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EXPLANATORY REMARKS,

THE Poem now offered to the public is intended to illustrate the customs and manners which anciently prevailed on the borders of England and Scotland. The inhabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes highly susceptible of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery and manners was more the object of the Author, than a combined and regular narrative, the plan of the ancient metrical romance was adopted, which allows greater latitude in this respect than would be consistent with the

dignity of a regular poem. The same

model offered other facilities, as it per

mits an occasional alteration of measure,

which, in some degree, authorises the changes of rythm in the text. The machinery also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed puerile in a poem which did not partake of the rudeness of the old ballad, or metrical romance. For these reasons the poem was put into the mouth of an ancient Minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original model. The date of the tale itself is about the middle of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages actually flourished. The time occupied by the action is three nights and three days,

THE LAY

OF

THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO FIRST.

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THE way was long, the wind was told, The Minstrel was infirm and old; His withered cheek, and tresses gray, Seemed to have known a better day; The harp, his sole remaining joy, Was carried by an orphan boy. The last of all the bards was he, Who sung of Border chivalry; For, well-a-day! their date was fled, His tuneful brethren all were dead; And he, neglected and oppressed, Wished to be with them, and at rest: No more, on prancing palfrey borne, He carolled, light as lark at morn; No longer, courted and caressed, High placed in hall, a welcome guest, He poured to lord and lady gay, The unpremeditated lay ;

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