BETA

The Lady Alice.

I.

What doth the Lady Alice so late on the turret-
stair,
1
Without a lamp to light her but the diamond in
her hair ;
2
When every arching passage overflows with shallow
gloom,
3
And dreams float through the castle, into every
silent room ?
4
She trembles at her footsteps, although their fall
is light ;
5
For through the turret-loopholes she sees the
murky night,—
6
Black, broken vapours streaming across the stormy
skies,—
7
Along the empty corridors the moaning tempest
cries.
8
She steals along a gallery, she pauses by a
door ;
9
And fast her tears are dropping down upon the
oaken floor ;
10
And thrice she seems returning,—but thrice she
turns again ; —
11
Now heavy lie the cloud of sleep on that old
father’s brain !
12
Oh, well it were that never thou should’st, waken
from thy sleep !
13
For wherefore should they waken who waken but
to weep ?
14
No more, no more beside thy bed may Peace her
vigil keep ;
15
Thy sorrow, like a lion, waits* upon its prey to
leap
.
16

II.

An afternoon in April. No sun appears on high ;17
A moist and yellow lustre fills the deepness of
the sky ;
18
And through the castle gateway, with slow and
solemn tread,
19
Along the leafless avenue they bear the honoured
dead.
20
They stop. The long line closes up, like some
gigantic worm ;
21
A shape is standing in the path ; a wan and ghost-
like form ;
22
Which gazes fixedly, nor moves ; nor utters any
sound ;
23
Then, like a statue built of snow, falls lifeless to
the ground.
24
And though her clothes are ragged, and though
her feet are bare ;
25
And though all wild and tangled, falls her heavy
silk-brown hair ;
26
Though from her eyes the brightness, from her
cheeks the bloom, has fled ;
27
They know their Lady Alice, the Darling of the
Dead.
28
With silence, in her own old room the fainting
form they lay ;
29
Where all things stand unaltered since the night
she fled away ;
30
But who shall bring to life again her father from
the clay ?
31
But who shall give her back again her heart of
that old day ?
32

* The lion was said to ‛ prey on nothing that doth seem
as dead.’