Poems » charles wolfe » song at the feast of brougham castle upon the restoration of lord clifford the shepherd to the estates and honours of his ancestors


  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:
     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;
     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,
     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
     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
     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.
     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,
     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
     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,
     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,
     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,
     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,
     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:
     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,
     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,
     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.

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;
And, ages after he was laid in earth,
"The good Lord Clifford" was the name he bore.