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In vain no torrent, deep or broad,
Might bar the bold mosstrooper's road.
At the first plunge the horse sunk low,
And the water broke o'er the saddlebow ;
Above the foaming tide, I ween,
Scarce half the charger's neck was seen ;
For he was barded+ from counter to tail,
And the rider was armed complete in mail ;
Never heavier man and horse
Stemmed a midnight torrent's force.
The warrior's very plume, I say,
Was daggled by the dashing spray;
Yet, through good heart, and our ladye's grace,
At length he gained the landing place.
Now Bowden Moor the marchman won,
And sternly shook his plumed head, As glanced his eye o'er Halidon;t
For on his soul the slaughter red
Of that unhallowed morn arose,
When first the Scott and Car were foes ;
When royal James beheld the fray,
Prize to the victor of the day;
When Home and Douglass, in the van,
Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,
Till gallant Cessford's heartblood dear
Reeked on dark Elliott's Border spear.
In bitter mood he spurred fast,
And soon the hated heath was past ;
And far beneath, in lustre wan,
Old Melrose rose, and fair Tweed ran ;
Like some tall rock, with lichens gray,
Seemed, dimly huge, the dark Abbaye.
When Hawick he passed, had curfew rung,
Now midnight lauds* were in Melrose sung.
The sound, upon the fitful gale,
In solemn wise, did rise and fail,
Like that wild harp, whose magic tone
Is wakened by the winds alone.
But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all;
• He meetly stabled his steed in stall,
And sought the convent's lonely wall.
* Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic churchi
Here paused the harp ; and with its swell
The master's fire and courage fell:
Dejectedly, and low, he bowed,
And, gazing timid on the crowd,
He seemed to seek, in every eye,
If they approved his minstrelsy ;
And, diffident of present praise,
Somewhat he spoke of former days,
And how old age, and wandering long,
Had done his hand and harp some wrong.
The duchess, and her daughters fair,
And every gentle ladye there,
Each after each, in due degree,
Gave praises to his melody;
His hand was true, his voice was clear,
And much they longed the rest to hear.
Encouraged thus, the Aged Man,
After meet rest, again began.
LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.
IF thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight ;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruined central tower ;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go—but go alone the while—
Then view Saint David's ruined pile ;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair "
Short halt did Deloraine make there ;
Little recked he of the scene so fair.
With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate—
“Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?”
“From Branksome I,” the warrior cried ;
And straight the wicket opened wide:
For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood,
To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,
Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose.
Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod,
And noiseless step, the path he trod;
The arched cloisters, far and wide
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride