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XXVIII. Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine To ancient Riddell's fair domain,
Where Aill, from mountains freed, Down from the lakes did raving come, Cresting each wave with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chestnut steed. In vain ! no torrent, deep or broad, Might bar the bold mosstrooper's road.
And, diffident of present praise,
The dutchess and her daughters fair,
XXIX. At the first plunge the horse sunk low, And the water broke o'er the saddle-bow: Above the foaming tide, I ween, Scarce half the charger's neck was seen ; For he was barded* from counter to tail, And the rider was arm'd complete in mail; Never heavier man and horse Stemmed a midnight torrent's force. The warrior's very plume, I say, Was daggled by the dashing spray; Yet, through good heart, and our ladye's grace, At length he gain'd the landing place.
I. If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight; For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray. When the broken arches are black in night And each shafted oriel glimmers white; When the cold light's uncertain shower Streams on the ruin'd central tower: When buttress and buttress, alternately, Seem'd framed of ebon and ivory : When silver edges the imagery, And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave, Then go—but go alone the whileThen view Saint David's ruin'd pile; And, home returning, soothly swear, Was never scene so sad and fair!
XXX. Now Bowden moor the marchman won,'
And sternly shook his plumed head, As glanced his eye o'er Halidon,
For on his soul the slaughter red Of that uphallow'd morn arose, When first the Scott and Car were foes ; When royal James beheld the fray, Prize to the victor of the day; When Home and Douglas, in the van, Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan, Till gallant Cessford's heartblood dear Reek'd on dark Elliot's border spear.
XXXI. In bitter mood he spurred fast, And soon the hated heath was past; And far beneath, in lustre wan, Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran; Like some tall rock, with lichens gray, Rose, dimly huge, the dark abbaye. When Hawick he pass'd, had curfew rung, Now midnight laudst were in Melrose sung. The sound upon the fitful gale In solemn wise did rise and fail, Like that wild harp whose magic tone Is waken'd by the winds alone. But when Melrose he reach'd, 'twas silence all; He meetly stabled his steed in stall, And sought the convent's lonely wall.
II. Short halt did Deloraine make there; Little reck'd he of the scene so fair : With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong, He struck full loud, and struck full long. The porter hurried to the gate“ Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?” “From Branksome I," the warrior cried ; And straight the wicket open'd wide : For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood,
To fence the rights of fair Melrose ; And lands and livings, many a rood,
Had gifted the shrine for their soul's repose.
III. Bold Deloraine his errand said ; The porter bent his humble head; With torch in hand, and feet unshod, And noiseless step, the path he trod ; The arched cloisters, far and wide, Rang to the warrior's clanking stride ; Till, stooping low his lofty crest, He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest, And lifted his barred aventayle, * To hail the monk of St. Mary's aisle.
Here paused the harp; and with its swell
IV. “ The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says that the fated hour is come,
* Barded, or barbed, applied to a horse accoutred with defensive armour.
Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic church.
* Aventayle, visor of the helmet.
And that to-night I shall watch with thee, The keystone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle,
Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quatre-feuille:
The corbells* were carved grotesque and grim ; With toil his stiffen'd limbs he rear'd;
And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim, A hundred years had Aung their snows
With base and with capital flourish'd around, On his thin locks and floating beard.
Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had bound. V.
X. And strangely on the knight look'd he,
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven, And his blue eyes gleam'd wild and wide;
Shook to the cold night wind of heaven, “ And, darest thou, warrior! seek to see
Around the screened altar's pale; What heaven and hell alike would hide? And there the dying lamps did burn, My breast, in belt of iron pent,
Before thy low and lonely urn, With sbirt of hair and scourge of thorn:
O gallant chief of Otterburne!
And thine, dark knight of Liddesdale !
O high ambition, lowly laid !
The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone, Then, daring warrior, follow me!”
By foliaged tracery combined :
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand VI.
'Twixt poplars straight the osier wand, “ Penance, father, will I none;
In many a freakish knot had twined; Prayer know I hardly one ;
Then framed a spell, when the work was done, For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
And changed the willow wreaths to stone. Save to patter an Ave Mary,
The silver light, so pale and faint, When I ride on a Border foray:
Show'd many a prophet, and many a saint, Other prayer can I none ;
Whose image on the glass was died ; So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.”
