By Ann Cuthbert Knight

© Edinburgh: James Ballantyne & Co., 1816




BURST from her heart the struggling sigh.
Her changing cheek turn’d deadly pale,
But fixt resolve was in her eye,
And calm, and sad, she said, “Farewell!

‘Farewell! thy vassal’s orphan child


From all the joys of guilt can flee;
Though she would dwell in desert wild,
To live to Virtue and to thee.”

“Then hear,” he said, “this one request,
In holy fane our vows be giv’n,


Heard only by th’appointed priest,
And all-observing ear of Heav’n, [Page 91]

And thine shall be the rural home,
Where winds the streamlet down the dell.”
Fast o’er her cheek’s returning bloom


The shower of melting fondness fell.


Sir Edward! though her humbler race
Could ill aspire to rank with thine,
For every charm, —for every grace,
The maid might match a nobler line.


Beside thy own, her gallant sire
Had often stemm’d the tide of fight!
With dauntless heart, and eye of fire,
The bravest follower of the knight.

And in Sir Richard’s latest field,


When widely waved the Danish sword,
Still, still his place the warrior held,
And fought, —and fell, — beside his lord! [Page 92]

He fell, and gave one dear bequest,
A fair, a young, an orphan child;


And by the aged knight carest,
Sweet in his hall the cherub smiled,

Till the cold hand of Death consign’d
His well-loved consort to the tomb,
And to the sister’s care resign’d,


A convent hid the orphan’s bloom.

At distance then, in fields of death,
The gallant heir of Elmsdale fought,
But through her glades loud rumour’s breath,
Full oft his deeds of valour brought.



The rose may blush in cloister’d cell,
It dyes the cheek of Geraldine;
But, ere she took the hallow’d veil,
Quick summon’d from the convent scene, [Page 93]

Fondly to Elmsdale’s towers she flew,


To watch her guardian’s last repose,
And duteous came Sir Edward too,
To sooth the pangs of nature’s close.

Amid the scene of fun’ral gloom,
The knight has mark’d her dark-blue eye;


Her lip, the heath-flower’s op’ning bloom,
Unfolding to the summer’s sigh.

Whether the shower of sorrow flow,
Or o’er her cheek soft blushes move:
The sparkling tear, the deep’ning glow,


Still fan the kindling fire of love:

But he, whose soul serene and bright,
Inspired a form of manly grace,
Rose on the young enthusiast’s sight,
A being of superior race.


There is a love, though seldom seen,
Stronger than passion’s headlong swell, [Page 94]
That round the heart of Geraldine
Had lock’d its soul-entrancing spell.


The oath-bound priest to silence bought,

The appointed hour of midnight peal’d,
Nor has it crost the father’s thought,
Whose was the hand Sir Edward held.

Through painted glass, the moonbeams throw
Their trembling light o’er pillars pale,


And scarce the knight his bride might know
All shrouded in the snowy veil.

But ne’er a form more sweetly fair,
In monarch’s glitt’ring court shall shine,
Nor purer—fonder bosom e’er

Rise softly at the hallow’d shrine. [Page 95]


No sprightly rout with minstrel lay
Has graced Sir Edward’s nuptial morn,
Nor costly feast, nor revel gay,
Fair Elmsdale’s lofty halls adorn.


And lone are now fair Elmsdale’s towers,
But where its brook’s wild waters fall,
Or gaily bloom the summer flowers,
And sweetly smiles the sylvan hall.

No tapestry decks the lady’s bower,


Nor waves the banner on the wall;
Green rushes strew the rural floor,
The red-deer’s antlers grace the hall;

Nor broider’d zone, nor diamonds sheen,
Blaze on her light robe’s graceful fold,


But o’er the vest of simple green
Her ringlets fall in waving gold. [Page 96]

Yet lends the harp its soothing sound,
One aged minstrel loves the scene;
And one—a fair and fav’rite hound,


Fawns on the hand of Geraldine.

Well loves the knight, when morning’s dawn
Gleams on the blue lake bright and clear,
To urge his courser o’er the lawn,
Or rouse the trembling forest deer.


Well loves the knight in sultrier hour,
With musing hermit-step to rove,
Where mingling beech and pine-trees tower,
And Nature frames the wild alcove.

