Sidor som bilder



[ocr errors]

I. The livelong day Lord Marmion rode. The mountain path the palmer show'd; By glen and streamlet winded still, Where stunted birches hid the rill. They might not choose the lowland road, For th, Merse forayers were abroad, Whited with hate and thirst of prey, Had scarcely faild to bar their way. Oft on the trampling band, from crown Of some tall cliff, the deer look'd down; On wing of jet, from his repose In the deep heath, the black cock rose; Sprung from the gorse the timid roe, Nor waited for the bending bow; And when the stony path began, By which the naked peak they wan, Up flew the snowy ptarmigan. The noon had long been past before They gain’d the height of Lammermoor ; Thence winding down the northern way, Before them, at the closing day, Old Gifford's towers and hamlet lay.

I deem'd such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all his round survey'd ;
And still I thought that shatter'd tower
The mightiest work of human power;
And marvell’d, as the aged hind
With some strange tale bewitch'd my mind,
Of forayers, who, with headlong force,
Down from that strength had spurr'd their horse,
Their southern rapine to renew,
Far in the distant Cheviot's blue,
And home returning, fill'd the hall
With revel, wassel-rout, and brawl.--
Methought that still with trump and clang
The gateway's broken arches rang;
Methought grim features, seam'd with scars,
Glared through the window's rusty bars.
And ever, by the winter hearth,
Old tales I heard of wo or mirth,
Of lovers’ sleights, of ladies' charms,
Of witches' spells, of warriors' arms;
of patriot battles, won of old,
By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
Of later fields of feud and fight,
When, pouring from their highland height,
The Scottish clans in headlong sway,
Had swept the scarlet ranks away.
While, stretch'd at length upon the floor,
Again I fought each combat o'er,
Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
The mimic ranks of war display'd;
And onward still the Scottish lion bore,
And still the scatter'd Southron fled before.

Still, with vain fondness, could I trace,
Anew, each kind familiar face,
That brighten'd at our evening fire ;
From the thatch'd mansion's gray-hair'd sire,
Wise without learning, plain and good,
And sprung of Scotland's gentler blood;
Whose eye in age, quick, clear, and keen,
Show'd what in youth its glance had been ;
Whose doom discording neighbours sought,
Content with equity unbought;
To him the venerable priest,
Our frequent and familiar guest,
Whose life and manners well could paint
Alike the student and the saint;
Alas! whose speech too oft I broke
With gambol rude and timeless joke:
For I was wayward, bold, and wild,
A self-will'd imp, a grandame's child;
But, half a plague, and half a jest,
Was still endured, beloved, carest.

From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask
The classic poet's well-conn'd task ?
Nay, Erskine, nay,-on the wild hill
Let the wild heathbell flourish still ;
Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
But freely let the woodbine twine,
And leave untrimm'd the eglantine:
Nay, my friend, nay,--since oft thy praise
Hath given fresh vigour to my lays,
Since oft thy judgment could refine
My flatten'd thought, or cumbrous line,
Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
And in the minstrel spare the friend;
Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
Flow forth, flow unrestrain'd, my tale !

No summons calls them to the tower,
To spend the hospitable hour.
To Scotland's camp the lord was gone,
His cautious dame, in bower alone,
Dreaded her castle to unclose,
So late, to unknown friends or foes.

On through the hamlet as they paced,
Before a porch, whose front was graced
With bush and Aaggon trimly placed,

Lord Marmion drew his reign :
The village inn seem'd large, though rude:
Its cheerful fire and hearty food

Might well relieve his train.
Down from their seats the horsemen sprang,
With jingling spurs the court-yard rang;
They bind their horses to the stall,
For forage, food, and firing call,
And various clamour fills the hall;
Weighing the labour with the cost,
Toils everywhere the bustling host.

Soon, by the chimney's merry blaze,
Through the rude hostel might you gaze;
Might see, where in dark nook aloof,
The rafters of the sooty roof

Bore wealth of winter cheer;
Of sea fowl dried, and solands store,
And gammons of the tusky boar,

And savoury haunch of deer.
The chimney arch projected wide;
Above, around it, and beside,

Were tools for housewifes' hand: Nor wanted, in that martial day, The implements of Scottish fray,

The buckler, lance, and brand. Beneath its shade, the place of state, On oaken settle Marmion sate,

And view'd, around the blazing hearth,
His followers mix in noisy mirth,
Whom with brown ale, in jolly tide,
From ancient vessels ranged aside,
Full actively their host supplied.

