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Tregeagles Poem


The following poem was written by John Penwarne of Penryn written sometime in the late 18th or early 19th centuries.

In Cornwall’s famed land, by the pool on the moor,
Tregeagle the wicked did dwell;
He once was a shepherd, contented and poor,
But growing ambitious and wishing for more,
Sad misfortune the Shepherd befell.

One night, all alone as he crossed the wild heath,
To drive his flock to the fold,
All nature was still, the winds scarcely breathe
O’er the moon silver’d hills and the valleys beneath,
As he cast his eyes over the wold.

“Ah! Why should I live by hard labour,” quoth he,
“And be held the rich in disdain!
“I wish,” quoth Tregeagle, “for all that I see,
“Oh then what a happy great man I should be;
“When lord extensive domain.”

Now scarce had he utter’d his impious breath,
When the wolves they howl’d wildly and loud;
The winds sadly sighing swept over the heath,
As nature awoke from the stillness of death;
An the moon hid her head in a cloud.

When sudden he saw, midst the gloom of the night,
A figure gigantic advance;
His hair bristled up as he viewed the fell sprite,
Who seemed in form to be armed as a knight,
And he wielded an ebony lance.

All black was the gaunt steed on which he did ride,
A sable plume shadowed his head:
And black was his armour, with blood all bedye’d;
And black was his bugle that hung by his side,
Which no mortal might hear without dread.

Two dogs fierce and fell, and which never knew fear,
Did run his fleet courser before;
Their forms were all hideous, and grisly their hair,
And through their lank sides their sharp ribs did appear,
And their mouths were still dripping with gore.

Then thus spake Tregeagle — “who art thou, Sir Knight?
“And where at this time dost thou wend?
“Ah, why dost thou wander alone through the night?
“And why dost thou harrow my soul with affright?
Or what does thy coming portend?”

The Knight nothing spake, but he leap’d with a bound
From off his high steed (with a frown),
And as alit on the trembling ground,
His armour clank’d hollow, a terrible sound,
And at length this he spake to the Clown.

“Say, what dist thou wish for, thou trembling knave?
“But thy wishes are known unto me;
“I give my consent then if thou art my slave:
“Long life to enjoy too thy wish, thou shalt have,
“And a hundred years give I to thee.

“I’ll build thee a castle so fair and so fine,
“Around it green forests I’ll rear,
“And vassals and serving men too shall be thine;
“And thy hall all with gold and with silver shall shine,
“And with Sir shall be greeted thine ear.

“And when thy long term shall be passed away,
“At thy lot wilt thou never repine?
“And wilt thou be ready thy boon to repay?
“Speak boldly, Tregeagle; pray what dost thou say?
“Shall thy soul and thy body be mine?”

“A bargain! A bargain!” Then said he aloud,
“At my lot I will never repine:
“I swear to observe it, I swear by rood,
“And am ready to seal and to sign with my blood;
“Both my soul and my body are thine.”

The sprite grinned so horrid, and said, “that will blind
Both thy soul and thy body my right:”
Then mounting his courser as fleet as the wind,
And while his grin hellhounds ran yelping behind,
He was lost in the gloom of the night.

Oh then his dread bugle he winded so shrill
So as all mortal ears to astound:
The vallies all trembled, and shook was each hill,
The wolves ceased to howl, and with terror lay still,
And Tregeagle fell flat on the ground.

There in a deep sleep all entranced he lay,
Spell-bound by the art of the Sprite;
Nor awoke until morn in her mantle of grey
With ruddy hands open’d the portals of day,
And dispell’d the dark mists of the night.

Then upsprang Tregeagle, no longer a clown,
But clothed in gorgeous attire;
And proud waving forests the hills all did crown,
Which erst was a bare, and a barren bleak down,
And much did Tregeagle admire.

Where Dozmary Lake its dark waters did roll,
A castle now reared its head,
With many a turret so stately and tall;
And many a warden did walk on its wall,
All splendidly clothed in red.

