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Then, auswering from the sandy shore,
O'er northern mountain, marsh, and moor,
From sea to sea, from shore to shore,
Seven years Saint Cuthbert's corpse they bore.
They rested them in fair Melrose ;
But though, alive, he loved it well,
Not there bis relics might repose ;
For, wondrous tale to tell!
In his stone coffin forth he rides,
(A ponderous bark for river tides,)
Yet light as gossamer it glides,
Downward to Tillmouth cell.
Nor long was his abiding there,
For southward did the saint repair ;
Chester-le Street, and Rippon, saw
His holy corpse, ere Wardilaw
Hail'd him with joy and fear;
And, after many wanderings past,
He chose his lordly seat at last,
Where his cathedral, huge and vast,
Looks down upon the Wear.
There, decp in Durham's Gothic shade,
His relics are in secret laid ;
But none may know the place,
Save of his holiest servants three,
Deep sworn to solemn secrecy,
Who share that wondrous grace.
Who may his miracles declare !
E’en Scotland's dauntless king, and heir
(Although with them they led
Galwegians, wild as ocean's gale,
And London's knights, all sheathed in mail,
And the bold men of Teviotdale,)
Before his standard fed.
'Twas he, to vindicate his reign,
Edged Alfred's falchion on the Dane,
And turn'd the conqueror back again,
When, with his Norman bowyer band,
He came to waste Northumberland.
But fain Saint Hilda's nuns would learn, “ This, on Ascension-day, each year,
If, on a rock, by Lindisfarn,
Saint Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame
The seaborn beads that bear his name:
Such tales had Whitby's fishers told,
And said they might his shape behold,
And hear his anvil sound;
A deadend clang, a huge dim form,
Seen but, and heard, when gathering storm,
And night were closing round.
But this, as tale of idle fame,
The nuns of Lindisfarn disclaim.
While round the fire such legends go,
Far different was the scene of wo,
Where, in a secret aisle beneath,
Council was held of life and death.
It was more dark and lone, that vault,
Than the worst dungeon cell;
Old Colwulf built it, for his fault,
In penitence to dwell,
The Saxon battle-axe and crown.
This den, which, chilling every sense
Of feeling, hearing, sight,
Excluding air and light,
As reach'd the upper air,
Some vague tradition go,
To that dread vault to go. Victim and executioner Were blindfold when transported there. In low dark rounds the arches hung, From the rude rock the side walls sprung; The gravestones rudely sculptured o’er, Half sunk in earth, by time half wore, Were all the pavement of the floor; The mildew drops fell one by one, With tinkling plash, upon the stone. A cresset,* in an iron chain, Which served to light this drear domain, With damp and darkness seem'd to strive, As if it scarce might keep alive; And yet it dimly served to show The awful conclave met below.
On iron table lay;
By the pale cresset's ray:
She closely drew her veil:
And she with awe looks pale:
Whose look is hard and stern,-
The Saint of Lindisfarn.
And, on her doublet-breast,
Lord Marmion's falcon crest.
That tied her tresses fair,
In ringlets rich and rare.
Such as does murder for a meed;
Feels not the import of his deed; One, whose brute-feeling ne'er aspires Beyond his own more brute desires. Such tools the tempter ever needs, To do the savagest of deeds ; For them, no vision'd terrors daunt, Their nights no fancied spectres haunt; One fear with them, of all most base, The fear of death,-alone finds place. This wretch was clad in frock and cowl, And shamed not loud to moan and howl, His body on the floor to dash, And crouch, like hound beneath the lash; While his mute partner, standing near, Waited her doom without a tear.
XXIII. Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek, Well might her paleness terrors speak, For there were seen, in that dark wall, Two niches, narrow, deep, and tall ;Who enters at each griesly door, Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
* Antique chandelier.
In each a slender meal was laid,
Or who, in desperate doubt of grace,
Of some foul crime the stain;
Or thought more grace to gain, If, in her cause, they wrestled down Feelings their nature strove to own. By strange device were they brought there, They knew not how, and knew not where.
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;
Vain are your masses, too.--
But, did my fate and wish agree,
Whose faith with Clare's was plight,
Their oaths are said,
Their lances in the rest are laid,
De Wilton to the block !'
Say, was Heaven's justice here?
Beneath a traitor's spear. How false the charge, how true he fell, This guilty packet best can tell."Then drew a packet from her breast, Paused, gather'd voice, and spoke the rest.
To speak the chapter's doom,
Alive, within the tomb; But stopp'd because that woful maid, Gathering her powers, to speak essay'd. Twice she essay'd, and twice, in vain ; Her accents might no utterance gain ; Naught but imperfect murmurs slip From her convulsed and quivering lip:
'Twixt each attempt all was so still, You secm'd to hear a distant rill
'Twas ocean's swells and falls; For though this vault of sin and fear Was to the sounding surge so near, A tempest there you scarce could hear;
So massive were the walls.
And light came to her eye ;
By autumn's stormy sky;
And arm'd herself to bear;
In form so soft and fair.
XXIX. “ Still was false Marmion's bridal staid: To Whitby's convent Aed the maid,
The hated match to shun. • Ho! shifts she thus ?" King Henry cried, • Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
If she were sworn a nun.'
