Page images

In Katharine's aisle the monarch knelt,

To Lindesay did at length unfold
With sackcloth-shirt, and iron belt,

The tale his village host had told
And eyes with sorrow streaming

At Gifford, to his train.
Around him, in their stalls of state,

Nought of the palmer says he there,
The thistle's knight-companions sate,

And nought of Constance or of Clare:
Their banners o'er them beaming.

The thoughts which broke his sleep, he seems
I too was there, and, sooth to tell,

To mention but as feverish dreams.
Bedeafened with the jangling knell,

Was watching where the sunbeams fell,

“ In vain,” said he, "to rest I spread
Through the stained casement gleaming;
But, while I marked what next befell,

My burning limbs, and couched my head:

Fantastic thoughts returned;
It seemed as I were dreaming.

And, by their wild dominion led,
Stepped from the crowd a ghostly wight,

My heart within me burned.
In azure gown, with cincture white,

So sore was the delirious goad,
forehead bald, his head was bare,

I took my steed, and forth I rode,
Down hung at length his yellow hair. -

And, as the moon shone bright and cold,
Now mock me not when, good my lord,

Soon reached the camp upon the wold.
I pledge to you my knightly-word,

The southern entrance 1 past through,
That, when I saw his
placid grace,

And halted, and my bugle blew.
His simple majesty of face,

Methought an answer met my ear,--
His solemn bearing, and his pace

Yet was the blast so low and drear,
So stately gliding on, -

So hollow, and so faintly blown,
Seemed to me ne'er did limner paint

It might be echo of my own.
So just an image of the saint
Who propped the virgin in her faint, —

The loved apostle John.

“ Thus judging, for a little space

I listened, ere I left the place;

But scarce could trust my eyes,
« He stepped before the monarch's chair,

Nor yet can think they served me true,
And stood with rustic plainness there,

When sudden in the ring I view,
And little reverence made;

In form distinct of shape and hue,
Nor head, nor body, bowed nor bent,

A mounted champion rise.-
But on the desk bis arm he leant,

I've fought, lord lion, many a day,
And words like these he said,

In single fight and mixed affray,
In a low voice,-but never tone

And ever, I myself may say,
So thrilled through vein, and nerve, and bone: - Have borne me as a knight;
My mother sent me from afar,

But when this unexpected foe
Sir king, to warn thee not to war, —

Seemed starting from the gulf below,-
Wo waits on thine array,

1 care not though the truth 1 show,
If war thou wilt, of woman fair,

I trembled with affright;
Her witching wiles and wanton snare,

And as I placed in rest my spear,
James Stuart, doubly warned, beware:

My hand so shook for very fear,
God keep thee as he may!

1 scarce could couch it right.
The wondering monarch seemed to seek

For answer, and found none;

“Why need my tongue the issue tell?
And when he raised his head to speak,
The monitor was gone.

We ran our course,-my charger fell;

What could he 'gainst the shock of hell?
The marshal and myself had cast

I rolled upon the plain.
To stop him as he outward past;
But, lighter than the whirlwind's blast

High o'er my head, with threatening hand,
He vanished from our eyes,

The spectre shook his naked brand, -
Like sunbeam on the billow cast,

Yet did the worst remain:
That glances but, and dies.”-

My dazzled eyes I upward cast,

Not opening hell itself could blast

Their sight like what I saw!
While Lindesay told this marvel strange,

Full on his face the moonbeam strook -
The twilight was so pale,

A face could never be mistook!
He marked not Marmion's colour change,

I knew the stern vindictive look,
While listening to the tale:

And held my breath for awe.
But, after a suspended pause,

I saw the face of one who, fled
The baron spoke :-"Of nature's laws

To foreign climes, has long been dead,-
So strong I held the force,

I well believe the last;
That never
super-human cause

For ne'er, from visor raised, did stare
Could e'er control their course;

A human warrior, with a glare
And, three days since, had judged your aim

So grimly and so ghast.
Was but to make your guest your game.