But when the west, with crimson glow,


Welcomes the radiant orb of day,
Sweetly the minstrel’s numbers flow,
And sweeter still the lady’s lay.

There be round Hymen’s sacred ties,
Who Love’s luxuriant wreath can twine, [Page 97]


And hadst thou known the charm to prize,
Sir Edward! all that bliss was thine.

Yet ne’er had Art her lesson taught,
That bosom sway’d by Nature’s law;
That heart with tender feeling fraught,


And watchful love, and modest awe.

Still o’er her cheek the varying dye
Spreads quick from Feeling’s throbbing shrine,
And still the soul-enchanting eye
With soften’d sweetness beams on thine.



Soft falls the blossom from the broom,
On August’s bosom fades the rose,
But rich and deep the heather bloom
O’er all the empurpled mountain glows. [Page 98]

’Tis past! —September’s evenings mild


Have closed on many a harvest day:
And ruder breezes sweep the wild,
And faintly gleams the solar ray,

And darkly on yon mountain’s brow,
November’s louring glooms repose,


And in the shepherd’s cot below,
The evening faggot brightly glows.

And leaves the knight his lone retreat?
Love may not bind him longer there,
Afar he goes his peers to meet,


The lists to grace—the banquet share.

But while stern winter closes round,
O will the fair all lonely stay,
Left in the wild wood’s dreary bound,
With youthful page and minstrel grey!


No selfish wish that heart may wear,
She strives to hide the pearly shower, [Page 99]
Yet “wilt though, ’mid the gay and fair,
Think sometimes on thy forest bower?”


His followers range in order gay,


To meet their lord on castle-lawn;
With heavy heart and sleepless eye,
The lady watch’d the unwelcome dawn.

Though deep her struggling bosom’s swell,
No murmur chill’d the fond adieu;


But cold her heart—her cheek grew pale,
As through the glade his courser flew.

She cross’d the hall’s deserted bound,
The fav’rite dog in slumber lay,
Ah! dream not that the horn shall sound,


To call thee to the chase to-day! [Page 100]

All darkly lours the wintry sky,
And thick the stormy showers descend,
And, waving to the wild wind’s sigh,
With sullen sound the branches bend.


Chill blows the blast—fast falls the shower,
But in the hall the fire burns gay,
And oft, to steal the wintry hour,
The aged minstrel pours the lay.


The storm has raged its strength away,


In soften’d gales the south wind blows,
With spiry leaf the crocus gay
Peeps sweetly through the melting snows.

Hark! —is not that his courser’s tread?
’Twas but the breeze that swept the rill,


The appointed day is come and fled,
The knight of Elmsdale lingers still. [Page 101]


“And haste thee back, my boy,” she said;
Yet, yet the page has tarried long,
Though gleams the castle through the glade,


Where lone she waits with bosom wrung.

Where, where was Honour’s guardian power?
No vain report the tidings spread,
From Brankden’s hall to Elmsdale’s bower,
A courtly bridge the knight has led.


Oh Edward! though her dower had strove
With Persian sceptre’s rubied glow,
What was it to thy injured love,
What to thy Heav’n-attested vow!

Unnoticed round the lonely bower


The unfolding sweets of spring shall blow;
No hand is there to crop the flower,
No eye to mark its beauties now. [Page 102]

The page—the minstrel—join the train,
In Elmsdale’s courts of festive joy.


And can Sir Edward ask again,
“How fares thy mistress—say, my boy?”

“When Night her shadowy curtain spread,
The lady wept in sylvan bower;
When morning tinged the skies with red,


I waked, —but she was there no more.”

Pause not, Sir Knight, —amid the halls
The guests are set—the attendants wait;
Pause not, Sir Knight, —the banquet calls,
And thou hast found a nobler mate.


And all is splendour, pomp, and pride,
And all in Pleasure’s guise is drest,
For richly flows the golden tide;
But oh! —if Elmsdale’s lord be blest.

Ev’n when the banquet sparkles high,


And soft the sounds of music flow, [Page 103]
As meets that page his master’s eye,
What passing cloud o’ercasts his brow?

Why does he still the chase forsake,
If seek the deer yon beechen grove?


Why may the minstrel never wake
The law that plains of faithless love?


Fond Fortune’s child—in vain carest: —
And can Sir Edward’s bride repine?
Oh! where is now that faithful breast,


Whose every wish was lost in thine?

