« AnteriorContinuar »
The Lord of the Isles.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The scene of this Poem lies, at first, in the Castle of Artornish, on the coast of Argyleshire; and, afterwards, in the Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally, it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English, and the Barons who adhered to that foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin, on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the Scottish croron. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity. The authorities used are chiefly those of the venerable Lord Hailes, as well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the restorer of Scottish monarchy; and of Archdeacon Barbour, a correct edition of whose Metrical History of Robert Bruce' will soon, I trust, appear, under the care of my learned friend, the Rev. Dr. Jamieson.
ABBOTSFORD, 10th December, 1814.
1 The work alluded to appeared in 1820, under the title of presume, to match that of The Lady of the Lake;' but there “ The Bruce and Wallace." 2 vols. 4to.
is no analogy in the stories-nor does the title, on this occasion, 2 “Here is another genuine lay of the great Minstrel, with correspond very exactly with the contents. It is no unusual all his characteristic faults, beauties, and irregularities. The misfortune, indeed, for the author of a modern Epic to have same glow of coloring—the same energy of narration-the his hero turn out but a secondary personage, in the gradual same amplitude of description, are conspicuous here, which unfolding of the story, while some unruly underling runs off distinguish all his other productions : with the same still more with the whole glory and interest of the poem. But here the characteristic disdain of puny graces and small originalities author, we conceive, must have been aware of the misnomer the true poetical hardihood, in the strength of which he urges from the beginning; the true, and indeed the ostensible hero on his Pegasus fearlessly through dense and rare, and aiming being, from the very first, no less a person than King Robert gallantly at the great ends of truth and effect, stoops but rarely Bruce."- Edinburgh Revier, No. xlviii. 1815. to study the means by which they are to be attained-avails "If it be possible for a poet to bestow upon his writings a himself, without scruple, of common sentiments and common | superfluous degree of care and correction, it may also be posimages wherever they seem fitted for his purposes-and is origi sible, we should suppose, to bestow too little. Whether this nal by the very boldness of his borrowing, and impressive by be the case in the poem before as, is a point upon which Mr. his disregard of epigram and emphasis.
Scott can possibly form a much more competent judgment than "Though bearing all these marks of the master's hand, the l ourselves; we can only say, that without possessing greater work before us does not come up, in interest, to The Lady of beauties than its predecessors, it has certain violations of prothe Lake, or even to Marmion. There is less connected story; priety, both in the language and in the composition of the story, and, what there is, is less skilfully complicated and disen of which the former efforts of his muse afforded neither so tangled, and less diversified with change of scene, or variety of many nor such striking examples. character. In the scantiness of the narrative, and the broken “We have not now any quarrel with Mr. Scott on account and discontinuous order of the events, as well as the inartificial of the measure which he has chosen ; still less on account of insertion of detached descriptions and morsels of ethical reflec his subjects; we believe that they are both of them not only tion, it bears more resemblance to the earliest of the author's pleasing in themselves, but well adapted to each other, and greater productions; and suggests a comparison, perhaps not to the bent of his peculiar genius. On the contrary, it is bealtogether to his advantage, with the structure and execution cause we admire his genius, and are partial to the subjects of the Lay of the Last Minstrel :--for though there is probably which he delights in, that we so much regret he should leave more force and substance in the latter parts of the present work, room for any difference of opinion respecting them, merely
certainly inferior to that enchanting performance in deli- | from not bestowing upon his publications that common degree cacy and sweetness, and even-is it to be wondered at, after of labor and meditation which we cannot help saying it is four such publications ?-in originality.
scarcely decorous to withhold."-Quarterly Review, No. “ The title of The Lord of the Isles' has been adopted, we | xxvi. July, 1815.
The Lord of the Isles.
- Speuren an
When wild November hath his bugle wound;
Where happier bards of yore have richer harvest
found. Spel AUTUMN departs—but still his mantle's fold So shalt thou list, and haply not unmoved, Rests on the groves of noble Somerville,
To a wild tale of Albyn's warrior day; Beneath a shroud of russet dropp'd with gold to In distant lands, by the rough West reproved, Tweed and his tributaries mingle still;
Still live some relics of the ancient lay. Hoarser the wind, and deeper sounds the rill, For, when on Coolin's hills the lights decay, Yet lingering notes of silvan music swell,
With such the Seer of Skyet the eve beguiles ; The deep-toned cushat, and the redbreast shrill;
And yet some tints of summer splendor tell In Harries known, and in Iona's piles, When the broad sun sinks down on Ettrick's wes- Where rest from mortal coil the Mighty of the tern fell.
Autumn departs from Gala's' fields no more -
Save where, sad laggard of the autumnal train, Some age-struck wanderer gleans few ears of scat
“WAKE, Maid of Lorn!" the Minstrels sung.
Deem'st thou these sadden'd scenes have pleas
And moralize on mortal joy and pain ?
Who on that morn's resistless call
But owns the power of minstrelsy.
V. Retired her maiden train among, Edith of Lorn received the song, But tamed the minstrel's pride had been That had her cold demeanor seen; For not upon her cheek awoke The glow of pride when Flattery spoke, Nor could their tenderest numbers bring One sigh responsive to the string. As vainly had her maidens vied In skill to deck the princely bride. Her locks, in dark-brown length array'd, Cathleen of Ulne, 'twas thine to braid; Young Eva with meet reverence drew On the light foot the silken shoe, While on the ankle's slender round Those strings of pearl fair Bertha wound, That, bleach'd Lochryan's depths within, Seem'd dusky still on Edith's skin. But Einion, of experience old, Had weightiest task—the mantle's fold In many an artful plait she tied, To show the form it seem'd to hide, Till on the floor descending rollid Its waves of crimson blent with gold.