And many a vassal did hail him ‘Sir Knight,’
And doffing their caps, bowed low;
And much Sir Tregeagle was pleased with the sight,
While, inwardly swelling with pride and delight,
He into his castle did go.

Then proudly advancing, he enter’d the hall,
With gold and with silver bedight;
From the lofty roof many gay banners did fall,
And bright suits of armour did hang on each wall;
Was ever so gorgeous a sight!

And there the gay serving men, bowed profound,
Obsequious did wait his command;
And many fair damsels did stand him around,
Who modestly bent their bright eyes to the ground;
Ah, who could such beauty with stand?

The minstrel sweet music drew forth from his lyre,
Which ravished the soul with delight;
The Knight treads on air, and his soul is on fire,
And much he the skill of the harper admires,
For he sang forth the praise of the Knight.

And many a stead in his stables were seen,
All fitted for chase or for war;
With many bold huntsmen, all clothed in green,
At their sides hung their bugles of silver so sheen,
Which rang through the forests afar.

Now oft would the knight, on his courser so fair,
Follow swift the fleet hounds and the horn;
To rouse the grim wolf from his secret lair,
Or parsue the light bound of the trembling deer,
As he brush’d the bright dews of the morn.

But time flew away with the wind’s winged speed,
Tregeagle ne’er noticed its flight;
But he marked each day with some horrible deed,
Some mansion must burn, or some traveller bleed,
Or hateful that day to his sight.

It chanced one evening, as homeward he wends,
Deep mutter’d the hag of the storms;
Earth trembles, as bouncing the skies she ascends,
The welkin across her black wings she extends,
And nature with darkness deforms.

And now the bold hunters they stood all aghast,
Their stout hearts with fear overaw’d;
The red lightnings glanced, the rain poured fast,
And loud howled the demons that rode the blast,
And terror the tempest bestrode.

“O save me. O save me, Sir Knight,” then she said,
“O let me thy succour obtain!
“Ah! Where from the storm shall I shelter my head?
“My spirits are sinking with horror and dread,
“And my garments are drenched with rain.

“My poor little page, too, with terror doth quake,
“Though ne’er little page was so bold:—
“Ah, mistress dear. I would die for your sake!
“It is not with fear that I shiver and shake,
“But I shake with the wet and the cold.’”

“See you, said the Knight, “where my Castle doth rear;
“Thither hasten, fair lady, with me;
“And there we all soon will thy little page cheer;
“Bright damsels I’ve many, all modest and fair,
“Sweet lady, to wait upon thee.”

Now quickly they rode, and the drawbridge let down,
They into the Castle repair;
And cheerful the fires now blazed in the hall,
Tregeagle aloud for his damsels did call,
His damsels so lovely and fair.

Some wait on the lady, some kindly are led
To make the young urchin their care,
Where lovely he sat with his cheeks rosy red,
And like a wet rosebud he hung down his head,
While they wrung forth the rain from his hair.

“Now say, little page,” said a Damsel so mild,
“And quickly unto us declare
“Why through the dark forest, so savage and wild,
“Thou rangest at night, who art yet but a child,
“And who is thy Lady so fair?”

“He father’s Earl Cornwall — I ween that his name
“Can never sound strange to your ear:
“For large his possessions, and wide his fame,
“And I am her page, and Roberto’s my name,
“And they call her Goonhylda the fair.

“This morning from Dunevyd Castle so strong,
“We came forth ere the sun shew’d his face,
“For she loves, with her train, the green forests among
“To rouse the fleet deer, and the vallies along
“To pursue the keen joys of the chace.

“To-day we left all our companions behind;
“And, involved in the mists of the hill,
“To trace back our steps we in vain were inclined,
“When the shouts of the hunters we heard in the wind,
“And the bugle blew cheerly and shrill.