Thrice o'er my head he shook the blade :
But I have seen, since past the Tweed,

But when to good saint George I prayed, What much has changed my sceptic creed,

(The first time e'er I asked his aid,
And made me credit aught."--He staid,

He plunged it in the sheath;
And seemed to wish his words unsaid:

And, on his courser mounting light,
But, by that strong emotion pressed,

He seemed to vanish from my sight:
Which prompts us to unload our breast,

The moonbeam drooped, and deepest night
Even when discovery's pain,

Sunk down upon the heath.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Twere long to tell what cause I have To me they make a heavy moan

To know his face that met me there, Of early friendships past and gone.
Called by his hatred from the grave,

To cumber upper air;

But different far the change has been,
Dead or alive, good cause had he

Since Marmion, from the crown
To be my mortal enemy.”-

Of Blackford, saw that martial scene

Upon the bent so brown:
Marvelled sir David of the mount;

Thousand pavilions, white as snow, Then, learned in story, 'gan recount

Spread all the Borough-moor below, 10 Such chance had hap'd of old,

Upland, and dale, and down: When once, near Norham, there did fight

A thousand did I say? I ween,

Thousands on thousands there were seen,
A spectre fell, of fiendish might,
In likeness of a Scottish knight,

That chequered all the heath between
With Brian Bulmer bold,

The streamlet and the town: And trained him nigh to disallow

In crossing ranks extending far, The aid of bis baptismal vow.

Forming a camp irregular; “And such a phantom too, 'tis said,

Oft giving way where still there stood With highland broad-sword, targe, and plaid,

Some relics of the old oak wood, And fingers red with gore,

That darkly huge did intervene, Is seen in Rothiemurchus' glade,

And tamed the glaring white with green: Or where the sable pine-trees shade

In these extended lines there lay Dark Tomantoul, and Achnaslaid,

A martial kingdom's vast array. Dromouchty, or Glenmore.*

XXVI. And yet, what'er such legends say,

For from Hebudes, dark with rain, Of warlike demon, host, or fay,

To eastern Lodon's fertile plain, On mountain, moor, or plain,

And from the southern Redswire edge Spotless in faith, in bosom bold,

To farthest Rosse's rocky ledge; True son of chivalry should hold

From west to east, from south to north, These midnight terrors vain;

Scotland sent all her warriors forth. For seldom have such spirits power

Marmion might hear the mingled hum To harm, save in the evil hour,

Of myriads up the mountain come; When guilt we meditate within,

The horses' tramp, and tingling clank Or harbour unrepented sin.”

Where chiefs reviewed their vassal rank, Lord Marmion turned him half aside,

And charger's shrilling neigh; And twice to clear his voice he tried,

And see the shifting lines advance, Then pressed sir David's hand,

While frequent flashed, from shield and lance, But nought, at length, in answer said;

The sun's reflected ray. And here their farther converse staid,

XXVII. Each ordering that his band

Thin curling in the morning air, Should bowne them with the rising day,

The wreathes of falling smoke declare To Scotland's camp to take their way,–

To embers now the brands decayed,
Such was the king's command.

Where the night-watch their fires had made.

They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
Early they took Dun-Edin's road,

Full many a baggage-cart and wain, And I could trace each step they trode;

And dire artillery's clumsy car, Hill, brook, nor dell, nor rock, nor stone,

By sluggish oxen tugged to war; Lies on the path to me unknown.

And there were Borthwick's sisters seven, Much might it boast of storied lore;

And culverins which France had given. But, passing such digression o'er,

Ill-omened gift! the Suffice it that their route was laid

The conqueror's spoil on Flodden plain. Across the furzy hills of Braid.

XXVIII. They passed the glen and scanty rill,

Nor marked they less, where in the air And climbed the opposing bank, until

A thousand streamers flaunted fair;
They gained the top of Blackford Hill.

Various in shape, device, and hue,

Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
Blackford! on whose uncultured breast,

Broad, narrow, swallow-tailed, and square, Among the broom, and thorn, and whin,

Scroll, pennon, pensil, bandrol,t there A truant-boy, I sought the nest,

O’er the pavilions flew.ll Or listed, as 1 lay at rest,

Highest and midmost, was descried While rose, on breezes thin,

The royal banner floating wide; The murmur of the city crowd,

The staff a pine-tree strong and straight, And, from his steeple jangling loud,

Pitched deeply in a massive stone, Saint Giles's mingling din

Which still in memory is shown, Now, from the summit of the plain,

Yet bent beneath the standard's weight, Waves all the hill with yellow grain;

Whene'er the western wind unrolled, And, o'er the landscape as I look,

With toil, the huge and cumbrous fold, Nought do I see unchanged remain,

And gave to view the dazzling field, Save the rude cliffs and chiming brook:

Where, in proud Scotland's royal shield,

The ruddy lion ramped in gold.iž
See the traditions concerning Bulmer, and the spectre Seven culverins, so called, cast by one Borthwick.
called Lham-dearg, or Bloody-band, in note 8, on canto + Each of these feudal ensigns intimated the differem

rank of those entitled to display them.

guns remain

[ocr errors]


And thus the lion spoke:Lord Marmion viewed the landscape bright, “ Thus clamoured still the war-notes when He viewed it with a chief's delight,

The king to mass his way has ta’en, Until within him burned his heart,

Or to St. Chatherine's of Sienne, And lightning from his eye did part,

Or chapel of St. Rocque. As on the battle-day;

To you they speak of martial fame; Such glance did falcon never dart,

But me remind of peaceful game, When stooping on his prey.

