fair stars that twinkle in the heavens.
Yet must I tell a tale of chivalry :
Or wherefore comes that knight so proudly by ?
Wherefore more proudly does the gentle knight
Rein in the swelling of his ample might?
Spenser! thy brows are arched, open, kind,
And come like a clear sun-rise to my mind;
And always does my heart with pleasure dance,
When I think on thy noble countenance :
Where never yet was aught more earthly seen
Than the pure freshness of thy laurels green.
Therefore, great bard, I not so fearfully
Call on thy gentle spirit to hover nigh
My daring steps: or if thy tender care,
Thus startled unaware,
Be jealous that the foot of other wight
Should madly follow that bright path of light
Traced by thy loved Libertas; he will speak,
And tell thee that my prayer is very meek;
That I will follow with due reverence,
And start with awe at mine own strange pretence.
Him thou wilt hear; so I will rest in hope
To see wide plains, fair trees, and lawny slope;
eve, the light, the shade, the flowers; Clear streams, smooth lakes, and overlooking towers.
OUNG Calidore is paddling o'er the lake;
His healthful spirit eager and awake To feel the beauty of a silent eve, Which seem'd full loth this happy world to leave, The light dwelt o'er the scene so lingeringly. He bares his forehead to the cool blue sky, And smiles at the far clearness all around, Until his heart is well nigh overwound, And turns for calmness to the pleasant green Of easy slopes, and shadowy trees that lean So elegantly o'er the waters' brim And show their blossoms trim. Scarce can his clear and nimble eyesight follow The freaks and dartings of the black-wing'd swallow, Delighting much to see it, half at rest, Dip so refreshingly its wings and breast 'Gainst the smooth surface, and to mark anon The widening circles into nothing gone. Vol. II.
And now the sharp keel of his little boat Comes up with ripple, and with easy float, And glides into a bed of water-lilies : Broad-leaved are they, and their white canopies Are upward turn'd to catch the heavens' dew. Near to a little island's point they grew; Whence Calidore might have the goodliest view Of this sweet spot of earth. The bowery shore Went off in gentle windings to the hoar And light blue mountains : but no breathing man, With a warm heart, and eye prepared to scan Nature's clear beauty, could pass lightly by Objects that look'd out so invitingly On either side. These, gentle Calidore Greeted, as he had known them long before.
The sidelong view of swelling leafiness, Which the glad setting sun in gold doth dress, Whence, ever and anon, the joy outsprings, And scales upon the beauty of its wings.
The lonely turret, shatter'd and outworn, Stands venerably proud; too proud to mourn Its long-lost grandeur : fir-trees grow around, Aye dropping their hard fruit upon the ground. The little chapel, with the cross above, Upholding wreaths of ivy; the white dove, That on the windows spreads his feathers light, And seems from purple clouds to wing its flight.
Green·tufted islands casting their soft shades Across the lake; sequester'd leafy glades, That through the dimness of their twilight show
Large dock-leaves, spiral foxgloves, or the glow
Of the wild cat's-eyes, or the silvery stems
Of delicate birch-trees, or long grass which hems
A little brook. The youth had long been viewing
These pleasant things, and heaven was bedewing
The mountain flowers, when his glad senses caught
A trumpet's silver voice. Ah! it was fraught
With many joys for him : the warder's ken
Had found white coursers prancing in the glen:
Friends very dear to him he soon will see ;
So pushes off his boat most eagerly.
And soon upon the lake he skims along,
Deaf to the nightingale's first under-song;
Nor minds he the white swans that dream so sweetly,
His spirit flies before him so completely.
And now he turns a jutting point of land,
Whence may be seen the castle gloomy and grand :
Nor will a bee buzz round two swelling peaches,
Before the point of his light shallop reaches
Those marble steps that through the water dip:
Now over them he goes with hasty trip,
And scarcely stays to ope the folding doors;
Anon he leaps along the oaken floors
Of halls and corridors.
Delicious sounds! those little bright-eyed things That float about the air on azure wings, Had been less heartfelt by him than the clang Of clattering hoofs; into the court he sprang, Just as two noble steeds, and palfreys twain, Were slanting out their necks with loosen'd rein; While from beneath the threatening portcullis They brought their happy burthens. What a kiss,
What gentle squeeze he gave each lady's hand!
How tremblingly their delicate ankles spann'd!
Into how sweet a trance his soul was gone,
While whisperings of affection
Made him delay to let their tender feet
Come to the earth ; with an incline so sweet
From their low palfreys o'er his neck they bent :
And whether there were tears of languishment,
Or that the evening dew had pearl'd their tresses,
He feels a moisture on his cheek, and blesses,
With lips that tremble, and with glistening eye,
All the soft luxury
That nestled in his arms. A dimpled hand,
Fair as some wonder out of Fairyland,
Hung from his shoulder like the drooping flowers
Of whitest cassia, fresh from summer showers :
And this he fondled with his happy cheek,
As if for joy he would no further seek :
When the kind voice of good Sir Clerimond
Came to his ear, like something from beyond
His present being : so he gently drew
His warm arms, thrilling now with pulses new,
From their sweet thrall, and forward gently bending,
Thank'd Heaven that his joy was never-ending;
While 'gainst his forehead he devoutly press'd
A hand Heaven made to succour the distress'd;
A hand that from the world's bleak promontory
Had lifted Calidore for deeds of glory.
Amid the pages, and the torches' glare,
There stood a knight, patting the flowing hair
Of his proud horse's mane: he was withal
A man of elegance, and stature tall :