Theirs was the glee of martial breast,
And laughter theirs at little jest ;
And oft Lord Marmion deign’d to aid,
And mingle in the mirth they made:
For though, with men of high degree,
The proudest of the proud was he,
Yet, train'a in camps, he knew the art
To win the soldier's hardy heart.
They love a captain to obey,
Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May;
With open hand, and brow as free,
Lover of wine and minstrelsy,
Ever the first to scale a tower,
As venturous in a ladye's bower:
Such buxom chief shall lead his host
From India's fires to Zembla's frost.

Ill may we hope to please your ear,
Accustom'd Constant's strains to hear.
The harp full destly can he strike,
And wake the lover's lute alike;
To dear Saint Valentine, no thrush
Sings livelier from a springtide bush;
No nightingale her lovelorn tune
More sweetly warbles to the moon.
Wo to the cause, whate'er it be,
Detains from us his melody,
Lavish'd on rocks, and billows stern,
Or duller monks of Lindisfern.
Now must I venture, as I may,
To sing his favourite roundelay."

V. Resting upon his pilgrim staff,

Right opposite the palmer stood : His thin dark visage seen but half,

Half hidden by his hood. Still fix'd on Marmion was his look, Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,

Strove by a frown to quell ; But not for that, though more than once Full met their stern encountering glance,

The palmer's visage fell.

IX. A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had, The air he chose was wild and sad; Such have I heard, in Scottish land, Rise from the busy harvest band, When falls before the mountaineer, On lowland plains, the ripen'd ear. Now one shrill voice the notes prolong, Now a wild chorus swells the song: Oft have I listen'd, and stood still, As it came soften'd up the hill, And deem'd it the lament of men Who languish'd for their native glen; And thought how sad would be such sound, On Susquehannah's swampy ground, Kentucky's wood-encumber'd brake, Or wild Ontario's boundless lake, Where heart-sick exiles, in the strain, Recall’d fair Scotland's hills again!

[blocks in formation]

By fits less frequent from the crowd
Was heard the burst of laughter loud;
For still as squire and archer stared
On that dark face and matted beard,

Their glee and game declined.
All gaze at length in silence drear,
Unbroke, save when in comrade's ear
Some yeomen, wondering in his fear,

Thus whisper'd forth his mind :
“ Saint Mary! saw'st thou ere such sight?
How pale his cheek, his eye how bright,
Whene'er the firebrand's fickle light

Glances beneath his cowl! Full on our lord he sets his eye; For his best palfray, would not I

Endure that sullen scowl.”

Where shall the lover rest,

Whom the fates sever
From his true maiden's breast,

Parted for ever?
Where, through groves deep and high,

Sounds the far billow, Where early violets die,

Under the willow.


Eleu loro, &c. Soft shall be his pillow.

There, through the summer day,

Cool streams are Javing ; There while the tempests sway,

Scarce are boughs waving: There, thy rest shalt thou take,

Parted for ever, Never again to wake,

Never, O never.

VII. But Marmion, as to chase the awe Which thus had quell’d their hearts, who saw The ever-varying firelight show That figure stern and face of wo,

Now call’d upon a squire :“Fitz Eustace, know'st thou not some lay, To speed the lingering night away?

We slumber by the fire."


Eleu loro, &c. Never, O never.

VIII. “So please you,” thus the youth rejoin'd, “ Our choicest minstrel's left behind.

Where shall the traitor rest,

He, the deceiver,
Who could win maiden's breast,

Ruin, and leave her?

In the lost battle,

Borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle

With groans of the dying.


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.

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, 0 never.

CHORUS. Eleu loro, &c. Never, 0 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.

XV. 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!

XIII. High minds, of native pride and force, Most deeply feel thy pangs, Remorse! Fear, for their scourge, mean villains have, Thou art the torturer of the brave ! Yet fatal strength they boast, to steel Their minds to bear the wounds they feel. E'en while they writhe beneath the smart Of civil conflict in the heart. For soon Lord Marmion raised his head, And, smiling, to Fitz-Eustace said,“ Is it not strange, that, as ye sung, Seem'd in mine ear a death-peal rung, Such as in nunneries they toll For some departing sister's soul ?

Say, what may this portend !”— Then first the palmer silence broke (The livelong day he had not spoke,)

“ The death of a dear friend."

XVI. 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' with shame, with terror mute, Dreading alike escape, pursuit, Till love, victorious o'er alarms, Hid fears and blushes in his arms.

XIV. Marmion, whose steady heart and eye Ne'er changed in worst extremity; Marmion, whose soul could scantly brook, E'en from his king a haughty look ; Whose accent of command controllid, In camps, the boldest of the boldThought, look, and utterance, fail'd him now, Fallen was his glance, and flush'd his brow;

XVII. “ 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!

“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.

