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For he thought upon her looks so meek,
And he thought of the light flush on her cheek;
Never again might he bask and lie
On that sweet cheek and moonlight eye,
But in his dreams her form to see,
To clasp her in his revery,
To think upon his virgin bride,
Was worth all heaven and earth beside.

XXXIV.

“ Lady,” he cried, “I have sworn to-night,
On the word of a fairy knight,
To do my sentence-task aright;
My honour scarce is free from stain,
I may not soil its snows again;
Betide me weal, betide me wo,
Its mandate must be answered now."
Her bosom heaved with many a sigh,
The tear was in her drooping eye;

But she led him to the palace gate,
And called the sylphs who hovered there,

And bade them fly and bring him straight
Of clouds condensed a sable car.
With charm and spell she blessed it there,
From all the fiends of upper air;
Then round him cast the shadowy shroud,
And tied his steed behind the cloud;

THE CULPRIT FAY.

45

And pressed his hand as she bade him fly
Far to the verge of the northern sky,
For by its wane and wavering light
There was a star would fall to-night.

XXXV.

Borne afar on the wings of the blast,
Northward away, he speeds him fast,
And his courser follows the cloudy wain
Till the hoof-strokes fall like pattering rain.
The clouds roll backward as he flies,
Each flickering star behind him lies,
And he has reached the northern plain,
And backed his firefly steed again,
Ready to follow in its flight
The streaming of the rocket-light.

XXXVI.

The star is yet in the vault of heaven,

But it rocks in the summer gale ;
And now 'tis fitful and uneven,

And now 'tis deadly pale ;
And now 't is wrapped in sulphur smoke,

And quenched is its rayless beam,
And now with a rattling thunder-stroke

It bursts in flash and flame.

As swift as the glance of the arrowy lance

That the storm-spirit flings from high,
The star-shot flew o'er the welkin blue,

As it fell from the sheeted sky
As swift as the wind in its trail behind

The elfin gallops along,
The fiends of the clouds are bellowing loud,

But the sylphid charm is strong ;
He gallops unhurt in the shower of fire,

While the cloud-fiends fly from the blaze;
He watches each flake till its sparks expire,

And rides in the light of its rays.
But he drove his steed to the lightning's speed,

And caught a glimmering spark;
Then wheeled around to the fairy ground,

And sped through the midnight dark.

Ouphe and goblin! imp and sprite!

Elf of eve! and starry Fay
Ye that love the moon's soft light,

Hither hither wend your way;
Twine ye in a jocund ring,

Sing and trip it merrily,
Hand to hand, and wing to wing,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

Hail the wanderer again,

With dance and song, and lute and lyre,

THE CULPRIT FAY.

47

Pure his wing and strong his chain,

And doubly bright his fairy fire. Twine ye in an airy round,

Brush the dew and print the lea; Skip and gambol, hop and bound,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

The beetle guards our holy ground,

He flies about the haunted place, And if mortal there be found,

He hums in his ears and flaps his face: The leaf-harp sounds our roundelay,

The owlet's eyes our lanterns be; Thus we sing, and dance, and play,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

But hark! from tower on tree-top high,

The sentry elf his call has made,
A streak is in the eastern sky,

Shapes of moonlight! flit and fade!
The hill-tops gleam in morning's spring,
The sky-lark shakes his dappled wing,
The day-glimpse glimmers on the lawn,
The cock has crowed, and the Fays are gone.

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