When blither was their cheer, « Oh! well, lord-lion, hast thou said,

Thrilling in Falkland woods the air, Thy king from warfare to dissuade

In signal none his steed should spare, Were but a vain essay;

But strive which foremost might repair For, by St. George, were that host mine,

To the downfall of the deer. Not power infernal, nor divine,

XXXII. Should once to peace my soul incline,

“Nor less," he said, -—" when looking forth, Till I had dimmed their armour's shine In glorious battle-fray!"

1 view yon empress of the north Answered the bard, of milder mood:

Sit on her hilly throne; “ Fair is the sight,--and yet 'twere good,

Her palace's imperial bowers, That kings would think withal,

Her castle, proof to hostile powers,

Her stately halls and holy towers-
When peace and wealth their land has blessed,
Tis better to sit still at rest,

Nor less,” he said, “1 moan

To think what wo mischance may bring,
Than rise, perchance to fall.”

And how these merry bells may ring

The death dirge of our gallant king;
Still on the spot lord Marmion stayed,

Or, with their larum, call For fairer scene he ne'er surveyed.

The burghers forth to watch and ward, When sated with the martial show

'Gainst southern sack and fires to guard That peopled all the plain below,

Dun-Edin's leaguered wall. The wandering eye could o'er it go,

But not for my presaging thought, And mark the distant city glow

Dream conquest sure, or cheaply bought! With gloomy splendour red;

Lord Marmion, I say nay For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow, God is the guider of the field, That round her sable turrets flow,

He breaks the champion's spear and shield, The morning beams were shed,

But thou thyself shalt say, And tinged them with a lustre proud, When joins yon host in deadly stowre, Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud. That England's dames must weep in bower, Such dasky grandeur clothed the height,

Her monks the death-mass sing; Where the huge castle holds its state,

For never saw'st thou such a power And all the steep slope down,

Led on by such a king." Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,

And now, down winding to the plain, Piled deep and massy, close and high,

The barriers of the camp they gain, Mine own romantic town!

And there they make a stay.-Bat northward far, with purer blaze,

There stays the minstrel, till he fing On Ochil mountains fell the rays,

His hand o'er every border string, And, as each heathy top they kissed,

And fit his harp the pomp to sing It gleamed a purple amethyst.

Of Scotland's ancient court and king, fonder the shores of Fife you saw;

In the succeeding lay.
Here Preston-bay, and Berwick-law;
And, broad between them rolled,

The gallant Frith the eye might note,
Whose islands on its bosom float

TO GEORGE ELLIS, Esq. Like emeralds chased in gold.

Edinburgh Fitz-Eustace' heart felt closely pent;

When dark December glooms the day,
As if to give his rapture vent,

And takes our autumn joys away;
The spur he to his charger lent,
And raised his bridal-hand,

When short and scant the sunbeam throws,
And, making demi-vault in air,

Upon the weary waste of snows,
Cried, “Where's the coward that would not dare Like patron on a needy bard;

A cold and protitless regard,
To fight for such a land!”
The lion smiled his joy to see;

When sylvan occupation's done,

And o'er the chimney rests the gun,
Nor Marmión's frown repressed his glee.

And hang, in idle trophy, near,

The game-pouch, fishing-rod, and spear;
Thus while they looked, a flourish proud, When wiry terrier, rough and grim,
Where mingled trump and clarion loud,

And greyhound, with his length of limb, And fife, and kettle-drum,

And pointer, now employed no more, And sackbut deep, and psaltery,

Cumber our parlour's narrow floor; And war-pipe with discordant cry,

When in his stall the impatient steed And cymbal clattering to the sky,

Is long condemned to rest and feed; Making wild music bold and high,

When from our snow-encircled home, Did up the mountain come;

Scarce cares the hardiest step to roam, The whilst the bells, with distant chime, Since path is none, save that to bring Merrily tolled the hour of prime,

The needful water from the spring;

When wrinkled news-page, thrice conn'd o'er, So thou, fair city! disarrayed
Beguiles the dreary hour no more,

Of battled wall, and rampart's aid,
And darkling politician, crossed,

As stately seem'st, but lovelier far Inveighs against the lingering post,

Than in that panoply of war. And answering housewife sore complains Nor deem that froni thy fenceless throne Of carrier's snow-impeded wains:

Strength and security are flown; When such the country cheer, I come,

Still, as of yore, queen of the north! Well pleased, to seek our city bome;

Still canst thou send thy children forth. For converse, and for books to change

Ne'er readier at alarm-bell's call The forest's melancholy range,

Thy burghers rose to man thy wall, And welcome, with renewed delight,

Than now, in danger, shall be thine, The busy day and social night.

