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And raised the skin-a puny wound.
The king, light leaping to the ground,
With paked blade his phantom foe
Compel!'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' sops wage northern war;
A royal city, tower, and spire,
Redden'd the midnight sky with fire,
And shouting crews her pavy bore
Triumphant to the victor shore.
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain.
When yawning graves, and dying groan,
Proclaim'd bell'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 S-mark:
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.'-
Soon as the midnight bell did ring,
Alone, and armid, 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 bis host, and quell'd the Dane;
But yearly, when returo'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 L., surnamed Longshanks.
* A wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.
Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee,
We welcome fond credulity,
Guide confident, though blind.
Little for this Fitz-Eustace cared,
But, patient, waited till he heard,
At distance, prick'd to utmost speed,
The foot-tramp of a flying steed,
Come townward rushing on:
First, dead, as if on turf it trod,
Then clattering on the village road,
In other pace than forth he yode,*
Return'd Lord Marmion.
Down hastily he sprang from selle,
And, in his haste, well nigh he fell;
To the squire's hand the rein he threw,
And spoke no word as he withdrew:
But yet the moonlight did betray,
The falcon crest was soil'd with clay ;
And plainly might Fitz-Eustace see,
By stains upon the charger's knee,
And his left side, that on the moor
He had not kept his footing sure.
Long musing on these wondrous signs,
At length to rest the squire reclines-
Broken and short; for still between,
Would dreams of terror intervene:
Eustace did ne'er so blithely mark
The first notes of the morning lark.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IV.
Scarce by the pale moonlight, were seen
The foldings of his mantle green:
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Of sport by thicket, or by stream,
Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove,
Or, lighter yet, of lady's love.
A cautious tread his slumber broke,
And close beside him, when he woke,
In moonbeam half, and half in gloom,
Stood a tabl form with nodding plume;
But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
His master Marmion's voice he knew.
-_" Fitz-Eustace ! rise,-I cannot rest,
Yon churls wild legend haunts my breast,
And graver thoughts have chafed my mood,
The air must cool my severish blood ;
And fain would I ride forth, to see
The scene of elfin chivalry.
Arise, and saddle me my steed,
And, gentle Eustace, take good heed
Thou dost not rouse the drowsy slaves;
I would not that the prating knaves
Had cause for saying, o'er their ale,
That I could credit such a tale.”
Then softly down the steps they slid,
Eustace the stable door undid,
And, darkling, Marmion's steed array'd,
While, whispering, thus the baron said :-
XXIX. “ Didst never, good my youth, hear tell
That on the hour when I was born, St. George, who graced my sire's chapelle, Down from his steed of marble fell,
A weary wight forlorn ?
The flattering chaplains all agree,
The champion left his steed to me.
I would, the omen's truth to show,
That I could meet this elfin foe!
Blithe would I battle for the right
To ask one question at the sprite :-
Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be,
An empty race, by fount or sea,
To dashing waters dance and sing,
Or round the green oak wheel they ring.”-
Thus speaking, he his steed bestrode,
And from the hostel slowly rode.
Fitz-Eustace follow'd him abroad,
And mark'd him pace the village road,
And listen’d to his horse's tramp,
Till, by the lessening sound,
He judged that of the Pictish camp
Lord Marmion sought the round.
Wonder it seem'd, in the squire's eyes,
That one, so wary held, and wise,-
Of whom, 'twas said, he scarce received
For gospel what the church believed,
Should, stirr'd by idle tale,
Ride forth in silence of the night,
As hoping half to meet a sprite,
Array'd in plate and mail.
For little did Fitz-Eustace know,
That passions, in contending flow
Unfix the strongest mind:
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. An ancient minstrel sagely said, “ Where is the life which late we led?” That motely clown, in Ardenwood, Whom humorous Jaques with envy view'd, Not e'en that clown could amplify, On this trite text, so long as I. Eleven years we now may tell, Since we have known each other well; Since, riding side by side, our hand First drew the voluntary brand; And sure, through many a varied scene, Unkindness never came between. Away these winged years have flown, To join the mass of ages gone; And though deep mark'd, like all below, With checker'd shades of joy and wo; Though thou o'er realms, and seas hast ranged, Mark'd cities lost, and empires changed, While here, at home, my narrower ken Somewhat of manners saw, and men ; Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears, Fever'd the progress of these years, Yet now days, weeks, and months, but seem The recollection of a dream; So still we glide down to the sea Of fathomless eternity. Even now it scarcely seems a day, Since first I turn'd this idle lay;
* Used by old poets for went.
