Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Yet now remorse and awe he own'd;
His breath came thick, his head swam round,

When this strange scene of death he saw.
Bewilder'd and unnerved he stood,
And the priest pray'd fervently and loud:
With eyes averted prayed he;
He might not endure the sight to see,
Of the man he had loved so brotherly.

XXIV. The Knight breathed free in the morning

wind, And strove his hardihood to find : He was glad when he pass’d the tombstones

gray,
Which girdle round the fair Abbaye;
For the mystic Book, to his bosom prest,
Felt like a load upon his breast;
And his joints, with nerves of iron twined,
Shook, like the aspen leaves in wind.
Full fain was he when the dawn of day
Began to brighten Cheviot gray;
He joy'd to see the cheerful light,
And he said Ave Mary, as well he might.

XXI. And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd, Thus unto Deloraine he said :“Now, speed thee what thou hast to do, Or, Warrior, we may dearly rue ; For those, thou mayst not look upon, Are gathering fast round the yawning stone!" Then Deloraine, in terror, took From the cold hand the Mighty Book, With iron clasp'd, and with iron bound : He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd;' But the glare of the sepulchral light, Perchance, had dazzled the warrior's sight.

XXV.
The sun had brighten'd Cheviot gray,

The sun had brightend the Carter's side;
And soon beneath the rising day

Smiled Branksome Towers and Teviot's tide.* The wild birds told their warbling tale,

And waken'd every flower that blows; And peeped forth the violet pale,

And spread her breast the mountain rose. And lovelier than the rose so red,

Yet paler than the violet pale, She early left her sleepless bed,

The fairest maid of Teviotdale.

XXII. When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb, The night return'd in double gloom; For the moon had gone down, and the stars were

few;

And, as the Knight and Priest withdrew,
With wavering steps and dizzy brain,
They hardly might the postern gain.
'Tis said, as through the aisles they pass'd,
They heard strange noises on the blast;
And through the cloister-galleries small,
Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall,
Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,
And voices unlike the voice of man;
As if the fiends kept holiday,
Because these spells were brought to day.
I cannot tell how the truth may be ;
I say the tale as 'twas said to me.

XXVI.
Why does fair Margaret so early awake,"

And don her kirtle so hastilie ;
And the silken knots, which in hurry she would

make, * Why tremble her slender fingers to tie ; Why does she stop, and look often around,

As she glides down the secret stair ;
And why does she pat the shaggy blood-hound,

As he rouses him up from his lair ;
And, though she passes the postern alone,
Why is not the watchman's bugle blown i

XXVII.
The ladye steps in doubt and dread,
Lest her watchful mother hear her tread;
The lady caresses the rough blood-hound,
Lest his voice should waken the castle round;
The watchman's bugle is not blown,
For he was her foster-father's son;
And she glides through greenwood at dawn of

light To meet Baron Henry, her own true knight.

XXIII. “Now, hie thee hence,” the Father said, “And when we are on death-bed laid, O may our dear Ladye, and sweet St. John, Forgive our souls for the deed we have done !"The Monk return'd him to his cell,

And many a prayer and penance sped; - When the convent met at the noontide bell

The Monk of St. Mary's aisle was dead !
Before the cross was the body laid,
With hands clasp'd fast, as if still he pray'd.

1 See Appendix, Note 2 H. ? A mountain on the Border of England, above Jedburgh.

3 "How lovely and exhilarating is the fresh, cool morning landscape which relieves the mind after the horrors of the spellguarded tomb !"-ANNA SEWARD.

4 “How true, sweet, and original is this description of Margaret -- the trembling haste with which she attires her sell, descends, and speeds to the bower !” - ANNA SgWARD.

XXVIII.
The Knight and ladye fair are met,
And under the bawthorn's boughs are set.
A fairer pair were never seen
To meet beneath the hawthorn green.
He was stately, and young, and tall;
Dreaded in battle, and loved in hall:
And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
Lent to her cheek a livelier red;
When the half sigh her swelling breast
Against the silken ribbon prest;
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold-
Where would you find the peerless fair,
With Margaret of Branksome might compare !

