James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 28

Eleanor of Castile

By Anonymous

  • Eleanor of Castile was the wife of Edward I. of England, and accompanied him to the Holy Land and also to Scotland. She died on Nov. 28th, 1290, and her husband brought her body to be buried at Westminster Abbey. Wherever the cortege halted for the night a cross was raised to her memory and some of these crosses have been preserved until very lately. Charing Cross in London (Chère Reine), was one of these.

  • OH! fairer than vermilion

    Shed upon western skies,

    Was the blush of that sweet Castilian

    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 Eleanor!”

    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 loss of their loved ones bore,

    And perils from Paynim, stranger

    Than death to Eleanor.

    Where Lincoln’s towers of wonder

    Soar high o’er the vales 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 wherever at night they tarried,

    Rose a cross to Eleanor.

    As ye trace a meteor’s onset

    By a line of silver rain,

    As ye trace a royal sunset

    By streaks of a saffron stain,

    So to the minster holy

    At the west of London’s roar,

    Mark ye how sadly, slowly,

    Passed the corse of Eleanor.

    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 conquests can not win him

    From the love of Eleanor.

    Years after, sternly dying

    In his tent by the Solway sea,

    With the breezes of Scotland flying

    O’er the gray sands wild and free,

    His dim thoughts sadly wander

    To the happy days of yore,

    And he sees in the blue sky yonder

    The eyes of his Eleanor.

    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 Eleanor.