Page:Old Castles.djvu/13

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Or, standing through slow months, from earth exiled,
At last to perish on some gibbet near.
Sad were those times for thee, O Carlisle, then
Thy battlements and towers and gates all o’er
Were clothed with blanching skulls and features fair,
Distorted by the halter, fixed as when
Death did his solemn deed, were left to glare
On the meek face of all thy unstained life.
Yet with this rigour stern thou hadst no rest,
Still were thy gates the scenes of martial strife,
Nor didst thou prosper; war is still unblest;
Its crown is still a ruin, and its knife
Is still insatiate, moving in death’s sphere
A track of desolation. Many a tear
Has orphaned sorrow, blasted by its fate,
Shed in thy walls; and weeping women here,
Spared by its doom, left lorn and desolate,
Have sunk insensibly to early death
(Of love deprived, seeking no other mate);
And age, bereft by it, its straitened breath
Has here drawn all alone uncomforted.
Such are war’s tragic fortunes; and more drear,
Could the great past arise, and, through its dead,
Tell all the horrid tale, would they appear.
Here in thy gates of eld, war’s fiery sphere,
Have horrors dread been done, to shock the light,
And make the stars recoil the living day,
Polluted by them, and the holy night
By them all seared and tortured with mad fear.
Think for one instant of the frightful deed
Ohanging twelve fair boys in open day,
In one dread cluster, without stain or crime,