How oft amid the louring storm,
Of sullen pride and peevish spleen,
Shall mem’ry paint the peerless form,
And gentle heart of Geraldine! [Page 104]



No heir has blest Sir Edward’s bed,
To gild with smiles the castle’s gloom;
Three sullen summers slowly sped,
The fourth shone o’er his lady’s tomb!

Remembrance wakes more fond, more keen,


For “where is now that lovely flower,
Who well might grace the gayest scene,
In lofty hall or lordly bower?

“It came—the dream of wealth and power—
A rainbow form that charm’d to flee:


Ill was it worth one blissful hour
Thy once loved Edward pass’d with thee.

The faithful page has sought in vain,
In lonely cot or village bower,
In sylvan shade or flowery plain,


The Rose of Elmsdale blooms no more. [Page 105]


Pensive the knight, —the morn was fair,
He cross’d his steed at early dawn,
And musing rode, unheeding where,
By forest deep, and verdant lawn,


Till o’er a stream-embowering glade,
Where high surrounding mountains swell,
His courser’s fleeting pace he staid,
To mark the beauties of the dell.

A winding pathway threads the vale,


O’er fragrant birch the pine-trees tower,
The wild rose blushes to the gale,
Twined with the woodbine’s fringing flower.

The summer sun shone high and clear,
When bounding fast by brake and tree,


A milk-white hound came fawning near,
And fawning sought Sir Edward’s knee. [Page 106]

Conjecture flash’d through sorrow’s gloom,
For soon the faithful dog he knew;
When lo’ a boy in infant bloom,


In tend’rer meaning, fixt his view!

Ah! fond yet faithless! well I ween
May’st thou the blooming infant know;
He wears the smile of Geraldine,
Thy eagle glance and lordly brow.


With wild surmise—with fearful joy,
Th’ unconscious child Sir Edward eyed;
“And who art thou, my lovely boy,
Or what thy father’s name?” he cried.

“My name is Edward of the dell,”


The answering cherub blush’d and smiled.
“And dost thou seek the hermit’s cell,
For I am Father Bertrand’s child?”

Alighting from his sable steed,
He gain’d the monk’s sequester’d cell, [Page 107]


Age shed its honours o’er his head,
His amen was mild, his cheek was pale.

“Oh! tell me, father, tell me true!
Who is it in this sylvan wild
That owns that hound of milky hue,


And who the parent of the child?”

“But gallant stranger! who art thou
Whose steps have sought the lonely dell?
For but to one I may avow—
To one on earth—the mournful tale.”


“If rumour e’er the glade explored,
Sacred to solitude and thee;
Thou may’st have heard of Elmsdale’s lord.”
“I have,”—“and, father, I am he.”

“Then rest, Sir Knight—the glen’s wild flowers


Have thrice adorn’d the summer ray,
Since, where yon aged elm-tree towers,
I mark’d a lovely stranger stray. [Page 108]

’Tis not to share in Nature’s joy,
’Tis not to pluck the budding rose,


For, fondling o’er her infant boy,
The shower of tender sorrow flows.

Oft had she silent pass’d and slow,
Till once, when thunder shook the vale,
She came—the pensive child of woe


Was welcome still to Bertrand’s cell.

I strove to sooth, but ill can paint
The grief whose vainly smother’d sigh
Disdain’d the murmur of complaint,
And shunn’d the probe of sympathy.


But from the radiant throne on high
Had mercy shed its sweetness beam,
The hope of immortality,
And well the mourner loved the theme.

Still, still her placid eyes betray


The settled sorrow, deep but meek, [Page 109]
And the bright ensign of decay
Waves fluttering on her fading cheek.

Another winter swept the glade,
And summer rose array’d in bloom,


While she in lone retirement’s shade
Was slowly sinking in the tomb.

’Twas in a peasant’s widow’s shed
That child first drew his infant breath,
And there my pensive steps were led


To watch his parent’s couch of death.

Pass we the church’s mystic rite,
The wonted bead and hallow’d prayer,
Ere life’s faint torch was set in night,
To me she gave her earthly care.


A jewell’d cross, in glittering pride,
Depending from a pearly band,
Around the infant’s neck she tied
With tearful eye and trembling hand. [Page 110]

“Father,” she said, “when I am fled,


Oh! wilt thou take this friendless child,
And let him share thy mossy bed,
Thy peaceful cell and counsel mild?

