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Full Online Book HomePoemsThe Lay Of Talbot, The Troubadour
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The Lay Of Talbot, The Troubadour Post by :19871987 Category :Poems Author :William Lisle Bowles Date :October 2011 Read :968

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The Lay Of Talbot, The Troubadour


(Footnote *: The legend on which this ballad
is founded, is related in Latin, in the Book of Lacock.)


At Rouen Richard kept his state,
Released from captive thrall;
And girt with many a warrior guest
He feasted in the hall!

The rich metheglin mantled high,
The wine was berry red,
When tidings came that Salisbury,
His early friend, was dead;

And that his sole surviving child,
The heiress of his wealth,
By crafty kinsmen and allies
Was borne away by stealth;

Was borne away from Normandy,
Where, secretly confined,
She heard no voice of those she loved,
But sighed to the north wind.

Haply from some lone castle's tower
Or solitary strand,
Even now she gazes o'er the deep,
That laves her father's land!

King Richard cries, My minstrel knights,
Who will the task achieve,
To seek through France and Normandy
The orphan left to grieve?

Young William Talbot then did speak,
Betide me weal or woe,
From Michael's castle(211) through the land
A pilgrim I will go.

He clad him in his pilgrim weeds,
With trusty staff in hand,
And scallop shell, and took his way,
A wanderer through the land.

For two long years he journeyed on,
A pilgrim, day by day,
Through many a forest dark and drear,
By many a castle gray.

At length, when one clear morn of frost
Was shining on the main,
Forth issuing from a castle gate
He saw a female train!

With lightsome step and waving hair,
Before them ran a child,
And gathering from the sands a shell,
Ran back to them, and smiled.

Himself unseen among the rocks,
He saw her point her hand;
And cry, I would go home, go home,
To my poor father's land.

The bell tolled from the turret gray,
Cold freezing fell the dew,
To the portcullis hastening back
The female train withdrew.

Those turrets and the battlements,
Time and the storm had beat,
And sullenly the ocean tide
Came rolling at his feet.

Young Talbot cast away his staff,
The harp is in his hand,
A minstrel at the castle gate,
A porter saw him stand.

And who art thou, the porter cried,
Young troubadour, now say,
For welcome in the castle hall
Will be to-night thy lay;

For this the birthday is of one,
Whose father now is cold;
An English maiden, rich in fee,
And this year twelve years old.

I love, myself, now growing old,
To hear the wild harp's sound:
But whence, young harper, dost thou come,
And whither art thou bound?

Though I am young, the harper said,
From Syria's sands I come,
A minstrel warrior of the Cross,
Now poor and wandering home.

And I can tell of mighty deeds,
By bold King Richard done,
King Richard of "the Lion's heart,"
Foes quail to look upon.

Then lead me to the castle hall,
And let the fire be bright,
For never hall nor bower hath heard
A lay like mine to-night.

The windows gleam within the hall,
The fire is blazing bright,
And the young harper's hair and harp
Are shining in the light.

Fair dames and warriors clad in steel
Now gather round to hear,
And oft that little maiden's eyes
Are glistening with a tear.

For, when the minstrel sang of wars,
At times, with softer sound,
He touched the chords, as mourning those
Now laid in the cold ground.

He sang how brave King Richard pined
In a dark tower immured,
And of the long and weary nights,
A captive, he endured.

The faithful Blondel to his harp
One song began to sing;
It ceased; the king takes up the strain;
It is his lord and king!

Of Sarum then, and Sarum's plain,
That poor child heard him speak,
When the first tear-drop in her eye
Fell silent on her cheek.

For, as the minstrel told his tale,
The breathless orphan maid
Thought of the land where, in the grave,
Her father's bones were laid.

Hush, hush! the winds are piping loud,
The midnight hour is sped,
The hours of morn are stealing fast,
Harper, to bed! to bed!


The two long years had passed away,
When castle Galliard rose,
As built at once by elfin hands,
And scorning time or foes.(212)

It might be thought that Merlin's imps
Were tasked to raise the wall,
That unheard axes fell the woods,
While unseen hammers fall.

As hung by magic on a rock,
The castle-keep looked down
O'er rocks and rivers, and the smoke
Of many a far off town.

And now, young knights and minstrels gay
Obeyed their masters' call,
And loud rejoicing held the feast
In the new raftered hall.

His minstrels and his mailed peers
Were seated at the board,
And at his side the highest sat
William of the Long Sword.

This youthful knight, of princely birth,
Was dazzling to behold,
For his chain-mail from head to foot
All glistened o'er with gold.

His surcoat dyed with azure blue
In graceful foldings hung,
And there the golden lions ramped,
With bloody claws and tongue.

With crimson belt around his waist
His sword was girded on;
The hilt, a cross to kiss in death,
Radiant with jewels shone.

The names and banners of each knight
It were too long to tell;
Here sat the brave Montgomery,
There Bertrand and Rozell.

Of Richard's unresisted sword
A noble minstrel sung,
Whilst to an hundred answering harps
The blazing gallery rung.

So all within was merriment--
When, suddenly, a shout,
As of some unexpected guest,
Burst from the crowd without.

Now not a sound, and scarce a breath,
Through the long hall is heard,
When, with a young maid by his side,
A vizored knight appeared.

Up the long hall they held their way,
On to the royal seat;
Then both together, hand in hand,
Knelt at King Richard's feet.

Talbot, a Talbot! rang the hall
With gratulation wild,
Long live brave Talbot,(213) and long live
Earl William's new found child!

Amid a scene so new and strange,
This poor maid could not speak;
King Richard took her by the hand,
And gently kissed her cheek;

Then placed her, smiling through a tear,
By his brave brother's side:
Long live brave Longspe! rang the hall,
Long live his future bride!

To noble Richard, this fair child,
His ward, was thus restored;
Destined to be the future bride
Of Him of the Long Sword.

(The end)
William Lisle Bowles's poem: Lay Of Talbot, The Troubadour

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