'Oh, how he lies; his cold pale cheek
          Lies lifeless on the clay;
Yet struggling hope – O day spring break
          And lead me on my way.

'On Denmark's cruel bands, O heaven!
          Thy red-wing'd vengeance pour;
Before my Wolfwold's spear be driven –
          O rise bright morning hour!'

Thus Ula wail'd, the fairest maid,
          Of all the Saxon race;
Thus Ulla wail'd, in nightly shade,
          While tears bedew'd her face.

When sudden o'er the fir-crown'd hill,
          The full orb'd moon arose;
And o'er the winding dale so still,
          Her silver radiance flows.

No more could Ulla's fearful breast,
          Her anxious care delay;
But deep with hope and fear imprest,
          She holds the moonshine way.

She left the bower, and all alone
          She traced the dale so still;
And sought the cave with rue o'ergrown,
          Beneath the fir-crown'd hill.

Black knares of blasted oak, embound
          With hemlock, fenc'd the cell:
The dreary mouth, half under ground,
          Yawn'd like the gate of hell.

Soon as the gloomy den she spy'd,
          Cold horror shook her knee;
And hear, O Prophetess, she cry'd,
          A Princess sue to thee.

Aghast she stood! athwart the air,
          The dismal screech-owl flew;
The fillet round her auburn hair
          Asunder burst in two.

Her robe of softest yellow, glow'd
          Beneath the moon's pale beam;
And o'er the ground with yew-boughs strew'd,
          Effus'd a golden gleam.

The golden gleam the Sorceress spy'd,
          As in her deepest cell,
At midnight's magic hour she try'd
          A tomb o'erpowering spell.

When from the cavern's dreary womb,
          Her groaning voice arose,
'O come, my daughter, fearless come,
          And fearless tell thy woes.'

As shakes the bough of trembling leaf,
          When whirlwinds sudden rise:
As stands aghast the warrior chief,
          When his base army flies.

So shook, so stood, the beauteous maid,
          When from the dreary den,
A wrinkled hag came forth, array'd
          In matted rags obscene.

Around her brows, with hemlock bound,
          Loose hung her ash grey hair;
As from two dreary caves profound
          Her blue flamed eye-balls glare.

Her skin, of earthy red, appear'd
          Clung round her shoulder bones;
Like wither'd bark, by light'ning fear'd
          When loud the tempest groans.

A robe of squalid green and blue,
          Her ghostly length array'd,
A gaping rent, full to the view
          Her furrow'd ribs betray'd.

'And tell my daughter, fearless tell,
          What sorrow brought thee here?
So may my power thy cares expel,
          And give thee sweetest cheer.'

'O Mistress of the powerful spell,
          King Edric's daughter see,
Northumbria to my father fell,
          And sorrow fell to me.

'My virgin heart Lord Wolfwold won;
          My father on him smil'd
Soon as he gain'd Northumbria's throne,
          His pride the youth exil'd.

'Stern Denmark's ravens o'er the seas
          Their gloomy blackwings spread,
And o'er Northumbria's hills and leas,
          Their dreadful squadrons sped.

'Return brave Wolfwold, Edric cried,
          O generous warrior hear,
My daughter's hand, thy willing bride,
          Awaits thy conquering spear.

'The banish'd youth in Scotland's court,
          Had past the weary year;
And soon he heard the glad report,
          And soon he grasp'd his spear.

'He left the Scottish dames to weep,
          And wing'd with true love speed;
Nor day, nor night, he stop'd to sleep,
          And soon he cross'd the Tweed.

'With joyful voice, and raptur'd eyes,
          He press'd my willing hand;
I go my Fair, my Love, he cries,
          To guard thy father's land.

'By Edon's shore in deathful fray,
          The daring foe we meet,
Ere three short days I trust to lay
          My trophies at thy feet.

'Alas, alas, that time is o'er,
          And three long days beside,
Yet not a word from Edon's shore,
          Has cheer'd his fearful bride.

'O Mistress of the powerful spell,
          His doubtful fate decide;' –
'And cease my child for all is well,'
          The grizly witch replied.

'Approach my cave, and where I place
          The magic circle, stand
And fear not ought of ghastly face,
          That glides beneath my wand.'

The grizly witch's powerful charms,
          Then reach'd the labouring moon,
And cloudless at the dire alarms,
          She saw her brightest noon.

The pale beam struggles thro' the shade,
          That black'd the cavern's womb,
And in the deepest nook betray'd
          An altar and a tomb.

Around the tomb in mystic lore,
          Were forms of various mien,
And efts, and foul wing'd serpents, bore
          The altar's base obscene.

Eyeless, a huge and starv'd toad fat
          In corner murk aloof,
And many a snake and famish'd bat
          Clung to the crevic'd roof.

A fox and vultures' skeletons,
          A yawning rift betray'd;
And grappling still each other's bones,
          The strife of death display'd.

'And now my child, the Sorceress said,
          Lord Wolfwold's father's grave,
To me shall render up the dead,
          And send him to my cave.

'His skeleton shall hear my spell,
          And to the figur'd walls
His hand of bone shall point and tell,
          What fate his Son befalls.'

O cold down Ulla's snow like face,
          The trembling sweat drops fell,
And borne by sprights of gliding pace,
          The corse approach'd the cell.

And thrice the Witch her magic wand
          Wav'd o'er the skeleton;
And slowly at the dream command,
          Up rose the arm of bone.

A cloven shield and broken spear,
          The finger wander'd o'er,
Then rested on a sable bier
          Distain'd with drops of gore.

In ghastly writhes, her mouth so wide,
          And black the Sorceress throws,
'And be those signs, my child,' she cries,
          'Fulfill'd on Wolfwold's foes.

'A happier spell I now shall try;
          Attend, my child, attend,
And mark what flames from altar high,
          And lowly floor ascend.

'If of the rose's softest red,
          The blaze shines forth to view,
Then Wolfwold lives – but Hell forbid
          The glimmering flame of blue!'

The Witch then rais'd her haggard arm,
          And wav'd her wand on high;
And while she spoke the mutter'd charm,
          Dark lightning fill'd her eye.

Fair Ulla's knee swift smote the ground;
          Her hands aloft were spread,
And every joint as marble bound,
          Felt horrors darkest dread.

Her lips ere while so like the rose,
          Were now as vi'let pale,
And tumbling in convulsive throes,
          Exprest o'erwhelming wail.

Her eyes, ere while so starry bright,
          Where living lustre shone,
Were now transform'd to sightless white,
          Like eyes of lifeless stone.

And soon the dreadful spell was o'er,
          And glimmering to the view,
The quivering flame rose thro' the floor
          A flame of ghastly blue.

Behind the altar's livid fire,
          Low from the inmost cave,
Young Wolfwold rose in pale attire,
          The vestments of the grave.

His eye to Ulla's eye he rear'd,
          His cheek was wan as clay,
And half cut thro' his hand appear'd
          That beckon'd her away.

Fair Ulla saw the woeful shade
          Her heart struck at her side
And burst – low bow'd her listless head,
          And down she sunk and died.

[SOURCE: William Julius Mickle, Poems, and A Tragedy (London: A. Paris, 1794), pp. 143–55]

Return to Historical Gothic

Return to Index of Gothic Readings