The Lament of Eleanor of Bretagne
Comfort me, O my God! Mine only hope Thou art! The strokes of Thine afflicting rod Fall heavy on my heart. Oh, who would wish to live When life's bright flowers decay! Oh, had I power to give This weight of life away! Comfort me, O my God! Thou didst Thyself endure Full many a bitter pang; Thou, the All-holy, the All-pure, Upon the cross didst hang. My feet are on the track Trodden erewhile by Thine;— Ah, do not cast me back On this weak heart of mine! Comfort me, O my God! I will pour forth my woes Into Thy pitying ear. Stern, stern must be the hearts of those Whose hands confined me here; In the morning of my days, In the spring of guiltless mirth, Never again to gaze Free on the gladsome earth! Comfort me, O my God! 'Twas said that I was fair As the white gem of the sea; They named me, in my native air, The Pearl of Brittany: At tourneys have I been, And they chose me, far and near, To reign the tourney's queen,— I, the poor captive here. Comfort me, O my God! But I do not now regret My splendour, doom'd to fade; My changing beauty I forget;— But oh, the wood's deep shade, The free bird's gushing songs, The sound of murmuring seas,— For these my spirit longs, And for dearer things than these. Comfort me, O my God! I had a brother then, Whose place was in my heart;— Oh, give me my beloved again, And freedom may depart! How shall I breathe the tone Of that name,—the lost—the dear? Arthur! mine own, mine own!— Alas, thou canst not hear! Comfort me, O my God! They murder'd him by night, In the sweetness of his youth, His brow all bright with boyhood's light, Clear as the beams of truth. Falaise, thy walls, Falaise, Behold a fearful thing, For his brother's child a brother slays, And a traitor stabs his king! Comfort me, O my God! Yes, king thou shouldst have been Of this isle of high renown; But death's wide gulf is now between Thee and thy thorny crown. My brother! thou wert mine! Of crowns I little reck; But, oh, that I could twine These arms about thy neck. Comfort me, O my God! Sleep on, sweet Arthur, sleep In thy calm and happy grave; How couldst thou bear to see me weep, And not have power to save? Farewell! And shall I waste My weary life away In weeping for the past? No! let me kneel and pray, Comfort me, O my God! That wailing voice hath ceased, It melted into tears; And death's sure hand the maid released, After long mournful years. In her beauty and her bloom She was borne to that dark hold; Thence was she carried to her tomb, Grey-hair'd, and wan, and old!
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