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The Lady Of Provence

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

'Courage was cast about her like a dress
Of solemn comeliness,
A gathered mind and an untroubled face
Did give her dangers grace.' ~ Donne.

The war-note of the Saracen
Was on the winds of France;
It had stilled the harp of the Troubadour,
And the clash of the tourney's lance.

The sounds of the sea, and the sounds of the night,
And the hollow echoes of charge and flight,
Were around Clotilde, as she knelt to pray
In a chapel where the mighty lay,
On the old Provencal shore;
Many a Chatillon beneath,
Unstirred by the ringing trumpet's breath,
His shroud of armour wore.
And the glimpses of moonlight that went and came
Through the clouds, like bursts of a dying flame,
Gave quivering life to the slumber pale
Of stern forms crouched in their marble mail,
At rest on the tombs of the knightly race,
The silent throngs of that burial-place.

They were imaged there with helm and spear,
As leaders in many a bold career -
And haughty their stillness looked and high,
Like a sleep whose dreams were of victory.
But meekly the voice of the lady rose
Through the trophies of their proud repose;
Meekly, yet fervantly, calling down aid,
Under their banners of battle she prayed;
With her pale fair brow, and her eyes of love,
Upraised to the Virgin's portrayed above,
And her hair flung back, till it swept the grave
Of a Chatillon with its gleamy wave.
And her fragile frame, at every blast,
That full of the savage war-horn passed,
Trembling, as trembles a bird's quick heart,
When it vainly strives from its cage to part -
So knelt she in her woe;
A weeper alone with the tearless dead -
Oh! they reck not of tears o'er their quiet shed,
Or the dust that stirred below!

Hark! a swift step! she hath caught its tone,
Through the dash of the sea, through the wild wind's moan
Is her lord returned with his conquering bands?
No! a breathless vassal before her stands!
- 'Hast thou been on the field? - Art thou come from the host?'
- 'from the slaughter, lady! - All, all is lost!
Our banners are taken, our knights laid low,
Our spearmen chased by the Paynim foe;
And thy lord,' his voice took a sadder sound-
'Thy lord - he is not on the bloody ground!
There are those who tell that the leader's plume
Was seen on the flight through the gathering gloom.'
- A change o'er her mien and her spirit passed;
She ruled the heart which had beat so fast,
She dashed the tears from her kindling eye,
With a glance, as of sudden royalty:
The proud blood sprang in a fiery flow,
Quick o'er bosom, and cheek, and brow,
And her young voice rose till the peasant shook
At the thrilling tone and the falcon-look:
- 'dost thou stand by the tombs of the glorious dead,
And fear not to say that their son hath fled?
Away! he is lying by lance and shield, -
Point me the path to his battle-field!'

The shadows of the forest
Are about the lady now;
She is hurrying through the midnight on,
Beneath the dark pine-bough.

There's a murmur of omens in every leaf,
There's a wail in the stream like the dirge of a chief;
The branches that rock to the tempest strife
Are groaning like things of troubled life;
The wind from the battle seems rushing by
With a funeral-march through the gloomy sky
The pathway is rugged, and wild, and long,
But her fame in the daring of love is strong,
And her soul as on swelling seas upborne,
And girded all fearful things to scorn.

And fearful things were around her spread,
When she reached the field of the warrior dead.
There lay the noble, the valiant, low -
Ay! but
one
word speaks of deeper woe;
There lay the
loved
- on each fallen head
Mothers' vain blessings and tears had shed;
Sisters were watching in many a home
For the fettered footstep, no more to come;
Names in the prayer of that night were spoken,
Whose claim unto kindred prayer was broken;
And the fire was heaped, and the bright wine poured
For those, now needing nor hearth nor board;
Only a requiem, a shroud, a knell,
And oh! ye beloved of women, farewell!

Silently, with lips compressed,
Pale hands clasped above her breast,
Stately brow of anguish high,
Deathlike cheek, but dauntless eye;
Silently, o'er that red plain,
Moved the lady 'midst the slain.

Sometimes it seemed as a charging cry,
Or the ringing tramp of a steed, came nigh;
Sometimes a blast of the Paynim horn,
Sudden and shrill from the mountain's borne;
And her maidens trembled; - but on
her
ear
No meaning fell with tho
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:06 min read
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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

All Felicia Dorothea Hemans poems | Felicia Dorothea Hemans Books

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    "The Lady Of Provence" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/13587/the-lady-of-provence>.

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