Sidor som bilder
PDF

A wildering forest feathered o'er
His ruined sides and summit hoar,
While on the north, through middle air,
Ben-an heaved high his forehead bare.

From the steep promontory gazed

The stranger, raptured and amazed;

And, “What a scene were here,” he cried, “For princely pomp or churchman’s pride!”

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Blithe were it then to wander here!
But now, beshrew yon nimble deer,
Like that same hermit's, thin and spare,
The copse must give my ev’ning fare;
Some mossy bank my couch must be,
Some rustling oak my canopy:
Yet pass we that;-the war and chase
Give little choice of resting place;
A summer night, in green-wood spent,
Were but to-morrow’s merriment;-
But hosts may in these wilds abound,
Such as are better missed than found;
To meet with highland plunderers here
Were worse than loss of steed or deer.
I am alone;—my bugle strain
May call some straggler of the train;
Or fall the worst that may betide,
Ere now this falchion has been tried.”

But scarce again his horn he wound,
When lo! forth starting at the sound,
From underneath an aged oak,
That slanted from the islet rock,
A damsel guider of its way,
A little skiff shot to the bay,
That round the promontory steep
Led its deep line in graceful sweep,
Eddying, in almost viewless wave,
The weeping willow twig to lave,
And kiss, with whispering sound and slow,
The beach of pebbles bright as snow.
The boat had touched the silver strand,
Just as the hunter left his stand,
And stood concealed amid the brake
To view this Lady of the Lake.
The maiden paused, as if again
She thought to catch the distant strain,
With head up-raised, and look intent,
And eye and ear attentive bent,

And locks flung back, and lips apart,
Like monument of Grecian art:
In listening mood she seemed to stand,
The guardian Naiad of the strand.

And ne’er did Greeian chisel trace
A nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace,
Of finer form, or lovelier face!
What though the sun, with ardent frown,
Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown,
The sportive toil, which, short and light,
Had dyed her glowing hue so bright,
Served too in hastier swell to show
Short glimpses of a breast of snow;
What though no rule of courtly grace
To measured mood had trained her pace,
A foot more light, a step more true,
Ne'er from the heath-flower dashed the dew;
E’en the slight hare-bell raised its head,
Elastic from her airy tread:
What though upon her speech there hung
The accents of the mountain tongue,
Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear,
The listener held his breath to hear.

A chieftain's daughter seemed the maid;
Her satin snood, her silken plaid,
Her golden brooch such birth betrayed;
And seldom was a snood amid -
Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid,
Whose glossy black to shame might bring
The plumage of the raven's wing;
And seldom o'er a breast so fair
Mantled a plaid with modest care;
And never brooch the folds combined
Above a heart more good and kind;
Her kindness and her worth to spy,
You need but gaze on Ellen's eye;
Not Katrine in her mirror blue,
Gives back the shaggy banks more true,
Than every free-born glance confessed
The guileless movements of her breast;
Whether joy danced in her dark eye,
Or wo or pity claimed a sigh,
Or filial love was glowing there,
Or meek devotion poured a prayer,
Or tale of injury called forth,
The indignant spirit of the north,
One only passion unrevealed,
With maiden pride the maid concealed,

Yet not less purely felt the flame;—
O need I tell that passion’s name !

Impatient of the silent horn, Now on the gale her voice was borne:– “Father!” she cried; the rocks around Loved to prolong the gentle sound. A while she paused, no answer came, “Malcolm, was thine the blast 7” the name Less resolutely uttered fell, The echoes could not catch the swell. “A stranger, I,” the huntsman said, Advancing from the hazel shade. The maid alarmed, with hasty oar, Pushed her light shallop from the shore; And when a space was gained between, Closer she drew her bosom's screen; So forth the startled Swan would swing, So turn to prune her ruffled wing; Then safe, though fluttered and amazed, She paused, and on the stranger gazed: Not his the form, nor his the eye, That youthful maidens wont to fly.

