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THE

LADY OF THE LAKE,

A Poem.

IN SIX CANTOS.

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The Scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity of Loch Katrine, in the West Highlands of Perthshire. The time of action includes six days, and the transactions of each day occupy a Canto.

THE

LADY OF THE LAKE.

CANTO FIRST.

THE CHASE.

HARP of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring,
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,-
O minstrel Harp, still must thine accents sleep?
'Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,

Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?

Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,

Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd,
When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,
Aroused the fearful or subdued the proud.
At each according pause was heard aloud
Thine ardent symphony sublime and high!
Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bowed;
For still the burthen of thy minstrelsy

Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and Beauty's match

less eye.

O wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand

That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray;

O wake once more! though scarce my skill command
Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay;
Though harsh and faint, and soon to die away,
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain,

Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway,

The wizard note has not been touched in vain. Then silent be no more! Enchantress, wake again!

I

THE stag at eve had drunk his fill,

Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made

In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;

But, when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,

The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,

And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.

II

As chief who hears his warder call,
"To arms! the foemen storm the wall,"-
The antlered monarch of the waste
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,

The dew-drops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high,
Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuffed the tainted gale,
A moment listened to the cry,

That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,

With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.

III

Yelled on the view the opening pack,
Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awakened mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rang out,
A hundred voices joined the shout;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult filed the roe,
Close in her covert cowered the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.

IV

Less loud the sounds of sylvan war
Disturbed the heights of Uam-Var,b

a One of the Grampians.

b Ua-var, as the name is pronounced, or more properly Uaigh-mor, is a mountain to the north-east of the village of Callander, in Menteith,

And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told,
A giant made his den of old;
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in his pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stayed per-force,
Was fain to breathe his faltering horse;
And of the trackers of the deer
Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
So shrewdly, on the mountain-side,
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.

V

The noble Stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain's southern brow
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wandered o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And pondered refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copse-wood grey,
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Ben-venue.
Fresh vigour with the hope returned,
With flying foot the heath he spurned,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.

VI

"Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er,
As swept the hunt through Cambus-more ;*
What reins were tightened in despair,
When rose Benledi's a ridge in air;
Who flagged upon Bochastle's heath,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith,-
For twice, that day, from shore to shore,
The gallant stag swam stoutly o'er,
Few were the stragglers, following far,
That reached the lake of Vennachar;
And when the Brigg of Turke was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone.

VII

Alone, but with unbated zeal,

That horseman plied the scourge and steel;

deriving its name, which signifies the great den, or cavern, from a sort of retreat among the rocks on the south side, said, by tradition, to have been the abode of a giant. In latter times, it was the refuge of robbers and banditti, who have been only extirpated within these forty or fifty years.

A family seat about two miles from Callander, on the Keltie.
A mountain near Callander. Its name signifies "the mountain of
A bridge about a mile above Loch Vennachar.

God."

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