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That at fits the plume of his helmet kiss’d:
As when a light-wing'd bark doth ride
At random o'er the foaming tide :
Now perch'd on the top of the mountain wave,
Daring the stars for very glee;
Now hid half-way in the arching cave
Of the glad exultant sea.
Like to the waves are the wild crags strown,
Like to the bark doth the knight ride on.
Is he in chase of the tumbling rills ?
What seeketh he on the far-off hills ?
There are waves of a rivulet there that stray
At morning o'er the mountains blue;
But when the sun rides high, men say,
It melts like the veriest morning-dew. Perchance he hath come by that stream to ride : He reins his steed by a glacier's side. Was it music? was it a spell ?
What on the horse and his rider fell?
For, lo! by the side of a silver rill
The rider and his horse stood still.
'Tis nought but the sound of gushing waves
Like crystal music in hidden caves,
Tinkling so soft and so clear around,
An angel's whisper, a spirit-sound:
Yet it woke the dreams of by-gone years,
And won from out his eyes the tears :
For in fitful beauty all unabiding
Were the scenes of his childhood before him gliding.
The spell is broken. He starts away,
The wilder now for the brief delay :
Swift hurries the steed, as one might list,
Yet he lashes him on through storm and mist
And away! away! with might and main,
A playmate of the clouds again.
He curb'd his steed, for he thought he spied
A maiden's robe at his right side.
Is it a maiden beside him lying,
On the far lone mountains in silence dying ?
Ah, no, sir knight — 'tis the trembling rill,
That having loved thee, loves thee still,
And follows thee ever through wind and cloud
With whispers loving but not loud.
List! rein thy steed — oh ! listen well,
For strange is the music of that soft spell.
away, dear knight, so fast?
My tale is not told, my dream is not pass'd :
I melt not away till nigh mid-day:
Gentle knight, whither away?”
And a shrouded form of silvery mist
Seem'd to float and blend with the waves she kiss'd,
That whether it were a maiden's dress
Or the flow of the streamlet, none might guess.
And the knight stood still.
But a stormy sound Echo'd from forth the caverns round 'Twas the spirit of the mists who spake. “No moonlight dreams, Sir Knight, awake! Away to the reckless chase with me! I came not in vain from the fetterless sea. With the blast, as my courser, I'm rushing on high To join in the sport of the stormy sky." And the knight forgot the lovely stream, Her music and half-finish'd dream,
And while clatter'd the hoofs like a brazen dram
He shouted afar, “I come! I come!”
To him the streamlet spake not on:
Her harp strings quiver'd ; their tones were gone.
But to the little waves turn'd she,
And thus spake on right cheerily.
“ What can tame the spirit proud
Of the knight, who revels in storm and cloud ?
Nothing but tears — and smiles through tears,
And music too sweet for mortal ears.
But I will smile, and I will weep,
And my silver lyre shall wake from sleep.
Flow, sisters, flow in our tuneful stream,
My tale must be told, and finish'd my dream.
Flow merrily, sisters : and track him well.
He hears, he knows, he feels my spell.”
The waves flow'd on with their tuneful sound;
They cross'd the knight in his maddest bound;
And, like one who sees a spirit-form,
He check’d his course through the cloudy storm:
And bow'd his head, and listens still,
Tranced with the music of the rill.
And long together side by side
The waves did flow, the knight did ride ;
Till the spirit of the streamlet stole
The heart from out his inmost soul.
Oh! stay the hours : the sun rides high :
The tale is told, and the stream must die :
The last few notes, the sweetest far,
Like a trembling voice from a nightly star,
Rich as the tones of a dying swan,
The last few silvery notes are gone.