Lion Llewellyn

SINGING, shining, beautiful May
Lureth me, draweth me, all the day.
Once, when the season wooed me so,
Lion Llewellyn, thou lovedst to go,
Pacing before or close beside,
Reticent, quaint, and dignified,
Roaming with me, wandering wide ;
And if ever thy feet inclined,
Weary with roving, to lag behind,
When were my arms to aid thee slow ?
“Muver will cahwy her darlin’! So !”

Not to the pines, my warrior gray,
Gray and stately and scarred as they,—
Not to the hill, or the valley glen,
Shall we wander together again.

Nevermore, in the dead of night,
Shall I waken in cold affright,—
Waken at sounds I know too well,
Growl defiant, and horrid yell,
Sounds that bristle the hair, and tell
Strife is raging, and blood is shed,
Blood and — fur, in the conflict dread.
Nevermore, from my bed, shall I
Unto the chamber-window fly,

There, by the wintry moon, to spy
Thee on the well-sweep mounted high,—
Mounting still, from the crafty foe
Creeping and crawling up below ;
And, when thou canst no farther go,
See thee crouch for the fearful leap
Off the top of the old well-sweep,
Then, with a swift and dizzy sweep,
Plunge in the crusty snow knee-deep.
Nor, for a lameness gotten so,
Shall I nurse thee again,—ah, no !

Nevermore, from my willing hand
Winning the all I can command,
Shall be heard the pathetic tone,
(Solvent sufficient for heart of stone,)
Making thy simple wishes known ;
Nor shall the vibrating long-drawn “Mr—r”
Of thy tranquil thunderous purr
Breathe again, to my ear attent,
Bliss o’erflowing and deep content.

As I fondly muse on thee,
I recall the spreading tree
Of thy goodly pedigree,
Which, of shapely branch or bough,
Hath no fairer growth than thou ;
And my glance caressing now
Sweeps Alas, and Och-Oh-Ow,
Clryssa, Christopher, What-Not,
Zabdas, Bunch, Longinus, Dot,
Tom, Zenobia, Nonesuch,
Turvy, Topsy, Inasmuch,
Zillah, Zillah Number Two,
Fremont, Dayton, Tittattoo,
Hiawatha, And, and If,
Minnehaha, But, and Tiff,
Kitty Clover, Kitty Gray,
Flossy, Frolic, Fayaway,
Quip, and Quirk, and Dearest Mae,
Nippenicket, Dido, Puck,
Minnesinger, Friar Tuck,
Periwinkle, Winkie Less,
Quiz, Albeit, Bonnie, Bess,
Midget, Budget, Mayaret,
Jocko, Sancho, Hans, Coquette,
Daisy Du Da, Ditto, Pet,
Pancks, and Peepy, Tilly, Tam,
Tattycoram, Zoe, Clam,
Little Dorrit, Uncle Sam,
Tomtit, Pug, Penelope,
Ike, Ulysses, Rosalie,

Punch, and Judy, Ferny Fan,
Cowslip, Hecate, Caliban,
Filibuster, Jonathan, ——
Name them all who may, who can ;
For the half has not been told
Of the branches I behold
On the honored parent-stem,
And the later growth from them.

Lion Llewellyn, faithful friend,
Brave and gentle to the end,
Would that I once more might hail,
Like a banner on the gale,
Waving slow, thy jet-ringed tail !
And thy furry coat of mail,
Like the striped and spotted skin
Of thy savage leopard kin,
Would I might again caress
With the old-time tenderness !

Why do I talk of what may not be ?
For the pillow of him I fain would see
Was changed long since from my motherly knee
To the garden, under the willow-tree,—
Weeping-willow and flowering moss.
Over it riseth nor pile nor cross ;
We, who only have felt his loss,
Needing no sculptured stone to tell
How he battled, and how he fell,
Or where sleepeth who sleeps so well.

What is the destiny of his race ?
Is there, I wonder, no other place
Whence they come or whither they go ?
Earth-existence the all they know ?
Does the living intelligence
Die in them with the dying sense ?
Or, from the body passing hence,
Does it find in another sphere
Being in higher form than here ?

For summers twain, the willow kept
Its watch where low the warrior slept,
But, on the third, a blight had crept
Upon the vigor of its frame ;
Nor knew we how or whence it came.

Whisper it low and fearfully,
The tale of ghostly mystery ;
For toothless crones and graybeards said
That from the presence of the dead
An influence around was shed,

Like warlock’s foul, unholy spell,
Of malisons and curses fell,
Which steeped that soil with venom dank,
Of which the fated willow drank.

Whether it were or were not so,
At least so much as this we know,
That on the willow fell decay ;
And though, when all things else grew gay,
It feebly strove to look as they,
Yet was its summer crown of pride
Worn lightly, and soon cast aside,
And when Spring found it, it had died.

A mound, and a stump with moss o’ergrown,
Now mark the place of his rest alone.

I see that the soft west-wind to-day
From the cherry-trees beareth their blooms away,
And wherever its fitful currents flow,
Rising or falling, swift or slow,
The tender petals like white wings go,
Floating, eddying, wavering low,
Wheeling and sinking in showers of snow ;
And under their light and flickering fall,
The mound, and the flowering moss, and all,
Grow blanched and white as a billow’s crest.

Thou that often these arms have pressed,
Nestled warm to thy mistress’s breast,—
Thou that takest thy colder rest,
Now, in the breathless and pulseless ground,
Close, but untenderly, folded round,—
Ever, by thy drifted mound,
Sleep, the Mystery, be found
Most mysterious, most profound !
And through her enchanted air,
Lighter than petals fair,
Brooding Peace sink downward there ;
And the blasted willow make
Haunt perpetual, for thy sake!