Then through the casement came a soft perfume
Which when her maids looked out the source to see
A wonder they beheld. For in full bloom
That very morn was blown the courtyard tree
In morning sun, as white as purity.
Then down the the winding stair the maidens ran
And from the tower, to see this mystery,
That hidden as the heart in honest man
Behind the castle walls did sweet and noble stand.
To view this marvel came the knight and lady too,
She spoke to him and plucked a blossom white:
“Pray keep a flower that in this castle grew.”
Then led the young men out, for battle dight,
His horse, refreshed and thirsting for the fight.
They aided him to don his habergeon,
And lace his helm, and place his breastplate bright,
A redoubt o’er heart that felt no doubt within,
For overthrown in combat he had never been.
But doubts hung cloudy oe’r the earl’s mind,
Why should these banners greet his black-cloaked hundreds?
Surely those within no hope of grace could find,
Yet had they taken heart of grace? He wondered.
So spurring quickly to the gate he thundered:
“My damosel the castle door throw wide
Your lord is come, who all your land has plundered.”
“A dead man’s colours fright me not.” he cried
But silence only answered him as echoes died.
Then ‘neath the crumbled arch – through vine-hung door,
Came not the crushed and miserable maid
The which the haughty earl in joy looked for,
But man of war – for tourney all arrayed.
And not his lance nor sword made him afraid
Nor gadded gauntlets, nor his helmet bright
But eyes of hawk in yarak upon him laid,
From ‘neath the visor of this stranger knight
Who called: “Look to your arms, I for this lady fight!”
Notes: Gads are spikes on gauntlets and ‘in yarak’ is falconry lingo for ready to hunt.