Ernst Of Edelsheim.

A poem by John Milton Hay

I'll tell the story, kissing
This white hand for my pains:
No sweeter heart, nor falser,
E'er filled such fine, blue veins.

I'll sing a song of true love,
My Lilith, dear! to you;
Contraria contrariis -
The rule is old and true.

The happiest of all lovers
Was Ernst of Edelsheim;
And why he was the happiest,
I'll tell you in my rhyme.

One summer night he wandered
Within a lonely glade,
And, couched in moss and moonlight,
He found a sleeping maid.

The stars of midnight sifted
Above her sands of gold;
She seemed a slumbering statue,
So fair and white and cold.

Fair and white and cold she lay
Beneath the starry skies;
Rosy was her waking
Beneath the Ritter's eyes.

He won her drowsy fancy,
He bore her to his towers,
And swift with love and laughter
Flew morning's purpled hours.

But when the thickening sunbeams
Had drunk the gleaming dew,
A misty cloud of sorrow
Swept o'er her eyes' deep blue.

She hung upon the Ritter's neck,
She wept with love and pain,
She showered her sweet, warm kisses
Like fragrant summer rain.

"I am no Christian soul," she sobbed,
As in his arms she lay;
"I'm half the day a woman,
A serpent half the day.

"And when from yonder bell-tower
Rings out the noonday chime,
Farewell! farewell for ever,
Sir Ernst of Edelsheim!"

"Ah! not farewell for ever!"
The Ritter wildly cried;
"I will be saved or lost with thee,
My lovely Wili-Bride!"

Loud from the lordly bell-tower
Rang out the noon of day,
And from the bower of roses
A serpent slid away.

But when the mid-watch moonlight
Was shimmering through the grove,
He clasped his bride thrice dowered
With beauty and with love.

The happiest of all lovers
Was Ernst of Edelsheim -
His true love was a serpent
Only half the time!

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