“Then we hitherward sped, all deceived by the sound,
“In hopes our companions to find,
“When the howling storm shook the vast forest around,
“From the rain we sought shelter, but none could be found,
“Till we met with your master so kind.”

Then Goonhylda came forth, like a beautiful flower,
And all in fresh garments arrayed;
She seem’d a tall lily refresh’d by a shower;
Tregeagle he glazed, for ne’er till that hour
Had he seen such a beautiful maid.

“Thanks, gentle Sir Knight,” said Goonhylda the fair,
While modesty mantled her cheek,
“Your guests for the night we must be Sir, I fear,
“While my father, a prey to sad grief and despair,
“In vain his Goonhylda will seek.”

“I am proud of my guest,” Sir Tregeagle replied,
“And pray fairest Lady, so don’t grieve;
“A messenger quick to your farther shall ride,
“To tell him  no ill does his daughter betide,
“And his breast from its terror relieve.”

While thus with fair speeches so couteous and kind,
Himself to the Maid he address’d,
To gloom and to thoughtfulness seem’s much inclined,
And, if that the countenance speaketh the mind,
Dark deeds he resolv’d in his breast.

While sweet slept Goonhylda, of beauty the pride,
The Earl was absorbed in grief;
For no messenger fleet to his castle did ride,
To say that no ill did his darling betide,
And to give his fond bosom relief.

All night his lone chamber he pac’d to and fro;
As he listen’d, no sound could he hear
But the last which against his dark windows did blow;
His aged breast heaved with sorrow and woe,
Till he saw the grey morning appear.

With his knights and esquires, and serving men all,
Then forth from his castle did ride;
Midst the foremost so wild, on Goonhylda did call,
But dire forebodings his heart did appal,
When nought but the echoes replied.

At length to the plain he emerg’d from the wood;
For a father, alas what a sight!
There lay her fair garments all drenched in blood,
Her palfrey all torn in the dark crimson flood,
By the ravenous beasts of the night.

Soft-eyed Pity descend on the heart-rending sight;
Be widely-extended thy veil:
For I wren it is past learned clerk to indite,
Or the pen or the pencil to paint or to write,
What a fond, tender father must feel.

And now let’s return to that traitor so vile;
Dark projects revolv’s in his breats,
Whilst his heart was envelop’d in fraund and in guile,
He borrowed kind Hospitality’s smile,
And thus be Goonhylda address’d :—

“Fair Maiden, than flowers the fairest more fair,
“Of demeanour so modest and sweet;
“O, say! May a Knight of possessions so rare,
“Presume that both them and himself to declare,
“Dear Lady, are cast at your feet?
With a blush on her cheek, then Goonhylda replied,
“I ill should your kindness requite,
“Should I treat you, Sir Knight, or with scorn, or with pride,
“Or the state of my heart should I strive, Sir, to hide;
I’m already betroth’d to a Knight.

“Now fair is the day, and refalgent the morn,
“And fain would I haste to depart;
“That no longer in vain wait Goonhylda’s return,
“Whose absence must wring his kind heart.”

The Knight smil’d insidious, and bent his dark brow:
“Fair Lady, you cannot go hence;
“There are robber abroad in the forest, I trow;
“Besides, my sweet damsel, I boldly avow,
“With your presence I cannot dispense.”

“Then am I a prisoner?” Goonhylda replied,
(Indignant beholding the Knight)
“But soon shall the strength of thy castle be tried;
“And thinkest thou long from Earl Cornwall to hide
“A daughter, his pride and delight?”

“Ah, vain expectation, fair Lady,” he said,
“Thy father hopes not thy return;
“Already he thinks that thy blood has been shed
“By the beasts of the forest; and thinking thee dead,
“He is gone to his castle to mourn.”

Now little Roberto, tho’ few were his years,
Yet cunning and shrewd was the boy,
Where he sat in a corner, this speech overhears,
And faithful as swift to the stable repairs,
And seizes his courser with joy.

