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In the lost battle,
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 augurd of the doom,
Which on the living closed the tomb :
But, tired to hear the desperate maid Eleu loro, &c. Never, 0 never.
Threaten by turns, beseech, upbraid:
And wroth, because, in wild despair,
She practised on the life of Clare ;
Its fugitive the church he gave, And silence sunk on all around.
Though not a victim, but a slave; The air was sad; but sadder still
And deem'd restraint in convent strange It fell on Marmion's ear,
Would hide her wrongs and her revenge. And plain’d as if disgrace and ill,
Himself, proud Henry's favourite peer, And shameful death were near.
Held Romish thunders idle fear; He drew his mantle past his face,
Secure bis pardon he might hold, Between it and the band,
For some slight mulct of penance gold. And rested with his head a space,
Thus judging, he gave secret way, Reclining on his hand.
When the stern priests surprised their prey ; His thoughts I scan not; but I ween,
His train but deem'd the favourite page That, could their import have been seen,
Was left behind, to spare his age; The meanest groom in all the hall,
Or other if they deem'd, none dared
To mutter what he thought and heard:
Into Lord Marmion's privacy!
Say, what may this portend !"-
“ The death of a dear friend."
XX. “ The king Lord Gifford's castle sought, Deep labouring with uncertain thought Even then he muster'd all his host, To meet upon the western coast; For Norse and Danish galleys plied Their oar within the Frith of Clyde. There floated Haco's banner trim, Above Norweyan warriors grim, Savage of heart, and large of limb; Threatening both continent and isle, Bute, Arran, Cunningham, and Kyle. Lord Gifford, deep beneath the ground, Heard Alexander's bugle sound, And tarried not his garb to change, But, in his wizard habit strange, Came forth,—a quaint and fearful sight! His mantle lined with foxskins white; His high and wrinkled forehead bore A pointed cap, such as of yore Clerks say that Pharoah's magi wore; His shoes were mark'd with cross and spell, Upon his breast a pentacle ; His zone, of virgin parchment thin, Or, as some tell, of dead man's skin, Bore many a planetary sign, Combust, and retrogade, and trine; And in his hand he held prepared, A naked sword without a guard.
“Would,” thought he, as the picture grows,
“ Ay, reverend pilgrim, you, who stray
To visit realms afar,
By word, or sign, or star.
THE HOST'S TALE.
XXI. “Dire dealings with the fiendish race Had mark'd strange lines upon his face; Vigil and fast had worn him grim; His eyesight dazzled seem'd, and dim, As one unused to upper day ; E’en his own menials with dismay Beheld, sir knight, the griesly sire, In this unwonted wild attire ; Unwonted,-for traditions run, He seldom thus beheld the sun.
I know,' he said, -his voice was hoarse, And broken seem'd its hollow force,"I know the cause, although untold, Why the king seeks his vassal's hold: Vainly from me my liege would know His kingdom's future weal or wo; But yet if strong his arm and heart, His courage may do more than art.
XXII. "Of middle air the demons proud, Who ride upon the racking cloud, Can read, in fix'd or wandering star, The issue of events afar, But still their sullen aid withhold, Save when by mightier force controll'd. Such late I summond to my hall; And though so potent was the call, That scarce the deepest nook of hell I deem'd a refuge from the spell; Yet, obstinate in silence still, The haughty demon mocks my skill. But thou,—who little knowest thy might, As born upon that blessed night,
When yawning graves, and dying groan,
And raised the skin-a puny wound. Proclaim'd hell's empire overthrown,
The king, light leaping to the ground, With untaught valour shall compell
With naked blade his phantom foe Response denied to magic spell.?—
Compel!'d the future war to show. "Gramercy,' quoth our monarch free,
Of Largs he saw the glorious plain, • Place him but front to front with me,
Where still gigantic bones remain, And, by this good and honour'd brand,
Memorial of the Danish war; The gift of Caur-de-Lion's hand,
Himself he saw, amid the field, Soothly I swear, that, tide what tide,
On high his brandish'd war-axe wield, The demon shall a buffet bide.'
And strike proud Haco from his car; His bearing bold the wizard view'd,
While all around the shadowy kings And thus, well pleased, his speech renewd:- Denmark's grim ravens cower'd their wings. • There spoke the blood of Malcolm -mark: 'Tis said, that, in that awful night, Forth pacing hence, at midnight dark,
Remoter visions met his sight, The rampart seek, whose circling crown
Fore-showing future conquests far, Crests the ascent of yonder down:
When our sons' sons wage northern war; A southern entrance shalt thou find;
A royal city, tower, and spire, There halt, and there thy bugle wind,
Redden'd the midnight sky with fire, And trust thine elfin foe to see,
And shouting crews her navy bore
Triumphant to the victor shore.
They pass the wit of simple swain.
“ The joyful king turn'd home again, I am no warrant for thy life.'—
Headed his host, and quell’d the Dane;
But yearly, when return’d the night
Of his strange combat with the sprite, “ Soon as the midnight bell did ring,
His wound must bleed and smart: Alone, and arm'd, forth rode the king
Lord Gifford then would gibing say, To that old camp's deserted round;
• Bold as ye were, my liege, ye pay Sir knight, you well might mark the mound,
The penance of your start.' Left hand the town,-the Pictish race,
Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave, The trench, long since, in blood did trace;
King Alexander fills his grave, The moor around is brown and bare,
Our lady give him rest! The space within is green and fair.
