THE TALE OF PER BAUD
I ran to where the boat had shored,
To where it stopped in the reeds, between
A slope of grass and a landing board,
But alas, she was nowhere to be seen –
Beauty had passed with enchanted pace,
Without a sound and without a trace!
I longed to flee this loathsome scene
Where nature lay stricken and unmoved
By a love that was not loved.
I sat to hear my wild heart sigh,
As each eddy, stretched and met my feet,
Till I saw her skirts go rushing by,
Tearful, in pale defeat!
I called to her and she glanced round
With eyes startled, that suddenly found
My eyes with hers… and ‘twas sweet,
Then by her side, I took her hand
As fragrant blossom in the air, was fanned.
Thy name, dear child, pray tell, my sweet:
What fatal word could rest on thee,
Bound to thy delicate bosom’s beat
That lingers softly near to me?
And what feared blood through veins will run
Now this dread hour has begun
To turn my heart to woe! Could we
Perhaps have been thrown together, here
While the dim day waits alone, in fear?
My name, I cannot say, for shame
Is brought upon my household, great;
I have wronged my father and his name
And forced an error on his fate,
For I was to wed a wretched man
Of noble birth… that I were dead than
Marry such a man! How I hate
The way he throws his gaze on me
As if I was chained by matrimony!
Fear not, my sweet, for he’ll not have
Thy beauty to spoil and erase;
On my honour, I will, from sadness, save
Thy soul from sorrow’s ways!
And under the wine-red last of sun
I felt our two hearts beat as one.
And to the water, I gave praise
As our frames locked, reflecting together:
My self and my fair maid of the river!
We kissed and trembled, the air grew cold;
The moon seemed pale, paler than her;
I held her soft with my strong hold
With her wax-like hands so tender
Upon my breast – my beating military chest,
Where my ribbons and medals of valour rest,
Glinting in her eyes and lying on her slender
Breast, she leaned her lovely head on me
And I wished that this night would forever be.
We sat all night by rogue moonlight,
Talking and sometimes kissing;
Her eyes flashed under the silvery-bright
Moon, yet there was something missing –
She had changed, her face no longer pale
As the gallant spectral clipper’s sail;
She seemed to me, in reminiscing;
Her countenance was flushed with gold,
As if some inner flame had hold.
And from her lips, no sound was heard,
And I remembered how earlier I’d sat
On that lone hill, in the sombre churchyard
Among the stones, fearful that
Should heaven prove we’re more alone
When to the nameless grave we’ve gone,
Then how can we still marvel at
Nature’s destructive, vengeful way
That binds us night and day?
I saw in her as the flames danced full
On her face, in bleak outline,
A spirit trapped, so terrible,
In search of some divine
Truth to fill the blank midnight,
To throw on us its sacred light
By saintly hand, and for us shine
The way ahead, and lead us on
Where all remembered souls have gone!
I dreamt that I saw caverns, grand,
Open up and take me down…
And with my love still close at hand,
Two souls were we, to Hell’s gate, thrown.
And devil or tempter came by me
As if to set my dead soul free,
For many wondrous things were shown,
That I renounced and turned away,
For I longed to be where my love lay!
Strange to the tomb, yet beautiful,
Wrapt loosely in some mouldy shroud
With two eyes piercing from her skull,
As to the gathered churchyard’s crowd
She wept, and stood alone in sorrow,
With no words upon her lips to follow
The cursing dead, foul and loud,
Lamenting in their shamed display
Of sinful bones and lusts that lay
Like forgotten memories, in dusty rooms
Awoken to the sad air’s parade
Of tenants from their sickly tombs
That to the maddening night had strayed.
O keep her from their fearful ways
And free her by those moonlight rays
That rears the ugly shades to sight,
And fills her spirits with such woe
To see how death becomes her so.
And I fell as in some swoon or dream;
Some nightmare vision – this the scene:
‘Twas late in the churchyard,
Not a soul did stir,
Till figures in the light did dance:
Creatures of darkness and things that once were –
When I shouted they all turned to glance.
I turned and I ran,
As hard as I could,
To the church where I’d first seen a light;
Over tombstones I leapt, till the entrance I found,
In the doorway stood an airy young sprite!
Let me pass, said I,
Let me pass and be gone!
As it rose and its eyes met my gaze,
And held bony fingers, stretched pale and wan –
So departed the doorway ablaze!
From inside the church,
Strange chanting was heard
And musical tones filled the air;
Figures in white, did shift through the night,
Transfixed by deep chant and prayer!
Around the proceeding
A young sylph was leading
A dance with such force, such furore;
Till still went the night, and a furious flight
As the master blasphemer came forth!
Out went the lights
On this night of dark rites,
And the wind swept the door wide aside,
As in drifts a gas of a conjuring mass –
The flowing, spectral bride!
In the luminous green glow
Trailed that pale lady, slow,
With eyes dark as a raven’s stare;
She floats to the nave, like a murmuring grave
In deathly, ancient air!
That winged, horned devil,
At the end of the revel,
Took his virginal, un-dead bride;
Drank blood from her skull, in the lingering dull
And rode off with his wife at his side!
I woke to find my sweet love close,
Sleeping, while something magical
Was all about her fair repose
As she dreamt of regions, wonderful,
Where winding streams through woodlands drift
To fields and valleys with gentle shift;
I saw her fancied dreams were full
Of love’s ambition and warm glow:
I awaited the dawn and kissed her brow.