A task so often thrown aside,
Couches upon his master's breast, When leisure graver cares denied,
And licks his cheek to break his rest. That now, November's dreary gale,
Who envies now the shepherd's let, Whose voice inspired my opening tale,
His healthy fare, his rural cot, That same November gale once more
His summer couch by greenwood tree,
Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore.
His rustic kirn's* loud revelry,
Their vex d boughs streaming to the sky, His native hill-notes, tuned on high,
Once more our naked birches sigh,
To Marion of the blithesome eye ;
And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen, His crook, his scrip, his oaten reed,
Have donn'd their wintry shrouds again ;
And all Arcadia's golden creed? And mountain dark, and flooded mead,
Changes not so with us, my Skene, Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed.
Of human life the varying scene? Earlier than wont along the sky,
Our youthful summer oft we see Mix'd with the rack, the snowmists fly;
Dance by on wings of game and glee, The shepherd, who, in summer sun,
While the dark storm reserves its rage, Has something of our envy won,
Against the winter of our age: As thou with pencil, I with pen,
As he, the ancient chief of Troy, The features traced of hill and glen ;
His manhood spent in peace and joy, He who, outstretch'd the livelong day,
But Grecian fires, and loud alarms, At ease among the heath-flowers lay,
Call'd ancient Priam forth to arms. View'd the light clouds with vacant look
Then happy those-since earth must drain Or slumber'd o'er his tatter'd book,
His share of pleasure, share of pain. Or idly busied him to guide
Then happy those, beloved of heaven, His angle o'er the lessen'd tide ;
To whom the mingled cup is given At midnight now, the snowy plain
Whose lenient sorrows find relief, Finds sterner labour for the swain.
Whose joys are chasten'd by their grief, When red hath set the beamless sun,
And such a lot, my Skene, was thine, Through heavy vapours dank and dun;
When thou of late wert doom'd to twine,When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, Just when thy bridal hour was by,Hears, half asleep, the rising storm
The cypress with the myrtle tie. Hurling the hail and sleeted rain,
Just on thy bride her sire had smiled, Against the casement's tinkling pane :
And bless'd the union of his child, The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox,
When love must change its joyous cheer, To shelter in the brake and rocks,
And wipe affection's filial tear. Are warnings which the shepherd ask
Nor did the actions, next his end, To dismal and to dangerous task.
Speak more the father than the friend : Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain,
Scarce had lamented Forbes paid The blast may sink in mellowing rain;
The tribute to his minstrel's shade; Till, dark above and white below,
The tale of friendship scarce was told, Decided drives the flakes of snow,
Ere the narrator's heart was coldAnd forth the hardy swain must go.
Far we may search before we find Long, with dejected look and whine,
A heart so manly and so kind! To leave his hearth the dogs repine ;
But not around his honour'd urn, Whistling and cheering them to aid,
Shall friends alone and kindred mourn; Around his backs he wreathes the plaid :
The thousand eyes his care had dried, His flock he gathers, and he guides
Pour at his name a bitter tide; To open downs and mountain sides,
And frequent falls the grateful dew, Where fiercest though the tempest blow,
For benefits the world ne'er knew. Least deeply lies the drift below.
If mortal charity dare claim The blast, that whistles o'er the fells,
The Almighty's attributed name, Stiffens his locks to icicles;
Inscribe above his mouldering clay, Oft he looks back, while, streaming far,
“ The widow's shield, the orphan's stay." His cottage window seems a star,
Nor, though it wake thy sorrow, deem Loses its feeble gleam, -and then
My verse intrudes on this sad theme; Turns patient to the blast again,
For sacred was the pen that wrote, And, facing to the tempest's sweep,
« Thy father's friend forget thou not.” Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep. And grateful title may I plead, If fails his heart, if his limbs fail,
For many a kindly word and deed, Benumbing death is in the gale;
To bring my tribute to his grave:His paths, his landmarks, all unknown,
'Tis little-but 'tis all I have. Close to the hut no more his own,
To thee, perchance, this rambling strain Close to the aid he sought in vain,
Recalls our summer walks again ; The morn may find the stiffen'd swain:
When, doing naught-and, to speak true, The widow sees, at dawning pale,
Not anxious to find aught to do,-
His orphans raise their feeble wail:
And, close beside him, in the snow,
Poor Yarrow, partner of their wo,
The Scottish harvest-hom
The wild unbounded hills we ranged,
While oft our talk its topic changed,
And desultory as our way,
Ranged, unconfined, from grave to gay.