"O) wake, while Dawn, with dewy shine,
IV. Wake, Maid of Lorn! the moments fly,
Which yet that maiden name allow; Wake, Maiden, wake! the hour is nigh, When Love shall claim a plighted
vow. By Fear, thy bosom's fluttering guest,
By hope, that soon shall fears remove, We bid thee break the bonds of rest,
And wake thee at the call of Love!
VI. O! lives there now so cold a maid, Who thus in beauty's pomp array'd, In beauty's proudest pitch of power, And conquest won—the bridal hourWith every charm that wins the heart, By Nature given, enhanced by Art, Could yet the fair reflection view, In the bright mirror pictured true, And not one dimple on her cheek A tell-tale consciousness bespeak ? Lives still such maid 1-Fair damsels, say, For further vouches not my lay, Save that such lived in Britain's isle, When Lorn's bright Edith scorn'd to smile.
“Wake, Edith, wakel in yonder bay
Lies many a galley gayly mann'd, We hear the merry pibrochs play,
We see the streamers' silken band. What Chieftain's praise these pibrochs
swell, What crest is on these banners wove, The harp, the minstrel, dare not tell
The riddle must be read by Love."
VII. But Morag, to whose fostering care Proud Lorn had given his daughter fair, Morag, who saw a mother's aid By all a daughter's love repaid, (Strict was that bond-most kind of allInviolate in Highland hall) Gray Morag sate a space apart, In Edith's eyes to read her heart. In vain the attendants' fond appeal To Morag's skill, to Morag's zeal;
1 See Appendix, Note B.
2 MS." Retired amid her menial train,
Edith of Lorn received the strain."
3 MS.-" The train upon the pavement flow'd."
Then to the floor descending
An infant, to her fostering breast,
Yet, empress of this joyful day, Edith is sad while all are gay.”—
She mark'd her child receive their care,
roar, Part thy swarth hills from Morven's shore.
IX. Proud Edith's soul came to her eye, Resentment check'd the struggling sigh. Her hurrying hand indignant dried The burning tears of injured pride “Morag, forbear! or lend thy praise To swell yon hireling harpers' lays; Make to yon maids thy boast of power, That they may waste a wondering hour, Telling of banners proudly borne, Of pealing bell and bugle-horn, Or, theme more dear, of robes of price, Crownlets and gauds of rare device. But thou, experienced as thou art, Think'st thou with these to cheat the heart, That, bound in strong affection's chain, Looks for return, and looks in vain ? No! sum thine Edith's wretched lot In these brief words—He loves her not!
VIII. “ Daughter,” she said, “ these seas behold, Round twice a hundred islands rollid, From Hirt, that hears their northern roar, To the green Ilay's fertile shore;' Or mainland turn, where many a tower Owns thy bold brother's feudal power, Each on its own dark cape reclined, And listening to its own wild wind, From where Mingarry, sternly placed, O'erawes the woodland and the waste,* To where Dunstaffnage hears the raging Of Connal with his rocks engaging. Think'st thou, amid this ample round, A single brow but thine has frown'd, To sadden this auspicious morn, That bids the daughter of high Lorn Impledge her spousal faith to wed The heir of mighty Somerled 15 Ronald, from many a hero sprung, The fair, the valiant, and the young, LORD OF THE ISLES, whose lofty name A thousand bards have given to fame, The mate of monarchs, and allied On equal terms with England's pride.From chieftain's tower to bondsman's cot, Who hears the tale,' and triumphs not? The damsel dons her best attire, The shepherd lights his beltane fire, Joy, joyl each warder's horn bath sung, Joy, joy! each matin bell hath rung The holy priest says grateful mass, Loud shouts each hardy galla-glass, No mountain den holds outcast boor, Of heart so dull, of soul so poor, But he hath flung his task aside, And claim'd this morn for holy-tide;
“ Debate it not-too long I strove
XI. “Since then, what thought had Edith's heart And gave not plighted love its part 1 And what requital ?s cold delayExcuse that shunn'd the spousal day.It dawns, and Ronald is not here !
1 See Appendix, Note C. 2 Ibid. Note D. * MS.
-"father's feudal power." * See Appendix, Note E.
6 Ibid. Note F. . Ibid. Note G.
7 MS.--" The news."
A thought, and Ronald lack'd his part !
Hunts he Bentalla's nimble deer,
And shifted oft her stooping side,
In weary tack from shore to shore.
She gain'd, of forward way,
Who toil the livelong day;
That oft, before she wore,
Upon the shelving shore.
Nor look'd where shelter lay,
Nor steer'd for Aros bay.
XIII. “Sweet thought, but vain !—No, Morag!
XV. Thus while they strove with wind and
seas, Borne onward by the willing breeze,
Lord Ronald's fleet swept by,
Of Island chivalry.
Yet bears them on their way:
But, foaming, must obey. .
That shimmer'd fair and free;
Gave wilder minstrelsy.
Their misty shores around;
Come down the darksome Sound.
XIV. Sooth spoke the maid.--Amid the tide
The skiff she mark'd lay tossing sore,
XVI. So bore they on with mirth and pride, And if that laboring bark they spied,
'Twas with such idle eye As nobles cast on lowly boor, When, toiling in his task obscure,
1 MS.-“And on its dawn the bridegroom lags;
Hunts he Bentalla's nimble stags ?" 3 See Appendix, Note H. 8 MS.-"Since dawn of morn, with vacant eyes