From the castle he steals, and the forest he gains,
Resolv’d to avert her sad fate:
Now spurring, and giving his fleet horse the reins,
Ere the soft tears of evening had spangled the plains,
Blew his horn at Dunevyd’s high gate.

“Oh, hasten, Earl Cornwall! Oh, hasten!” He cried,
“Thy peerless Goonhylda’s in thrall;
“By a recreant Knight is thy power defied!
“By force Sir Tregeagle would make her his bride!
“And he keeps her within his strong wall!”

“For thy news, little Robert, oh, fair thee befall,
Tho’ bitter and sweet, little page;
“My Goonhylda then lives! Though a traitor enthralls,
“But soon will I thunder around his strong walls,
“The caitiff I burn to engage!”

Then he drew forth his horsemen so valiant and bold,
“And give me my armour,” he said;
“My frame can sustain it, tho’ wither’d and old,
“And my hand in its grasp still the falchion can hold,
“When a daughter’s cause calls for its aid.

“To horse, little Robert! To horse again fly!
“Tho’ tired thou surely must be;
“But I know for thy mistress thous ‘dst readily die,
“And for thy reward I’ll make thee, bye and bye,
“A Squire of highest degree.”

Now thro’ the dark night, over forest and moor,
They by their fleet coursers are bourne;
While little Roberto rode blithesome before,
And on the gray morn peep’d the eastern hills o’er,
At Tregeagle’s gate sounded his horn.

All is silesnt within, and the stillness of death
The dark frowning towers surrounds;
When they heard, & each listening suspended his breath
They heard the shrill blast from the far distant heath!
Which the ears of all mortals confounds.

They heard the Black Hunter! & Dread shook each mind;
Hearts sank that had never known fear:
They heard the Black Hunters dread voice in the wind!
They heard his curst hell-hounds run yelping behind,
And his steed thundered loud on the ear!

And now he appear’d thro’ the gloom of the night;
Hi plume seem’d a cloud in the skies;
His form the dark mists of the hills to the sight,
And as from a furnace shoots forth the red light,
So glared the fierce beams of his eyes!

He blew from his bugle so dreadful a blast,
His dogs howling hideous the while,
That all Nature trembled, and shook as aghast!
And from the high walls the huge battlements brast,
Fell down from the tottering pile.

“Come forth, Sir Tregeagle!” — in thunder, he cried,
“Come forth, and submit to thy fate!
“Thy time is expired! To me thou art tied:
“Within thy dark castle in vain thou wouldst hide:
“Come forth! For here endeth thy date!”

Then forth came Tregeagle, all palsied with fear,
And fain would more favour have found;
But loud  roar’d the thunder, and swift through the air
The red bolt of vengeance shot forth with a glare,
And struck him a corpse to the ground!

Then from the black corpse a pale spectre appear’d,
And hied him away through the night;
When quickly the yelps of the hell-hounds are heard,
And to the pursuit by the bugle are cheer’d,
While behind thunders after the Sprite.

And now ruddy morning again gilds the skies,
The hellish enchantment is o’er:
The forest and castle no more meet their eyes;
But where from green woods its bright turrets did rise,
Now spreads the dark pool on the moor.

And near its drear margin a maiden was seen,
Unhurted! Goonhylda the fair;
For still guardian angels did keep keep her, I ween,
And near her gay palfry, in trappings so sheen,
Which late torn by wolves did appear.

Earl Cornwall rejoicing, now thanked that power
That did his Goonhylda restore;
And oft his old Minstrel, at eve’s sober hour,
Beneath the dark walls of Dunevyd’s grey tower,
Sung the tale of the pool on the moor.

And still, as the traveller pursues his lone way,
In horror, at night, o’er the waste,
He hears Sir Tregeagle with shrieks rush away,
He hears the Black Hunter pursuing his prey,
And shrinks at his bugle’s dread blast.

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