Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Vernier
Vernier
Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)
 
(Excerpt)

IF ever thou shalt follow silver Seine
Through his French vineyards and French villages,
O, for the love of pity, turn aside
At Vernier, and bear to linger there!
The gentle river doth so,—lingering long        5
Round the dark moorland and the pool Grand’mer,
And then with slower ripple steals away
Down from his merry Paris. Do thou this;
’T is kind and piteous to bewail the dead,—
The joyless, sunless dead; and these lie there,        10
Buried full fifty fathoms in the pool,
Whose rough dark wave is closed above their grave,
Like the black cover of an ancient book
Over a tearful story.
*        *        *        *        *
                        “Come away,” she cries,
“Thou knight, and take me from them all for thine.        15
Come, true-love, come.” The pebbles, water-washed,
Grate with the gliding of the shallop’s keel,
Scarce bearing up those twain.
                            Frail boat, be strong!
Three lives are thine to keep,—ah, lady pale,
Choose of two lovers, for the other comes        20
With a wild bound that shakes the rotten plank.
Moon! shine out fair for an avenging blow!
She glitters on a quiet face and form
That shuns it not, but stays the lifted death.
“My brother Roland!” “Claude, dear brother mine!”        25
“I thought thee dead.” “I would that I had died
Ere this had come.” “Nay, God! but she is thine!”
“He wills her not for either: look, we fill,
The current drifts us, and the oars are gone,
I will leap forth.” “Now by the breast we sucked,        30
So shalt thou not: let the black waters break
Over a broken heart.” “Nay, tell him no;
Bid him save thee, Julie,—I will leap!”
So strove they sinking, sinking,—Julie bending
Between them; and those brothers over her        35
With knees and arms close locked for leave to die
Each for the other; and the moon shone down,
Silvering their far-off home, and the great wave
That struck, and rose, and floated over them,
Hushing their death-cries, hiding their kind strife,        40
Ending the earnest love of three great hearts
With silence, and the splash of even waves.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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