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And fast the faithful clan around him drew,
Had drawn from deepest solitude, What time the warning note was keenly wound, Far in Benbarrow's bosom rude. What time aloft their kindred banner flew,
Not his the mein of Christian priest, While clamorous war-pipes yell’d the gathering But Druid's, from the grave released, sound,
Whose harden'd heart and eye might brook And while the fiery cross glanced, like a meteor, On human sacrifice to look ; round.
And much, 'twas said, of heathen lore II.
Mix'd in the charms he mutter'd o'er. The summer dawn's reflected hue
The hallow'd creed gave only worse To purple changed Loch-Katrine blue;
And deadlier emphasis of curse ; Mildly and soft the western breeze
No peasant sought that hermit's prayer, Just kiss’d the lake, just stirr'd the trees,
His cave the pilgrim shunnd with care; And the pleased lake, like maiden coy,
The eager huntsman knew his bound, Trembled, but dimpled not for joy;
And in mid chase callid off his hound; The mountain shadows on her breast
Or if, in lonely glen or strath, Were neither broken nor at rest;
The desert-dweller met his path, In bright uncertainty they lie,
He pray'd, and sign’d the cross between, Like future joys to fancy's eye.
While terror took devotion's mien.
Of Brian's birth strange tales were told ; Begemm'd with dewdrops, led her fawn;
His mother watch'd a midnight fold, The gray mist left the mountain side,
Built deep within a dreary glen, The torrent show'd its glistening pride ;
Where scatter'd lay the bones of men, In visible in fiecked sky,
In some forgotten battle slain, The lark sent down her revelry;
And bleach'd by drifting wind and rain. The blackbird and the speckled thrush
It might have tamed a warrior's heart, Good-morrow gave from brake and bush;
To view such mockery of his art! In answer coo'd the cushat dove
The knot-grass fetter'd there the hand, Her notes of peace, and rest, and love.
Which once could burst an iron band;
Beneath the broad and ample bone,
That buckler'd heart to fear unknown, No thought of peace, no thought of rest,
A feeble and a timorous guest, Assuaged the storm in Roderick's breast.
The fieldfare framed her lowly nest; With sheathed broadsword in his hand,
There the slow blind-worm left his slime Abrupt be paced the islet strand,
On the feet limbs that mock'd at time; And eyed the rising sun, and laid
And there, too, lay the leader's skull, His hand on his impatient blade.
Still wreath'd with chaplet, fush'd and full, Beneath a rock, his vassal's care
For heathbell, with her purple bloom, Was piompt the ritual to prepare,
Supplied the bonnet and the plume. With deep and deathful meaning fraught;
All night, in this sad glen, the maid For such antiquity had taught
Sate, shrouded in her mantle's shade: Was preface mcet, ere yet abroad
She said no shepherd sought her side, The cross of fire should take its road.
No hunter's hand her snood untied, The shrinking band stood off aghast
Yet ne'er again to braid her hair At the impatient glance he cast ;
The virgin snood did Alice wear; Such glance the mountain eagle threw,
Gone was her maiden glee and sport, As, from the cliffs of Ben-venue,
Her maiden girdle all too short, She spread her dark sails on the wind,
Nor sought she, from that fatal night, And, high in middle heaven reclined,
Or holy church, or blessed rite, With her broad shadow on the lake,
But lock'd her secret in her breast,
And died in travail, unconfess'd.
Alone, among bis young compeers, Of juniper and rowan wild,
Was Brian from his infant years ; Mingled with shivers from the oak,
A moody and heart-broken boy, Rent by the lightning's recent stroke.
Estranged from sympathy and joy, Brian, the hermit, by it stood,
Bearing each taunt which careless tongue Barefooted, in his frock and hood.
On his mysterious lineage flung. His grisled beard and matted hair
Whole nights he spent by moonlight pale, Obscured a visage of despair ;
To wood and stream his hap to wail, His naked arms and legs, seam'd o'er,
Till, frantic, he as truth received The scars of frantic penance bore.