Full in the midst, his cross of red
Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the apostate's pride.
The moonbeam kiss'd the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.
(A Scottish monarch slept below ;)
Thus spoke the monk, in solemn tone; high :Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
“I was not always a man of wo;
For Paynim countries I have trod,
And fought beneath the cross of God:
And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.
XIII. Spreading herbs, and now'rets bright,
“ In these far climes, it was my lot Glisten'd with the dew of night;
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott; Nor herb, nor flow'ret, glisten'd there,
A wizard of such dreaded fame, But was carved in the cloister'd arches as fair.
That when, in Salamanca's cave, The monk gazed long on the lovely moon,
Him listed his magic wand to wave, Then into the night he look'd forth;
The bells would ring in Notre Dame ! And red and bright the streamers light
Some of his skill he taught to me; Were dancing in the glowing north.
And, warrior, I could say to thee So had he seen, in fair Castile,
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three, The youth in glitt’ring squadrons start;
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone; Sudden the flying gennet wheel,
But to speak them were a deadly sin ; And hurl the unexpected dart.
And for having but thought them my heart within, He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright,
A treble pedance must be done.
" When Michael lay on his dying bed, By a steel-clench'd postern door,
His conscience was awakened ;
* Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring, On pillars, lofty, and light, and small;
usually cut in a fantastic face or mask.
He bethought him of his sinful deed,
XIX. And he gave me a sign to come with speed;
Before their eyes the wizard lay, I was in Spain when the morning rose,
As if he had not been dead a day. But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
His hoary beard in silver rollid, The words may not again be said,
He seem'd some seventy winters old; That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid :
A palmer's amicc wrapp'd him round, They would rend this abbaye's massy nave,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound, And pile it in heaps above his grave.
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea ;
His left hand held his book of might;
A silver cross was in his right; “ I swore to bury his mighty book,
The lamp was placed beside his knee: That never mortal might therein look;
High and majestic was his look ; And never to tell where it was hid,
At which the fellest fiends had shook, Save at the chief of Branksome's need;
And all unruffled was his face-
They trusted his soul had gotten grace.
Often had William of Deloraine And I dug his chamber among the dead,
Rode through the battle's bloody plain, When the floor of the chancel was stain'd red,
And trampled down the warriors slain, That his patron's cross might o'er him wave,
And neither known remorse nor awe;
Yet now remorse and awe he own'd:
His breath came thick, his head swam round,
When this strange scene of death he saw. “ It was a night of wo and dread,
Bewilder'd and unnerved he stood, When Michael in the tomb I laid !
And the priest pray'd fervently and loud: Strange sounds along the chancel past;
With eyes averted, prayed he; The banners waved without a blast:'
He might not endure the sight to see, -Still spoke the monk, when the bell toll’d one.
of the man he had loved so brotherly. I tell you, that a braver man Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
XXI. Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed;
And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd, Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread,
Thus unto Deloraine he said ; And his hair did bristle upon his head.
“Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,
Or, warrior, we may dearly rue ;
For those, thou may'st not look upon, " Lo, warrior! now, the cross of red
Are gathering fast round the yawning stone !"Points to the grave of the mighty dead;
Then Deloraine, in terror, took Within it burns a wondrous light,
From the cold hand the mighty book, To chase the spirits that love the night;
With iron clasp'd, and with iron bound; That lamp shall burn unquenchably,
He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd: Until the eternal doom shall be.”
But the glare of the sepulchral light,
Perchance, had dazzled the warrior's sight.
When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb,
For the moon had gone down, and the stars were
few : XVIII.
And, as the knight and priest withdrew, With beating heart, to the task he went;
With wavering steps and dizzy brain, His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent, They hardly might the postern gain. With bar of iron heaved amain,
'Tis said, as through the aisles they pass'd, Till the toil drops fell from his brows, like rain.
They heard strange noises on the blast; It was by dint of passing strength,
And through the cloister-galleries small, That he moved the massy stone at length.
Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall I would you had been there, to see
Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran, How the light broke forth so gloriously,
And voices unlike the voice of man ; Stream'd upward to the chancel roof,
As if the fiends kept holiday, And through the galleries far aloof!
Because these spells were brought to day. No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright;
I cannot tell how the truth may be;
I say the tale as 'twas said to me.
