Patchwork, Costura entretenida, telas 8 años enseñando patchwork en mi Taller Manos de Chicureo.
Fallen the lofty halls, where vassal crowds
Drank in the dawn of Gertrude's natal day.
The dungeon roof an Alpine snow-wreath shrouds,
The strong, wild eagle's eyrie in the clouds—
The robber-baron's nest—is swept away.
Bare is the mountain brow of lordly towers;
Only the sunbeams stay, the moon and stars,
The faithful saxifrage and gentian flowers,
The silvery mist, and soft, white, crystal showers,
And torrents rushing through their rocky bars.
More than three hundred years ago, the flag
Charged with that dread device, an Alpine bear—
By many storm-winds rent—a grim, grey rag—
Floated above the castle on the crag,
Above the last whose heads were shelter'd there.
He was the proudest of an ancient race,
The fiercest of the robber chieftain's band,
That haughty Freiherr, with the iron face:
And she—his lady-sister, by God's grace—
The sweetest, gentlest maiden in the land.
'Twas a rude nest for such a tender bird,
That lonely fortress, with its warrior-lord.
Aye drunken revels the night-stillness stirred;
From morn till eve the battle-cries were heard,
The sound of jingling spur and clanking sword.
And Lady Gertrude was both young and fair,
A mark for lawless hearts and roving eyes,—
With sweet, grave face, and amber-tinted hair,
And a low voice soft-thrilling through the air,
Filling it full of subtlest melodies.
But the great baron, proudest of his line,
Fetter'd, with jealous care, his white dove's wing;
Guarded his treasure in an inner shrine,
Till such a day as knightly hands should twine
Her slender fingers with the marriage-ring.
From all her household rights was she debarred—
Her chair and place within the castle-hall,
Her palfrey's saddle in the castle-yard,
Her nursing ministries when blows fell hard
In border struggles—she was kept from all.
A stone-paved chamber, and the parapet
Opening above its winding turret-stair;
The castle-chapel, where few men were met,—
Round these the brother's boundaries were set.
The sweet child-sister was so very fair!
She had her faithful nurse, her doves, her lute,
Her broidery and her distaff, and the hound—
Best prized of all—the grand, half-human brute,
Who aye watched near her, beautiful and mute,
With ears love-quicken'd, listening from the ground.
But the wild bird, so honourably caged,
Grew sick and sad in its captivity;
Longed—like those hills which time nor storm had aged,
And those deep glens where Danube waters raged—
In God's own wind and sunshine to be free.
And on a day, when she had seen them ride,
Baron and troopers, on some border raid,
Wooed by the glory of the summer tide,
The hound's soft-slouching footstep at her side,
Adown the valley Lady Gertrude stray'd.
Adown the crag, whose shadow, still and black,
Lay like the death-sleep on a mountain pool;
Through rocky glen, by silvery torrent's track,
Through forest glade, 'neath wild vines, fluttering back
From softest zephyr kisses, green and cool.
E'en till the woods and hamlets down below,
And summer meadows, were all broad and clear;
The river, moving statelily and slow,
A crimson ribbon in the sunset glow—
The dim, white, distant city strangely near.
She sat her down, a-weary, on the ground,
With tremulous long-drawn breath and wistful eyes;
Caress'd the velvet muzzle of the hound,
And listen'd vainly for some little sound
To come up from her world of mysteries.
She had forgotten of the time and place,
When clank of warrior's harness smote her dream.
A growl, a spring, a shadow on her face,
And one strode up, with slow and stately pace,
And stood before her in the soft sun-gleam.
An armèd knight, in noblest knightly guise,
From golden spur to golden dragon-crest;
Through open vizor gazing with surprise
Into the fair, flush'd face and startled eyes,
While horse and hound stood watchfully at rest.
The sun went down, and, with long, stealthy stride,
The shadows came, blurring the summer light;
And there was none the lady's step to guide
Up the lost pathway on the mountain-side—
None to protect her but this stranger knight!