Thy dauntless voluntary line; Not here need my desponding rhyme

For fosse and turret proud to stand, Lament the ravages of time,

Their breasts the bulwarks of the land. As erst by Newark's riven towers,

Thy thousands, trained to martial toil, And Ettrick stripped of forest bowers. *

Full red would stain their native soil, True,-Caledonia's queen is changed,

Ere from thy mural crown there fell Since, ou her dusky summit ranged,

The slightest knosp, or pinnacle. Within its steepy limits pent,

And if it come,-as come it may, By bulwark, line, and battlement,

Dun-Edin! that eventful day, And flanking towers, and laky flood,

Renowned for hospitable deed, Guarded and garrisoned she stood,

That virtue much with heaven may plead, Denying entrance or resort,

In patriarchal times whose care Save at each tall embattled port;

Descending angels deigned to share; Above whose arch, suspended, hung

That claim may wrestle blessings down Portcullis spiked with iron prong.

On those who fight for the good town, That long is gone,--but not so long,

Destined in every age to be Since, early closed, and opening late,

Refuge of injured royalty; Jealous revolved the studded gate,

Since first, when conquering York arose, Whose task, from eve to morning tide,

To Henry meek she gave repose, 3 A wicket churlishly supplied.

Till late, with wonder, grief, and awe, Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow,

Great Bourbon's relics, sad she saw. Dun-Edin! O, how altered now,

Truce to these thoughts !--for, as they rise, When safe amid thy mountain court

How gladly I avert mine eyes, Thou sit’st, like empress at her sport,

Bodings, or true or false, to change, And, liberal, unconfined, and free,

For fiction's fair romantic range, Flinging thy white arms to the sea,2

Or for tradition's dubious light, For thy dark cloud with unbered lower,

That hovers 'twixt the day and night: That hung o'er cliff, and lake, and tower,

Dazzling alternately and dim, Thou gleam'st against the western ray

Her wavering lamp I'd rather trim, Ten thousand lines of brighter day.

Knights, squires, and lovely dames to see, Not she, the championess of old,

Creation of my fantasy, In Spenser's magic tale enrolled,

Than gaze abroad on reeky fen, She for the charmed spear renowned,

And make of mists invading men.Which forced each knight to kiss the ground,

Who loves not more the night of June Not she more changed, when placed at rest,

Than dull December's gloomy noon! What time she was Malbecco's guest,+

The moonlight than the fog of frost? She gave to flow her maiden vest;

And can we say, which cheats the most? When from the corslet's grasp relieved,

But who shall teach my harp to gain Free to the sight her bosom heaved;

A sound of the romantic strain, Sweet was her blue eye's modest smile,

Whose Anglo-Norman tones whilere Erst hidden by the aventayle;

Could win the royal Henry's ear, And down her shoulders graceful rolled

Famed Beauclerc called, for that he loved Her locks profuse, of paly gold.

The minstrel, and his lay approved? They who whilome, in midnight fight,

Who shall these lingering notes redeem, Had marvelled at her matchless might,

Decaying on oblivion's stream; No less her maiden charms approved,

Such notes as from the Breton tongue But looking liked, and liking loved. €

Marie translated, Blondel sung?The sight could jealous pangs beguile,

O! born, time's ravage to repair, And charm Malbecco's cares awhile;

And make the dying muse thy care; And he, the wandering squire of dames,

Who, when his scythe her hoary foe Forgot his Columbella's claims,

Was poising for the final blow, And passion, erst unknown, could gain

The weapon from his hand could wring The breast of blunt sir Satyrane;

And break his glass, and shear his wings Nor durst light Paridel advance,

And bid, reviving in his strain, Bold as he was, a looser glance.

The gentle poet live again; She charmed, at once, and tamed the heart,

Thou, who canst give to lightest lay Incomparable Britomarte!

An unpedantic moral gay,

Nor less the dullest theme bid flit . See Introduction to Canto II. See “The Fairy Queen,” Book III, Canto IX.

