The darkness that hung upon Willumberg's walls
Had long been remembered with awe and dismay;
For years not a sunbeam had played in its halls,
And it seemed as shut out from the regions of day.
Though the valleys were brightened by many a beam,
Yet none could the woods of that castle illume;
And the lightning which flashed on the neighboring stream
Flew back, as if fearing to enter the gloom!
"Oh! when shall this horrible darkness disperse!"
Said Willumberg's lord to the Seer of the Cave;--
"It can never dispel," said the wizard of verse,
"Till the bright star of chivalry sinks in the wave!"
And who was the bright star of chivalry then?
Who could be but Reuben, the flower of the age?
For Reuben was first in the combat of men,
Though Youth had scarce written his name on her page.
For Willumberg's daughter his young heart had beat,
For Rose, who was bright as the spirit of dawn,
When with wand dropping diamonds, and silvery feet,
It walks o'er the flowers of the mountain and lawn.
Must Rose, then, from Reuben so fatally sever?
Sad, sad were the words of the Seer of the Cave,
That darkness should cover that castle forever,
Or Reuben be sunk in the merciless wave!
To the wizard she flew, saying, "Tell me, oh, tell?
Shall my Reuben no more be restored to my eyes?"
"Yes, yes--when a spirit shall toll the great bell
Of the mouldering abbey, your Reuben shall rise!"
Twice, thrice he repeated "Your Reuben shall rise!"
And Rose felt a moment's release from her pain;
And wiped, while she listened, the tears from her eyes.
And hoped she might yet see her hero again.
That hero could smite at the terrors of death,
When he felt that he died for the sire of his Rose;
To the Oder he flew, and there, plunging beneath,
In the depth of the billows soon found his repose.--
How strangely the order of destiny falls!
Not long in the waters the warrior lay,
When a sunbeam was seen to glance over the walls,
And the castle of Willumberg basked in the ray!
All, all but the soul of the maid was in light,
There sorrow and terror lay gloomy and blank:
Two days did she wander, and all the long night,
In quest of her love, on the wide river's bank.
Oft, oft did she pause for the toll of the bell,
And heard but the breathings of night in the air;
Long, long did she gaze on the watery swell,
And saw but the foam of the white billow there.
And often as midnight its veil would undraw,
As she looked at the light of the moon in the stream,
She thought 'twas his helmet of silver she saw,
As the curl of the surge glittered high in the beam.
And now the third night was begemming the sky;
Poor Rose, on the cold dewy margent reclined,
There wept till the tear almost froze in her eye,
When--hark!--'twas the bell that came deep in the wind!
She startled, and saw, through the glimmering shade,
A form o'er the waters in majesty glide;
She knew 'twas her love, though his cheek was decayed,
And his helmet of silver was washed by the tide.
Was this what the Seer of the Cave had foretold?--
Dim, dim through the phantom the moon shot a gleam;
'Twas Reuben, but, ah! he was deathly and cold,
And fleeted away like the spell of a dream!
Twice, thrice did he rise, and as often she thought
From the bank to embrace him, but vain her endeavor!
Then, plunging beneath, at a billow she caught,
And sunk to repose on its bosom forever!