Page images
PDF

For all of wonderful and wild
Had rapture for the lonely child.

XXII.

And much of wild and wonderful,
In these rude isles, might fancy cull;
For thither came, in times afar,
Stern Lochlin's sons of roving war,
The Norsemen, trained to spoil and blood,
Skilled to prepare the raven's food;
Kings of the main, their leaders brave,
Their barks, the dragons of the wave ;
And there in many a stormy vale,
The Scald had told his wond’rous tale;
And many a Runic column high
Had witnessed grim idolatry.
And thus had Harold, in his youth,
Learned many a Saga's rhyme uncouth,
Of that sea-snake, tremendous curled,
Whose monstrous circle girds the world;
Of those dread maids, whose hideous yell
Maddens the battle's bloody swell;
Of chiefs, who, guided through the gloom
By the pale death-lights of the tomb,
Ransacked the graves of warriors old,
Their faulchions wrenched from corpse's hold,
Waked the deaf tomb with war's alarms,
And bade the dead arise to arms :
With war and wonder all on flame,
To Roslin's bowers young Harold came,
Where, by sweet glen and green-wood tree,
He learned a milder minstrelsy ;
Yet something of the nothern spell
Mixed with the softer numbers well.

XXIII,

HAROLD.
O listen, listen, ladies gay !
No haughty feat of arms I tell ;
Soft is the note, and sad the lay,
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.

—“Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew
And, gentle ladye, deign to stay !

Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

“The blackening wave is edged with white; To Inch# and rock the seamews fly;

The fishers have heard the Watersprite, Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.

[ocr errors]

“Last night the gifted seer did view
A wet shroud rolled round ladye gay;

Then stay thee, fair, in Ravensheuch :
Why cross the gloomy firth to-day :"

[ocr errors]

—“'Tis not because Lord Lindesay's heir
To-night at Roslin leads the ball,

But that my ladye-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

“'Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well,

But that my sires the wine will chide;
If 'tis not filled by Rosabelle.”

O'er Roslin all that dreary night
A wonderous blaze was seen to gleam ;

‘Twas broader than the watch-fire light,
And brighter than the bright moon-beam.

It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
It reddened all the copse-wood glen;

‘Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak,
And seen from eaverned Hawthorndent

Seemed all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffined lie.

Each Baron for a sable shroud,
Sheathed in his iron panoply.

Seemed all on fire within, around,
Both vaulted crypt and altar's pale ;

Shone every pillar foilage-bound,
And glimmered all the dead men's-mail.

Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair:

So still they blaze, when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high Saint Clair.

There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle ;

Each one the holy vault doth hold,
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle !

And each Saint Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell;

But the Kelpyk rung and the mermaid sung,
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.

* Kelpy, the Water Demon.

* XXV. So sweet was Harold's piteous lay, Scarce marked the guests the darkened hall, Though, long before the sinking day, A wonderous shade involved them all : It was not eddying mist or fog, Drained by the sun from fen or bog, Of no eclipse had sages told ; And yet, as it came on apace, Each one could scarce his neighbour's face, Could scarce his own stretched hand, beholds * A secret horror checked the feast, And chilled the soul of every guest ; Even the high dame stood half aghast, She knew some evil on the blast; The elfish page fell to the ground, And, shuddering, muttered, “found! found! founds”

XXVI.

Then sudden through the darkened air

A flash of lightning came ;
So broad, so bright, so red the glare,

The castle seemed on flame ;
Glanced every rafter of the hall,
'Glanced every shield upon the wall;
Each trophied beam, each sculptured stone,
Were instant seen, and instant gone ;

« PreviousContinue »