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Lydford Maniacs Leap Verse

Lydford Maniacs Leap Verse

Lydford Maniacs Leap Verse

Lydford Bridge or The Maniac’s ;Leap

The night was dark, the rain fell fast,

And cold and piercing was the blast,

As at his utmost speed,

A trav’ller came, who seem’d to stray,

And now benighted, on his way,

Urg’d on his panting steed

At morn he left a moorland town,

And riding over dale and down,

Had scarcely slack’d his rein ;

For if his tir’d and weary nag

Relax’d his speed and ‘gan to flag.

He spurr’d him on again.

And as he held his rapid pace,

As if he rode to win a race,

The fierce and fiery glare

That lit his dark and piercing eye, –

The horrid laugh – the frequent sigh,

Procliam’d the maniac there.

But after crossing o’er Veale Down,

At length he enter’d Lydford Town,

Nor long he tarry’d here

But just his horse’s thirst to slake,

And only while he staid to take

Himself a glass of beer.

Then on he held his headlong course,

Still spurr’d along his jaded horse,

Until he reach’d the bridge ;

Where, down a hundred feet below,

You see the rapid river flow

Over the rocky ridge.

Here casting one wild look on all,

He spurr’d his horse against the wall,

A desperate spring to make,

But all in vain, – the gallant steed,

Who whip, nor spur, appear’d to heed,

Refus’d the leap to take.

Oh ! who can stop the torrent’s course,

Or who can stop the tempest’s force

When seeps it o’er the main ;

Or who can stop the wild career,

The offspring of remorse or fear,

That fires the frenzied brain ?


Render’d more desperate by his check,

He threw the reins upon its neck,

Himself from off its back,

Turning its head towards the town,

Gave it the whip to send it on

Their lately travell’d track.

The frightened horse fled up the hill,

And morning found it standing still

Before the cottage door,

Where, ready with fatigue to drop,

His master did a minute stop

After they cross’d the moor.

But whither has the rider fled ?

That lately through the street had sped

At such a fearful rate,

That thus his horse returns alone ;

Has he his hapless master thrown,

Or what has been his fate ?

Short was the pause that man had made :

His hat upon the ground he laid

And plac’d his watch within,

Then with a wild and frantic glare,

Tossing his arms aloft in air,

Sprang headlong o’er the linn.

An instant search commenc’d around,

And soon the hat upon the ground

Reveal’d the dreadful tale :

Then o’er the rocks some clambering down,

The mangled body quickly found

Fall’n deep within the vale.

And decently, without parade,

The village sires the body laid

Within the churchyard mould ;

While rumour, with her trumpet tongue,

Convey’d the horrid story on,

And this the tale she told –

That he a year or two before,

To hunt and shoot across the moor,

With friends from London came ;

Since then he had been made to prove

The sorrows of despairing love,

And that had turn’d his brain.

And still the house where last he stay’d,

Before the fatal leap he made

Over the foaming linn,

In memory of the dreadful deed,

And from the colour of the steed,

Is call’d “The White Horse Inn”.

A. Lady – 1857

Dartmoor Legends and Other Poems

Published by William Roberts, Exeter

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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