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On yonder mountain's purple head
Until the mountain maiden show d
XXIII. “I well believe," the maid replied, As her light skiff approach'd 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 plightA grayhair'd sire, whose eye intent Was on the vision'd 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 tassled horn so gayly 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 deem'd it was my father's horn, Whose echoes o'er the lake were borne."
XXVI. 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. Lopp'd of their boughs, their hoar trunks bared, 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 wither'd 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 Idæan vine, The clematis, the favour'd 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 stay'd, And gayly to the stranger said, “On heaven and on thy lady call, And enter the enchanted hall!"
XXIV. The stranger smiled :-“Since to your home A destined errant-knight I come, Announced by prophet sooth and old, Doom'd, 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 suppress'd and sly, The toil unwonted saw him try; For seldom, sure, if e'er before, His noble hand had grasp'd 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.
XXVII. “My hope, my heaven, my trust must be, My gentle guide, in following thee.” He cross'd the threshold—and a clang Of angry steel that instant rang. To his bold brow his spirit rush'd, But soon for vain alarm he blush'd, When on the floor he saw display'd, Cause of the din, a naked blade Dropp'd from the sheath that, careless fung, Upon a stag's huge antlers swung; For all around, the walls to grace, Hung trophies of the fight or chase: A target there, a bugle here, A battle-axe, a hunting spear, And broadswords, bows, and arrows, store, With the tusk'd trophies of the boar. Here grins the wolf as when he died, And there the wildcat's brindled hide The frontlet of the elk adorns, Or mantles o'er the bison's horns : Pennons and flags defaced and stain'd, That blackening streaks of blood retain'd, And deer skins, dappled, dun and white, With otter's fur and seal's unite, In rude and uncouth tapestry all, To garnish forth the sylvan hall.
XXV. The stranger view'd the shore around; 'Twas all so close with copse-wood bound, Nor track nor pathway might declare Tuat kuman foot frequented there,
XXVIII. The wandering stranger round him gazed, And next the fallen weapon raised; Few were the arms whose sinewy strength Sufficed to stretch it forth at length. And as the brand he poised and sway'd, “I never knew but one,” he said, “Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield A blade like this in battle field.” She sigh'd, then smiled, and took the word; “ You see the guardian champion's sword; As light it trembles in his hand, As in my grasp a hazel wand; My sire's tall form might grace the part Of Ferragus, or Ascapart : But in the absent giant's hold Are women now, and menials old."
While viewless minstrels touch the string,
SONG. “Soldier rest! thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking: Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking. In our isle's enchanted hall,
Hands unseen thy couch are strewing,
Every sense in slumber dewing.
“ No rude sound shall reach thine ear,
Armour's clang, or war-steed champing, Trump nor pibroch summon here
Mustering clan, or squadron tramping. Yet the lark's shrill fife may come,
At the daybreak, from the fallow, And the bittern sound his drum,
Booming from the sedgy shallow. Ruder sounds shall none be near, Guards nor warders challenge here, Here's no war-steed's neigh and chanping, Shouting clans or squadrons stamping."
XXIX. The mistress of the mansion came, Mature of age, a graceful dame ; Whose easy step and stately port Had well become a princely court, To whom, though more than kindred knew, Young Ellen gave a mother's due. Meet welcome to her guest she made, And every courteous rite was paid, That hospitality could claim, Though all unask'd his birth and name. Such then the reverence to a guest, That fellest foe might join the feast, And from his deadliest foeman's door Unquestion'd turn, the banquet o'er. At length his rank the stranger names, “ The knight of Snowdoun, James Fitz-James ; Lord of a barren heritage, Which his brave sires, from age to age, By their good swords had held with toil; His sire had fallen in such turmoil, And he, God wot, was forced to stand Oft for his right with blade in hand. This morning with Lord Moray's train He chased a stalwart stag in vain, Outstripp'd his comrades, miss'd the deer, Lost his good steed, and wander'd here."
XXXII. She paused-then, blushing, led the lay To grace the stranger of the day. Her mellow notes a while prolong The cadence of the flowing song, Till to her lips in measured frame The minstrel verse spontaneous came.
