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Poem by Caroline Norton

The King of Denmarks Ride

WORD was brought to the Danish king,
That the love of his heart lay suffering,
And pined for the comfort his voice would bring;
    O, ride as though you were flying!
Better he loves each golden curl
On the brow of that Scandinavian girl
Than his rich crown jewels of ruby and pearl;
  And his rose of the isles is dying!

Thirty nobles saddled with speed;
Each one mounting a gallant steed
Which he kept for battle and days of need;
    O, ride as though you were flying!
Spurs were struck in the foaming flank;	
Worn-out chargers staggered and sank;
Bridles were slackened, and girths were burst;
But ride as they would, the king rode first,
  For his rose of the isles lay dying!

His nobles are beaten, one by one;
They have fainted, and faltered, and homeward gone;
His little fair page now follows alone,
    For strength and for courage trying!
The king looked back at that faithful child;
Wan was the face that answering smiled;
They passed the drawbridge with clattering din,
Then he dropped; and only the king rode in
  Where his rose of the isles lay dying!

The king blew a blast on his bugle-horn;
No answer came; but faint and forlorn
An echo returned on the cold gray morn,
    Like the breath of a spirit sighing.
The castle portal stood grimly wide;
None welcomed the king from that weary ride;
For dead, in the light of the dawning day,
The pale sweet form of the welcomer lay,
  Who had yearned for his voice while dying!

The panting steed, with a drooping crest,
    Stood weary.
The king returned from her chamber of rest,
The thick sobs choking in his breast;
    And, that dumb companion eying,
The tears gushed forth which he strove to cheek;
He bowed his head on his chargers neck:
O steed, that every nerve didst strain,
Dear steed, our ride hath been in vain
    To the halls where my love lay dying!

Caroline Norton

Caroline Norton's other poems:
  1. Babel
  2. The Pilgrim of Life
  3. I Was Not False to Thee
  4. The Captive Pirate
  5. Love Not

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