That Dwarf was scarce an earthly man,
If the tales were true that of him ran

Through all the Border, far and near.
'Twas said, when the Baron a-hunting rode
Through Reedsdale's glens, but rarely trod,

He heard a voice cry, “ Lost ! lost ! lost !"
And, like tennis-ball by racket toss'd,

A leap, of thirty feet and three,
Made from the gorse this elfin shape,
Distorted like some dwarfish ape,

And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee. Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismay'd; 'Tis said that five good miles he rade,

To rid him of his company;
But where he rode one mile, the Dwarf ran four,
And the Dwarf was first at the castle door.

XXIX.
And now, fair dames, methinks I see
You listen to my minstrelsy;
Your waving locks ye backward throw,
And sidelong bend your necks of snow;
Ye ween to hear a melting tale,
Of two true lovers in a dale;
And how the Knight, with tender fire,

To paint his faithful passion strove;
Swore he might at her feet expire,

But never, never cease to love;
And how she blush'd, and how she sigh’d,
And, half consenting, half denied,
And said that she would die a maid ;-
Yet, might the bloody feud be stay'd,
Henry of Cranstoun, and only he,
Margaret of Branksome's choice should be.

XXXII.
Use lessens marvel, it is said:
This elvish Dwarf with the Baron staid;
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
Nor mingled with the menial flock:
And oft apart his arms he toss'd,
And often mutter'd “ Lost! lost! lost!"

He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,

But well Lord Cranstoun served he:
And he of his service was full fain;
For once he had been ta'en or slain,

An it had not been for his ministry.
All between Home and Hermitage,
Talk'd of Lord Cranstoun's Goblin-Page.

XXX.
Alas! fair dames, your hopes are vain!
My harp has lost the enchanting strain;

Its lightness would my age reprove:
My hairs are gray, my limbs are old,
My heart is dead, my veins are cold:

I may not, must not, sing of love.

XXXIII.
For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish Page,

To Mary's Chapel of the Lowes;
For there, beside our Ladye's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,

And he would pay his vows.
But the Ladye of Branksome gather'd a band
Of the best that would ride at her command :)

The trysting place was Newark lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Deloraine ;

They were three hundred spears and three.

XXXI.
Beneath an oak, moss'd o'er by eld,
The Baron's Dwarf his courser held,'

And held his crested helm and spear :

See Appendix, Note 2 I.

I'll show you now ; observe him, follow him; * The idea of the imp domesticating himself with the first

But, once engaged, there you must stay and fix." person be met, and subjecting himself to that one's authority, It is observable that in the same play, Pug alludes to the is perfectly consonant to old opinions. Ben Jonson, in his play spareness of his diet. Mr. Scott's goblin, though “ waspish, of " Tèe Devil is an Ass,” has founded the leading incident arch, and litherlie," proves a faithful and honest retainer to of that comedy apon this article of the popular creed. A the lord, into whose service he had introduced himself. This Send, styled Pug, is ambitious for figuring in the world, and sort of inconsistency seems also to form a prominent part of the petitions his superior for permission to exhibit himself upon diabolic character. Thus, in the romances of the Round earth. The devil grants him a day-rule, but clogs it with this Table, we find Merlin, the son of a dovil, exerting himself condition,

most zealously in the cause of virtue and religion, the friend

and counsellor of King Arthur, the chastiser of wrongs, and “ Salan-Only thns more, I bind you

the scourge of the infidels. To serve the first man that you meet ; and him

3 See Appendix, Note 2 K.

Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,'
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St. Mary's lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the Baron away.
They burn'd the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's Goblin-Page.

And that I might not sing of love ?How could I to the dearest theme, That ever warm’d a minstrel's dream,

So foul, so false a recreant prove! How could I name love's very name, Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!

II.