“Though left forlorn in cottage bower,
That infant bears no peasant’s name;


Where Elmsdale rears her lofty tower,
My son a noble sire may claim.

“Yet thou in sacred silence keep
The secret trusted to thy breast,
And let the tale unnoticed sleep


Which only coming death could wrest.

“But, ah! if ever fate should bring
Sir Edward Eldin to thy view,
Then give to him this glittering ring,”—
The token forth the hermit drew, —


“Haply it may recall once more
A sacred rite, a solemn scene, [Page 111]
In holy church at midnight hour
It cross’d the hand of Geraldine!

“And should the throb of feeling move,


Lead to his knee his youthful son,
The tender pledge of wedded love,
For I am guiltless, though undone.

“Yet, yet if vain regret should sting,
And wild remorse for broken truth


His breast with keener anguish wring,
Thine be the care that grief to sooth.

“Blest be that word, from Heaven above
I deem’d the wish of meekness came,
Alas! it sprung from earthly love,


The triumph of no common flame

“For oh! should time retreating move,
And give those hours for ever lost,
Scarce might I yield his fatal love
For all the joy that life can boast. [Page 112]


And yet, in spite of sorrow dear,
Death’s icy hand alone can chill
The cherish’d wish warm glowing here,
To live beloved in mem’ry still.

Yes, I have seen his wak’ning ruth


And late repenting sorrow flow,
And knelt and pray’d to Heaven to sooth,
And weeping shared his fancied woe.

If true the dream, may’st thou be near,
And with its fond forgiveness join


This heart’s last wish, Oh! bid him bear
The contrite grief to Mercy’s shrine.

So shall a ray of passive joy
Gleam sweet o’er sorrow’s ebbing tide;
So may he view his blooming boy


With all a father’s conscious pride.

And think how swift the summer flew
In sylvan bower, in forest green, [Page 113]
And many a tender hour review
That past with love and Geraldine.


And say “still faithful, still the same
She lived to bless, and blessing died.
Ill, ill were given so dear a claim
For all that earth could boast beside.

“Yet stay, my child; —by him above


Oh be the tender crime forgiven,
But thou with more than idol love
Hast paid to man the dues of Heaven.

“Father, I know,”—one contrite tear
Roll’d gently o’er her visage mild,


But Faith, and Hope, and Peace, were there,
And soft the parting spirit smiled.

Remembrance thrill’d the old man’s soul,
Where Pity reign’d with aspect meek,
And the bright dews of feeling stole


In silver current down his cheek. [Page 114]

But dark remorse in furious glare
Had fix’d Sir Edward’s tearless eye,
And the cold stupor of Despair
Lock’d in his breast the dormant sigh.


The hermit mark’d his brow of gloom,
And strove to burst the dark’ning spell,
“Oh wouldst thou see the lowly tomb
Of one who loved thee passing well?”

With hurried step the path he trod,


An infant birch-tree’s fragrant bough
Hangs weeping o’er that verdant sod,
The slumb’ring dust lies cold below.

He kneels, but oh! that gloomy eye!
Stay, stay thy lips! no hallow’d prayer,


Some rash, some dreadful oath is nigh,
Some frantic purpose louring there.

“Oh stay, thy bosom’s tumult rein,
Say wouldst thou slight the last request, [Page 115]
The tomb of her thou lov’dst profane,


Or rouse the ashes of the blest

“To injured love the tear, the sigh
Of fond remembrance well is due,
But Heaven has call’d her to the sky,
And thou hast duties yet to do:


“Then stay—thy bosom’s tumult rein;
Say, wouldst thou slight the last request,
The tomb of her thou lov’dst profane,
Or rouse the ashes of the blest?”

Fell on his heart the mild appeal,


The blood in quicker circles flow’d,
But, torn with grief’s convulsive swell,
His struggling bosom prest the sod.

The rising throb the hermit eyed,
He saw the bursting torrent flow,


Nor strove to check the welcome tide,
But blest the hour of soften’d woe. [Page 116]

He saw the combat half was won,
And placed the child his arms between,
“Oh kindly rear thy infant son,


’Tis all that lives of Geraldine!” [Page 117]