What of his birth the crowd believed, That monk, of savage form and face,
And sought, in mist and meteor fire, The impending danger of his race
To meet and know his phantom sire !
In vain, to soothe his wayward fate,
VII. The desert gave him visions wild, Such as might suit the spectre's child. Where with black cliffs the torrents toil, He watch'd the wheeling eddies boil, Till, from their foam, his dazzled eyes Beheld the river demon rise; The mountain mist took form and limb, Of noontide hag, or goblin grim; The midnight wind came wild and dread, Swell'd with the voices of the dead; Far on the future battle-heath His eye beheld the rauks of death : Thus the lone seer, from mankind hurl'd, Shaped forth a disembodied world. One lingering sympathy of mind Still bound him to the mortal kind; The only parent he could claim Of ancient Alpine's lineage came. Late had he heard in prophet's dream, The fatal Ben-Shie's boding scream ; Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast, Of charging steeds, careering fast Along Benharrow's shingly side, Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride: The thunderbolt had split the pine, All augurd ill to Alpine's line. He girt his loins, and came to show The signals of impending wo, And now stood prompt to bless or ban, As bade the chieftain of his clan.
And strange and mingled feelings woke,
On Alpine's dwelling low!
Shall doom him wrath and wo."
And first, in murmur low,
“Wo to the traitor, wo!"
A kindred fate shall know;
And infamy and wo.”
Of curses stammer'd slow,
We doom to want and wo!"
VIII. 'Twas all prepared ; and from the rock, A goat, the patriarch of the fock, Before the kindling pile was laid, And pierced by Roderick's ready blade. Patient the sickening victim eyed The life blood ebb in crimson tide Down his clogg'd beard and shaggy limb, Till darkness glazed his eyeballs dim. The grisly priest, with murmuring prayer, A slender crosslet form'd with care, A cubit's length in measure due; The shafts and limbs were rods of yew, Whose parents in Inch-Cailliach wave Their shadows o'er Clan-Alpine's grave, And, answering Lomond's breezes deep, Soothe many a chieftain's endless sleep. The cross, thus form’d, he held on high, With wasted hand, and haggard eye,
While, with set teeth and clenched hand,
XII. Then Roderick, with impatient look, From Brian's band the symbol took: “ Speed, Malise, speed!” he said, and gave The crosslet to his henchman brave. “The muster-place be Lanric meadInstant the time-speed, Malise, speed !” Like heath bird, when the hawks pursue, A barge across Loch-Katrine flew : High stood the henchman on the prow; Su rapidly the bargemen row, The bubbles, where they launch'd the boat, Were all unbroken and afloat, Dancing in foam and ripple still, When it had near'd the mainland hill; And from the silver beach's side Still was the prow three fathom wide, When lightly bounded to the land The messenger of blood and brand.
But danger, death, and warrior deed,
XIII. Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer's hide On feeter foot was never tied. Speed, Malise, speed ! such cause of haste Thine active sinews never braced. Bend 'gainst the steepy hill thy breast, Burst down like torrent from its crest; With short and springing footstep pass The trembling bog and false morass; Across the brook like roebuck bound, And thread the brake like questing hound; The crag is high, the scaur is deep, Yet shrink not from the desperate leap; Parch'd are thy burning lips and brow, Yet by the fountain pause not now; Herald of battle, fate, and fear, Stretch onward in thy fleet career! The wounded hind thou track'st not now Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough, Nor pliest thou now thy fiying pace, With rivals in the mountain race;
He is lost to the forest,
When our need was the sorest. The font, reappearing,
From the raindrops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow !
Yet trust I well, his duty done,
The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
Wails manhood in glory ;
Waft the leaves that are searest,
When blighting was nearest.
Sage counsel in cumber,
How sound is thy slumber!
