The Lady of the Lake
Independently Published, 2021 M07 28 - 265 páginas
Each canto is introduced by one or more Spenserian stanzas, forming a kind of prelude to it. Those prefixed to the first canto serve as an introduction to the whole poem, which is "inspired by the spirit of the old Scottish minstrelsy."
2. Witch-elm. The broad-leaved or wych elm (Ulmus montana), indigenous to Scotland. Forked branches of the tree were used in the olden time as divining-rods, and riding switches from it were supposed to insure good luck on a journey. In the closing stanzas of the poem (vi. 846) it is called the "wizard elm." Tennyson (In Memoriam, 89) refers to
"Witch-elms that counterchange the floor
Of this flat lawn with dusk and bright."
Saint Fillan was a Scotch abbot of the seventh century who became famous as a saint. He had two springs, which appear to be confounded by some editors of the poem. One was at the eastern end of Loch Earn, where the pretty modern village of St. Fillans now stands, under the shadow of Dun Fillan, or St. Fillan's Hills, six hundred feet high, on the top of which the saint used to say his prayers, as the marks of his knees in the rock still testify to the credulous. The other spring is at another village called St. Fillans, nearly thirty miles to the westward, just outside the limits of our map, on the road to Tyndrum. In this Holy Pool, as it is called, insane folk were dipped with certain ceremonies, and then left bound all night in the open air. If they were found loose the next morning, they were supposed to have been cured. This treatment was practised as late as 1790, according to Pennant, who adds that the patients were generally found in the morning relieved of their troubles--by death. Another writer, in 1843, says that the pool is still visited, not by people of the vicinity, who have no faith in its virtue, but by those from distant places. Scott alludes to this spring in Marmion, i. 29:
"Thence to Saint Fillan's blessed well,
Whose springs can frenzied dreams dispel,
And the crazed brain restore."
3. And down the fitful breeze, etc. The original MS. reads:
"And on the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy, with her verdant ring,
Mantled and muffled each melodious string,--
O Wizard Harp, still must thine accents sleep?"
10. Caledon. Caledonia, the Roman name of Scotland.
14. Each according pause. That is, each pause in the singing. In Marmion, ii. 11, according is used of music that fills the intervals of other music:
"Soon as they neared his turrets strong,
The maidens raised Saint Hilda's song,
And with the sea-wave and the wind
Their voices, sweetly shrill, combined,
And made harmonious close;
Then, answering from the sandy shore,
Half-drowned amid the breakers' roar,
According chorus rose."
The MS. reads here:
"At each according pause thou spokest aloud
Thine ardent sympathy sublime and high."