The child and the old man sat alone
In the quiet, peaceful shade
Of the old green boughs, that had richly grown
In the deep, thick forest glade.
It was a soft and pleasant sound,
That rustling of the oak;
And the gentle breeze played lightly round
As thus the fair boy spoke:-
‘Dear father, what can honor be,
Of which I hear men rave?
Field, cell and cloister, land and sea,
The tempest and the grave:-
It lives in all, ’tis sought in each,
‘Tis never heard or seen:
Now tell me, father, I beseech,
What can this honor mean?’
‘It is a name – a name, my child –
It lived in other days,
When men were rude, their passions wild,
Their sport, thick battle-frays.
When, in armor bright, the warrior bold
Knelt to his lady’s eyes:
Beneath the abbey pavement old
That warrior’s dust now lies.
‘The iron hearts of that old day
Have mouldered in the grave;
And chivalry has passed away,
With knights so true and brave;
The honor, which to them was life,
Throbs in no bosom now;
It only gilds the gambler’s strife,
Or decks the worthless vow.’