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in Ben-venue's most darksome cleft
XXVII. Now eve with western shadows long, Floated on Katrine bright and strong, When Roderick, with a chosen few, Repass'd the heights of Ben-venue. Above the goblin-cave they go, Through the wild pass of Beal-nam-bo; The prompt retainers speed before, To launch the shallop from the shore, For 'cross Loch-Katrine lies his way, To view the passes of Achray, And place his clansmen in array. Yet lags the chief in musing mind, Unwonted sight, his men behind. A single page, to bear his sword, Alone attended on his lord ; The rest their way through thickets break, And soon await him by the lake.
* The Urisk, or highland satyr.
XXVIII. Their chief, with step reluctant, still Was lingering on the craggy hill, Hard by where turn'd apart the road To Douglas's obscure abode. It was but with that dawning mom That Roderick Dhu had proudly sworn To drown his love in war's wild roar, Nor think of Ellen Douglas more ; But he who stems a stream with sand, And fetters flame with flaxen band, Has yet a harder task to proveBy firm resolve to conquer love! Eve finds the chief, like restless ghost, Still hovering near his treasure lost; For though his haughty heart deny A parting meeting to his eye, Still fondly strains his anxious ear The accents of her voice to hear, And inly did he curse the breeze That waked to sound the rustling trees. But hark! what mingles in the strain ? It is the harp of Allan-bane, That wakes its measure slow and high, Attuned to sacred minstrelsy. What melting voice attends the strings? 'Tis Ellen, or an angel, sings.
HYMN TO THE VIRGIN.
Ave Maria! maiden mild !
Listen to a maiden's prayer;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Though banish), outcast, and reviled-
Ave Maria! Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there. The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled; Then, maiden, hear a maiden's prayer, Mother, list a suppliant child !
Ave Maria! Ave Maria! Stainless styled !
Foul demons of the earth and air, From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall fee before thy presence fair. We bow us to thy lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
XXX. Died on the harp the closing hymnUnmoved in attitude and limb, As listening still, Clan-Alpine's lord Stood leaning on his heavy sword, Until the page, with humble sign, Twice pointed to the sun's decline. Then, while his plaid he round him cast, * It is the last time —'tis the last,"He mutter'd thrice," the last time e'er That angel voice shall Roderick hear!" It was a goading thought-his stride Hied hastier down the mountain side; Sullen he flung him in the boat, And instant 'cross the lake it shot. They landed in that silvery bay, And eastward held their hasty way. Till, with the latest beams of light, The band arrived on Lanric height, Where muster'd, in the vale below, Clan-Alpine's men in martial show.
All while he stripp'd the wild-rose spray,
XXXI. A various scene the clansmen made, Some sate, some stood, some slowly stray'd But most, with mantles folded round, Were couch'd to rest upon the ground, Scarce to be known by curious eye, From the deep heather where they lie, So well was match'd the tartan screen With heathbell dark and brackens green; Unless where, here and there, a blade, Or lance's point, a glimmer made, Like glowworm twinkling through the shade. But when, advancing through the gloom, They saw the chieftain's eagle plume, Their shout of welcome, shrill and wide, Shook the steep mountain's steady side. Thrice it arose, and lake and fell Three times return'd the martial yell; It died upon Bochastle's plain, And silence claim'd her evening reign.
Together up the pass they sped:
II. Such fond conceit, half said, half sung, Love prompted to the bridegroom's tongue.
“ Ah! well the gallant brute I knew!
Not spoke in word, nor blazed in scroll, But borne and branded on my soul ;Which spills the foremost foeman's life That party conquers in the strife.”
So fierce, so tameless, and so fleet,
VII. “ Thanks, Brian, for thy zeal and care! Good is thine augury, and fair. Clan-Alpine ne'er in battle stood, But first our broadswords tasted blood. A surer victim still I know, Self-offer'd to th' auspicious blow: A spy has sought my land this morn, No eve shall witness his return ! My followers guard each pass's mouth. To east, to westward, and to south ; Red Murdoch, bribed to be his guide, Has charge to lead his steps aside, Till, in deep path or dingle brown, He light on those shall bring him down.But see who comes his news to show! Malise ! what tidings of the foe?”
