The Count Of Gleichen
by Bayard Taylor
I read that story of the Saxon knight,
Who, leaving spouse and feudal fortress, made
The Cross of Christ his guerdon in the fight,
And joined the last Crusade:
Whom, in the chase on Damietta's sands
Estrayed, the Saracens in ambush caught,
And unto Cairo, to the Soldan's hands,
A wretched captive brought:
Whom then the Soldan's child, a damsel brave,
Saw, pitied, comforted, and made him free,
And with him fled, herself a willing slave
In Love's captivity.
I read how he to bless her love was fain,
To whom his renovated life he owed,
Yet with a pang the towers beheld again
Where still his wife abode:
The wife whom first he loved: would she not scorn
The second bride he could not choose but wed,
The second mother to his children, born
In her divided bed?
Lo! at his castle's foot the noble dame
With tears of blessing, holy, undefiled
By human pain, received him when he came,
And kissed the Soldan's child!
My tears were on the pages as I read
The touching close: I made the story mine,
Within whose heart, long plighted to the dead,
Love built his living shrine.
I too had dared, a captive in the land,
To pay with love the love that broke my chain:
Would she, who waited, stretch the pardoning hand,
When I returned again?
Would she, my freedom and my bliss to know,
With my disloyalty be reconciled,
And from her bower in Eden look below,
And bless the Soldan's child?
For she is lost: but she, the later bride,
Who came my ruined fortune to restore,
Back from the desert wanders at my side,
And leads me home once more.
If human love, she sighs, could move a wife
The holiest sacrifice of love to make,
Then the transfigured angel of thy life
Is happier for thy sake!
Source:The Poet's Journal
Ticknor and Fields, Boston