Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Answer'd the bard, of milder mood :
“ Fair is the sight, and yet 'twere good,

That kings would think withal, When peace and wealth their land has bless'd, 'Tis better to sit still at rest,

Than rise, perchance, to fall.”

[ocr errors]

And from the southern Redswire edge
To farthest Rosse's rocky ledge;
From west to east, from south to north,
Scotland sent all her warriors forth.
Marmion might hear the mingled hum
Of myriads up the mountain come;
The horses' tramp, and tingling clank
Where chiess review'd their vassal rank,

And charger's shrilling neigh;
And see the shifting lines advance,
While frequent flash'd, from shield and lance,
The sun's reflected ray.

XXVII.
Thin curling in the morning air,
The wreaths of falling smoke declare
To embers now the brand decay'd,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
Full many a baggage-cart and wain,
And dire artillery's clumsy car,
By sluggish oxen tugg'd to war;
And there were Bothwick's sisters seven, *
And culverips which France had given.
Ill-omen'd gift! the guns remain
The conqueror's spoil on Flodden plain.

XXVIII.
Nor mark'd they less, where in the air
A thousand streamers flaunted fair;

Various in shape, device, and hue,

Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
Broad, narrow, swallow-tail'd, and square,
Scroll, pennon, pensil, bandrol,t there

O'er the pavilions flew.
Highest and midmost, was descried
The royal banner floating wide:
The staff a pine tree strong and straight,

Pitch'd deeply in a massive stone,

Which still in memory is shown, Yet bent beneath the standard's weight, Whene'er the western wind anroll’d, With toil, the huge and cumbrous fold,

And gave to view the dazzling field,

Where, in proud Scotland's royal shield, The ruddy lion ramp'd in gold.

XXIX.
Lord Marmion view'd the landscape bright,-
He view'd it with a chief's delight,-

Until within him burn'd his heart,
And lightning from his eye did part,

As on the battle-day;
Such glance did falcon never dart,

When stooping on his prey.
0! well, Jord-lion, hast thou said,
Thy king from warfare to dissuade

Were but a vain essay;
For, by St. George, were that host mine,
Not power infernal, nor divine,
Should once to peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimm'd their armour's shine

In glorious battle-fray !"

XXX.
Still on the spot Lord Marmion stay'd,
For fairer scene he ne'er survey'd.

When sated with the martial show
That peopled all the plain below,
The wandering eye could o’er it go,
And mark the distant city glow

With gloomy splendour red;
For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow
That round her sable turret's flow,

The morning beams were shed,
And tinged them with a lustre proud,
Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud.
Such dusky grandeur clothed the height,
Where the hugecastle holds its state,

And all the steep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy, close and high,

Mine own romantic town!
But northward far, with purer blaze,
On Ochil mountains fell the rays,
And, as each heathy top they kiss'd,
It gleam'd a purple amethyst.

Yonder the shores of Fife you saw;
Here Preston-bay, and Berwick-law;

And, broad between them rollid,
The gallant Frith the eye might note,
Whose islands on its bosom float

Like emeralds chased in gold.
Fitz-Eustace' heart felt closely pent;

As if to give his rapture vent,
The spur he to his charger lent,

And raised his bridal hand,
And, making demi-vault in air,
Cried, “ Where's the coward that would not dare

To fight for such a land !"
The lion smiled his joy to see ;
Nor Marmion's frown repress'd his glee.

[ocr errors]

XXXI.
Thus while they look'd a flourish proud,
Where mingled trump and clarion loud,

And tife, and kettle-drum,
And sackbut deep, and psaltery,
And warpipe with discordant cry,
And cymbal clattering to the sky,
Making wild music bold and high,

Did up the mountain come:
The whilst the bells, with distant chime,
Merrily toll'd the hour of prime,

And thus the lion spoke:-
“ Thus clamour'd still the war-notes, when
The king to mass his way has ta’en,
Or to St. Catherine's of Sienne,

Or chapel of St. Rocque.
To you they speak of martial fame;
But me remind of peaceful game,

When blither was their cheer,

* Seven culvering, so called, cast by one Borthwick.

+ Each of these feudal ensigns intimated the different rank of those entitled to display them.

