Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The King of Denmark’s Ride
 
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (1808–77)
 
 
WORD was brought to the Danish king
    (Hurry!)
That the love of his heart lay suffering,
And pin’d for the comfort his voice would bring;
    (Oh! ride as though you were flying!)        5
Better he loves each golden curl
On the brow of that Scandinavian girl
Than his rich crown jewels of ruby and pearl;
    And his rose of the isles is dying!
 
Thirty nobles saddled with speed,        10
    (Hurry!)
Each one mounting a gallant steed
Which he kept for battle and days of need;
    (Oh! ride as though you were flying!)
Spurs were struck in the foaming flank;        15
Worn-out chargers stagger’d and sank;
Bridles were slacken’d, and girths were burst;
But ride as they would, the king rode first,
    For his rose of the isles lay dying!
 
His nobles are beaten, one by one;        20
    (Hurry!)
They have fainted, and falter’d, and homeward gone;
His little fair page now follows alone,
    For strength and for courage trying.
The king look’d back at that faithful child;        25
Wan was the face that answering smil’d;
They passed the drawbridge with clattering din,
Then he dropp’d; and only the king rode in
    Where his rose of the isles lay dying!
 
The king blew a blast on his bugle horn;        30
    (Silence!)
No answer came; but faint and forlorn
An echo return’d on the cold gray morn,
    Like the breath of a spirit sighing.
The castle portal stood grimly wide;        35
None welcom’d the king from that weary ride;
For dead, in the light of the dawning day,
The pale sweet form of the welcomer lay,
    Who had yearn’d for his voice while dying!
 
The panting steed, with a drooping crest,        40
    Stood weary.
The king return’d from her chamber of rest,
The thick sobs choking in his breast;
    And, that dumb companion eyeing,
The tears gush’d forth which he strove to check;        45
He bowed his head on his charger’s neck:
“O steed—that every nerve didst strain,
Dear steed, our ride hath been in vain
    To the halls where my love lay dying!”
 

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