by John Gibson Lockhart (1794 - 1854)

The Avenging Childe
Language: English 
Hurrah! hurrah! avoid the way of the Avenging Childe;
His horse is swift as sands that drift, -- an Arab of the wild;
His gown is twisted round his arm, -- a ghastly cheek he wears;
And in his hand for deadly harm, a hunting-knife he bears.

Avoid that knife in battle-strife: -- that weapon short and thin,
The dragon's gore hath bathed it o'er, seven times 't was steeped therein;
Seven times the smith hath proved its pith, -- it cuts a coulter through;
In France the blade was fashioned, -- from Spain the shaft it drew.

He sharpens it, as he doth ride, upon his saddlebow, --
He sharpens it on either side, he makes the steel to glow:
He rides to find Don Quadros, that false and faitour knight;
His glance of ire is hot as fire, although his cheek be white.

He found him standing by the King within the judgment-hall;
He rushed within the baron's ring, -- he stood before them all:
Seven times he gazed and pondered, if he the deed should do;
Eight times distraught he looked and thought, -- then out his dagger flew.

He stabbed therewith at Quadros: -- the King did step between;
It pierced his royal garment of purple wove with green:
He fell beneath the canopy, upon the tiles he lay.
"Thou traitor keen, what dost thou mean? -- thy King why wouldst thou slay?"

"Now, pardon, pardon," cried the Childe, "I stabbed not, King, at thee,
But him, that caitiff, blood-defiled, who stood beside thy knee;
Eight brothers were we, -- in the land might none more loving be, --
They all are slain by Quadros' hand, -- they all are dead but me.

"Good King, I fain would wash the stain, -- for vengeance is my cry;
This murderer with sword and spear to battle I defy!"
But all took part with Quadros, except one lovely May, --
Except the King's fair daughter, none word for him would say.

She took their hands, she led them forth into the court below;
She bade the ring be guarded, she bade the trumpet blow;
From lofty place for that stern race the signal she did throw: --
"With truth and right the Lord will fight, -- together let them go!"

The one is up, the other down: the hunter's knife is bare;
It cuts the lace beneath the face, -- it cuts through beard and hair;
Right soon that knife hath quenched his life, the head is sundered sheer;
Then gladsome smiled the Avenging Childe, and fixed it on his spear.

But when the King beholds him bring that token of his truth,
Nor scorn nor wrath his bosom hath: "Kneel down, thou noble youth;
Kneel down, kneel down, and kiss my crown, -- I am no more thy foe;
My daughter now may pay the vow she plighted long ago!"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-10-23
Line count: 40
Word count: 464