[graphic]

Thrilling in Falkland woods the air,

When wrinkled news-page, thrice-conn'd o'er, In signal none his steed should spare,

Beguiles the dreary hour no more, But strive which foremost might repair

And darkling politician, crossid, To the downfall of the deer.

Inveighs against the lingering post,

And answering housewife sore complains
XXXII.

Of carrier's snow-impeded wains:
« Nor less,” he said," when looking forth, When such the country cheer, I come,
I view yon empress of the north

Well pleased, to seek our city home; Sit on her hilly throne;

For converse, and for books to change Her palace's imperial bowers,

The forest's melancholy range, Her castle, proof to hostile powers,

And welcome, with renew'd delight, Her stately halls and holy towers

The busy day and social night. Nor less,” he said, " I moan

Not here need my desponding rhyme To think what wo mischance may bring,

Lament the ravages of time, And how these merry bells may ring

As erst by Newark's riven towers, The death dirge of our gallant king;

And Ettrick stripp'd of forest bowers.* Or, with their larum, call

True,–Caledonia's queen is changed, The burghers forth to watch and ward,

Since, on her dusky summit ranged, 'Gainst southern sack and fires to guard

Within its steepy limits pent, Dun-Edin's leaguer'd wall.

By bulwark, line, and battlement, But not for my presaging thought,

And flanking towers, and laky flood, Dream conquest sure, or cheaply bought!

Guarded and garrison'd she stood, Lord Marmion, I say nay:

Denying entrance or resort,
God is the guider of the field,

Save at each tall embattled port;
He breaks the champion's spear and shield, Above whose arch, suspended, bung
But thou thyself shalt say,

Portcullis spiked with iron prong.
When joins yon host in deadly stowre,

That long is gone,—but not so long, That England's dames must weep in bower, Since, early closed, and opening late, Her monks the death-mass sing;

Jealous revolved the studded gate, For never saw'st thou such a power

Whose task, from eve to morning tide, Led on by such a king.”

A wicket churlishly supplied. And now, down winding to the plain,

Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow, The barriers of the camp they gain,

Dun-Edin! o, how alter'd now, And there they make a stay

When safe amid thy mountain court There stays the minstrel, till he fling

Thou sitost, like empress at her sport, His hand o’er every border string,

And, liberal, unconfined, and free, And fit his harp the pomp to sing

Flinging thy white arms to the sea, Of Scotland's ancient court and king,

For thy dark cloud with umber'd lower,
In the succeeding lay.

That hung o'er cliff, and lake, and tower,
Thou gleam'st against the western ray

Ten thousand lines of brighter day.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO V.

Not she, the championess of old,

In Spenser's magic tale enroll’d, -
TO GEORGE ELLIS, ESQ.

She for the charmed spear renown'd,
Edinburgh.

Which forced each knight to kiss the ground,

Not she more changed, when placed at rest, WHEN dark December glooms the day,

What time she was Malbecco's guest,t And takes our autumn joys away;

She gave to flow her maiden vest; When short and scant the sunbeam throws, When from the corslet's grasp relieved, Upon the weary waste of snows,

Free to the sight her bosom heaved ; A cold and profitless regard,

Sweet was her blue eye's modest smile, Like patron on a needy bard;

Erst hidden by the aventayle ; When sylvan occupation's done,

And down her shoulders graceful rolla And o'er the chimney rests the gun,

Her locks profuse, of paly gold. And hang, in idle trophy, near,

They who whilome, in midnight fight, The game pouch, fishing-rod, and spear;

Had marvell’d at her matchless might, When wiry terrier, rough and grim,

No less her maiden charms approved, And greyhound, with his length of limb,

But looking liked, and liking loved. I And pointer, now employ'd no more,

The sight could jealous pangs beguile,
Cumber our parlour's narrow floor ;

And charm Malbecco's charms awhile;
When in his stall the impatient steed
Is long condemnd to rest and feed;
When from our snow-encircled home,

See Introduction to Canto II
Scarce cares the hardiest step to roam,

+ See“ The Fairy Queen,” Book III., Canto IX. Since path is none, save that to bring

# “ For every one her liked, and every one her loved.” The needful water fom the spring;

Spenser, as above.