XXXIV. And now, in Branksome's good green wood, As under the aged oak he stood, The Baron's courser pricks his ears, As if a distant noise he hears. The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high, And signs to the lovers to part and fly; No time was then to yow or sigh. Fair Margaret through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat-dove:: The Dwarf the stirrup held and rein; Vaulted the Knight on his steed amain, And, pondering deep that morning's scene, Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.

In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.

III. So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween, While, pondering deep the tender scene, He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green. But the page shouted wild and shrill,

And scarce his helmet could he don, When downward from the shady hill

A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior’s steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sweat, and splashed with clay;

His armor red with many a stain:
He seem'd in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;

For it was William of Deloraine.

While thus he pour’d the lengthend tale,
The Minstrel's voice began to fail :
Full slyly smiled the observant page,
And gave the wither'd hand of age
A goblet, crown'd with mighty wine,
The blood of Velez' scorched vine.
He raised the silver cup on high,
And, while the big drop fill'd his eye,
Pray'd God to bless the Duchess long,
And all who cheer'd a son of song.
The attending maidens smild to see
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the Minstrel quaff'd;
And he, embolden'd by the draught,
Look'd gayly back to them, and laugh’d.
The cordial nectar of the bowl
Swell'd his old veins, and cheer'd his soul;
A livelier, lighter prelude ran,
Ere thus his tale again began.

IV. But no whit weary did he seem, When, dancing in the sunny beam, He mark'd the crane on the Baron's crest ;) For his ready spear was in his rest. Few were the words, and stern and high,

That mark'd the foemen's feudal hate;
For question fierce, and proud reply,

Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seem'd to know
That each was other's mortal foe,
And snorted fire, when wheeld around,
To give each knight his vantage-ground.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

CANTO THIRD.

I. And said I that my limbs were old, And said I that my blood was cold, And that my kindly fire was fled, And my poor wither'd heart was dead,

V.
In rapid round the Baron bent;

He sigh'd a sigh, and pray'd a prayer;
The prayer was to his patron saint,

The sigh was to his ladye fair. Stout Deloraine nor sigh'd nor pray'd, Nor saint, nor ladye, call’d to aid; But he stoop'd his head, and couch'd his spear, And spurr'd his steed to full career.

1 See notes on The Douglas Tragedy in the Minstrelsy, vol. iii. p. 3.-ED.

2 Wood-pigeon.

9 The crest of the Cranstouns, in allusion to their name, is a crane dormant, holding a stone in his foot, with an emphatic border motto, Thou shalt want ere I roant.

The meeting of these champions proud Seem'd like the bursting thunder-cloud.

VI. Stern was the dint the Borderer lent! The stately Baron backwards bent; Bent backwards to his horse's tail, And his plumes went scattering on the gale; The tough ash spear, so stout and true, Into a thousand Ainders flew. But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail, Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail ; Through shield, and jack, and acton, past, Deep in his bosom broke at last. Still sate the warrior saddle-fast, Till, stumbling in the mortal shock, Down went the steed, the girthing broke, Hurl'd on a heap lay man and horse. The Baron onward pass'd his course; Nor knew-so giddy roll'd his brainHis foe lay stretch'd upon the plain.

Would not yield to unchristen’d hand,
Till he smear'd the cover o'er
With the Borderer's curdled gore;
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read:
It had much of glamour might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nutshell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth-
All was delusion, nought was truth.

VII.
But when he rein'd his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground

Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He bade his page to stanch the wound

And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate: His noble mind was inly moved For the kinsman of the maid he loved. * This shalt thou do without delay: No longer here myself may stay; Unless the swifter I speed away, Short shrift will be at my dying day.”

X.
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
So fierce, it stretch'd him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismay'd,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he mutter'd, and no more,

Man of age, thou smitest sore!"-ice
No more the Elfin Page durst try
Into the wondrous Book to pry;
The clasps, though smeared with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak.-
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;
It was not given by man alive."

VIII. Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode; The Goblin Page behind abode; His lord's command he ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took, The dwarf espied the Mighty Book ! Much he marvell’d a knight of pride, Like a book-bosom'd priest should ride :: He thought not to search or stanch the wound, Until the secret he had found.

