Study Guide

Christabel Stanzas 54-55

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Stanzas 54-55

Part II, Stanzas 54-55

"Bard Bracy! bard Bracy! your horses are fleet,
Ye must ride up the hall, your music so sweet,
More loud than your horses' echoing feet!
And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,
Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall!
Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free—
Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me!
He bids thee come without delay
With all thy numerous array
And take thy lovely daughter home:
And he will meet thee on the way
With all his numerous array
White with their panting palfreys' foam:
And, by mine honour! I will say,
That I repent me of the day
When I spake words of fierce disdain
To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine!—
—For since that evil hour hath flown,
Many a summer's sun hath shone;
Yet ne'er found I a friend again
Like Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine."

The lady fell, and clasped his knees,
Her face upraised, her eyes o'erflowing;
And Bracy replied, with faltering voice,
His gracious Hail on all bestowing!—
"Thy words, thou sire of Christabel,
Are sweeter than my harp can tell;
Yet might I gain a boon of thee,
This day my journey should not be,
So strange a dream hath come to me,
That I had vowed with music loud
To clear yon wood from thing unblest.
Warned by a vision in my rest!
For in my sleep I saw that dove,
That gentle bird, whom thou dost love,
And call'st by thy own daughter's name—
Sir Leoline! I saw the same
Fluttering, and uttering fearful moan,
Among the green herbs in the forest alone.
Which when I saw and when I heard,
I wonder'd what might ail the bird;
For nothing near it could I see
Save the grass and green herbs underneath the old tree.

  • Geraldine is so overwhelmed with emotion that she falls into Leoline's lap and cries.
  • Bracy claims that he would never be able to sing a song that does Leoline's dramatic monologue any justice.
  • Bard Bracy, however, brings the swelling strains of bromance to a screeching halt by asking for a "boon," which just means that he needs a favor (527). That favor is that he not be sent on this task.
  • Bracy believes that a strange dream he had last night is a warning that something sinister lurks in the woods outside the castle.
  • He says that he has made a vow, in music no less, which is a pretty serious thing when your whole existence is about singing. His vow was that he would clear the forest of this unblessed thing, whatever it may be.
  • The night before—which also happens to be the same night that Christabel had whatever experience she had that keeps her wincing and confused this morning—bard Bracy had a terrible dream. In his dream he saw a white dove, a bird of peace and the color of innocence, and in dream-logic he understood that this dove represented Christabel.
  • The bird was lying on the ground, struggling and in pain, underneath the old oak tree in the forest. This is the same oak tree where we saw Christabel find Geraldine the night before.
  • In his dream, Bracy didn't see anything except the grass around the dove, so he approached the bird to see what was wrong.
  • When he reached the bird struggling under the tree, he saw that there was a snake strangling and consuming it.
  • The snake was the same color as the grass at the base of the tree, which is why Bracy didn't see it right away (sneaky snake).
  • Remember when Coleridge kept reminding us what time it was at the very beginning of the poem? That's so we would be sure to remember the time when we got to this part of the poem. He wanted to make sure that we put two and two together, even after working through over 500 lines, that the ringing of the clock when it struck midnight woke the bard up from this dream.
  • The dream was so disturbing that Bracy wasn't able to get back to sleep. In fact, he started to obsess a little over what it could mean. He's decided that the dream must mean that there is a very real threat out in the forest somewhere.
  • So, bard Bracy has planned to spend the whole day walking through the forest and singing holy songs to rid the area of whatever evil may lurk there. And he really can't have Sir Leoline and his parade to Lord Roland's getting in the way of these plans.

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