SCOTT.
And he, the wandering squire of dames,

0! born, time's ravage to repair,
Forgot his Columbella's claims,

And make the dying muse thy care;
And passion, erst unknown, could gain

Who, when his scythe her hoary foe
The breast of blunt Sir Satyrane;

Was poising for the final blow,
Nor durst light Paridel advance,

The weapon from his hand could wring
Bold as he was, a looser glance.-

And break his glass, and shear his wing,
She charm’d, at once, and tamed the heart, And bid, seviving in his strain,
Incomparable Britomarte!

The gentle poet live again ;
So thou, fair city ! disarray'd

Thou, who canst give to lightest lay
Of battled wall, and rampart's aid,

An unpedantic moral gay,
As stately seem'st, but lovelier far

Nor less the dullest theme bid fit
Than in that panoply of war.

On wings of unexpected wit;
Nor deem that from thy fenceless throne

In letters, as in life, approved,
Strength and security are flown;

Example honour'd, and beloved,
Still, as of yore, the queen of the north!

Dear Ellis ! to the bard impart
Still canst thou send thy children forth.

A lesson of thy magic art,
Ne'er readier at alarm-bell's call

To win at once the head and heart,
Thy burghers rose to man thy wall,

At once to charm, instruct, and mend,
Than now, in danger, shall be thine,

My guide, my pattern, and my friend !
Thy dauntless voluntary line;

Such minstrel lesson to bestow
For fosse and turret proud to stand,

Be long thy pleasing task,—but, 0!
Their breasts the bulwarks of the land.

No more by thy example teach
Thy thousands, train'd to martial toil,

What few can practise, all can preach,
Full red would stain their native soil,

With even patience to endure
Ere from thy mural crown there fell

Lingering disease, and painful cure,
The slightest knosp, or pinnacle.

And boast affliction's pangs subdued
And if it come,-as come it may,

By mild and manly fortitude.
Dun-Edin! that eventful day,

Enough the lesson has been given;
Renown'd for hospitable deed,

Forbid the repitition, Heaven!
That virtue much with heaven may plead,

Come listen, then! for thou hast known,
In patriarchal times whose care

And loved the minstrel's varying tone,
Descending angels deign'd to share :

Who, like his border sires of old,
That claim may wrestle blessings down

Waked a wild measure, rude and bold,
On those who fight for the good town,

Till Windsor's oaks, and Ascot plain,
Destined in every age to be

With wonder heard the northern strain.
Refuge of injured royalty ;

Come, listen !-bold in thy applause,
Since first, when conquering York arose,

The bard shall scorn pedantic laws,
To Henry meek she gave repose,

And as the ancient art could stain
Till late, with wonder, grief, and awe,

Achievements on the storied pane,
Great Bourbon's relics, sad she saw.

Irregularly traced and plann'd,
Truce to these thoughts !-for, as they rise, But yet so glowing and so grand,
How gladly I avert mine eyes,

So shall he strive, in changeful hue,
Bodings, or true or false, to change,

Field, feast, and combat, to renew, For fiction's fair romantic range,

And loves, and arm, and harpers' glee,
Or for tradition’s dubious light,

And all the pomp of chivalry.
That hovers 'twixt the day and night:
Dazzling alternately and dim,
Her wavering lamp I'd rather trim,
Knights, squires, and lovely dames to see,

CANTO V.
Creation of my fantasy,
Then gaze abroad on reeky fen,
And make of mists invading men.-

I.
Who loves not more the night of June

The train has left the hills of Braid; Than dull December's gloomy noon?

The barrier guard have open made The moonlight than the fog of frost ?

(So Lindesay bade) the palisade, And can we say, which cheats the most?

That closed the tented ground, But who shall teach my harp to gain

Their men the warders backward drew, A sound of the romantic strain,

And carried pikes as they rode through, Whose Anglo-Norman tones whilere

Into its ample bound. Could win the royal Henry's ear,

Fast ran the Scottish warriors there, Famed Beauclerc callid, for that he loved

Upon the southern band to stare; The minstrel, and his lay approved ?

And envy with their wonder rose, Who shall these lingering notes redeem,

To see such well-appointed foes; Decaying on oblivion's stream;

Such length of shafts, such mighty bows, Such notes as from the Breton tongue

So huge, that many simply thought, Marie translated, Blondal sung ?