And, when we are on death-bed laid,
O may our dear Ladye, and sweet Saint John, A fairer pair were never seen
He was stately, and young, and tall,
Dreaded in battle, and loved in hall: When the convent met at the noontide bell, And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
The monk of Saint Mary's aisle was dead! Lent to her cheek a livelier red; Before the cross was the body laid,
When the half sigh her swelling breast
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold, -
With Margaret of Branksome might compare ! He was glad when he pass'd the tombstones gray
And now, fair dames, methinks I see
You listen to my minstrelsy: And his joints, with nerves of iron twined,
Your waving locks ye backward throw, Shook, like the aspen leaves in wind.
And sidelong bend your necks of snow: Full fain was he when the dawn of day
Ye ween to hear a melting tale Began to brighten Cheviot gray ;
of two true lovers in a dale ; He joy'd to see the cheerful light,
And how the knight, with tender fire, And he said Ave Mary, as well as he might.
To paint his faithful passion strove;
Swore he might at her feet expire,
But never, never cease to love ;
And how she blush'd, and how she sigh’d, The sun had brightend the Carter's* side,
And, half consenting, half denied, And soon beneath the rising day
And said that she would die a maid ; Smiled Branksome towers and Teviot tide.
Yet, might the bloody feud be stay'd, The wild birds told their warbling tale ;
Henry of Cranstoun, and only he, And awaken'd every flower that blows;
Margaret of Branksome's choice should be. And peep'd forth the violet pale,
Alas ! fair dames, your hopes are vain !
My harp has lost th' enchanting strain ; Yet paler than the violet pale,
Its lightness would my age reprove: She early left her sleepless bed,
My hairs are gray, my limbs are old,
My heart is dead, my veins are cold ;-
I may not, must not, sing of love.
XXXI. And don her kirtle so hastilie:
Beneath an oak, moss'd o'er by eld, And the silken knots, which in hurry she would The baron's dwarf his courser held, make,
And held his crested helm and spear: Why tremble her slender fingers to tie ?
That dwarf was scarce an earthly man, Why does she stop, and look often around,
If the tales were true, that of him ran As she glides down the secret stair ;
Through all the Border, far and near. And why does she pat the shaggy bloodhound, 'Twas said, when the baron a hunting rode, As he rouses him up from his lair :
Through Redesdale's glen, but rarely trod, And, though she passes the postern alone,
He heard a voice cry, “Lost! lost! lost !”
A leap, of thirty feet and three,
Made from the gorse this elfin shape,
Distorted like some dwarfish ape, Lest her watchful mother hear her tread;
And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee.
Lord Cranstoun was somewhit dismay'd;
To rid him of his company;
But where he rode one mile, the dwarf ran four, And she glides through the greenwood at dawn of And the dwarf was first at the castle door. light,
Use lessens marvel, it is said:
This elfish dwarf with the baron staid ;
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
And oft apart his arms he toss'd,
He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he; And he of his service was full fain; For once he had been ta'en or slain,
An' had it not been his ministry. All, between home and and hermitage, Talk'd of Lord Cranstoun's goblin page.
1. And said I that my limbs were old; And said I that my blood was cold, And that my kindly fire was fled, And my poor wither'd heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love? How could I, to the dearest theme That ever warm'd a minstrel's dream,
So foul, so false a recreant prove ! How could I name love's very name, Nor wake my harp to notes of fame!
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes;
And he would pay his vows.
The trysting place was Newark Lee.
They were three hundred spears and three.
In peace, love tunes the shepherd's reed,
the grove, And men below and saints above; For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
XXXIV. And now, in Branksome's good green wood, As under the aged oak he stood, The baron's courser pricks his ears, As if a distant noise he hears; The dwarf waves his long lean arm on high, And signs to the lovers to part and ly; No time was then to vow or sigh. Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat dove ;* The dwarf the stirrup held and rein; Vaulted the knight on his steed amain, And, pondering deep that morning's scene, Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.
III. So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween, While pondering deep the tender scene, He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green. But the page shouted wild and sbrill,
And scarce his hemlet could he don, When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
His armour red with many a stain:
For it was William of Deloraine.
WHILE thus he pour'd the lengthen'd tale,
That mark'd the foeman's feudal hate;
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
He sigh'd a sigh, and pray'd a prayer:
The sigh was to his ladye fair.