On his bold visage, middle age
Had slightly pressed its signet sage,
Yet had not quenched the open truth,
And fiery vehemence of youth;
Forward and frolic glee was there,
The will to do, the soul to dare,
The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire;
Of hasty love, or headlong ire.
His limbs were cast in manly mould,
For hardy sports, or contest bold;
And though in peaceful garb arrayed,
And weaponless, except his blade,
His stately mien as well implied
A high-born heart, a martial pride,
As if a Baron’s crest he wore,
And sheathed in armor trod the shore.
Slighting the petty need he showed,
He told of his benighted road;
His ready speech flowed fair and free,
In phrase of gentlest courtesy,
Yet seemed that tone, and gesture bland,
Less used to sue than to command.

A while the maid the stranger eyed,
And, reassured, at last replied,
That highland halls were open still
To wildered wanderers of the hill.

• Northink you unexpected come
To yon lone isle, our desert home:
Before the heath had lost the dew,
This morn a couch was pulled for you;
On yonder mountain's purple head
Have ptarmigan and heath-cock bled,
And our broad nets have swept the mere
To furnish forth your evening cheer.”
“Now by the rood, my lovely maid,
Your courtesy has erred,” he said;
“No right have I to claim, misplaced,
The welcome of expected guest,
A wanderer here, by fortune tost,
My way, my friends, my courser lost,
I ne’er before, believe me, fair,
Have ever drawn your mountain air,
*Till on this lake's romantic strand,
I found a fay in fairy land.”

“I well believe,” the maid replied,
As her light skiff approached the side,
“I well believe, that ne'er before -
Your foot has trod Loch-Katrine's shore;
But yet, as far as yesternight,
Old Allan-bane foretold your plight,
A gray-haired sire, whose eye intent
Was on the visioned future bent.
He saw your steed, a dappled gray,
Lie dead beneath the birchen way;
Painted exact your form and mien,
Your hunting suit of Lincoln green,
That tassel’d horn so gaily gilt,
That falchion's crooked blade and hilt,
That cap with heron’s plumage trim,
And yon two hounds so dark and grim,
He bade that all should ready be,
To grace a guest of fair degree;
But light I held his prophecy,
And deemed it was my father's horn,
Whose echoes o'er the lake were borne.”

The stranger smiled—" Since to your home,
A destined errant knight I come,
Announced by prophet sooth and old,
Doomed, doubtless, for achievement bold,
I’ll lightly front each high emprize,
For one kind glance of those bright eyes;
Permit me, first, the task to guide
Your fairy frigate o'er the tide.”
The maid with smile suppressed and sly,
The toil unwonted saw him try;

For seldom, sure, if ere before,
His noble hand had grasped an oar:
Yet with main strength his strokes he drew,
And o'er the lake the shallop flew;
With heads erect, and whimpering cry,
The hounds behind their passage ply,
Nor frequent does the bright oar break
The darkening mirror of the lake,
Until the rocky isle they reach,
And moor their shallop on the beach.
The stranger viewed the shore around;
*Twas all so close with copse-wood bound,
Nor track nor path-way might declare
That human foot frequented there,
Until the mountain-maiden showed
A clambering unsuspected road,
That winded through the tangled screen,
And opened on a narrow green,
Where weeping birch and willow round
With their long fibres swept the ground;
Here, for retreat in dangerous hour,
Some chief had framed a rustic bower.

It was a lodge of ample size,
But strange of structure and device;
Of such materials as around
The workman’s hand had readiest found.
Lopped of their boughs, their hoar trunks baret
And by the hatchet rudely squared,
To give the walls their destined height,
The sturdy oak and ash unite;
While moss and clay and leaves combined
To fence each crevice from the wind.
The lighter pine-trees over-head,
Their slender length for rafters spread;
And withered heath and rushes dry
Supplied a russet canopy.
Due westward, fronting to the green
A rural portico was seen,
Aloft on native pillars borne,
Of mountain fir with bark unshorn,
Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine
The ivy and Idaean vine,
The clematis, the favored flower,
Which boasts the name of virgin-bower;
And every hardy plant could bear
Loch-Katrine's keen and searching air.
An instant in this porch she staid,
And gaily to the stranger said,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »