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With eager, sudden, well-aim'd spring,
The dews of summer night did fall ;
The moon, sweet regent of the sky, Silver'd the walls of Cumnor Hall,
And many an oak that grew thereby.
Now nought was heard beneath the skies,
The sounds of busy life were still, Save an unhappy lady's sighs,
That issued from that lonely pile.
“ Leicester!” she cried, “is this thy love
That thou so oft hast sworn to me, To leave me in this lonely grove,
Immur'd in shameful privity ?
“No more thou com’st with lover's speed
Thy once beloved bride to see ; But be she 'live, or be she dead,
I fear, stern earl, 's the same to thee.
“Not so the usage I receiv'd
When happy in my father's hall: No faithless husband then me griev’d,
No chilling fears did me appal.
“I rose up with the cheerful morn,
No lark more blithe, no flow'r more gay ; And like the bird that haunts the thorn,
So merrily sung the livelong day.
“ If that my beauty is but small,
Amongst court ladies all despis’dWhy didst thou rend it from that hall,
Where, scornful earl, it well was priz'd ?
And when you first to me made suit,
How fair I was, you oft would say: And, proud of conquest, pluck'd the fruit
Then left the blossom to decay.
“Yes, now neglected and despis’d,
The rose is pale, the lily 's dead;
the cause those charms are fled.
· For, know, when sick’ning grief doth prey,
And tender love's repaid with scorn, The sweetest beauty will decay
What flow'ret can endure the storm?
“At court, I'm told, is beauty's throne,
Where ev'ry lady 's passing rare; That eastern flow'rs that shame the sun
Are not so glowing, not so fair :
Then, earl, why did'st thou leave the beds
Where roses and where lilies vie,
Must sicken when those gaudes are by?
“ 'Mong rural beauties I was one;
Among the fields wild flow'rs are fair : Some country-swain might me have won,
And thought my beauty passing rare.
“But, Leicester-or I much am wrong
Or ’tis not beauty lures thy vows; Rather ambition's gilded crown
Makes thee forget thy humble spouse.
“Then, Leicester, why, again I plead
(The injur'd surely may repine),-Why didst thou wed a country-maid,
When some fair princess might be thine ?
Why didst thou praise my humble charms,
And, oh! then leave them to decay? Why didst thou win me to thy arms,
Then leave me mourn the live-long day?
“ The village-maidens of the plain
Salute me lowly as I go;
Nor think a countess can have woe.
“The simple nymphs ! they little know
How far more happy's their estate; To smile for joy—than sigh for woe;
To be content—than to be great.
“How far less blest am I than them!
Daily to pine and waste with care ! Like the poor plant, that from its stem
Divided feels the chilling air.
“Nor, cruel earl, can I enjoy
The humble charms of solitude : Your minions proud my peace destroy,
By sullen frowns, or prating rude.
“ Last night, as sad I chanc'd to stray,
The village death-bell smote my ear : They wink'd aside, and seem'd to say,
Countess, prepare, thy end is near!'
“And now, while happy peasants sleep,
Here I sit lonely and forlorn;
Save Philomel on yonder thorn.
“My spirits flag, my hopes decay
Still that dread death-bell smites my ear; And many a boding seems to say
Countess, prepare, thy end is near!!”
Thus, sore and sad, that lady griev'd,
In Cumnor Hall so lone and drear; And many a heartfelt sigh she heavid,
And let fall many a bitter tear.
And ere the dawn of day appear'd
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear, Full many a piercing scream was heard,
And many a cry of mortal fear.
The death-bell thrice was heard to ring;
An aerial voice was heard to call; And thrice the raven flapp'd his wings
Around the tow'rs of Cumnor Hall :
The mastiff howlid at village-door;
The oaks were shatter'd on the green: Woe was the hour,-for never more
That hapless countess e'er was seen!
And in that manor now no more
Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball ; For ever since that dreary hour
Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall !