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The Gage

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The Gage
written by Walter de la Mare
Songs of Childhood (1902) Link to further information




    'Lady Jane, O Lady Jane!
    Your hound hath broken bounds again,
      And chased my timorous deer, O;
        If him I see,
        That hour he'll dee;
      My brakes shall be his bier, O.'

    'Lord Aërie, Lord Aërie,
    My hound, I trow, is fleet and free,
      He's welcome to your deer, O;
        Shoot, shoot you may,
        He'll gang his way,
      Your threats we nothing fear, O.'

    He's fetched him in, he's fetched him in,
    Gone all his swiftness, all his din,
      White fang, and glowering eye, O:
        'Here is your beast,
        And now at least
      My herds in peace shall lie, O.'

    "In peace!" my lord, O mark me well!
    For what my jolly hound befell
      You shall sup twenty-fold, O!
        For every tooth
        Of his, i'sooth,
      A stag in pawn I hold, O.

    'Huntsman and horn, huntsman and horn,
    Shall scare your heaths and coverts lorn,
      Braying 'em shrill and clear, O;
        But lone and still
        Shall lift each hill,
      Each valley wan and sere, O.

    'Ride up you may, ride down you may,
    Lonely or trooped, by night or day,
      My hound shall haunt you ever:
        Bird, beast, and game
        Shall dread the same,
      The wild fish of your river.'

    Her cheek is like the angry rose,
    Her eye with wrath and pity flows:
      He gazes fierce and round, O,--
        'Dear Lord!' he says,
        'What loveliness
      To waste upon a hound, O.

    'I'd give my stags, my hills and dales,
    My stormcocks and my nightingales
      To have undone this deed, O;
        For deep beneath
        My heart is death
      Which for her love doth bleed, O.'

    Wanders he up, wanders he down,
    On foot, a-horse, by night and noon:
      His lands are bleak and drear, O;
        Forsook his dales
        Of nightingales,
      Forsook his moors of deer, O.

    Forsook his heart, ah me! of mirth;
    There's nothing lightsome left on earth:
      Only one scene is fain, O,
        Where far remote
        The moonbeams gloat,
      And sleeps the lovely Jane, O.

    Until an eve when lone he went,
    Gnawing his beard in dreariment,
      Lo! from a thicket hidden,
        Lovely as flower
        In April hour,
      Steps forth a form unbidden.

    'Get ye now down, Lord Aërie,
    I'm troubled so I'm like to dee,'
      She cries, 'twixt joy and grief, O;
        'The hound is dead,
        When all is said,
      But love is past belief, O.

    'Nights, nights I've lain your lands to see,
    Forlorn and still--and all for me,
      All for a foolish curse, O;
        Now here am I
        Come out to die,
      To live unlov'd is worse, O!'

    In faith, this lord, in that lone dale,
    Hears now a sweeter nightingale,
      And lairs a tend'rer deer, O;
        His sorrow goes
        Like mountain snows
      In waters sweet and clear, O!

    Let the hound bay in Shadowland,
    Tuning his ear to understand
      What voice hath tamed this Aërie;
        Chafe, chafe he may
        The stag all day,
      And never thirst nor weary.

    Now here he smells, now there he smells,
    Winding his voice along the dells,
      Till grey flows up the morn, O;
        Then hies again
        To Lady Jane,
      No longer now forlorn, O.

    Ay, as it were a bud, did break
    To loveliness for Aërie's sake,
      So she in beauty moving
        Rides at his hand
        Across his land,
      Beloved as well as loving.

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