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by [?]

The herdsman fears, and thinks its shadow creeps
To follow him; and superstition keeps
Such hold that Corbus as a terror reigns;
Folks say the Fort a target still remains
For the Black Archer–and that it contains
The cave where the Great Sleeper still sleeps sound.
The country people all the castle round
Are frightened easily, for legends grow
And mix with phantoms of the mind; we know
The hearth is cradle of such fantasies,
And in the smoke the cotter sees arise
From low-thatched but he traces cause of dread.
Thus rendering thanks that he is lowly bred,
Because from such none look for valorous deeds.
The peasant flies the Tower, although it leads
A noble knight to seek adventure there,
And, from his point of honor, dangers dare.

Thus very rarely passer-by is seen;
But–it might be with twenty years between,
Or haply less–at unfixed interval
There would a semblance be of festival.
A Seneschal and usher would appear,
And troops of servants many baskets bear.
Then were, in mystery, preparations made,
And they departed–for till night none stayed.
But ‘twixt the branches gazers could descry
The blackened hall lit up most brilliantly.
None dared approach–and this the reason why.



When died a noble Marquis of Lusace
‘Twas custom for the heir who filled his place
Before assuming princely pomp and power
To sup one night in Corbus’ olden tower.
From this weird meal he passed to the degree
Of Prince and Margrave; nor could ever he
Be thought brave knight, or she–if woman claim
The rank–be reckoned of unblemished fame
Till they had breathed the air of ages gone,
The funeral odors, in the nest alone
Of its dead masters. Ancient was the race;
To trace the upward stem of proud Lusace
Gives one a vertigo; descended they
From ancestor of Attila, men say;
Their race to him–through Pagans–they hark back;
Becoming Christians, race they thought to track
Through Lechus, Plato, Otho to combine
With Ursus, Stephen, in a lordly line.
Of all those masters of the country round
That were on Northern Europe’s boundary found–
At first were waves and then the dykes were reared–
Corbus in double majesty appeared,
Castle on hill and town upon the plain;
And one who mounted on the tower could gain
A view beyond the pines and rocks, of spires
That pierce the shade the distant scene acquires;
A walled town is it, but ’tis not ally
Of the old citadel’s proud majesty;
Unto itself belonging this remained.
Often a castle was thus self-sustained
And equalled towns; witness in Lombardy
Crama, and Plato too in Tuscany,
And in Apulia Barletta;–each one
Was powerful as a town, and dreaded none.
Corbus ranked thus; its precincts seemed to hold
The reflex of its mighty kings of old;
Their great events had witness in these walls,
Their marriages were here and funerals,
And mostly here it was that they were born;
And here crowned Barons ruled with pride and scorn;
Cradle of Scythian majesty this place.
Now each new master of this ancient race
A duty owed to ancestors which he
Was bound to carry on. The law’s decree
It was that he should pass alone the night
Which made him king, as in their solemn sight.
Just at the forest’s edge a clerk was met
With wine in sacred cup and purpose set,
A wine mysterious, which the heir must drink
To cause deep slumber till next day’s soft brink.
Then to the castle tower he wends his way,
And finds a supper laid with rich display.
He sups and sleeps: then to his slumbering eyes
The shades of kings from Bela all arise.
None dare the tower to enter on this night,
But when the morning dawns, crowds are in sight
The dreamer to deliver,–whom half dazed,
And with the visions of the night amazed,
They to the old church take, where rests the dust
Of Borivorus; then the bishop must,
With fervent blessings on his eyes and mouth,
Put in his hands the stony hatchets both,
With which–even like death impartially–
Struck Attila, with one arm dexterously
The south, and with the other arm the north.