For Clara and for me:
A saint in heaven should be.
XXVII. “ I speak not to implore your grace ; Well know I, for one minute's space
Successless might I sue:
But to assure my soul, that none
And bade the passing knell to toll
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IIL.
XXXI. “ Yet dread me, from my living tomb, Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome! If Marmion's late remorse should wake, Full soon such vengeance will be take, That you shall wish the fiery Dane Had rather been your guest again. Behind, a darker hour ascends! The altars quake, the crosier bends, The ire of a despotic king Rides forth upon destruction's wing. Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep, Burst open to the sea-wind's sweep; Some traveller then shall find my bones, Whitening amid disjointed stones, And, ignorant of priests' cruelty, Marvel such relics here should be."
XXXII. Fix'd was her look, and stern her air ; Back from her shoulders stream'd her hair; The locks, that wont her brow to shade, Stared up erectly from her head; Her figure seem'd to rise more high ; Her voice, despair's wild energy Had given a tone of prophecy. Appall’d the astonish'd conclave sate; With stupid eyes, the men of fate Gazed on the late inspired form, And listend for the avenging storm; The judges felt the victim's dread; No hand was moved, no word was said, Till thus the abbot's doom was given, Raising bis sightless balls to heaven :“ Sister let thy sorrows cease ; Sinful brother, part in peace !” From that dire dungeon, place of doom Of execution, too, and tomb,
Paced forth the judges three;
And many a stifled groan:
And cross'd themselves for terror's sake, As hurrying, tottering on; E’en in the vesper's heavenly tone They seem'd to hear a dying groan,
TO WILLIAM ERSKINE, ESQ.
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. LIKE April morning clouds, that pass, With varying shadow, o'er the grass, And imitate, on field and furrow; Life checker'd scene of joy and sorrow; Like streamlet of the mountain north, Now in a torrent racing forth, Now winding slow its silver train, And almost slumbering on the plain; Like breezes of the autumn day, Whose voice inconstant dies away, And ever swells again as fast, When the ear deems its murmur past; Thus various, my romantic theme Flits, winds, or sinks, a morning dream. Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace Of light and shade's inconstant race; Pleased, views the rivulet afar, Weaving its maze irregular; And pleased, we listen as the breeze Heaved its wild sigh through autumn trees; Then wild as cloud, or stream, or gale, Flow on, flow unconfined, my tale. Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell, I love the license all too well, In sounds now lowly, and now strong, To raise the desultory song ? Ost, when 'mid such capricious chime, Some transient fit of lofty rhyme, To thy kind judgment seem'd excuse For many an error of the muse; Oft hast thou said, “If, still mis-spent, Thine hours to poetry are lent: Go, and, to tame thy wandering course, Quaff from the fountain at the source ; Approach those masters, o'er whose tomb, Immortal laurels ever bloom : Instructive of the feebler bard, Still from the grave their voice is heard ; From them, and from the path they show'd Choose honour'd guide and practised road; Nor ramble on through brake and maze, With harpers rude of barbarous day.
“Or, deem'st thou not our later time, Yields topic meet for classic rhyme ?
Hast thou no elegiac verse
Thy friendship thus thy judgment wrongFor Brunswick's venerable hearse ?
With praises not to me belonging,
In task more meet for mightiest powers,
Wouldst thou engage my thriftless hours.
But say, my Erskine, hast thou weigh'd
That secret power by all obey'd,
Which warps not less the passive mind,
Its source conceal'd or undefined;
Whether an impulse, that has birth
Soon as the infant wakes on earth,
One with our feelings and our powers,
And rather part of us than ours;
Or whether titlier term’d the sway
Of habit, form'd in early day?
Howe'er derived, its force confess'd
Rules with despotic sway the breast,
And drags us on by viewless chain,
While taste and reason plead in vain.
Beneath Batavia's sultry sky,
He seeks not, eager to inhale,
The freshness of the mountain gale,
Content to rear his whiten'd wall
He'll say, from youth he loved to see
The white sail gliding by the tree.
Or see yon weather-beaten hind,
Whose sluggish herds before him wind,
Whose tatter'd plaid and rugged cheek
Through England's laughing meads he goes,
And England's wealth around him flows;
Ask, if it would content him well,
At ease in these gay plains to dwell,
Where hedge-rows spread a verdant screen, “ Or of the Red-Cross hero teach,
And spires and forests intervene,
And the neat cottage peeps between ?
No, not for these will he exchange
His dark Lochaber's boundless range ;
Nor for fair Devon's meads forsake
Bennevis gray and Garry's lake.
Of tales that charm’d me yet a child,
Return the thoughts of early time;
Then rise those crags, that mountain tower,
Which charm'd my fancy's wakening hour.
Though no broad river swept along
To claim, perchance, heroic song ;
Though sigh'd no groves in summer gale,
To prompt of love a softer tale ;
Though scarce a puny streamlet's speed
Claim'd homage from a shepherd's reed;
Yet was poetic impulse given,
By the green hill and clear blue heaven.
It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;
Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green ;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wall-flower grew,
And honeysuckle loved to crawl
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