But for a vaunt such weapons wrought;

[graphic]

THE COURT.

And little deem'd their force to feel
Through links of mail, and plates of steel,
When, rattling upon Flodden vale,
The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.

II.

Let vassals follow where they lead,
Burghers, to guard their townships, bleed,

But war's the borderers' game.
Their gain, their glory, their delight,
To sleep the day, maraud the night,

O'er mountain, moss, and moor;
Joyful to fight they took their way,
Scarce caring who might win the day,

Their booty was secure.
These, as Lord Marmion's train pass'd by,
Look'd on, at first, with careless eye,
Nor marvell’d aught, well taught to know
The form and force of English bow.

But when they saw the lord array'd
In splendid arms, and rich brocade,
Each borderer to his kinsman said,

“ Hist, Ringan! seest thou there!
Canst guess which road they'll homeward ride.
O! could we but, on border side,
By Eusdale glen, or Liddell's tide,

Beset a prize so fair!
That fangless lion, too, their guide,
Might chance to lose his glistering hide;
Brown Maudlin, of that doublet pied,

Could make a kirtle rare."

Nor less did Marmion's skilful view Glance every line and squadron through ; And much he marvell’d one small land Could marshal forth such various band :

For men-at-arms were here, Heavily sheathed in mail and plate, Like iron towers for strength and weight, On Flemish steeds of bone and height,

With battle-axe and spear.
Young knights and squires, a lighter train,
Practised their chargers on the plain,
By aid of leg, of hand, and rein,

Each warlike feat to show;
To pass, to wheel, the croup to gain,
And high curvett, that none in vain
The sword-sway might descend amain

On foeman's casque below.
He saw the hardy burghers there
March arm’d, on foot, with faces bare,

For visor they wore none,
Nor waving plume, nor crest of knight;
But burnish'd were their corslets bright,
Their brigantines, and gorgets ligbt,

Like very silver shone.
Long pikes they had for standing fight,

Two-handed swords they wore,
And many wielded mace of weight,
And bucklers bright they bore.

III.
On foot the yeomen, too, but dress'd
In his steel jack, a swarthy vest,

With iron quilted well;
Each at his back, (a slender store,)
His forty days' provision bore,

As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halbert, axe, or spear,
A cross-bow there, a hagbut here,

A dagger-knife, and brand-
Sober he seem'd, and sad of cheer,
As loth to leave his cottage dear,

And march to foreign strand;
Or musing, who would guide his steer,

To till the fallow land.
Yet deem not in his thoughtful eye
Did aught of dastard terror lie ;-

More dreadful far his ire
Than theirs, who, scorning danger's name,
In eager mood to battle came,
Their valour like light straw on flame,
A fierce but fading fire.

IV.
Not so the borderer:-bred to war,
He knew the battle's din afar,

And joy'd to hear it swell.
His peaceful day was slothful ease;
Not harp, nor pipe, his ear could please,

Like the loud slogan yell.
On active steed, with lance and blade,
The light arm'd pricker plied his trade,
Let nobles fight for fame :

V.
Next, Marmion mark'd the Celtic race
Of different language, form, and face,

A various race of man;
Just then the chiefs their tribes array'd,
And wild and garish semblance made,
The checker'd trews, and belted plaid;
And varying notes the war-pipes bray'd,

To every varying clan;
Wild through their red or sable hair
Look'd out their eyes, with savage stare,

On Marmion as he past;
Their legs above the knee was bare ;
Their frame was sinewy, short, and spare,

And harden’d to the blast;
Of taller race, the chiefs they own
Were by the eagle's plumage known.
The hunted red deer's undressid hide
Their hairy buskins well supplied ;
The graceful bonnet deck'd their head;
Back from their shoulders hung the plaid ;

A broadsword of unwieldly length,
A dagger proved for edge and strength,

A studded targe they wore,
And quivers, bows, and shafts,-but, O!
Short was the shaft, and weak the bow,

To that which England bore.
The Isles-men carried at their backs
The ancient Danish battle-axe,
They raised a wild and wondering cry,
As with his guide rode Marmion by.
Loud were their clamouring tongues, as when
The clanging sea-fowl leave the fen,
And, with their cries discordant mix'd,
Grumbled and yelld the pipes betwixt.