SONG CONTINUED. “ Huntsman, rest! thy chase is done,
Wbile our slumbrous spells assail ye, Dream not, with the rising sun,
Bugles here shall sound reveillie, Sleep! the deer is in his den ;
Sleep! the hounds are by thee lying; Sleep! nor dream in yonder glen
How thy gallant steed lay dying.
XXX. Fain would the knight in turn require The name and state of Ellen's sire; Well show'd the elder lady's mien, That courts and cities she had seen ; Ellen, though more her looks display'd The simple grace of sylvan maid, Io speech and gesture, form and face, Show'd she was come of gentle race; 'Twere strange in ruder rank to find Such looks, such manners, and such mind. Each hint the knight of Snowdoun gave, Dame Margaret heard with silence grave; Or Ellen, innocently gay, Turu'd all inquiry light away: “ Wierd women we! by dale and down We dwell, afar from tower and town. We stem the food, we ride the blast, On wandering knights our spells we cast;
XXXIII. The hall was clear'd—the stranger's bed Was there of mountain heather spread, Where oft an hundred guests had lain, And dream'd their forest sports again. But vainly did tne heath flower shed Its moorland fragrance round his head; Not Ellen's spell had lullid to rest The fever of his troubled breast. In broken dreams the image rose Of varied perils, pains, and woes ;
My midnight orisons said o'er,
His steed now flounders in the brake,
'Tis morning prompts the linnet's blithest lay: All nature's children feel the matin spring
Of life reviving, with reviving day; And while yon little bark glides down the bay
Wafting the stranger on his way again, Morn's genial influence roused a minstret gray,
And sweetly o'er the lake was heard thy strain, Mix'd with the sounding harp, 0 white hair'd
XXXIV. At length, with Ellen in a grove He seem'd to walk, and speak of love ; She listen’d with a blush and sigh, His suit was warm, his hopes were high. He sought her yielded hand to clasp, And a cold gauntlet met his grasp; The phantom's sex was changed and gone, Upon its head a helmet shone; Slowly enlarged to giant size, With darken'd cheek and threatening eyes, The grisly visage, stern and hoar, To Ellen still a likeness bore. He woke, and, panting with affright, Recall’d the vision of the night. The hearth's decaying brands were red, And deep and dusky lustre shed, Half showing, balf concealing all The uncouth trophies of the hall. 'Mid those the stranger fix'd his eye Where that huge falchion hung on high, And thoughts on thoughts, a countless throng, Rush'a, chasing countless thoughts along, Until, the giddy whirl to cure, He rose, and sought the moonshine pure.
“ Not faster yonder rowers' might
Flings from their oars the spray, Not faster yonder rippling bright, That tracks the shallop's course in light,
Melts in the lake away,
High place in battle line,
The honour'd meed be thine !
XXXV. The wild rose, eglantine, and broom, Wasted around their rich perfume; The birch trees wept in fragrant balm, The aspen slept beneath tbe calm ; The silver light, with quivering glance, Play'd on the water's still expanse, Wild were the heart whose passion's sway Could rage beneath the sober ray! He felt its calm, that warrior guest, While thus he communed with his breast:“ Why is it, at each turn I trace Some memory of that exiled race? Can I not mountain maiden spy, But she must bear the Douglas eye? Can I not view a highland brand, But it must match the Douglas hand? Can I not frame a fever'd dream, But still the Douglas is the theme? I'll dream no moreby manly mind Not e’en in sleep is will resign'd.
“ But if beneath yon southern sky
A plaided stranger roam,
Pine for his highland home;
Mishap shall mar thy sail,
Beneath the fickle gale;
*trouse thee from thy moody dream!
IV. As died the sounds upon the tide, The shallop reach'd the mainland side, And ere his onward way he took, The stranger cast a lingering look, Where easily his eye might reach The harper on the islet beach, Reclined against a blighted tree, As wasted, gray, and worn as he. To minstrel meditation given, His reverend brow was raised to heaven, As from the rising sun to claim A sparkle of inspiring flame. His hand, reclined upon the wire, Seem'd watching the awakening fire; So still he sate, as those who wait Till judgment speak the doom of fate; So still, as if no breeze might dare To lift one lock of hoary hair; So still, as life itself were fled, In the last sound his harp had sped.