Even when it flagg’d, as oft will chance,
No etfort made to break its trance,
We could right pleasantly pursue
Our sports in social silence, too ;
Thou gravely labouring to portray
The blighted oak’s fantastic spray;
I spelling o'er, with much delight,
The legend of that antique knight,
Tirante by name, ycleped the White.
At either's feet a trusty squire,
Pandour and Camp, with eyes of fire,
Jealous, each other's motions view'd,
And scarce suppress'd their ancient feud.
The laverock whistled from the cloud;
The stream was lively, but not loud;
From the white thorn the Mayflower shed
Its dewy fragrance round our head:
Not Ariel lived more merrily
Under the blossom'd bough, than we.
And blithesome nights, too, have been ours,
When winter stript the summer's bowers.
Careless we heard, what now I hear,
The wild blast sighing deep and drear,
When fires were bright and lamps beam'd gay,
And ladies tuned the lovely lay;
And he was held a laggard soul,
Who shunn’d to quafi the sparkling bowl
Then he, whose absence we deplore,
Who breathes the gales of Devon's shore,
The longer iniss'd, bewail'd the more ;
And thou, and I, and dear loved R-
And one whose name I may not say, -
For not Mimosa's tender tree
Shrinks sooner from the touch than he,
In merry chorus well combined,
With laughter drown'd the whistling wind.
Mirth was within; and care, without,
Might gnaw her nails to hear our shout.
Not but amid the buxom scene
Some grave discourse might intervene-
Of the good horse that bore him best,
His shoulder, hoof, and arching crest:
For, like mad Tom's,* our chiefest care,
Was horse to ride, and weapon wear.
Such nights we've had ; and, though the game
Of manhood be more sober tame,
And though the field day, or the drill,
Seem less important now-yet still
Such may we hope to share again.
The sprightly thought inspires my strain !
And mark, how, like a horseman true,
Lord Marmion's march I thus renew.
The lark sung shrill, the cock he crew,
And loudly Marmion's bugle blew,
And, with their light and lively call,
Brought groom and yeoman to the stall.
Whistling they came, and free of heart,
But soon their mood was changed;
Complaint was heard on every part
of something disarranged. Some clamour'd loud for armour lost; Some brawl'd and wrangled with the host; “ By Becket's bones,” cried one “ I fear That some false Scot has stolen my spear!” Young Blount, Lord Marmion's second squire, Found his steed wet with sweat and mire; Although the rated horseboy sware, Last night he dressd him sleek and fair. While chafed the impatient squire like thunder, Old Hubert shouts, in fear and wonder,“ Help gentle Blount! help, comrades all! Bevis lies dying in his stall; To Marmion who the plight dare tell, of the good steed he loves so well ?"Gaping for fear and ruth they saw The charger panting on his straw; Till one, who would seem wisest chal, “ What else but evil could betide, With that cursed palmer for our guide ? Better we had througlı mire and bush Been lanternled by friar Rush."
Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guess'd,
Nor wholly understood, His comrade's clamorous plaints suppress'd ;
He knew Lord Marmion's mood. Him, ere he issued forth, he sought, And found deep plunged in gloomy thought,
And did his tale display
Simply, as if he knew of naught
To cause such disarray.
Lord Marmion gave attention cold,
Nor marvell’d at the wonders told, -
Pass'd them as accidents of course,
And bade his clarions sound to horse.
III. Young Henry Blount, meanwhile, the cost Had reckon'd with their Scottish host; And as the charge he cast and paid, “ III thou deservest thy bire,” he said ;
“ Dost see, thou knave, my horse's plight? Fairies have ridden him all the night,
And left him in a foam !