VI. Thus through the Scottish camp they pass'd, And reach'd the city gate at last,

[ocr errors]

Where all around, a wakeful guard,
Arm❜d burghers kept their watch and ward.
Well had they cause of jealous fear,
When lay encamp'd, in field so near,
The borderer and the mountaineer.
As through the bustling streets they go,
All was alive with martial show;
At every turn, with dinning clang,
The armourer's anvil clash'd and rang,
Or toil'd the swarthy smith, to wheel
The bar that arms the charger's heel;
Or axe, or falchion to the side

Of jarring grindstone was applied.

Page, groom, and squires, with hurrying pace,
Through street, and lane, and market-place,
Bore lance, or casque, or sword;
While burghers, with important face,

Described each new-come lord, Discuss'd his lineage, told his name, His following, and his warlike fame.-The lion led to lodging meet, Which high o'erlook'd the crowded street; There must the baron rest,

Till past the hour of vesper tide, And then to Holy-Rood must ride,

Such was the king's behest. Meanwhile the lion's care assigns A banquet rich, and costly wines,

To Marmion and his train; And when the appointed hour succeeds, The baron dons his peaceful weeds, And following Lindesay as he leads, The palace halls they gain.

VII.
Old Holy-Rood rung merrily,
That night, with wassel, mirth and glee:
King James within her princely bower
Feasted the chiefs of Scotland's power,
Summon'd to spend the parting hour;

For he had charged, that his array
Should Southward march by break of day.
Well loved that splendid monarch aye

The banquet and the song,
By day the tourney, and by night
The merry dance, traced fast and light,
The masquers quaint, the pageant bright,
The revel loud and long.

This feast outshone his banquets past;
It was his blithest-and his last.
The dazzling lamps from gallery gay,
Cast on the court a dancing ray;
Here to the harp did minstrels sing;
There ladies touch'd a softer string;
With long-ear'd cap, and motely vest,
The licensed fool retail'd his jest;
His magic tricks the juggler plied;
At dice and draughts the gallants vied;
While some, in close recess apart,
Courted the ladies of their heart,

Nor courted them in vain; For often, in the parting hour, Victorious love asserts his power O'er coldness and disdain;

Following-Feudal retainers.

And flinty is her heart, can view To battle march a lover true,Can hear, perchance, his last adieu, Nor own her share of pain.

VIII.

Through this mix'd crowd of glee and game,
The king to greet Lord Marmion came,
While, reverend, all made room.
An easy task it was, I trow,
King James's manly form to know,
Although, his courtesy to show,
He doff'd, to Marmion bending low,

His broider'd cap and plume.
For royal were his garb and mien,

His cloak, of crimson velvet piled, Trimm'd with the fur of martin wild; His vest of changeful satin sheen, The dazzled eye beguiled;

His gorgeous collar hung adown,
Wrought with the badge of Scotland's crown,
The thistle brave, of old renown:

His trusty blade, Toledo right,
Descended from a baldric bright;
White were his buskins, on the heel
His spurs inlaid of gold and steel;
His bonnet, all of crimson fair,
Was button'd with a ruby rare:
And Marmion deem'd he ne'er had seen
A prince of such a noble mien.

IX.

The monarch's form was middle size;
For feat of strength, or exercise,
Shaped in proportion fair;
And hazel was his eagle eye,
And auburn of the deepest dye

His short curl'd beard and hair.
Light was his footstep in the dance,
And firm his stirrup in the lists;
And, O! he had that merry glance
That seldom lady's heart resists.
Lightly from fair to fair he flew,
And loved to plead, lament, and sue ;-
Suit lightly won, and short-lived pain,
For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
I said he joy'd in banquet-bower;

But, mid his mirth, 'twas often strange, How suddenly his cheer would change, His look o'ercast and lower,

If, in a sudden turn, he felt

The pressure of his iron belt, That bound his breast in penance pain, In memory of his father slain. Even so 'twas strange how evermore, Soon as the passing pang was o'er, Forward he rush'd, with double glee, Into the stream of revelry: Thus, dim-seen object of affright Startles the courser in his flight, And half he halts, half springs aside; But feels the quickening spur applied, And, straining on the tighten'd rein, Scours doubly swift o'er hill and plain.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »