"I love the Lady of Merle," he said.
"She is not for thee!" her suitor cried.
And in the valley the lovers fought
By the salt river's tide.
The braver fell on the dewy sward:
The unloved lover returned once more;
In yellow satin the lady came
And met him at the door.
"Hast thou heard, dark Edith," laughed he grim,
"Poor Hugh hath craved thee many a day?
Soon would it have been too late for him
His low-born will to say.
"I struck a blade where lay his heart's love,
And voice for thee have I left him none,
To brag he still seeks thee over the hills
When thou and I are one!"
Fearless across the wide country
Rode the dark Lady Edith of Merle;
She looked at the headlands soft with haze,
And the moor's mists of pearl.
The moon it struggled to see her pass
Through its half-lit veils of driving gray;
But moonbeams were slower than the steed
That Edith rode away.
Oh, what was her guerdon and her haste,
While cried the far screech-owl in the tree,
And to her heart crept its note so lone,
About her a black scarf floated thin,
And over her cheek the mist fell cold,
And shuddered the moon between its rifts
Of dark cloud's silvery fold.
Oh, white fire of the nightly sky
When burns the moon's wonder wide and far,
And every cloud illumed with flame
Engulfs a shaken star!
* * * * *
Bright as comes morning from the hill,
There comes a face to her lover's eyes;
Her love she tells; and he, dying, smiles, -
And smiles yet in the skies.
He is dead, and closer breathe the mists;
He is dead, the owlet moans remote;
He is buried, and the moon draws near,
To gaze and hide and float.
Fearless within the churchyard's spell
The white-browed lady doth stand and sigh;
She loves the mist, and the grave, and the moon,
And the owl's quivering cry.