« السابقةمتابعة »
hilarating accompaniment of bird, and song, and foliage, and flower, and all the revel of the year, with which he ushers in the lady of his heart. It is this scene in particular which throws all the magic of romance about the old castle keep. He had risen, he says, at day-break, according to custom, to escape from the dreary meditations of a sleepless pillow. “ Bewailing in his chamber thus alone,” despairing of all joy and remedy, “ for, tired of thought, and wobegone,” he had wandered to the window to indulge the captive's miserable solace, of gazing wistfully upon the world from which he is excluded. The window looked forth upon a small garden which lay at the foot of the tower. It was a quiet, sheltered spot, adorned with arbours and green alleys, and protected from the passing gaze by trees and hawthorn hedges.
Now was there made fast by the tower's walk
A garden faire, and in the corners set,
Railed about, and so with leaves beset
That lyf* was none, walkyng there forbye,
So thick the branches and the leves grene,
Beshaded all the alleys that there were,
The sharpe, grene, swete juniper,
That as it seemed to a lyf without,
* Lyf, person,
And on the small green twistis * set
The lytel swete nyghtingales, and sung
Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among,
Ryght of their song It was the month of May, when every thing was in bloom, and he interprets the song of the nightingale into the language of his enamoured feeling: Worship all ye that lovers be this May;.
For of your bliss the kalends are begun,
Come, summer, come, the sweet season and sun. As he gazes on the scene, and listens to the notes of the birds, he gradually lapses into one of those tender and undefinable reveries, which fill the youthful bosom in this delicious season. He wonders what this love may be, of which he has so often read, and which thus seems breathed forth in the quickening breath of May, and melting all nature into ecstacy
song. If it really be so great a felicity, and if it be a boon thus generally dispensed to the most insigficant of beings, why is he alone cut off from its en. joyments ?
Oft would I think, O Lord, what may this be,
That love is of such noble myght and kynde?
Is it of him, as we in books do find; May he oure hertes settent and unbynd :
* Twistis, small boughs or twigs. 1 Setten, incline. Note.-The language of the quotations is generally modernized.
Hath be upon oure hertes such maistrye?
That he of every wight hath care and charge,
That I am thrald and birdis go at large?
In the midst of his musing, as he casts his eyes downward, he beholds the fairest and the freshest young floure" that ever he had seen. It is the lovely Lady Jane, walking in the garden to enjoy the beauty of that “fresh May morrowe.” Breaking thus suddenly upon his sight in a moment of loneliness and excited susceptibility, she at once captivates the fancy of the romantic prince, and becomes the object of his wandering wishes, the sovereign of his ideal world.
There is in this charming scene an evident resemblance to the early part of Chaucer's Knight's Tale, where Palamon and Arcite fall in love with Emilia, whom they see walking in the garden of their prison. Perhaps the similarity of actual fact to the inci- . dent which he had read in Chaucer, may have induced James to dwell on it in his poem. His description of the Lady Jane is given in the picturesque and minute manner of his master, and being, doubtless, taken from the life, is a perfect portrait of a beauty of that day. He dwells with the fondness of a lover on every article of her apparel, from the net of pearl, splendent with emeralds and sapphires, that confined her golden hair, even to the “goodly chaine of small
orfeverye"* about her neck, whereby there hung a ruby in shape of a heart, that seemed, he says, like a spark of fire burning upon her white bosom. Her dress of white tissue was looped up, to enable her to walk with more freedom. She was accompanied by two female attendants, and about her sported a little hound decorated with bells, probably the small Italian hound, of exquisite symmetry, which was a parlour favourite and pet among the fashionable dames of ancient times. James closes his description by a burst of general eulogium:
In her was youth, beauty with humble port,
Bountee, richesse, and womanly feature,
Wisdom, largesse, f estate,f and cunning sure.
In word, in deed, in shape, in countenance,
That nature might no more her child advance. The departure of the Lady Jane from the garden puts an end to this transient riot of the heart. With her departs the amorous
Blusion that had shed a temporary charm over the scene of his captivity, and he relapses into loneliness, now rendered tenfold more intolerable by this passing beam of unattainable beauty. Through the long and weary day he repines at his unhappy lot, and when evening approaches and Phæbus, as he beautifully expresses it, had “bad farewell to every leaf and flower,” he still lingers at the window, and, laying his head upon the cold stone,
* Wrought gold. Estate, dignity. Vol. I.
| Largesse, bounty.
gives vent to a mingled flow of love and sorrow, until gradually lulled by the mute melancholy of the twilight hour, he lapses," half sleeping, half swoon," into a vision, which occupies the remainder of the poem, and in which is allegorically shadowed out the history of his passion.
When he wakes from his trance, he rises from his stony pillow, and pacing his apartment full of dreary reflections, questions his spirit whither it has been wandering; whether, indeed, all that has passed before his dreaming fancy has been conjured up by preceding circumstances, or whether it is a vision intended to comfort and assure him in his despondency. If the latter, he
be sent to confirm the promise of happier days, given him in his slumbers.
Suddenly a turtle dove of the purest whiteness comes flying in at the window, and alights upon his hand, bearing in her bill a branch of red gilliflower, on the leaves of which is written in letters of gold, the following sentence:
Awake! awake! I bring, lover, I bring
The newis glad, that blissful is and sure,
For in the heaven decretit is thy cure, He receives the branch with mingled hope and dread; reads it with rapture, and this he says was the
; first token of his succeeding happiness. Whether this is a mere poetic fiction, or whether the Lady Jane did actually send him a token of her favour in this romantic way, remains to be determined according