On wings of unexpected wit; 1“ For every one her liked, and every one her loved." In letters, as is like, approved,

Spencer, as above. Example bonoured and beloved,


Dear Ellis! to the bard impart
A lesson of thy magic art,
To win at once the head and heart,
At once to charm, instruct, and mend,
My guide, my pattern, and my friend!
Such minstrel lesson to bestow
Be long thy pleasing task,—but, O!
No more by thy example teach
What few can practise, all can preach,
With even patience to endure
Lingering disease, and painful cure,
And boast affliction's pangs subdued
By mild and manly fortitude.
Enough, the lesson has been given;
Forbid the repetition, Heaven!

Come listen, then! for thou hast known,
And loved the minstrel's varying tone,
Who, like his border sires of old,
Waked a wild measure, rude and bold,
Till Windsor's oaks, and Ascot plain,
With wonder heard the northern strain.
Come, listen!-bold in thy applause,
The bard shall scorn pedantic laws,
And, as the ancient art could stain
Achievements on the storied pane,
Irregularly traced and planned,
But yet so glowing and so grand;
So shall be strive, in changeful hue,
Field, feast, and combat, to renew,
And loves, and arms, and harpers' glee,
And all the pomp of chivalry.


Tas train has left the hills of Braid;
The barrier guard have open made
(So Landesay bade) the palisade,

That closed the tented ground,
Their men the warders backward drew,
And carried pikes as they rode through,

Into its ample bound.
Fast ran the Scottish warriors there,
Upon the southern band to stare;
And envy with their wonder rose,
To see such well-appointed foes;
Such length of shafts, such mighty bows,
So huge, that many simply thought,
But for a vaunt such weapons wrought;
And little deemed their force to feel
Through links of mail, and plates of steel,
When, rattling upon Floden vale,
The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.5

II. Nor less did Marmion's skilful view Glance every line and squadron through; And much he marvelled one small land Could marshal forth such various band:

For men-at-arms were here, Heavily sheathed in mail and plate, Like iron towers for strength and weight, On Flemish steeds of bone and height,

With battle-axe and spear.
Young knights and squires, a lighter train,
Practised their chargers on the plain,
By aid of leg, of hand, and rein,

Each warlike feat to show;
To pass, to wheel, the croupe to gain,
And high curvett, that not in vain
The sword-sway might descend amain

On foeman's casque below.6

He saw the hardy burghers there
March armed, on foot, with faces bare,?

For visor they wore none,
Nor waving plume, nor crest of knight;
But burnished were their corslets bright,
Their brigantines, and gorgets light,

Like very silver shone.
Long pikes they had for standing fight,

Two-handed swords they wore,
And many wielded mace of weight,
And bucklers bright they bore.

On foot the yeoman too, but dressed
In his steel jack, a swarthy vest,

With iron quilted well;
Each at his back, (a slender store,)
His forty days' provision bore,

As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halbert, axe, or spear,
A cross-bow there, a hagbut here,

A dagger-knife, and brand-
Sober he seemed, and sad of cheer,
As loth to leave his cottage dear,

And march to foreign strand;
Or musing, who would guide his steer,

To till the fallow land.
Yet deem not in his thoughtful eye
Did aught of dastard terror lie;

More dreadful far his ire
Than theirs, who, scorning danger's name,
In eager mood to battle came,
Their valour like light straw on flame,
A fierce but fading fire.

Not so the borderer:-bred to war,
He knew the battle's din afar,

And joyed to hear it swell.
His peaceful day was slothful ease;
Nor harp, nor pipe, his ear could please,

Like the loud slogan yell.
On active steed, with lance and blade,
The light armed pricker plied his trade, -

Let nobles fight for fame;
Let vassals follow where they lead,
Burghers, to guard their townships, bleed,

But war's the borderers' game.
Their gain, their glory, their delight,
To sleep the day, maraud che night,

O'er mountain, moss, and moor;
Joyful to fight they took their way,
Scarce caring who might win the day,

Their booty was secure.
These, as lord Marmion's train passed by,
Looked on, at first, with careless eye,
Nor marvelled aught, well taught to know
The form and force of English bow.

But when they saw the lord arrayed
In splendid arms, and rich brocade,
Each borderer to his kinsman said,

“ Hist, Ringan! seest thou there!
Canst guess which road they'll homeward ride
O! could we but, on border side,
By Eusdale glen, or Liddell's tide,

Beset a prize so fair!
That fangless lion, too, their guide,
Might chance to lose his glistering hide;
Brown Maudlin, of that doublet pied,
Could make a kirtle rare."

Next, Marmion marked the Celtic race
Of different language, form, and face,

« PreviousContinue »