King Edward's Dream

On lofty Windsor's terraces and bowers
Fair fell the radiance of the sun's last ray;
And purple beam'd her palaces and towers,
With the calm lustre of departing day.
The scented air woo'd fragrance from the flowers;
In the far west a streak of crimson lay;
As lingering Phaebus grieved his day was sped,
And dropp'd his glowing mantle, ere he fled.

On many a regal chamber, fair to see,
The dusky light with fitful ray was streaming;
Thro' heavy folds of crimson drapery,
On gorgeous canopies, where gold was beaming;
On many a sculptured form's rich tracery;
On many a pictured brow of gallant seeming;
On many a kingly throne, and queenly bower,
And sombre silent hall, and darkly frowning tower.

There is a voice of mirth in Windsor's glades,
For England's nobles join the festive throng;
And guide the silken rein, where high-born maids
Blend their sweet voices with the wood-bird's song;
Or urge the bounding steed thro' sylvan shades,
And loudly cheer the panting hound along;
Yet tho' the pride of England's youth is here,
There lacks her fairest flower, her rose without a peer.

In one vast chamber of that princely pile
There was a fair and sickly Boy reposing,
While all without, with revelry and smile,
Hail'd the glad summer's day so mildly closing:
England's young monarch sat in hall the while,
A volume dark of olden time unclosing;
And save a Prelate old that stay'd beside,
He was alone within that chamber wide.

Pale was the princely brow, and high and fair;
On the small hand so pensively reclining,
Parted the ringlets of his chestnut hair;
And in the bright eye, thro' the dark lash shining,
There dwelt a tender melancholy air,
As tho' the gentle soul within were pining,
And long'd to lay its mortal vesture down,
And leave its earthly throne, and wear a brighter crown.

Pallid his hue with many a hectic streak,
It seem'd as tho' their ancient contest ended
That deluged England many a bloody week,
The white rose with her red foe still contended
For which should reign upon that fair young cheek.
His mien was majesty and mildness blended,
Noble and firm, as Prince's aye should be,
But meek and gracious in its dignity.

He that would look upon that sweet young brow,
Must seek some lofty pictured gallery;
Where painter's hand would seek to give us now
The perish'd forms of England's majesty:
Or would he sterner memory, I trow,
He must go tread the tombs of royalty,
And o'er young Tudor's bier the fond tear shed
For him the early wise, alas, the early dead.

But for that Prelate, seek no tombstone lone,
No grass-grown grave, where rustics come to weep,
No sculptured shrine, or monumental stone,
Where England lays her hallow'd names to sleep:
For till the hour when God shall claim His own
From the red pile, and from the stormy deep,
Till fire and flood alike their dead return,
Of Cranmer's resting-place thou shalt not learn.

Long on his Pupil look'd the Prelate grey,
And in his eye the big tear gather'd warm;
For he had watch'd the progress of decay,
And mark'd the tender graces of his form
Withering before the spoiler, day by day,
Even as the wild flower shrinks before the storm,
And well he deem'd that he was mark'd for death,
That fairest rose on England's royal wreath.
In the full eye, still bright with wonted fire,
The Prelate gazed, and there he seem'd to find
His inward musings were of grief and ire,
Troubled his mien, that brought to Cranmer's mind
The fiery glances of his restless sire;
And yet the look was chasten'd, sad but kind,
Even as the stream reflects the orb of day,
But burns not, blights not with its gentler ray.

Slowly he laid aside the unheeded book,
And his lip heaved with many a gentle sigh,
As rose leaves tremble, by the soft wind shook,
And the tear glisten'd in his deep blue eye:
But when he mark'd that Prelate's anxious look,
And how he watch'd his inward misery,
Fondly that honour'd hand he took, and prest,
And thus reveal'd the burden of his breast:

" Cranmer, I have a wondrous tale to tell,
" Deem it not fantasy of o'erwrought feeling;
" When yestereve the night's grey curtain fell,
" I lay and heard the solemn vesper pealing
" From the far chapel, like a funeral knell;
" An awful sadness o'er my soul came stealing;
" And fearful visions all the livelong night
" Came wandering before my fever'd sight.

" Methought I stood alone in greenwood bower,
" It was a lonely, and a silent dell,
" From sultry radiance of the noontide hour
" The long green chestnut branches kept it well;
" 'Mid the rich grass there blossom'd many a flower;
" In the still shade the wood-bird loved to dwell,
" And a bright stream, as heavenly ether blue,
" Laugh'd to the breeze, that o'er its waters flew.