[ocr errors]


“ Would,” thought he, as the picture grows,
I on its stalk had left the rose !
O why should man's success remove
The very charms that wake his love!
Her convent's peaceful solitude
Is now a prison harsh and rude ;
And, pent within the narrow cell,
How will her spirit chafe and swell!
Her brook the stern monastic laws!
The penance how—and I the cause !
Vigil and scourge-perchance, e'en worse !"-
And twice he rose to cry “ to horse!"
And twice his sovereign's mandate came,
Like damp upon a kindling flame;
And twice he thought,“ Gave I not charge
She should be safe, though not at large ?
They durst not, for their island, shred
One golden ringlet from her head.”-

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 koight, 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.

“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 controllid. 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,
Proclaim'd hell's empire overthrown,-
With untaught valvur shall compell
Response denied to magic spell.'-
Gramercy,' quoth our monarch free,
*Place him but front to front with me,
And, by this good and honour'd brand,
The gift of Cæur-de-Lion's hand, -
Soothly I swear, that, tide what tide,
The demon shall a buffet bide.'
His bearing bold the wizard view'd,
And thus, well pleased, his speech renew'd :-
• There spoke the blood of Malcolm Smark:
Forth pacing hence, at midnight dark,
The rampart seek, whose circling crown
Crests the ascent of yonder down:
A southern entrance shalt thou find;
There halt, and there thy bugle wind,
And trust thine elfin foe to see,
In guise of thine worst enemy:
Couch then thy lance, and spur thy steed-
Upon him! and Saint George to speed !
If he go down, thou soon shalt know
Whate'er these airy sprites can show ;-
If thy heart fail thee in the strife,
I am no warrant for thy life.'—

And raised the skin-2 puny wound.
The king, light leaping to the ground,
With naked blade his phantom foe
Compell’d the future war to show.
Of Largs he saw the glorious plain,
Where still gigantic bones remain,

Memorial of the Danish war;
Himself he saw, amid the field,
On high his brandish'd war-axe wield,

And strike proud Haco from his car;
While all around the shadowy kings
Denmark's grim ravens cower'd their wings.
'Tis said, that, in that awful night,
Remoter visions met his sight,
Fore-showing future conquests far,
When our sons' sons wage northern war;
A royal city, tower, and spire,
Redden'd the midnight sky with fire,
And shouting crews her navy bore
Triumphant to the victor shore.
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain.

XXIII. “Soon as the midnight bell did ring, Alone, and arm'd, forth rode the king To that old camp's deserted round; Sir knight, you well might mark the mound, Left hand the town,-the Pictish race, The trench, long since, in blood did trace; The moor around is brown and bare, The space within is green and fair. The spot our village children know, For there the earliest wild flowers grow; But wo betide the wandering wight, That treads its circles in the night. The breadth across the bowshot clear, Gives ample space for full career ; Opposed to the four points of heaven, By four deep gaps are entrance given. The southernmost our monarch past, Halted and blew a gallant blast: And on the north, within the ring, Appeard the form of England's king, Who then, a thousand leagues afar, In Palestine waged holy war: Yet arms like England's did he wield, Alike the leopards in the shield, Alike his Syrian courser's frame, The rider's length of limb the same: Long afterwards did Scotland know, Fell Edward* was her deadliest foe.

“ The joyful king turn'd home again,
Headed his host, and quell'd the Dane;
But yearly, when return'd the night
Of his strange combat with the sprite,

His wound must bleed and smart : Lord Gifford then would gibing say, • Bold as ye were, my liege, ye pay

The penance of your start.'
Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave,
King Alexander fills his grave,

Our lady give him rest!
Yet still the mighty spear and shield
The elfin warrior doth wield,

Upon the brown hill's breast;
And many a knight hath proved his chance,
In the charm'd ring to break a lance,

But all have foully sped ; 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,
Had made a comment sage and long,

But Marmion gave a sign ;
And, with their lord, the squires retire ;
The rest, around the hostel fire,

Their drowsy limbs recline:
For pillow, underneath each head,
The quiver and the targe were laid.
Deep slumbering on the hostel floor,
Oppress'd with toil and ale, they snore ;
The dying flame, in fitful change,
Threw on the group its shadows strange.

XXIV. “ The vision made our monarch start, But soon he mann'd his noble heart, And, in the first career they ran, The elfin knight fell, horse and man; Yet did a splinter of his lance Through Alexander's visor glance,

XXVII. Apart, and nestling in the hay Of a waste loft, Fitz-Eustace lay;

* Edward I., surnamed Longshanks.

* A wooden cup, composed of slaves hooped together.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »