Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Ballad of Eleänore

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Ballad of Eleänore

By Mortimer Collins (1827–1876)

  • We need hardly remind our readers of the Crosses erected by King Edward I. wherever his wife’s corpse stopped on its way to interment at Westminster.

  • O, FAIRER than vermilion

    Shed upon western skies

    Was the blush of that sweet Castilian

    Girl, with the deep brown eyes,

    As her happy heart grew firmer,

    In the strange bright days of yore,

    When she heard young Edward murmur,

    “I love thee, Eleänore!”

    Sweeter than musical cadence

    Of the wind mid cedar and lime

    Is love to a timorous maiden’s

    Heart, in the fresh spring-time;

    Sweeter than waves that mutter

    And break on a sinuous shore,

    Are the songs her fancies utter

    To brown-eyed Eleänore.

    They twain went forth together

    Away o’er the Midland Main,

    Through the golden summer weather

    To Syria’s mystic plain.

    Together, toil and danger

    And the death of their loved ones bore,

    And perils from Paynim, stranger

    Than death to Eleänore.

    Where Lincoln’s towers of wonder

    Soar high o’er the vale of Trent,

    Their lives were torn asunder;

    To her home the good Queen went.

    Her corse to the tomb he carried,

    With grief at his heart’s stern core;

    And where’er at night they tarried

    Rose a cross to Eleänore.

    As ye trace a meteor’s onset

    By a line of silver rain,

    As ye trace a regal sunset

    By streaks of a saffron stain,

    So to the minster holy

    At the west of London’s roar

    May ye mark how, sadly, slowly,

    Passed the corse of Eleänore.

    Back to where lances quiver,—

    Straight back, by tower and town,

    By hill and wold and river,—

    For the love of Scotland’s crown.

    But ah! there is woe within him

    For the face he shall see no more;

    And conquest cannot win him

    From the love of Eleänore.

    Years after, sternly dying

    In his tent by the Solway sea,

    With the breezes of Scotland flying

    O’er the wild sands, wide and free,

    His dim thoughts sadly wander

    To the happy days of yore,

    And he sees, in the gray sky yonder,

    The eyes of his Eleänore.

    Time must destroy those crosses

    Raised by the Poet-King;

    But as long as the blue sea tosses,

    As long as the skylarks sing,

    As long as London’s river

    Glides stately down to the Nore,

    Men shall remember ever

    How he loved Queen Eleänore.