« PreviousContinue »
In Katharine's aisle the monarch knelt,
To Lindesay did at length unfold
The tale his village host had told
At Gifford, to his train.
Nought of the palmer says he there,
And nought of Constance or of Clare:
The thoughts which broke his sleep, he seems
To mention but as feverish dreams.
“ In vain,” said he, "to rest I spread
My burning limbs, and couched my head:
Fantastic thoughts returned;
And, by their wild dominion led,
My heart within me burned.
So sore was the delirious goad,
I took my steed, and forth I rode,
And, as the moon shone bright and cold,
Soon reached the camp upon the wold.
The southern entrance 1 past through,
And halted, and my bugle blew.
Methought an answer met my ear,--
Yet was the blast so low and drear,
So hollow, and so faintly blown,
It might be echo of my own.
“ Thus judging, for a little space
I listened, ere I left the place;
But scarce could trust my eyes,
Nor yet can think they served me true,
When sudden in the ring I view,
In form distinct of shape and hue,
A mounted champion rise.-
I've fought, lord lion, many a day,
In single fight and mixed affray,
And ever, I myself may say,
But when this unexpected foe
Seemed starting from the gulf below,-
1 care not though the truth 1 show,
I trembled with affright;
And as I placed in rest my spear,
My hand so shook for very fear,
1 scarce could couch it right.
“Why need my tongue the issue tell?
We ran our course,-my charger fell;
What could he 'gainst the shock of hell?
I rolled upon the plain.
High o'er my head, with threatening hand,
The spectre shook his naked brand, -
Yet did the worst remain:
My dazzled eyes I upward cast,
Not opening hell itself could blast
Their sight like what I saw!
Full on his face the moonbeam strook -
A face could never be mistook!
I knew the stern vindictive look,
And held my breath for awe.
I saw the face of one who, fled
To foreign climes, has long been dead,-
I well believe the last;
For ne'er, from visor raised, did stare
A human warrior, with a glare
So grimly and so ghast.
Thrice o'er my head he shook the blade :
But when to good saint George I prayed, What much has changed my sceptic creed,
(The first time e'er I asked his aid,
He plunged it in the sheath;
And, on his courser mounting light,
He seemed to vanish from my sight:
The moonbeam drooped, and deepest night
Sunk down upon the heath.
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.
But different far the change has been,
Since Marmion, from the crown
Of Blackford, saw that martial scene
Upon the bent so brown:
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,
That chequered all the heath between
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,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
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;
Various in shape, device, and hue,
Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
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
rank of those entitled to display them.
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-
Nor less,” he said, “1 moan
To think what wo mischance may bring,
And how these merry bells may ring
The death dirge of our gallant king;
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.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO V.
TO GEORGE ELLIS, Esq. Like emeralds chased in gold.
Edinburgh Fitz-Eustace' heart felt closely pent;
When dark December glooms the day,
And takes our autumn joys away;
When short and scant the sunbeam throws,
Upon the weary waste of snows,
A cold and protitless regard,
When sylvan occupation's done,
And o'er the chimney rests the gun,
And hang, in idle trophy, near,
The game-pouch, fishing-rod, and spear;
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
Of battled wall, and rampart's aid,
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
Come listen, then! for thou hast known,
That closed the tented ground,
Into its ample bound.
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.
Each warlike feat to show;
On foeman's casque below.6
He saw the hardy burghers there
For visor they wore none,
Like very silver shone.
Two-handed swords they wore,
With iron quilted well;
As feudal statutes tell.
A dagger-knife, and brand-
And march to foreign strand;
To till the fallow land.
More dreadful far his ire
And joyed to hear it swell.
Like the loud slogan yell.
Let nobles fight for fame;
But war's the borderers' game.
O'er mountain, moss, and moor;
Their booty was secure.
But when they saw the lord arrayed
“ Hist, Ringan! seest thou there!
Beset a prize so fair!