VII. The minstrel waked his harp-three times Arose the well-known martial chimes, And thrice their high heroic pride In melancholy murmurs died. —"Vainly thou bid'st, 0 noble maid,” Clasping his wither'd hands, he said, “ Vainly thou bid’st me wake the strain, Though all unwont to bid in vain. Alas! than mine a mightier hand Has tuned my harp, my strings has spann'd! I touch the chords of joy, but low And mournful answer notes of wo; And the proud march, which victors tread, Sinks in the wailing for the dead. O well for me, if mine alone That dirge's deep prophetic tone! If, as my tuneful fathers said, This harp, which erst saint Modan sway'd, Can thus its master's fate foretell, Then welcome be the minstrel's knell!
V. Upon a rock with lichens wild, Beside him Ellen sate and smiled. Smiled she to see the stately drake Lead forth his fleet upon the lake, While her vex'd spaniel, from the beach, Bay'd at the prize beyond his reach! Yet tell me, then, the maid who knows, Why deepend on her cheek the rose ?Forgive, forgive, fidelity! Perchance the maiden smiled to see Yon parting lingerer wave adieu, And stop and turn to wave anew; And, lovely ladies, ere your ire Condemn the heroine of my lyre, Show me the fair would scorn to spy, And prize such conquest of her eye!
VIII. “But ah! dear lady, thus it sigh'd 'The eve thy sainted mother died; And such the sounds which, while I strove To wake a lay of war or love, Came marring all the festal mirth, Appalling me who gave them birth, And, disobedient to my call, Wailed loud through Bothwell's banner'd hall, Ere Douglasses, to ruin driven, Were exiled from their native heaven.Oh ! if yet worse mishap and wo My master's house must undergo, Or aught but weal to Ellen fair, Brood in these accents of despair, No future bard, sad harp! shall fling Triumph or rapture from thy string; One short, one final strain shall flow Fraught with unutterable wo, Then shiver'd shall thy fragments lie, Thy master cast him down and die."
While yet he loiter'd on the spot,
IX. Soothing she answer'd him," Assuage, Mine honour'd friend, the fears of age ; All melodies to thee are known, That harp has rung, or pipe has blown, In lowland vale or highland glen, From Tweed to Spey-what marvel, then, At times, unbidden notes should rise, Confusedly bound in memory's ties, Entangling, as they rush along, The war march with the funeral song ?Small ground is now for boding fear; Obscure, but safe, we rest us here.
And since, though outlaw'd, hath his hand
My sire, in native virtue great,
XIII. “ Minstrel,” the maid replied, and high Her father's soul glanced from her eye, “My debts to Roderick's house I know : All that a mother could bestow, To Lady Margaret's care I owe, Since first an orphan in the wild She sorrow'd o'er her sister's child. To her brave chieftain son, from ire Of Scotland's king who shrouds my sire, A deeper, holier debt is owed ; And, could I pay it with my blood, Allan ! sir Roderick should command My blood, my life—but not my hand. Rather will Ellen Douglas dwell A votaress in Maronnan's cell; Rather through realms beyond the sea, Seeking the world's cold charity, Where ne'er was spoke a Scottish word, And ne'er the name of Douglas heard, An outcast pilgrim will she rove, Than wed the man she cannot love.
XIV. “ Thou shakest, good friend, thy tresses grayThat pleading look, what can it say But what I own ?-I grant him brave, But wild as Bracklinn's thundering wave ; And generous-save vindictive mood Or jealous transport chafe his blood : I grant him true to friendly band, As his claymore is to his hand; But 0! that very blade of steel More mercy for a foe would feel : I grant him liberal, to fling Among his clan the wealth they bring, When back by lake and glen they wind, And in the lowland leave behind, Where once some pleasant hamlet stood, A mass of ashes slaked with blood. The hand that for my father fought, I honour, as his daughter ought; But can I clasp it reeking red, From peasants slaughter'd in their shed ?
*The well-known cognizance of the Douglas family.