XI. Unwillingly himself he address’d, To do his master's high behest : He lifted up the living corse, And laid it on the weary horse; He led him into Branksome Hall, Before the beards of the warders all; And each did after swear and say, There only pass’d a wain of hay. He took him to Lord David's tower, Even to the Ladye's secret bower; And, but that stronger spells were spread, And the door might not be opened, He had laid him on her very bed. Whate'er he did of gramarye, Was always done maliciously; He Aung the warrior on the ground, And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.

IX. The iron band, the iron clasp, Resisted long the elfin grasp: For when the first he had undone, It closed as he the next begun. Those iron clasps, that iron band,

XII. As he repass’d the outer court, He spied the fair young child at sport: He thought to train him to the wood;

1 See Appendix, Note 2 L. ? Magical delusion.

3 A shepherd's hut. 6 Ibid. Note 2 N.

4 See Appendix, Note 2 M.

& Magic.

For, at a word, be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seem'd to the boy, some comrade gay
Led him forth to the woods to play;
On the drawbridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.

At cautious distance hoarsely bay'd,

But still in act to spring; When dash’d an archer through the glade, And when he saw the hound was stay'd,

He drew his tough bow-string; But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy! Ho! shoot not, Edward—"Tis a boy!"

XIII.
He led the boy o'er bank and fell,

Until they came to a woodland brook;
The running stream dissolved the spell,

And his own elvish shape he took. Could he have had his pleasure vilde, He had crippled the joints of the noble child; Or, with his fingers long and lean, Had strangled him in fiendish spleen: But his awful mother he had in dread, And also his power was limited; So he but scowl'd on the startled child, And darted through the forest wild; The woodland brook he bounding cross'd, And laugh’d, and shouted, “ Lost ! lost ! lost !"

XVI.
The speaker issued from the wood,
And check'd his fellow's surly mood,

And quell’d the ban-dog's ire:
He was an English yeoman good,

And born iņ Lancashire.
Well could he hit a fallow-deer

Five hundred feet him fro;
With hand more true, and eye more clear,

No archer bended bow.
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,

Set off his sun-burn'd face:
Old England's sign, St. George's cross,

His barret-cap did grace;
His bugle-horn hung by his side,

All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;
And his short falchion, sharp and clear,
Had pierced the throat of many a deer.

XIV.
Full sore amazed at the wondrous change,

And frighten'd as a child might be,
At the wild yell and visage strange,

And the dark words of gramarye, The child, amidst the forest bower, Stood rooted like a lily flower; And when at length, with trembling pace,

He sought to find where Branksome lay, He fear'd to see that grisly face,

Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journey'd on,
And deeper in the wood is gone, —
For aye the more he sought liis way,
The farther still he went astray,-
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.

XVII.
His kirtle, made of forest green,

Reach'd scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen

A furbish'd sheaf bore he ;
His buckler, scarce in breadth a span,

No larger fence had he ;
He never counted him a man,

Would strike below the knee:
His slacken'd bow was in his hand,
And the leash, that was his blood-hound's band.

XVIII.
He would not do the fair child harm,
But held him with his powerful arm,
That he might neither fight nor flee;
For the Red-Cross spied he,
The boy strove long and violently.

Now, by St. George,” the archer cries, “ Edward, methinks we have a prize! This boy's fair face, and courage free, Show he is come of high degree.”

XV. And hark! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark

Comes nigher still, and nigher:
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound,
His tawny muzzle track'd the ground,

And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wilder'd child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie.
I ween you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of his noble sire,
His wet cheek glow'd 'twixt fear and ire !
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
And held his little bat on high ;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,

[ocr errors]

XIX. “Yes! I am come of high degree,

For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch ; And if thou dost not set me free,

False Southron, thou shalt dearly rue! For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,

· See Appendix, Note 20,

? Ses

Note 2 P

« AnteriorContinuar »