“ That bull was slain : his reeking hide
-“ Peace! peace! to other than to me,
VIII. “At Doune, o'er many a spear and glaive Two barons proud their banners wave, I saw the Moray's silver star, And mark'd the sable pale of Mar."“By Alpine's soul, high tidings those ! I love to hear of worthy foes. When move they on?"_" To-morrow's noon Will see them here for battle boune." “ Then shall it see a meeting stern! But, for the place-say, couldst thou learn Naught of the friendly clans of Earn? Strengthen'd by them, we well might bide The battle on Benledi's side. Thou couldst not ?-well! Clan-Alpine's men Shall man the Trosach's shaggy glen ; Within Loch-Katrine's gorge we'll fight, All in our maids' and matrons' sight, Each for his hearth and household fire, Father for child, and son for sire, Lover for maid beloved !-but whyIs it the breeze affects mine eye? Or dost thou come, ill-omen'd tear, A messenger of doubt and fear? No! sooner may the Saxon lance Unfix Benledi from his stance, Than doubt or terror can pierce through Th' unyielding heart of Roderick Dhu! 'Tis stubborn as his trusty targe.Each to his post all know their charge."The pibroch sounds, the bands advance, The broadswords gleam, the banners dance, Obedient to the chieftain's glance. I turn me from the martial roar, And seek Coir-Uriskin once more.
VI. And, as they came, with Alpine's lord The hermit monk held solemn word: “ Roderick ! it is a fearful strife, For man endow'd with mortal life, Whose shroud of sentient clay can still Feel feverish pang and fainting chill, Whose eye can stare in stony trance, Whose hair can rouse like warrior's lance, 'Tis hard for such to view, unfurld, The curtain of the future world. Yet, witness every quaking limb, My sunken pulse, mine eyeballs dim, My soul with harrowin nguish torn, This for my chieftain have I borne The shapes that sought my fearful couch, A human tongue may ne'er avouch ; No mortal man-save he, who, bred Between the living and the dead, Is gifted beyond nature's law,Had e'er survived to say he saw. At length the fateful answer came, In characters of living flame!
IX. Where is the Douglas ?—he is gone; And Ellen sits on the gray stone Fast by the cave, and makes her moan ; While vainly Allan's words of cheer Are pour'd on her unheeding ear
And think upon the harpings slow,
“ He will return-dear lady, trust!
ELLEN. “Well, be it as thou wilt; I hear, But cannot stop the bursting tear," The minstrel tried his simple art, But distant far was Ellen's heart.
Merry it is in the good green wood,
When the mavis* and merlet are singing, When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are
“No, Allan, no! pretext so kind
And the hunter's horn is ringing. “O Alice Brand, my native land
Is lost for love of you ;
As outlaws wont to do.
And 'twas all for thine eyes so blue, That on the night of our luckless flight,
Thy brother bold I slew. “Now must I teach to hew the beach,
The hand that held the glaive, For leaves to spread our lowly bed,
And stakes to fence our cave. “ And, for vest of pall, thy fingers small,
That wont on harp to stray, A cloak must shear from the slaughter'd deer,
To keep the cold away.” “O Richard ! if my brother died,
'Twas but a fatal chance; For darkling was the battle tried,
And fortune sped the lance.
Nor thou the crimson sheen,
As gay the forest green.
And lost thy native land,
And he his Alice Brand.”
“ Nay, lovely Ellen-dearest, nay!
BALLAD CONTINUED. 'Tis merry, 'tis merry in good green wood,
So blithe Lady Alice is singing ; On the beech's pride, and oak’s brown side,
Lord Richard's axe is ringing.
Up spoke the moody elfin king,
Who wond within the bill,-
His voice was ghostly shrill. “Why sounds yon stroke on beach and oak,
Our moonlight circle's screen?
Beloved of our elfin queen ?
The fairies' fatal green?
For thou wert christend man; For cross or sign thou wilt not fly,
For mutter'd word or ban. “ Lay on him the curse of the wither'd heart,
The curse of the sleepless eye; Till he wish and pray that his life would part,
Nor yet find leave to die.”
BALLAD CONTINUED. 'Tis merry, 'tis merry in good green wood,
Though the birds have still’d their singing; The evening blaze doth Alice raise,
And Richard is fagots bringing.
Before Lord Richard stands,
“ That is made with bloody hands.”— But out then spoke she, Alice Brand,
That woman void of fear, “ And if there's blood upon his hand,
'Tis but the blood of deer.”_
It cleaves unto his hand,
The blood of Ethert Brand.”
And made the holy sign,-
A spotless hand is mine.
By him who demons fear,
And what thine errand here ?"
" It was between the night and day,
When the fairy king has power, That I sunk down in a sinful fray, And, 'twixt life and death, was soatch'd away
To the joyless elfin bower. “ But wist I of a woman bold,
Who thrice my brow durst sign, I might regain my mortal mould,
As fair a form as thine."-
That lady was so brave;
The darker grew the cave.
He rose beneath her hand
Her brother, Ethert Brand !
When the mavis and merle are singing ; But merrier were they in Dunfermline gray When all the bells were ringing.
BALLAD CONTINUED. “ 'Tis merry, 'tis merry in fairy land,
When fairy birds are singing, When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,
With bit and bridle ringing:
But all is glistening show,
Can dart on ice and snow.
Is our inconstant shape,
And now like dwarf and ape.