" Even while I gazed upon the scene around,
" That soothed the soul, the while it charm'd the eye,
" Amid the breathings of unearthly sound
" There came on angel pinion floating nigh,
" A heavenly form, that dropp'd into the ground
" One single seed, that tranquil fountain nigh,
" And then, on radiant wing far upward driven,
" His bright form mingled with the hues of heaven.

" Methought I bore fresh water from the stream,
" And o'er that seed the cooling draught I shed;
" And first, like tender plant its growth did seem,
" And then, into a goodly tree it spread:
" And ever mounting toward the glad daybeam,
" At length it waved its branches o'er my head,
" And when they stirr'd, those branches green and fair,
" Unwonted fragrance fill'd the silent air.

" On every waving bough it seem'd to me,
" That golden fruit and snowy flow'rs did spring;
" Nor wither'd stem, nor broken might you see;
" Nor weed unsightly to the root did cling.
" But, seeking shelter from that goodly tree
" Came many a weary bird on drooping wing;
" And many a wild flower blossom'd in the shade
" Of those green boughs, that seem'd not form'd to fade.

" There came a sound, like to the trumpet's swell
" When hostile armies are on battle bent,
" And a strong whirlwind hurried down the dell;
" And, true as shaft from foeman's bow-string sent,
" Full on mine own beloved tree it fell;
" And many a strong bough from the stem it rent,
" And many a blossom bright was borne away,
" Or soil'd, and wither'd, on the green earth lay.

" The bosom of the earth seem'd rent in twain,
" And forth there sprang a mass of living fire,
" And every fair branch scatter'd on the plain
" Fed the red flame's unquenchable desire;
" Till nought of bud, or blossom, did remain,
" Save the cold ashes on their funeral pyre:
" Till from each pile of ashes lone and white
" There rose a spirit form, I may not tell how bright.

" Ethereal forms, not shaped in earthly mould,
" Were theirs, and angels' radiant wings they wore,
" Around their heads were crowns of shining gold,
" And one the face of gentle Ridley bore,
" Of Hooper one, and Latimer the old.
" And one beloved and honour'd even more,
" For where the martyr fires did fiercest shine,
" Heavenward a spirit rose, and, Cranmer, it was thine!
" And many another saintly form, and dear,
" Rose from those glowing piles, in vesture white;
" And glancing thro' the silent air, and clear,
" Shot the red flames in pyramids of light:
" And volumes vast of smoke came floating near,
" Hiding that fair tree from my anxious sight.
" So the dull mist, on Scotia's mountain peaks,
" Shrouds from the shepherd's eye the lonely home he seeks.

" There came a breath from Heaven, all cold and chill,
" As angels sigh'd above that ruthful scene;
" The heavy smoke that did the blue air fill,
" Fled far before it, down the valley green,
" And lo, that graceful tree was standing still,
" More beautiful than it before had been,
" With riper fruits, and brighter flowers, it stood,
" The rich boughs waving o'er the silent flood.

" So sleeps awhile in Autumn's changeful hour
" The calm blue sky; thick rises the dark cloud
" That bears from far the storm-gust and the shower,
" And o'er the fair scene casts its heavy shroud.
" So came the spoiler's desolating power,
" Stern voices rose, irreverent and loud,
" And hasty footsteps trod that tranquil glade,
" Gathering by that still stream, and round that olive shade.

" Two mighty Chieftains did those spoilers lead,
" Sullen and cold their aspect, and their bearing,
" In their dark lowering glance the eye might read
" Many a foul tale of sacrilegious daring,
" Of ruthless fury, and of savage deed:
" Stern was their rigid brow, their eye unsparing,
" Each, ere he struck, did look to heaven and kneel:
" Fanatic wrath was one, and one mistaken zeal.

" First, with destroying hand, they tore away
" Each snowy flower, and every silver bud;
" And then they stripp'd the green leaves from each spray,
" And scatter'd them upon the ruffled flood;
" Methought I had no power their wrath to stay,
" When I their savage fury had withstood,
" And then the warm tears gush'd into mine eyes,
" And veil'd the sight of that sad sacrifice.