He placed her gently on his dappled grey,
Clothed in his mantle—for the air was chill;
He led her all the long and devious way,
Through glens, where starless night held royal sway,
And vine-tressed woodlands, where the leaves were still:
Through pathless ravines, where swift waters roll'd;
Up dark crag-ramparts, perilously steep,
Where eagles and a she-bear watch'd the fold;—
Facing the mountain breezes, clear and cold—
In shy, sweet silence, eloquent and deep.
Holding his charger by the bridle-rein,
He led her through the robber-chieftain's lands;
Led her, unchallenged by the baron's train,
E'en to the low-brow'd castle-gate again,
And there he humbly knelt to kiss her hands.
Brave lips, o'er tender palms bent down so low,
Silent and reverent, as it were to bless—
'Twas e'en a knightly love they did bestow,
Love true as steel and undefiled as snow;
No common courtesy, no light caress.
He rode away; and she to turret-lair
Sped, swift and trembling, like a hunted doe.
But wherefore, on the loopholed winding stair
Knelt she till morning, weeping, watching there?—
Because he was her brother's deadliest foe.
Because the golden dragon's blood had mixt
In all those mountain streams, had dyed the grass
Now trodden for her sake; because betwixt
Those two proud barons such a gulf was fixt
As never bridge of peace might overpass.
A bitter, passionate feud, that was begun
In ages long forgotten, and bequeath'd
With those rich baronies by sire to son—
A sacred charge, a great work never done,
A sharp and fiery weapon never sheath'd.
Yet, e'er a month slipped by, as summer slips
On noiseless wings, another kiss was laid,
Not on white palms or rosy finger-tips,
But softly on shut eyes and quivering lips;
And vows were sealèd in the forest glade.
The robber baron, who had hedged about
That fairest blossom of the sacred plant,
Saw he the insolent mailèd hand stretch'd out
To break down all his barriers, strong and stout?
Knew he aught of that gracious covenant?
His pride serenely slept. Nor did it wake
Till, in amaze, he saw his enemy stand
In his own castle, praying him to take
The pledge of peace for Lady Gertrude's sake—
Praying him humbly for the lady's hand.
Slowly the knitted brows grew fierce and black;
Slowly the eagle eyes began to shine.
“Sir knight,” he said, “I pray you get you back.
But one hour—and the Bears are on your track.
There's naught but fire and sword 'twixt mine and thine.”
And then the doors were barred on every side
Upon the innocent traitor, who had done
Such doubly-shameful despite to his pride.
Mocking, “I'll satisfy your heart,” he cried,
“An' you will have a husband, pretty one!”
Yet did she send a message stealthily,
Spurred by the torture of this ominous threat.
“Thou wilt not suffer it?” she said. And he,
“Fear not. To-morrow will I come for thee,—
At eve to-morrow, when the sun has set.”
And on the morrow, when the autumn light
Of red and gold had faded into grey,
She heard his signal up the echoing height,
Like hoarse owl-whistle, quivering through the night;
And in the dark she softly slipped away.
Her faithful nurse, with trembling hands, untwined
The new-forged fetters and drew back the bars.
The hound look'd up into her face, and whined,
And scratch'd the door; he would not stay behind.
And so she went—watch'd only by the stars.
Adown the mountain passes, with wing'd feet
And bright, blank eyes—her hand fast clutch'd around
A ragged slip of myrtle, white and sweet;
The hound beside her, velvet-footed, fleet
And silent, with his muzzle to the ground.
The knight was waiting, with his dappled steed,
Hard by the black brink of the waveless pool.
In his strong, tender arms—now safe indeed—
She cross'd the valley, with the wild bird's speed,
Fanned by the whispering night-wind, clear and cool.
Away—away—far from the trysting-place—
Over the blood-stain'd border-lands at last!
One wandering hind alone beheld the race;
A sudden rush—a shadow on his face—
A glint of golden scales—and she was past.
She felt the shadow of a mighty wall,
And then the glow of torchlight, and again
The gloom of cloister'd stair and passage, fall
Upon her vacant eyes. She heard a call;
And, in the echoing mountains, its refrain.
Then all around her a great silence lay;
She knew not why, nor greatly seem'd to care,
Till, in low tones, she heard the baron say,
“Hast thou confess'd, my little one, to-day?”—
The while he weaved the myrtle in her hair.
