The Rising at Aix

The dead-cart rolleth up and down,
Through the old town of Aix,
The death-bell tolleth fearfully,
And the Priest at the altar prays.

And the few men that tread her streets,
Like frighted phantoms stare
Each in the other's face, to see
If the plague-mark be there.

She lieth at the Loosberg's foot,
A silence-stricken town,
Save when the bell tolls fearfully,
And the cart rolls up and down.

" Ah me! that death should be so grim,
That life should be so sweet! "
He looks from his house in the Neu-Market,
Down on the silent street;

He sees the grass through the pavement grow,
He hears the death-bell ring:
" O death, grim death is terrible, "
Quoth the good knight shuddering.

The lady sat beside her lord,
His boy was on her knee;
" Good father, Christ can raise the dead,
Art thou afraid? " quoth he.

She was the fairest, noblest dame,
In all the Rhenish plain,
Who look'd down on the Neu-Market,
And heard her lord complain.

The Priests are praying at the shrine,
The death-bell tolleth on;
Why is the lady's eye so strange?
Why grows her cheek so wan?

He tore away the golden clasp,
Aside the silken vest;
Ah me! ah me! the red plague-spot
Is on the lady's breast.

The Lady Joscelind is dead, —
" Go delve the church's nave,
She shall not lie with the common herd,
All in one common grave.

" The gold ring on her left hand finger
Let none presume to stir;
Therewith I plighted her my troth,
And I was true to her.

" And bring me hither my diamond ring,
The ring with diamonds three,
And leave it on her right hand finger,
For she was true to me.

" And bear her to the Apostles' Church,
If one be found to delve,
And leave her deep down in the nave,
In care of the Holy Twelve. "

The good knight mourneth hopelessly,
" O death, grim death is dread. "
The child is whispering in his play,
" Christ raiseth up the dead. "

The clocks had stricken twelve at night,
Out of the church's spire;
The wax lights shone from the altar high,
Dim through the solemn choir.

There were many hearts awake that night,
Some by the dying bed,
Some all alone in burning pain,
Some wailing for the dead.

And some that trod those stricken streets
For deeds of shame and crime:
O, strange that human hearts should be
So hard at such a time!

They came to the church of the Holy Twelve,
They paused, and spoke aside,
" She has gems of cost on her dead fingers,
Might grace a living bride. "

They brought the shovel and the torch,
Into the cold dark nave,
Where the stone was stirr'd, and the earth was loose,
On Lady Joscelind's grave;

They lifted up the coffin lid,
The pall of satin white;
And the diamonds three on her fair right hand,
Shone out like stars at night.

And they saw the lady's cold pale face,
Shrouded and swathed within:
Was it the damp church air that moved
The band beneath her chin?

The boldest man in the company
Has touch'd that jewel rare;
The corpse sat up in her shroud, and look'd
Around with a ghastly stare.

The bells had chimed in the Neu-Market,
The clocks had stricken four;
The knight hath heard a hasty knock,
Down at the outer door.

He heard it from his lonely couch,
Where all night long he toss'd,
And mutter'd, " None hath power to give
Again what I have lost. "

The child has waken'd with the noise,
He rose in his little bed;
" O father, I have dreamt all night
Of the rising of the dead. "

" Lie still, lie still. My servitor,
Go to the outer gate:
Who cometh to the house of woe,
And dares to call so late?

" There are no dying here to shrive,
There are no dead to shroud;
Unbar, unbar in haste, I say,
And see who knocks so loud. "

" O, master, as I hasten'd down,
I look'd forth on the street,
The lady standeth at the door,
Wrapp'd in her winding sheet. "

The knight has laugh'd a bitter laugh,
In his hopeless misery,
" Death hath her in his iron grasp,
She may not loosen'd be.

" When did he ever give again
The prey that he had won? "
" Christ hath conquer'd death, father, "
Whisper'd his little son.

And mournfully, and urgently,
The voice below doth cry,
" Unbar the door, my dearest lord,
It is none else but I. "

" When my good steed shall leave his stall,
And mount my chamber stair,
I will believe that Joscelind
In flesh and blood is there.

" I will believe my buried love
Unsepulchred has been;
When he shall stand, where now I stand,
Then will I let thee in. "

The whole house shaketh wondrously,
From cellar unto roof,
There is a sound on the winding stair
Like the tramp of a charger's hoof.

And up each narrow landing place,
The good steed safely trod,
Straight to the sinner's side, who dared
To doubt the power of God.

" Unbar, unbar the door in haste,
She is given me back, " he saith,
" I have wrong'd the mercy of the Lord,
I had neither hope nor faith. "

There was a costly altar-cloth,
The richest e'er was seen,
It hung in the Apostles' Church,
Behind the altar screen.

There were four figures carved in stone,
O'er the western portal proud,
A knight, and a child, and a steed unyoked,
And a lady in her shroud.

The lady wrought the altar cover,
The knight the marble gave,
In memory of her who rose
Out of that church's nave.

The house stands still in the Neu-Market,
Where their calm age flow'd on;
A summer twilight, when the sun
From the grey sky is gone;

When pure and soft, a chasten'd light
Is shed o'er all the earth,
A beauty that is perfect peace,
But hath no touch of mirth.

For never smile was seen to play
On that sweet face again,
That had been tired in a shroud,
And in the grave had lain.

They laid them in the Apostles' Church,
The noble and the dame;
Death was not terrible at last,
When to the knight he came.

A brave young warrior laid the stone
Over each honour'd head,
And graved with pious hand thereon,
" Christ raiseth up the dead. "
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