" Again, again, that other change was done,
" And bright, and beautiful, and all unfearing
" Its blossoms renovate, its spoilers gone,
" I saw my glorious olive tree appearing
" Fresh as the landscape, when the bright day sun
" From Nature's face the dark night mist is clearing,
" Like a young warrior risen from repose,
" Strengthen'd, refresh'd, and perfected, it rose.

" And all was calm, as noon of summer's day,
" When scarce the murmuring Zephyr dares to breathe
" Its tell-tale whisper to the trembling spray;
" The fair flowers hung in many a snowy wreath,
" Bow'd down to earth the burden'd branches lay,
" And Britain's guardian lion chain'd beneath,
" Watch'd o'er his cherish'd charge, with eye of fire,
" And mock'd the foeman's rage, and dared the scorner's ire.

" Long, long I look'd, and still it was the same,
" No ruder blast upon the water play'd,
" No spoiler past, no desolator came,
" And grateful crouch'd the lion in the shade,
" Or proudly raised him, when the voice of fame,
" Waking the echoes of that tranquil glade,
" With Britain's triumphs rife, came floating by;
" Or glory's distant call enkindled his red eye.

" It was a little cloud that rose alone,
" Casting a shade where nought but light had been;
" It was a low sound, like a mourner's tone,
" That marr'd the peaceful stillness of the scene:
" There was a sickly touch of yellow thrown
" Across its brilliant hue of evergreen;
" It was a stranger pass'd that tree around,
" Measured its stately girth, and told its boughs, and frown'd.

" The name Reform was graven his brow above,
" Specious his aspect, white the robe he wore,
" Smooth was his speech, full swiftly did he move,
" And sharpest shears, and pruning hook he bore;
" And still, I mark'd, where'er his weapons drove,
" The brightest branches from their stem he tore;
While bland Expediency, with traitor smile,
" Approved the reckless task, and aided him the while.

" More open foe red-handed Bigotry
" Show'd his rude bloodhounds from afar their prey;
" Fiercely they came, Misrule's dark progeny,
" Clamour and Faction, led the wild array;
" While ever smiled pale Infidelity
" In conscious triumph at the coming fray.
" I look'd for him that should the tree have kept,
" For Britain's guardian lion — and he slept.

" Proud Rome sat near, upon her fallen throne,
" And as she watch'd, before her prescient eye
" Rose scenes of priestly triumph all her own;
" Visions of crosier'd Abbots pass'd her by,
" Of kingly sceptres at her altar thrown,
" And still she pointed to those branches high,
" And still she sought their fall, for well she knew
" She might not enter where that olive grew.

" Then all confused before my aching vision
" Strange forms on ebon wing swept o'er the earth,
" Not angels' pinions, radiant and Elysian,
" But fiend-like spirits of Tartarean birth;
" And ever rose the voice of their derision
" In tones of triumph, mockery, and mirth.
" " Britain," they said, " thy day of strength is o'er,
" " Thy Church is falling, thou'rt a Queen no more." "

Here paused the Prince, and on the Prelate's arm
Wistful he laid his small white wasted hand:
" Oh, have I not good cause for great alarm,
" The fairest olive in my fertile land
" Which, we had hoped, unknowing scath or harm,
" Should proudly, firmly, to all ages stand,
" For which our hearts have yearn'd, our lips have pray'd;
" Oh, is my Church to fall, and is there none to aid? "

" Prince, " said the Prelate, " seest thou yon slight bark
Moor'd by the shore, upon the Thames' blue tide,
The waters close around it, deep and dark,
The current swiftly rolls, the stream is wide,
And they who pass thereby and careless mark
How frail the skiff, how fast the billows glide,
Might deem each wave of force to bear away
And break the fragile shell, or whelm it in the spray.

" And yet it hath sure anchorage, below
In the blue depth where never eye has sought;
And tho' the sullen billows madly flow
Crested with angry foam, with ruin fraught,
Vainly they come; unheeded onward go;
That anchor'd bark is firm, it fears not aught,
But ever doth it ride triumphantly,
And stems the waves, however rude they be.

" So to man's faithless ken it doth appear
The Church thou lov'st is but as shallop frail,
And when the tide of earthly wrath or fear
Doth round her foam, they deem it shall prevail,
And that her hour of ruin draweth near;
Yet she abideth firm; she shall not fail;
She hath an anchor too, man may not see,
Thy God will guard His Church, His favour'd olive tree. "
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