The lady of Alzerno’s hall
Is waiting for her lord;
The blackbird’s song, the cuckoo’s call
No joy to her afford.
She smiles not at the summer’s sun,
Nor at the winter’s blast;
She mourns that she is still alone
Though three long years have passed.
I knew her when her eye was bright,
I knew her when her step was light
And blithesome as a mountain doe’s,
And when her cheek was like the rose,
And when her voice was full and free,
And when her smile was sweet to see.
But now the lustre of her eye,
So dimmed with many a tear;
Her footstep’s elasticity,
Is tamed with grief and fear;
The rose has left her hollow cheeks;
In low and mournful tone she speaks,
And when she smiles ’tis but a gleam
Of sunshine on a winter’s day,
That faintly beams through dreary clouds,
And in a moment dies away.
It does not warm, it does not cheer,
It makes us sigh for summer days
When fields are green, and skies are clear,
And when the sun has kinder rays.
For three years she has waited there,
Still hoping for her lord’s return,
But vainly she may hope and fear
And vainly watch and weep and mourn;
She may wait him till her hairs are grey,
And she may wear her life away,
But to his lady and his home
Her noble lord will never come.
‘I wish I knew the worst,’ she said,
‘I wish I could despair.
These fruitless hopes, this constant dread,
Are more than I can bear!’ —
‘Then do not hope and do not weep,
He loved thee faithfully,
And nothing short of death could keep
So true a heart from thee;
Eliza, he would never go,
And leave thee thus to mourn,
He must be dead, for death alone
Could hinder his return.’
‘Twas thus I spoke because I felt
As if my heart would break,
To see her thus so slowly pining
For Alzerno’s sake.
But more than that I would not tell,
Though all the while I knew so well
The time and nature of his death.
For when he drew his parting breath
His head was pillowed on my knee,
And his dark eyes were turned to me
With and agonised heart-breaking glance,
Until they saw me not —
O, the look of a dying man
Can never be forgot –!