She glanced up suddenly, in blank amaze;
And then remember'd. 'Twas an altar, hung
With silk and rich embroidery, met her gaze;
'Twas perfumed, waxen altar-tapers' blaze
On her chill'd face and troubled spirit flung.
A holy father, with his open book,
Stood by the threshold of the chapel door.
Slowly, with bated breath and hands that shook,
Soft-clasped together—drawn with but a look—
She went, and knelt down humbly on the floor.
The baron left her, lowly crouching there,
Her bright, starred tresses trailing on the stones;
And waited, kneeling on the altar-stair—
Holding his sword-hilt to his lips, in prayer—
The while she pleaded in her tremulous tones.
A warning voice upon the still air dwelt,
A long, low cry of mingled hope and dread;—
A pause—a solemn silence—and she felt
The sweet absolving whisper as she knelt,
And hands of blessing covering her head.
The knight arose in silence, with a brow
Haughty and pale; and, softly drawing nigh,—
Love, life, and death in the new “I and thou”—
He gave and took each solemn marriage vow,
With all his arm'd retainers standing by.
The soft light fell upon their faces—still,
And calm, and full of rest. None now to part
The golden link between them!—naught to chill
The blest assurance that the father's will
Laid hand in hand, and gather'd heart to heart.
And so 'twas done. Each finger now had worn
The rings that aye ring'd in the double life;
From each the pledge had been withdrawn in turn,
As one by one the hallow'd oaths were sworn;
And Lady Gertrude was the baron's wife.
He led her to her chamber, when the glow
Of dawn began to quicken earth and sky;
They watch'd the rosy wine-cup overflow
The pale, cool, silvery track upon the snow
Of Alpine crests, uplifted far and high.
They saw the mountain floodgates open'd wide,
The downward streaming of unfetter'd day;
In blessed stillness, standing side by side—
Stillness that told how they were satisfied,
Those hearts whereon the new-born glamour lay.
And then, down cloister'd aisle and sculptured stair,
Through open courts, all bathed in shining mist,
They pass'd together, knight and lady fair;
She with the matron's coif upon her hair,
Her golden hair by lip and finger kiss'd.
He throned her proudly in his castle hall,
High on the daïs above the festive board,
'Neath shields and pennons drooping from the wall;
And they below the salt rose, one and all,
To greet the bride of their puissant lord.
Loud were the shouts, and fair with smiling grace
The blue eyes of the lady baroness;
And bright and eager was the haughty face
Of her brave husband, towering in his place,
Yet aye low-stooping for a mute caress.
There came a sudden pause—a thunder-cloud,
Darkening the sunshine of the golden noon—
An ominous stillness in the armèd crowd,
While slowly stiffening lips, all stern and proud,
Shut in the kindly laughter—all too soon!
“To arms! To arms!” A passionate crimson flush
Rose, sank, and blanched the fair face of the bride.
“To arms!” The cry smote sharply on the hush,
And broke it;—all was one tumultuous rush—
“The Bears have cross'd the border-land!” they cried.
But a few hours had Lady Gertrude dwelt
With her dear lord. Sad honours now were hers,
With white, hot hands she clasp'd his silver belt;
She held his dinted shield and sword; and knelt,
Like lowly squire, to don his golden spurs.
“Thou wilt not fight with him?—thou wilt forbear
For my sake?” So she pleaded, while the sun
Shone on her falling tears—each tear a prayer.
He whisper'd gravely, as he kissed her hair,
“I know not if I can, my little one.”
She held his hands, with infinite mute desire
To hold him back; then watch'd him to the field
With hungry, feverish eyes that could not tire,
Till sunny space absorb'd the fitful fire
Of the bright dragons on his crest and shield.
When he was gone—quite gone—she crept away,
Back to the castle chapel, still and dim;
And knelt where he had knelt but yesterday,
Low on the altar step, to watch and pray—
To pour her heart out for the love of him.
Her bower-maidens sat alone and spun
The while she pray'd, the terror-stricken wife.
