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Poem by Thomas Chatterton
The Romance of the Knight
The pleasing sweets of spring and summer past, The falling leaf flies in the sultry blast, The fields resign their spangling orbs of gold, The wrinkled grass its silver joys unfold, Mantling the spreading moor in heavenly white, Meeting from every hill the ravished sight. The yellow flag uprears its spotted head, Hanging regardant o'er its watery bed; The worthy knight ascends his foaming steed, Of size uncommon, and no common breed. His sword of giant make hangs from his belt, Whose piercing edge his daring foes had felt. To seek for glory and renown he goes To scatter death among his trembling foes; Unnerved by fear, they trembled at his stroke; So cutting blasts shake the tall mountain oak. Down in a dark and solitary vale, Where the curst screech-owl sings her fatal tale, Where copse and brambles interwoven lie, Where trees intwining arch the azure sky, Thither the fate-marked champion bent his way, By purling streams to lose the heat of day; A sudden cry assaults his listening ear, His soul's too noble to admit of fear.- The cry re-echoes; with his bounding steed He gropes the way from whence the cries proceed. The arching trees above obscured the light, Here 'twas all evening, there eternal night. And now the rustling leaves and strengthened cry Bespeaks the cause of the confusion nigh; Through the thick brake th'astonished champion sees A weeping damsel bending on her knees: A ruffian knight would force her to the ground, But still some small resisting strength she found. (Women and cats, if you compulsion use, The pleasure which they die for will refuse.) The champion thus: 'Desist, discourteous knight, Why dost thou shamefully misuse thy might?' With eye contemptuous thus the knight replies, 'Begone! whoever dares my fury dies!' Down to the ground the champion's gauntlet flew, 'I dare thy fury, and I'll prove it too.' Like two fierce mountain-boars enraged they fly, The prancing steeds make Echo rend the sky, Like a fierce tempest is the bloody fight, Dead from his lofty steed falls the proud ruffian knight. The victor, sadly pleased, accosts the dame, 'I will convey you hence to whence you came.' With look of gratitude the fair replied- 'Content; I in your virtue may confide. But,' said the fair, as mournful she surveyed The breathless corse upon the meadow laid, 'May all thy sins from heaven forgiveness find! May not thy body's crimes affect thy mind!'
Thomas Chatterton's other poems:
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