Bohemian legends and other poems/The Mysterious Ringing

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THE MYSTERIOUS RINGING.

The winter evening draweth near—
O’er stubble fields the wind howls drear,
And borne upon the northern blast
To Karluv Týn rides a courier fast.

The tower bell rings sad to-day,
Without is frost, within is May;
The servants they are happy all,
And oft a merry jest let fall.

The tower ringer enters now,
An old man with a noble brow;
Still round him gather all the youth,
Like children for some news forsooth.

The old man sinks within his seat;
Sad is his look, though mild and sweet;
The youth stand round him waiting still,
To hear his tale, or do his will.

Oh, sad the news I have to tell—
[*]Our loved king Charles, he is not well
Pray, children, that he may recover;
Charles whom we love, yea, like no other.

Long he has suffered fever’s pain
Oh, would that he were well again!
Oh, God in mercy, save our king,
Save our good Charles, oh, spare our king.

A Christian! At St. Catherine’s shrine,
Each year he prayed the King divine
To bless his people; this good king
Without God never did a thing.

He loved Bohemia from his heart—
As king, as father took her part.
He loved us all like children dear,
Our good, good Charles, without a peer.

What’s that? You hear? The key hangs there—
The tower’s shut—Let the light flare.
You hear? How mournful is the tone—
St. Catherine’s bell it rings alone!

Silence awhile, they listen all,
The bell tolls from the tower tall,
Then suddenly the bells ring all.
And strange the message that they bore.
He is no more he is no more.”

A wonder—why the key hangs there—
Bring me a light, I’ll climb the stair.”
Breathless he stands before the door,
The bells are ringing as before.

The door is shut! he listening stands—
The bells are rung by unknown hands;
He trembles as he listening stands,
For sad the message that they bore:
He is no more he is no more.”

The ringer opens quick the door,
He climbs up to the turret floor;
But there he breathless stands in fear,
The bells toll, but no man is near.

He hears their iron hearts beat quick—
The melody it makes him sick;
He gazes round in mute despair,
For not a living soul is there.

He falls upon his knees and prays,
The great bell far above him sways,
Then all ring, like on funeral days.
He listens, praying on the floor,
Charles is no more! Charles is no more!”

The next day came a rider, sent
From Prague to Karlův Týn sadly spent;
And as he spoke the people wept—
Yes, sadly wept—for Charles now slept.

They wept to hear their king was dead;
He died the night before, they said.
Bohemia honors still his name,
Their good King Charles, well known to fame.