Clear shone the moon, my mansion walls
Towered white above the wood,
Near, down the dark oak avenue
An humble cottage stood.
My gardener's cottage, small and brown,
Yet precious unto me;
For there she dwelt, who sat by me
That night beside the sea.
So sweet, the white rose on her neck
Was not more fair than she,
As silently her soft brown eyes
Looked outward o'er the sea.
So still, the muslin o'er her heart
Seemed with no breath to stir,
As silently she sat and heard
The tale I told to her.
"It was a knight of Normandy,
He vowed on his good sword
He would not wed his father's choice,
The Lady Hildegarde.
"Near dwelt the beauteous Edith,
A lowly maiden she - "
Ah! still unmoved, her dark sweet eyes
Looked far away from me.
"Dearer to him one blossom small
That had but touched her hand,
Than all the high-born beauties -
The ladies of the land.
"Dearer to him," quick came my breath
As I looked down on her,
But the white roses in her hand
No lightest leaf did stir.
Ah! wistfully I read her face,
Full gently did I speak,
No light dawned in her tender eye,
No flush stole o'er her cheek.
"He wore her colors on the field,
He went where brave hearts were;
Ah, gallantly and nobly
He fought for love of her.
"He loved her with his whole true heart,"
Now like a sudden flame
Up to her cheek so pure and white,
A flood of crimson came.
Her hands unclasped, down to her feet
My flowers unnoticed shook;
I leaned and followed with my gaze
Her glad and eager look.
I saw a boat sweep round the rock,
Rowed with a steady grace;
I saw the fisher's manly form,
His brown and handsome face.
"For love of her, to victory
He his brave squadron led,
Then broke his true heart, and her scarf
Pillowed his dying head.
"So died this knight of Normandy,
Died with his sword unstained;"
I know not that she heard my words,
So near the boat had gained.
I said, Heaven bless her, in my heart,
She had no thought for me;
I turned away and left them there
Beside the beating sea.
Behind me lay the sweet moonlight,
My shadow went before,
And passed a dark and gloomy shape
Before me through the door.
Oh strange and sad this life of ours,
This life beneath the sun;
O sad and strange and full of pain
God help us, every one.
God help us, that we may endure
Like him of Normandy;
And die with sword unstained, that has
Led us to victory.