Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL. CANTO THIRD.

I.

And said I that my limbs were old;
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor withered heart was dead,

And that I might not sing of love ?—
How could I to the dearest theme,
That ever warmed a minstrel's dream, So foul, so false a recreant prove!

How could I name love's very name,
Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!

n.

In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;

In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;

In halls, in gay attire is seen;

In hamlets, dances on the green.

Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,

And men below, and saints above; .

For love is heaven, and heaven is love.

III.

So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green.
But the Page shouted wild and shrill—
And scarce his helmet could he don,
When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.

That warrior's steed, so dapple-gray,

Was dark with sweat, and splashed with clay;

His armour red with many a stain:
He seemed in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;

For it was William of Deloraine.

IV.

But no whit weary did he seem,

When, dancing in the sunny beam,

He marked the crane on the Baron's crest;

For his ready spear was in his rest.

Few were the words, and stern and high,
That marked the foemen's feudal hate;

For question fierce, and proud reply,
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seemed to know
That each was other's mortal foe;
And snorted fire, when wheeled around,
To give each knight his vantage ground.

V.

In rapid round the Baron bent;

He sighed a sigh, and prayed a prayer: The prayer was to his patron saint,

The sigh was to his ladye fair. Stout Deloraine nor sighed nor prayed, Nor saint, nor ladye, called to aid; But he stooped his head, and couched his spear, And spurred his steed to full career. The meeting of these champions proud Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.

VI.

Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!

The stately Baron backwards bent;

Bent backwards to his horse's tail,

And his plumes went scattering on the gale;

The tough ash spear, so stout and true,

Into a thousand flinders flew.

But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,

Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;

Through shield, and jack, and acton past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last.—
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast,
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurled on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward passed his course;
Nor knew—so giddy rolled his brain—
His foe lay stretched upon the plain.

VII.

But when he reined his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground

Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He bade his Page to staunch the wound,

And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate: His noble mind was inly moved For the kinsman of the maid he loved.

« PreviousContinue »