― 206 ―


Before his troop Childe Harald rides,
Harald, the fierce and bold;
By the moon's shimmering light they cross
A lone and savage wold.

Full many a foeman's flag they bear
Loud flapping in the breeze;
Full oft the distant hills ring back
Their martial melodies.

What rustles, lurking, in the bush?
What swims, with fitful gleam,
Upon the boughs? and falls from heaven,
And rises from the stream?

Who scatter flowers upon their path?
Who sing that witching song?
Who dance between them, vault behind
And with them ride along?

Who clasp so soft, and kiss so sweet?
Who cling so to the breast?
Who take the sword, and steal the steed,
And leave nor peace nor rest?

The Elfins' light-heeled band are these—
Who can their might withstand?
The victors all are vanquished now—
Captives in Fairy-land.

Harald alone, the flower of knights,
The Elfins fail to harm;
In steel encased from head to foot,
He mocks their subtle charm.

Upon the turf lie sword and shield,
But where their wearers bold?
Curvetting chargers, riderless,
Rush neighing o'er the wold.

And sad at heart proud Harald spurs—
The night winds round him moan;
Through the moist moonlit forest glades
Childe Harold rides alone.

  ― 207 ―
A clear stream trickles from a rock,
He springeth from the selle,
And making cup of plumëd casque,
Drinks of the cooling well.

His thirst is quenched, but foot and hand
No more his will obey;
Upon the stone he sits and nods,
And there must sleep for aye.

With hair and beard as white as snow,
Head drooped upon the breast,
Through countless years he slumbers on
In that mysterious rest.

When lightnings flash, when thunder rolls,
When storms roar through the wold,
Then in his dreams he grasps his sword—
Brave Harald as of old!