He is come from the land of the sword and shrine,
From the sainted battles of Palestine;
The snow plumes wave o’er his victor crest,
Like a glory, the red cross hangs at his breast;
His courser is black, as black can be,
Save the brow star, white as the foam of the sea,
And he wears a scarf of broidery rare,
The last love gift of his lady fair;
It bore for device a cross and a dove,
And the words – ‘I am vowed to my God and my love.’
He comes not back the same that he went;
For his sword has been tried, and his strength has been spent,
His golden hair has a deeper brown,
And his brow has caught a darker frown;
And his lip has lost its youthful red,
And the shade of the South o’er his cheek is spread,
But stately his step, and his bearing high,
And wild the light of his fiery eye;
And proud in the lists were the maiden bright,
Who might claim the Knight of the Cross for her knight.
He rides for the home he had pined to see,
In the court, in the camp, in captivity!
He reached the castle – his own step was all
That echoed within the deserted hall;
He stood on the roof of the ancient tower;
And, for banner, there waved one pale wall flower,
And, for sound of the trumpet and peal of the horn,
Came the scream of the owl, on the night wind borne.
The turrets were falling, the vassals were flown,
And the bat ruled the halls, he had called his own;
His heart throbbed high – Oh! never again
Might he soothe with sweet thoughts his spirit’s pain;
He never might think of his boyish years,
Till his eyes grew dim with those sweet warm tears,
Which hope and memory shed when they meet –
The grave of his kindred was at his feet –
He stood alone, the last of his race,
With the cold wide world for his dwelling place;
The home of his fathers gone to decay,
All but their memory had passed away –
No one to welcome, no one to share
The laurel, he no more was proud to wear.
He came, in the pride of his war-success,
But to weep over very desolateness.
They pointed him to a barren plain,
Where his father, his brothers, his kinsmen were slain;
They shewed him the lowly grave, where slept
The maiden, whose scarf he so truly had kept;
But they could not shew him one living thing,
To which his withered heart could cling –
Amid the warriors of Palestine
Is one, the first in the battle line.
It is not for glory he seeks the field,
For a blasted tree is upon his shield,
And the motto it bears is, ‘I fight for a grave.’
He found it – That warrior has died with the brave.