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If thou readest, thou art lorn!
Better thou hadst ne'er been born."
“O swiftly can speed my dapplegray steed, Her son pursued his infant play,
Which drinks of the Teviot clear; A fancied mosstrooper, the boy
Ere break of day," the warrior ‘gan say, The truncheon of a spear bestrode,
“ Again will I be here: And round the hall, right merrily,
And safer by none may thy errand be done,
Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,
Wer't my neck-verse at Haribee."*
Soon in his saddle sate he fast, How the brave boy, in future war,
And soon the deep descent he pass'd, Should tame the unicorn's pride,
Soon cross'd the sounding barbican,t
And soon the Teviot's side he won.
Eastward the wooded path he rode,
Green hazels o'er his basnet nod: One moment, and no more ;
He pass’d the peelt of Goldiland, One moment gazed with a mother's eye,
And crossd old Borthwick's roaring strand; As she paused at the arched door;
Dimly he view'd the moathill's mound, Then, from amid the armed train,
Where Druid shades still fitted round: She call'd to her William of Deloraine.
In Hawick twinkled many a light:
Behind him soon they set in night;
And soon he spurr'd his courser keen
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.
The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark;
“ Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark.” Had baffled Percy's best bloodhounds;
“ For Branksome, ho !” the knight rejoin'd, In Eske, or Liddel, fords were none,
And left the friendly tower behind. But he would ride them one by one;
He turn'd him now from Teviot side, Alike to him was time or tide,
And, guided by the tinkling rill, December's snow, or July's pride;
Northward the dark ascent did ride, Alike to him was tide or time,
And gaind the moor at Horslie hill; Moonless midnight, or matin prime:
Broad on the left before him lay, Steady of heart, and stout of hand,
For many a mile the Roman way.
A moment now he slack'd his speed,
A moment breathed his panting steed;
Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band, “ Sir William of Deloraine, good at need
And loosen'd in the sheath his brand. Mount thee on the wightest steed;
On Mintocrags the moonbeams glint, Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
Where Barnhill hew'd his bed of fint; Until you come to fair Tweed side;
Who Alung bis outlaw'd limbs to rest, And in Melrose's holy pile
Where falcons hang their giddy nest, Seek thou the monk of St. Mary's aisle.
'Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye, Greet the father well from me;
For many a league, his prey could spy; Say that the fated hour is come,
Cliffs doubling, on their echoes borne, And to-night he shall watch with thee,
The terrors of the robber's horn; To win the treasure of the tomb:
Cliffs, which, for many a later year,
The warbling Doric reed shall hear,
Ambition is no cure for love.
* Haribee, the place of executing the Border marauders
at Carlisle. The neck-verse is the beginning of the fifty. “What he gives thee, see thou keep;
first psalm, Miserere mei, &c. anciently read by criminale, Stay not thou for food or sleep;
claiming the benefit of clergy. Be it scroll, or be it book,
† Barbican, the defence of the outer gale of a feudal
castle. Into it, knight, thou must not look ;
I Peel, a Border tower.
§ An ancient Roman road, crossing through part of * Furay, a predatory inroad.
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.
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
And sternly shook his plumed head,
For on his soul the slaughter red
II. Short halt did Deloraine make there; Little reck'd he of the scene so fair: With dagger's bilt, 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;
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 flung 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 shirt 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 again he sigh'd heavily ;
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.
(A Scottish monarch slept below ;)
Thus spoke the monk, in solemn tone; high :-
“I was not always a man of wo; Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
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 flow'rets bright,
“In these far climes, it was my lot Glistend with the dew of night;
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott; Nor herb, nor Now'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 penance 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. Bat I stood by his bed ere evening close.
His hoary beard in silver roll'd, 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 amice 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 wbich 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.
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,
Of the man he had loved so brotherly.
XXI. gainst 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,
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 thawad 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,
The monk of Saint Mary's aisle was dead! Lent to her cheek a livelier red;
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
Of two true lovers in a dale ;
And how the knight, with tender fire,
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 brighten’d 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,
XXX. And spread her breast the mountain rose ;
Alas ! fair dames, your hopes are vain ! And lovelier than the rose so red,
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 bairs 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!” Why is not the watchman's bugle blown?
And, like a tennis-ball by racquet tost,
A leap, of thirty feet and three,
Made from the gorse this elfin shape,
Distorted like some dwarfish ape, Lest her watchful mother bear her tread;
And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee. The ladye caresses the rough bloodhound, Lord Cranstoun was somewhit dismay'd; Lest his voice should waken the castle round; 'Tis said that five good miles he rade The watchman's bugle is not blown,
To rid him of his company; For he was her foster-father's son ;
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,