I trust that soon a conjuring band,
With English cross, and blazing brand,
Shall drive the devils from this land
To their infernal home :
For in this haunted den, I trow,
All night they trampled to and fro,'
The laughing host look'd on the hire,-
“Gramercy, gentle southern squire,
And if thou comest among the rest,
With Scottish broad sword to be blest,
I. EUSTACE, I said, did blithely mark The first notes of the merry lark.
Sharp be the brand, and sure the blow,
And short the pang to undergo.”-
Here stay'd their talk,- for Marmion
Gave now the signal to set on.
The palmer showing forth the way,
They journey'd all the morning day.
Whose hand the armorial truncheon held, That feudal strife had often quell'd,
When wildest its alarms.
The green-sward way was smooth and good,
Through Humbie's and through Saltoun's wood;
A forest glade which, varying still,
Here gave a view of dale and hill;
There narrower closed, till over head
A vaulted screen the branches made.
“ A pleasant path," Fitz-Eustace said ;
“Such as were errant-knights might see
Adventures of high chivalry;
Might meet some damsel flying fast,
With hair unbound, and looks aghast;
And smooth and level course were here,
In her defence to break a spear.
Here, too, are twilight nooks and dells
And oft, in such, the story tells,
The damsel kind, from danger freed,
Did grateful pay her champion's meed.”-
He spoke to cheer lord Marmion's mind;
Perchance to show his lore design'd;
For Eustace much had pored
Upon a huge romantic tome,
In the hall-window of his home,
Imprinted at the antique dome
Of Caxton or De Worde.
Therefore he spoke-but spoke in vain,
For Marmion answer'd naught again.
He was a man of middle age;
In aspect manly, grave,
As on king's errand come ;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly
Expression found its home ;
The flash of that satiric rage,
Which, bursting on the early stage,
Branded the vices of the age,
And broke the keys of Rome.
On milk-white palfrey forth he paced ;
His cap of maintenance was graced
With the proud heron plume.
From his steed's shoulder, loin and breast,
Silk housings swept the ground, With Scotland's arms, device, and crest,
Embroider'd round and round.
The double treasure might you see,
First by Achaius borne,
The thistle, and the fleur-de-lis,
And gallant unicorn.
So bright the kings armorial coat,
That scarce the dazzled eye could note,
In living colours blazon'd brave,
The lion, which his title gave.
A train, which well beseem'd his state,
But all unarm’d, around him wait.
Still is thy name in high account,
And still thy verse has charms,
Şir David Lindesay of the Mount,
Lord lion-king-at-arms !
V. Now sudden, distant trumpets shrill, In notes prolong'd by wood and hill,
Were heard to echo far; Each ready archer grasp'd his bow, But by the flourish soon they know,
They breathed no point of war. Yet cautious, as in foeman's land, Lord Marmion's order speeds the band
Some opener ground to gain ;
And scarce a furlong had they rode,
When thinner trees, receding, show'd
A little woodland plain.
Just in that advantageous glade
The halting troop a line had made,
As forth from the opposing shade
Issued a gallant train.
Down from his horse did Marmion spring,
Soon as he saw the lion-king;
For well the stately baron knew
To him such courtesy was due,
Whom royal James himself had crown'd,
And on his temples placed the round
Of Scotland's ancient diadem ;
And wet his brow with hallow'd wine,
And on his finger given to shine
The emblematic gem.
Their mutual greetings duly made,
The lion thus his message said:-
“ Though Scotland's king hath deeply swore
Ne'er to knit faith with Henry more,
And strictly bath forbid resort
From England to his royal court;
Yet, for he knows lord Marmion's name,
And honours much his warlike fame,
My liege hath deem'd it shame, and lack
Of courtesy, to turn him back :
And, by his order, I, your guide,
Must lodging fit and fair provide,
Till finds king James meet time to see
The flower of English chivalry."
First came the trumpets at whose clang
So late the forest echoes rang;
On prancing steeds they forward press'd,
With scarlet mantle, azure vest;
Each at his trump a banner wore,
Which Scotland's royal scutcheon bore ;
Heralds and pursuivants, by name
Bute, Islay, Marchmount, Rothsay, came,
In painted tabards, proudly showing
Gules, argent, or, and azure glowing,
Attendant on a king-at-arms,
Though inly chased at this delay, Lord Marmion bears it as he may,