Landon in The Literary Gazette 1823/Crusader
Literary Gazette, 15th February 1823, Page 107
III. THE CRUSADER.
He is come from the land of the sword and shrine,
From the sainted battles of Palestine;
The snow-plumes wave o'er his victor crest,
Like a glory the red cross hangs at his breast.
His courser is black as black can be,
Save the brow star white as the foam of the sea,
And he wears a scarf of 'broidery rare,
The last love-gift of his lady fair:
It bore for device a cross and a dove,
And the words, "I am vowed to my God and my love!"
He comes not back the same that he went,
For his sword has been tried, and his strength has been spent;
His golden hair has a deeper brown,
And his brow has caught a darker frown,
And his lip hath lost its boyish red,
And the shade of the South o'er his cheek is spread;
But stately his step, and his bearing high,
And wild the light of his fiery eye;
And proud in the lists were the maiden bright
Who might claim the Knight of the Cross for her knight.
But he rides for the home he has pined to see
In the court, in the camp, in captivity.
He reached the castle,—the gate was thrown
Open and wide, but he stood there alone;
He entered the door,—his own step was all
That echoed within the deserted hall;
He stood on the roof of the ancient tower,
And for banner there waved one pale wall-flower;
And for sound of the trumpet and sound of the horn,
Came the scream of the owl on the night-wind borne;
And the turrets were falling, the vassals were flown,
And the bat ruled the halls he had thought his own.
His heart throbbed high: oh, never again
Might he soothe with sweet thoughts his spirit's pain,
He never might think on his boyish years
Till his eyes grew dim with those sweet warm tears
Which hope and memory shed when they meet.
The grave of his kindred was at his feet:
He stood alone, the last of his race,
With the cold wide world for his dwelling-place.
The home of his fathers gone to decay,—
All but their memory was pass'd away;
No one to welcome, no one to share
The laurel he no more was proud to wear:
He came in the pride of his war success
But to weep over very desolateness.
They pointed him to a barren plain
Where his father, his brothers, his kinsmen were slain;
They showed him the lowly grave, where slept
The maiden whose scarf he so truly had kept;
But they could not show him one living thing
To which his withered heart could cling. - - -
Amid the warriors of Palestine
Is one, the first in the battle-line;
It is not for glory he seeks the field,
For a blasted tree is upon his shield,
And the motto he bears is, "I fight for a grave:"
He found in—that Warrior has died with the brave!
L. E. L.
- This poem appears in The Improvisatrice and Other Poems (1824)