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In the lost battle,
Borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle With groans of the dying.
Eleu loro, &c. There shall he be lying.
Her wing shall the eagle flap
O'er the false-hearted,
His warm blood the wolf shall lap,
Ere life be parted.
Shame and dishonour sit
By his grave ever ; Blessing shall hallow it,Never, O never.
Eleu loro, &c. Never, O never.
It ceased, the melancholy sound,
And silence sunk on all around.
The air was sad; but sadder still
It fell on Marmion's ear,
And plain'd as if disgrace and ill,
And shameful death were near.
He drew his mantle past his face,
Between it and the band,
And rested with his head a space,
Reclining on his hand.
His thoughts I scan not; but I ween,
That, could their import have been seen,
The meanest groom in all the hall,
'That e'er tied courser to a stall,
Would scarce have wish'd to be their prey,
For Lutterward and Fontenaye.
For either in the tone,
Or something in the palmer's look,
So full upon his conscience strook,
That answer he found none.
Thus oft it haps, that when within
They shrink at sense of secret sin,
A feather daunts the brave,
A fool's wise speech confounds the wise, And proudest princes veil their eyes Before their meanest slave.
Well might he falter!-by his aid
Was Constance Beverly betray'd;
Not that he augur'd of the doom,
Which on the living closed the tomb:
But, tired to hear the desperate maid
Threaten by turns, beseech, upbraid:
And wroth, because, in wild despair,
She practised on the life of Clare;
Its fugitive the church he gave,
Though not a victim, but a slave;
And deem'd restraint in convent strange
Would hide her wrongs and her revenge.
Himself, proud Henry's favourite peer,
Held Romish thunders idle fear;
Secure his pardon he might hold,
For some slight mulct of penance gold.
Thus judging, he gave secret way,
When the stern priests surprised their prey;
His train but deem'd the favourite page
Was left behind, to spare his age;
Or other if they deem'd, none dared
To mutter what he thought and heard:
Wo to the vassal, who durst pry
Into Lord Marmion's privacy!
His conscience slept-he deem'd her well,
And safe secured in distant cell;
But, waken'd by her favourite lay,
And that strange palmer's boding say,
That fell so ominous and drear,
Full on the object of his fear,
To aid remorse's venom'd throes,
Dark tales of convent vengeance rose;
And Constance, late betray'd and scorn'd
All lovely on his soul return'd;
Lovely as when, at treacherous call,
She left her convent's peaceful wall,
Crimson'd with shame, with terror mute,
Dreading alike escape, pursuit,
Till love, victorious o'er alarms,
Hid fears and blushes in his arms.
"Alas!" he thought, "how changed that mien!
How changed these timid looks have been,
Since years of guilt, and of disguise,
Have steel'd her brow, and arm'd her eyes;
No more of virgin terror speaks
The blood that mantles in her cheeks;
Fierce, and unfeminine, are there,
Frenzy for joy, for grief, despair;
And I the cause-for whom were given
Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven!
While thus in Marmion's bosom strove
Repentance and reviving love,
Like whirlwinds, whose contending sway
I've seen Loch Vennachar obey,
Their host the palmer's speech had heard,
And, talkative, took up the word:-
Ay, reverend pilgrim, you, who stray
From Scotland's simple land away,
To visit realms afar,
Full often learn the art to know
Of future weal, or future wo,
By word, or sign, or star.
Yet might a knight his fortune hear,
If, knight like, he despises fear,
Not far from hence ;-if fathers old
Aright our hamlet legend told."-
These broken words the menials move
(For marvels still the vulgar love ;)
And, Marmion giving license cold,
His tale the host thus gladly told.
THE HOST'S TALE.
"A clerk could tell what years have flown
Since Alexander fill'd our throne
(Third monarch of that warlike name,)
And eke the time when here he came
To seek Sir Hugo, then our lord:
A braver never drew a sword;
A wiser never, at the hour
Of midnight, spoke the word of power;
The same, whom ancient records call
The founder of the Goblin Hall.
I would, sir knight, your longer stay
Gave you that cavern to survey.
Of lofty roof, and ample size,
Beneath the castle deep it lies:
To hew the living rock profound,
The floor to pave, the arch to round,
There never toil'd a mortal arm,
It all was wrought by word and charm;
And I have heard my grandsire say,
That the wild clamour and affray
Of those dread artisans of hell,
Who labour'd under Hugo's spell,
Sounded as loud as ocean's war,
Among the caverns of Dunbar.
Scarce by the pale moonlight, were seen
The foldings of his mantle green :
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Of sport by thicket, or by stream,
Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove,
Or, lighter yet, of lady's love.
A cautious tread his slumber broke,
And close beside him, when he woke,
In moonbeamn half, and half in gloom,
Stood a tall form with nodding plume;
But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
His master Marmion's voice he knew.
