By Charles Sangster




    Life of my life! joy of my inmost soul!
Whose life and death are destined to control
My spirit’s being: let me think of thee,
Possessor of my heart’s idolatry!
Bright was the day with sunlight from above,


When first you whispered of long-cherished love;
When that stout heart that beats for England’s weal,
Was bound by chains as strong as chains of steel;
When that strong arm with tender fondness press’d
My yielding form against your throbbing breast;


When that calm eye, in danger’s hour serene,
Gazed on my brow as on your future Queen;
When that loud voice, deep as the trumpet’s sound,
Rang in my ears, and made my spirit bound [Page 168]
With feelings such as they can never know


Who spurn the blind God as men spurn a foe.

    I do not weep, nor think the less of thee,
That thou prefer’st thy country’s weal to me,
The fates absolve thee, Harold, from thy vow,
And to my cruel destiny I bow,


Content to know none other name but mine
Will be inscribed on that firm breast of thine,
Save hers, thy country’s—England’s—with whose fame
Will ever live King Harold’s noble name.

    Oft do I think upon our childhood’s hours,


When day by day we culled the wildwood flowers.
What holy joy inspired us when we met!
Our partings, too, how saddened with regret!
Until a childish kiss relieved the pain,
And vows were pledged that we should meet again.


    I think of thy long sojourn in the land
Of strangers; and of thy return, to stand
By the decree of thy Country and thy King.
One name to every English lip did spring,
One name was shouted by both Thegn and Ceorl;


That name was Harold’s—Harold, England’s Earl!
I think on the love-consecrated knoll,
Deep in the forest glade, where love’s control
Held in soft bonds your manly heart and mine,
And you confessed your love and called me thine.


And I was happy; and my spirit yearned [Page 169]
For thee; and blushes—maiden blushes—burned
My cheeks, as, gazing on thy noble form,
I knew thy love, more resolute and warm,
Was still as pure as in those childish days,


When on your brow I placed the verdant bays,
Calling each one a Crown, and thee—a King!
Strange that such prophecies should ofttimes bring
Their own fulfilment; and that time will make
The jests of lisping childhood oft partake


Of truthfulness.  These sinless days have pass’d—
Oh! that their sweetness could forever last!

    When war, like an avenging spirit, rose,
And thou pursuedst thy country’s daring foes,
My soul was with thee.  In thy adverse hour,


I felt as if heaven had given me the power
To rescue thee from danger: for I knew—
By the sweet feelings understood by few—
The blending of our spirits—when the arm
Of the proud foe was o’er thee.  Not the charm


Devised by Hilda with such secret care,
Availed thee more than Edith’s humble prayer.
It was the prayer of Love; and Love is strong,
And triumphs, ev’n as Right must conquer Wrong,
And Truth o’erpower Falsehood.  Not only then,


When in fair fight you met your fellow-men,
Did my prophetic soul the dangers see—
As in a mirror—which encompassed thee;
But when thou wentest to the Norman’s land, [Page 170]
I saw thy fleet endangered on the strand,


And prayed for thy release.  In pain I wept,
When William, the ambitious Norman, kept
England’s great hero at that pompous court
Against his will: and sought with Norman sport,
And glittering festivity, to find


Some hidden inlet to thy giant mind;
Some secret entrance still unfortified
Against the fopperies of Norman pride.

    But England’s name was written on thy heart,
For England’s fame you gently bore the smart,


And treasured up the insult in that soul
That never yet was swayed by man’s control,
Nor artifice nor insult long could brook
From a deceitful foe.  Yet one more look
Upon that Kingly brow, and on thy Queen,


Who sits where I—thy Edith—might have been,
Had heaven willed it so; and I retire
For ever from the world, but to aspire
To an immortal heritage—a throne,
Not so uncertain, Harold, as thine own.


Once in my humble cell, my prayers shall be
Employed in meek sincerity for thee.

    Beloved Harold!  Joy of my heart’s joy!
Mainspring of my existence!  From a boy,
Sweet partner of my soul! my bosom’s lord!


Here and in heaven my constancy’s reward—
Farewell!—But not forever be it said: [Page 171]
Once more I’ll meet thee, where the ransomed dead
Of this world win that immortality
Which such bright minds as thine, from error free,


Aspire to.  One look more, and then—farewell!
Thou hast thy Throne, and Edith has—her Cell! [Page 172]