Yet still the mighty spear and shield The spot our village children know,
The elfin warrior doth wield, For there the earliest wild flowers grow ;
Upon the brown hill's breast; But wo betide the wandering wight,
And many a knight hath proved his chance, That treads its circles in the night. The breadth across the bowshot clear,
In the charm'd ring to break a lance,
But all have foully sped; Gives ample space for full career;
Save two, as legends tell, and they
Were Wallace wight, and Gilbert Hay.-
Gentles, my tale is said.” --
The quaighs* were deep, the liquor strong,
And on the tale the yeomen-throng, In Palestine waged holy war:
Had made a comment sage and long, Yet arms like England's did he wield,
But Marmion gave a sign; Alike the leopards in the shield,
And, with their lord, the squires retire; Alike his Syrian courser's frame,
The rest, around the hostel fire, The rider's length of limb the same :
Their drowsy limbs recline: Long afterwards did Scotland know,
For pillow, underneath each head, Fell Edward* was her deadliest foe.
The quiver and the targe were laid.
Deep slumbering on the hostel floor,
Oppress'd with toil and ale, they snore ; « The vision made our monarch start,
The dying flame, in fitful change, But soon he mann'd his noble heart,
Threw on the group its shadows strange.
Apart, and nestling in the hay
Of a waste loft, Fitz-Eustace lay;
* Edward L., surnamed Longshanks.
* A wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together
Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee,
Come townward rushing on:
Return'd Lord Marmion.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IV.
Scarce by the pale moonlight, were seen
XXIX. “ 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 ?
Till, by the lessening sound,
Lord Marmion sought the roun
Array'd in plate and mail.
Unfix the strongest mind :
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.
A task so often thrown aside,
Couches upon his master's breast, When leisure graver cares denied,
And licks his cheek to break his rest. That now, November's dreary gale,
Who envies now the shepherd's let, Whose voice inspired my opening tale,
His healthy fare, his rural cot, That same November gale once more
His summer couch by greenwood tree, Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore.
His rustic kirn's* loud revelry, Their vex'd boughs streaming to the sky,
His native hill-notes, tuned on high, Once more our naked birches sigh,
To Marion of the blithesome eye; And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen, His crook, his scrip, his oaten reed, Have donn'd their wintry shrouds again;
And all Arcadia's golden creed? And mountain dark, and flooded mead,
Changes not so with us, my Skene, Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed.
Of human life the varying scene ? Earlier than wont along the sky,
Our youthful summer oft we see Mix'd with the rack, the snowmists fly;
Dance by on wings of game and glee, The shepherd, who, in summer sun,
While the dark storm reserves its rage, Has something of our envy won,
Against the winter of our age: As thou with pencil, I with pen,
As he, the ancient chief of Troy, The features traced of hill and glen ;
His manhood spent in peace and joy, He who, outstretch'd the livelong day,
But Grecian fires, and loud alarms, At ease among the heath-flowers lay,
Call's ancient Priam forth to arms. View'd the light clouds with vacant look
Then happy those-since earth must drain Or slumber'd o'er his tatter'd book,
His share of pleasure, share of pain. Or idly busied him to guide
Then happy those, beloved of heaven, His angle o'er the lessen'd tide ;
To whom the mingled cup is given At midnight now, the snowy plain
Whose lenient sorrows find relief, Finds sterner labour for the swain.
Whose joys are chasten'd by their grief, When red hath set the beamless sun,
And such a lot, my Skene, was thine, Through heavy vapours dank and dun;
When thou of late wert doom'd to twine,When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, Just when thy bridal hour was by,Hears, half asleep, the rising storm
The cypress with the myrtle tie. Hurling the hail and sleeted rain,
Just on thy bride her sire had smiled, Against the casement's tinkling pane:
And bless'd the union of his child, The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox,
When love must change its joyous cheer, To shelter in the brake and rocks,
And wipe affection's filial tear. Are warnings which the shepherd ask
Nor did the actions, next his end, To dismal and to dangerous task.
Speak more the father than the friend : Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain,
Scarce had lamented Forbes paid The blast may sink in mellowing rain ;
The tribute to his minstrel's shade; Till, dark above and white below,
The tale of friendship scarce was told, Decided drives the fakes of snow,
Ere the narrator's heart was coldAnd forth the hardy swain must go.
Far we may search before we find Long, with dejected look and whine,
A heart so manly and so kind! To leave his hearth the dogs repine ;
But not around his honour'd urn, Whistling and cheering them to aid,
Shall friends alone and kindred mourn; Around his backs he wreathes the plaid :
The thousand eyes his care had dried, His flock he gathers, and he guides
Pour at his name a bitter tide; To open downs and mountain sides,
And frequent falls the grateful dew, Where fiercest though the tempest blow,
For benefits the world ne'er knew. Least deeply lies the drift below.
If mortal charity dare claim The blast, that whistles o'er the fells,
The Almighty's attributed dame, Stiffens his locks to icicles;
Inscribe above his mouldering clay, Oft he looks back, while, streaming far,
“ The widow's shield, the orphan's stay." His cottage window seems a star,
Nor, though it wake thy sorrow, deem Loses its feeble gleam,—and then
My verse intrudes on this sad theme; Turns patient to the blast again,
For sacred was the pen that wrote, And, facing to the tempest's sweep,
“Thy father's friend forget thou not." Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep. And grateful title may I plead, If fails his heart, if his limbs fail,
For many a kindly word and deed, Benumbing death is in the gale;
To bring my tribute to his grave:His paths, his landmarks, all unknown,
'Tis little-but 'tis all I have. Close to the hut no more his own,
To thee, perchance, this rambling strain Close to the aid he sought in vain,
Recalls our summer walks again ; The morn may find the stiffen'd swain:
When, doing naughty-and, to speak true, The widow sees, at dawning pale,
Not anxious to find aught to do,
* The Scottish harvest-home.