The long hours slowly wanèd, one by one,
And evening came, and, with the setting sun,
The sudden darkness that eclipsed her life.
She listen'd, and she heard the sound at last,—
The ominous pause, the heavy, clanging tread;
She saw the strange, long shadow weirdly cast
Upon the floor, the red blood streaming fast,
The dear face grey and stiffen'd;—he was dead!
“Ay, dead, my lady baroness; and slain
By him you call your brother. Curses light
Upon his caitiff soul! Ah, 'tis in vain
To murmur thus,—he will not hear again—
He cannot heed your whisperings to-night.”
She lay down on her bridal couch—the stone
Whereon he lay in his eternal rest;
They, pitying, pass'd out, leaving her alone,
To kiss the rigid lips, and cry, and moan,
With her white face upon his bleeding breast.
* * * * *
'Twas night—wakeful, restless, troubled night,
Both wild and soft—fair;
With clouds fast flying through the domheight,
And shrieking winds, and silvery shining light,
And clear bells piercing the transparent air.
Down vale and fell a lonely figure stray'd,—
Now a dark shadow on the moonlit ground,
Now flickering white and ghostly in the shade
Of haunted glen and scented forest-glade—
A woman, watched and followed by a hound.
'Twas Lady Gertrude, widow'd and forlorn,
Returning to the wild birds' mountain nest;
Sent out with smiling insult and with scorn,
And creeping to the home where she was born,
To hide her sorrow, to lie down and rest.
She reach'd the gate and cross'd the castle-yard,
And stood upon the threshold, chill'd with fear.
The baron rose and faced her, breathing hard:
“Troopers,” he thunder'd, “let the doors be barred
And double-barred!—we'll have no traitors here.”
Such was her welcome. As she turn'd away,
Groping with sightless eyes and hands outspread,
The hound, unnoticed, slowly made his way
Along the hall, as if in track of prey,
With glistening teeth and stealthy velvet tread.
There was no clarion cry, none heard the sound
Of knightly challenge, till the champion rose,
Avenging. Lo! they saw upon the ground
The baron struggling with the savage hound,
And grim death grimly waiting for the close!
'Twas done. He lay there unassoilzied, dead,
Ere scarcely fell'd by the relentless paws.
And the fierce hound, with painful, limping tread,
Was following still where Lady Gertrude led,
His own red life-blood dripping from his jaws.
'Neath shadowy glades, with moonbeams interlaced,
Through valleys, at day—dawning, soft and dim,
Up mountain steeps at sunrise—uplands paced
By her dead lord in childhood—she retraced
The long miles stretching betwixt her and him.
She reach'd the castle, ere the torches' glare
Had wanèd in the brightness of the sky—
Another lord than hers was feasting there!
She shudder'd at the sounds that fill'd the air,
Of drunken laughter and loud revelry,
And softly up the cloister'd stairs she crept,
Back to the lonely chapel, where all sound
Of human life in solemn silence slept.
With weary heart and noiseless feet she stept
Beneath the doorway into hallow'd ground.
Low at the altar, wrapped in slumber sweet
And still and deep, her murder'd lord lay here;
With waxen tapers at his head and feet—
Forcing reluctant darkness to retreat—
And cross-embroider'd pall upon his bier.
The blood-hound blindly stumbled, and fell prone
Across the threshold. Something came and prest
His huge head downward, stiffening him to stone.
And Lady Gertrude, passing up alone,
Spread her white arms above the baron's breast.
The weapons which his lowly coffin bore—
His sword and spurs, his helm and shield and belt—
Like him, to rest from battle evermore,
Whose long-drawn shadows barred the chapel floor,—
She kiss'd them, for his dear sake, as she knelt.
She laid her cheek upon the velvet pall,
With one long, quivering sigh; and tried to creep
Where the soft shadow of the rood would fall,
'Mid light of sunrise and of tapers tall,
Upon them both, and there she fell asleep.
* * * * *
She woke no more. But where her track had been,
On that last night, became a haunted ground.
And when the wild wind blows upon the sheen
Of summer moonlight, there may still be seen
The phantom of a lady and a hound.