-"Fitz-Eustace! rise,-I cannot rest,
Yon churls wild legend haunts my breast,
And graver thoughts have chafed my mood,
The air must cool my feverish blood;
And fain would I ride forth, to see
The scene of elfin chivalry.
Arise, and saddle me my steed,
And, gentle Eustace, take good heed
Thou dost not rouse the drowsy slaves;
I would not that the prating knaves
Had cause for saying, o'er their ale,
That I could credit such a tale."
Then softly down the steps they slid,
Eustace the stable door undid,
And, darkling, Marmion's steed array'd,
While, whispering, thus the baron said :-
"Didst never, good my youth, hear tell
That on the hour when I was born,
St. George, who graced my sire's chapelle,
Down from his steed of marble fell,
A weary wight forlorn?
The flattering chaplains all agree,
The champion left his steed to me.
I would, the omen's truth to show,
That I could meet this elfin foe!
Blithe would I battle for the right
To ask one question at the sprite :-
Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be,
An empty race, by fount or sea,
To dashing waters dance and sing,
Or round the green oak wheel they ring."-
Thus speaking, he his steed bestrode,
And from the hostel slowly rode.
Fitz-Eustace follow'd him abroad,
And mark'd him pace the village road,
And listen'd to his horse's tramp,
Till, by the lessening sound,
He judged that of the Pictish camp
Lord Marmion sought the round.
Wonder it seem'd, in the squire's eyes,
That one, so wary held, and wise,-
Of whom, 'twas said, he scarce received
For gospel what the church believed,
Should, stirr'd by idle tale,
Ride forth in silence of the night,
As hoping half to meet a sprite,
Array'd in plate and mail.
For little did Fitz-Eustace know,
That passions, in contending flow
Unfix the strongest mind:
Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee, We welcome fond credulity,
Guide confident, though blind.
Little for this Fitz-Eustace cared,
But, patient, waited till he heard,
At distance, prick'd to utmost speed,
The foot-tramp of a flying steed,
Come townward rushing on:
First, dead, as if on turf it trod,
Then clattering on the village road,
In other pace than forth he yode,*
Return'd Lord Marmion.
Down hastily he sprang from selle,
And, in his haste, well nigh he fell;
To the squire's hand the rein he threw,
And spoke no word as he withdrew:
But yet the moonlight did betray,
The falcon crest was soil'd with clay;
And plainly might Fitz-Eustace see,
By stains upon the charger's knee,
And his left side, that on the moor
He had not kept his footing sure.
Long musing on these wondrous signs,
At length to rest the squire reclines-
Broken and short; for still between,
Would dreams of terror intervene :
Eustace did ne'er so blithely mark
The first notes of the morning lark.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IV.
TO JAMES SKENE, ESQ.
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest.
AN ancient minstrel sagely said,
"Where is the life which late we led?"
That motely clown, in Ardenwood,
Whom humorous Jaques with envy view'd,
Not e'en that clown could amplify,
On this trite text, so long as I.
Eleven years we now may tell,
Since we have known each other well;
Since, riding side by side, our hand
First drew the voluntary brand;
And sure, through many a varied scene,
Unkindness never came between.
Away these winged years have flown,
To join the mass of ages gone;
And though deep mark'd, like all below,
With checker'd shades of joy and wo;
Though thou o'er realms, and seas hast ranged,
Mark'd cities lost, and empires changed,
While here, at home, my narrower ken
Somewhat of manners saw, and men ;
Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears,
Fever'd the progress of these years,
Yet now days, weeks, and months, but seem The recollection of a dream;
So still we glide down to the sea
Of fathomless eternity.
Even now it scarcely seems a day,
Since first I turn'd this idle lay;
Used by old poets for went.
When red hath set the beamless sun, Through heavy vapours dank and dun; When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, Hears, half asleep, the rising storm Hurling the hail and sleeted rain, Against the casement's tinkling pane: The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox, To shelter in the brake and rocks, Are warnings which the shepherd ask To dismal and to dangerous task. Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain, The blast may sink in mellowing rain; Till, dark above and white below, Decided drives the flakes of snow, And forth the hardy swain must go. Long, with dejected look and whine, To leave his hearth the dogs repine; Whistling and cheering them to aid, Around his backs he wreathes the plaid: His flock he gathers, and he guides To open downs and mountain sides, Where fiercest though the tempest blow, Least deeply lies the drift below. The blast, that whistles o'er the fells, Stiffens his locks to icicles; Oft he looks back, while, streaming far, His cottage window seems a star,Loses its feeble gleam,-and then Turns patient to the blast again, And, facing to the tempest's sweep, Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep. If fails his heart, if his limbs fail, Benumbing death is in the gale; His paths, his landmarks, all unknown, Close to the hut no more his own, Close to the aid he sought in vain, The morn may find the stiffen'd swain: The widow sees, at dawning pale, His orphans raise their feeble wail: And, close beside him, in the snow, Poor Yarrow, partner of their wo,
The Scottish harvest-home.