The Harp Of Hoel. [1]

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Old 19-Oct-2010
The Harp Of Hoel. [1]

It was a high and holy sight,
When Baldwin[2] and his train,
With cross and crosier gleaming bright,
Came chanting slow the solemn rite,
To Gwentland's[3] pleasant plain.

High waved before, in crimson pride,
The banner of the Cross;
The silver rood was then descried,
While deacon youths, from side to side,
The fuming censer toss.

The monks went two and two along,
And winding through the glade,
Sang, as they passed, a holy song,
And harps and citterns, 'mid the throng,
A mingled music made.

They ceased; when lifting high his hand,
The white-robed prelate cried:
Arise, arise, at Christ's command,
To fight for his name in the Holy Land,
Where a Saviour lived and died!

With gloves of steel, and good broadsword,
And plumed helm of brass,
Hoel, Landoga's youthful lord,
To hear the father's holy word,
Came riding to the pass.

More earnestly the prelate spake:
Oh, heed no earthly loss!
He who will friends and home forsake,
Now let him kneel, and fearless take
The sign of the Holy Cross.

Then many a maid her tresses rent,
And did her love implore:
Oh, go not thou to banishment!
For me, and the pleasant vales of Gwent,
Thou never wilt see more.

And many a mother, pale with fears,
Did kiss her infant son;
Said, Who will shield thy helpless years,
Who dry thy widowed mother's tears,
When thy brave father's gone?

GOD, with firm voice the prelate cried,
God will the orphan bless;
Sustain the widow's heart, and guide
Through the hard world, obscure and wild,
The poor and fatherless.

Then might you see a shade o'ercast
Brave Hoel's ruddy hue,
But soon the moment's thought is past:
Hark, hark, 'tis the trumpet's stirring blast!
And he grasped his bow of yew.

Then might you see a moment's gloom
Sit in brave Hoel's eye:
Make in the stranger's land my tomb,
I follow thee, be it my doom,
O CHRIST, to live or die!

No more he thought, though rich in fee,
Of any earthly loss,
But lighting, on his bended knee,
Said, Father, here I take from thee
The sign of the Holy Cross.

I have a wife, to me more dear
Then is my own heart's blood;
I have a child, (a starting tear,
Which soon he dried, of love sincere,
On his stern eyelid stood);

To them farewell! O God above,
Thine is the fate of war;
But oh! reward Gwenlhian's[4] love,
And may my son a comfort prove,
When I am distant far!

Farewell, my harp! away, away!
To the field of death I go;
Welcome the trumpet's blast, the neigh
Of my bold and barbed steed of gray,
And the clang of the steel crossbow!

Gwenlhian sat in the hall at night,
Counting the heavy hours;
She saw the moon, with tranquil light,
Shine on the circling mountain's height,
And the dim castle towers.

Deep stillness was on hill and glen,
When she heard a bugle blow;
A trump from the watch-tower answered then,
And the tramp of steeds, and the voice of men,
Were heard in the court below.

The watch-dog started at the noise,
Then crouched at his master's feet;
He knew his step, he heard his voice;
But who can now like her rejoice,
Who flies her own lord to greet?

And soon her arms his neck enfold:
But whence that altered mien!
O say, then, is thy love grown cold,
Or hast thou been hurt by the robbers bold,
That won in the forest of Dean?

Oh no, he cried, the God above,
Who all my soul can see,
Knows my sincere, my fervent love;
If aught my stern resolve could move,
It were one tear from thee.

But I have sworn, in the Holy Land,
Need I the sequel speak;
Too well, she cried, I understand!
Then grasped in agony his hand,
And hid her face on his cheek.

My loved Gwenlhian, weep not so,
From the lid that tear I kiss;
Though to the wars far off I go,
Betide me weal, betide me woe,
We yet may meet in bliss.

Fourteen suns their course had rolled,
When firmly thus he spake;
Hear now my last request: behold
This ring, it is of purest gold,
Love, keep it for my sake!

When summers seven have robed each tree,
And clothed the vales with green,
If I come not back, then thou art free,
To wed or not, and to think of me,
As I had never been!

Nay, answer not, what wouldst thou say!
Come, let my harp be brought;
For the last time, I fain would play,
Ere yet we part, our favourite lay,
And cheat severer thought:

The Air.

Oh, cast every care to the wind,
And dry, best beloved, the tear!
Secure, that thou ever shalt find,
The friend of thy bosom sincere.
Still friendship shall live in the breast of the brave,
And we'll love, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.

I have felt each emotion of bliss,
That affection the fondest can prove,
Have received on my lip the first kiss
Of thy holy and innocent love;
But perish each hope of delight,
Like the flashes of night on the sea,
If ever, though far from thy sight,
My soul is forgetful of thee!
Still the memory shall live in the breast of the brave,
How we loved, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.

Now bring my boy; may God above
Shower blessings on his head!
May he requite his mother's love,
And to her age a comfort prove,
When I perhaps am dead!

The beams of morn on his helm did play,
And aloud the bugle blew,
Then he leaped on his harnessed steed of gray,
And sighed to the winds as he galloped{f} away,
Adieu, my heart's love, adieu!

And now he has joined the warrior train
Of knights and barons bold,
That, bound to Salem's holy plain,
Across the gently-swelling main,
Their course exulting hold.

With a cross of gold, as on they passed,
The crimson streamers flew;
The shields hung glittering round the mast,
And on the waves a radiance cast,
Whilst all the trumpets blew.

O'er the Severn-surge, in long array,
So, the proud galleys went,
Till soon, as dissolved in ether gray,
The woods, and the shores, and the Holms[5] steal away,
And the long blue hills of Gwent.

Old 03-Apr-2013
Re: The Harp Of Hoel. [1]

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