Like the foam on the river,
XIX. Benledi saw the cross of fire, It glanced like lightning up Strath-Ire. O'er dale and hill the summons flew, Nor rest nor pause young Angus knew; The tear that gather'd in his eye, He left the mountain breeze to dry; Until, where Teith's young waters roll, Betwixt him and a wooded knoll, That graced the sable strath with green, The chapel of Saint Bride was seen. Swoln was the stream, remote the bridge, But Angus paused not on the edge ; Though the dark waves danced dizzily, Though reeld his sympathetic eye, He dash'd amid the torrent's roar; His right hand high the crosslet bore, His left the pole-axe grasp'd, to guide And stay his footing in the tide. He stumbled twice—the foam splash'd high, With hoarser swell the stream raced by; And had he fallen--for ever there, Farewell Duncraggan's orphan heir ! But still, as if in parting life, Firmer he grasp'd the cross of strife, Until th' opposing bank he gain’d, And up the chapel pathway strain'd.
XX. A blithesome rout, that morning tide, Had sought the chapel of Saint Bride. Her troth Tombea's Mary gave To Norman, heir of Armandave, And, issuing from the Gothic arch, The bridal now resumed their march. In rude, but glad procession, came Bonnetted sire and coif-clad dame; And plaided youth, with jest and jeer, Which snooded maiden would not hear; And children, that, unwitting why, Lent the gay shout their shrilly cry; And minstrels, that in measures vied Before the young and bonny bride, Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose The tear and blush of morning rose. With virgin step, and bashful hand, She held the kerchief's snowy band; The gallant bridegroom, by her side, Beheld his prize with victor's pride,
* Or corri-The hollow side of the hill, where game usually lies.
+ Faithful-The name of a dog.
And the glad mother in her ear
XXI. Who meets them at the churchyard gate ? The messenger of fear and fate ! Haste in his hurried accent lies, And grief is swimming in his eyes. All dripping from the recent flood, Panting and travel-soild he stood, The fatal sign of fire and sword Held forth, and spoke th' appointed word; “ The muster place is Lanric mead; Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed !"And must he change so soon the hand Just link'd to his by holy band, For the fell cross of blood and brand ? And must the day, so blithe that rose, And promised rapture in the close, Before its setting hour, divide The bridegroom from the plighted bride ? O fatal doom -it must! it must! Clan-Alpine's cause, her chieftain's trust, Her summons dread, brooks no delay ; Stretch to the race-away! away!
I may not, dare not, fancy now
And all it promised me, Mary!
His foot like arrow free, Mary!
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary!
XXII. Yet slow he laid his plaid aside, And, lingering, eyed his lovely bride, Until he saw the starting tear Speak wo he might not stop to cheer; Then, trusting not a second look, In haste he sped him up the brook, Nor backward glanced till on the heath, Where Lubnaig's lake supplies the Teith.What in the racer's bosom stirr'd? The sicken'd pang of hope deferr'd, And memory, with a torturing train Of all his morning visions vain. Mingled with love's impatience, came The manly thirst for martial fame : The stormy joy of mountaineers, Ere yet they rush upon the spears ; And zeal for clan and chieftain burning, And hope, from well-fought field returning, With war's red honours on his crest, To clasp his Mary to his breast. Stung by his thoughts, o'er bank and brae, Like fire from fint he glanced away, While high resolve, and feeling strong, Burst into voluntary song.
The heath this night must be my bed, The bracken* curtain for my head, My lullaby the warder's tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary! To-morrow eve, more stilly laid, My couch may be my bloody plaid, My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid !
It will not waken me, Mary!
XXV. That summer morn had Roderick Dhu Survey'd the skirts of Ben-venue, And sent his scouts o'cr hill and heath, To view the frontiers of Menteith. All backward came with news of truce ; Still lay each martial Græme and Bruce, In Rednock courts no horsemen wait, No banner waved on Cardross gate, On Duchray's towers no beacon shone, Nor scared the herons from Loch-Con; All seem'd at peace.-Now, wot ye why The chieftain, with such anxious eye, Ere to the muster he repair, This western frontier scann'd with care?