Imágenes de páginas
PDF

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.

CANTO FIRST.

- Speuren an

Stanza

When wild November hath his bugle wound;
Nor mock my toil—a lonely gleaner 1,9
Through fields time-wasted, on sad inquest

bound,

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.

Isles.

Autumn departs from Gala's' fields no more -
Come rural sounds our kindred banks to cheer; 1
Blent with the stream, and gale that wafts it

o'er,
No more the distant reaper's mirth we hear,
The last blithe shout hath died upon our ear,
And harvest-home hath hush'd the clanging

wain,
On the waste hill no forms of life appear,

Save where, sad laggard of the autumnal train, Some age-struck wanderer gleans few ears of scat

ter'd grain.

“WAKE, Maid of Lorn!" the Minstrels sung.
Thy rugged halls, Artornish! rung,
And the dark seas, thy towers that lave,
Heaved on the beach a softer wave,
As 'mid the tuneful choir to keep
The diapason of the Deep.
Lull'd were the winds on Inninmore,
And green Loch-Alline's woodland shore,
As if wild woods and waves had pleasure
In listing to the lovely measure.
And ne'er to symphony more sweet
Gave mountain echoes answer meet,
Since, met from mainland and from isle,
Ross, Arran, Ilay, and Argyle,
Each minstrel's tributary lay
Paid homage to the festal day.
Dull and dishonor'd were the bard,
Worthless of guerdon and regard,
Deaf to the hope of minstrel fame,

Deem'st thou these sadden'd scenes have pleas

ure still,
Lovest thou through Autumn's fading realms to

stray,
To see the heath-flower wither'd on the hill,
To listen to the wood's expiring lay,
To note the red leaf shivering on the spray,
To mark the last bright tints the mountain stain,
On the waste fields to trace the gleaner's way,

And moralize on mortal joy and pain ?
Oh! if such scenes thou lovest, scorn not the min-

strel strain.

Who on that morn's resistless call
Were silent in Artornish hall.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

But owns the power of minstrelsy.
In Lettermore the timid deer
Will pause, the harp's wild chime to

hear;
Rude Heiskar's seal through surges dark
Will long pursue the minstrel's bark;'
To list his notes, the eagle proud
Will poise him on Ben-Cailliach's cloud;
Then let not Maiden's ear disdain
The summons of the minstrel train,
But, while our harps wild music make,
Edith of Lorn, awake, awake!

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.

III.

"O) wake, while Dawn, with dewy shine,
Wakes Nature's charms to vie with thine!
She bids the mottled thrush rejoice
To mate thy melody of voice;
The dew that on the violet lies
Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes;
But, Edith, wake, and all we see
Of sweet and fair shall yield to thee!"-
“She comes not yet," gray Ferrand cried;
“ Brethren, let softer spell be tried,
Those notes prolong'd, that soothing theme,
Which best may mix with Beauty's dream,
And whisper, with their silvery tone,
The hope she loves, yet fears to own.”
He spoke, and on the harp-strings died
The strains of flattery and of pride;
More soft, more low, more tender fell
The lay of love he bade them tell.

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
MS.-“But Morag, who the maid had press'd,

An infant, to her fostering breast,
And seen a mother's early aid," &c.

Yet, empress of this joyful day, Edith is sad while all are gay.”—

She mark'd her child receive their care,
Cold as the image sculptured fair
(Form of some sainted patroness), .
Which cloister'd maids combine to dress;
She mark'd-and knew her nursling's heart
In the vain pomp took little part.
Wistful a while she gazed—then press'd
The maiden to her anxious breast
In finish'd loveliness-and led
To where a turret's airy head,
Slender and steep, and battled round,
O'erlook'd, dark Mull! thy mighty Sound,
Where thwarting tides, with mingled

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
To call his cold observance love,
All blinded by the league that styled
Edith of Lorn, while yet a child,
She tripp'd the heath by Morag's side, -
The brave Lord Ronald's destined bride.
Ere yet I saw him, while afar
His broadsword blazed in Scotland's war,
Train'd to believe our fates the same,
My bosom throbb'd when Ronald's name
Came gracing Fame's heroic tale,
Like perfume on the summer gale.
What pilgrim sought our halls, nor told
Of Ronald's deeds in battle bold;
Who touch'd the harp to heroes' praise,
But his achievements swellid the lays?
Even Morag---not a tale of fame
Was hers but closed with Ronald's name.
He came! and all that had been told
Of his high worth seem'd poor and cold,
Tame, lifeless, void of energy,
Unjust to Ronald and to me!

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."
8 MS." When, from that hour, had Edith's heart

A thought, and Ronald lack'd his part !
And what her guerdon ?"

Hunts he Bentalla's nimble deer,
Or loiters he in secret dell
To bid some lighter love farewell,
And swear, that though he may not scorn
A daughter of the House of Lorn,
Yet, when these formal rites are o'er,
Again they meet, to part no more ?"

And shifted oft her stooping side,

In weary tack from shore to shore.
Yet on her destined course no more

She gain'd, of forward way,
Than what a minstrel may compare
To the poor meed which peasants share,

Who toil the livelong day;
And such the risk her pilot braves,

That oft, before she wore,
Her boltsprit kiss'd the broken waves,
Where in white foam the ocean raves

Upon the shelving shore.
Yet, to their destined purpose true,
Undaunted toil'd her hardy crew,

Nor look'd where shelter lay,
Nor for Artornish Castle drew,

Nor steer'd for Aros bay.

XII.
_"Hush, daughter, hush! thy doubts remove,
More nobly think of Ronald's love.
Look, where beneath the castle gray
His fleet unmoor from Aros bay!
See'st not each galley's topmast bend,
As on the yards the sails ascend !
Hiding the dark-blue land, they rise
Like the white clouds on April skies;
The shouting vassals man the oars,
Behind them sink Mull's mountain shores,
Onward their merry course they keep,
Through whistling breeze and foaming

deep.
And mark the headmost, seaward cast,
Stoop to the freshening gale her mast,
As if she veil'd its banner'd pride,
To greet afar her prince's bride!
Thy Ronald comes, and while in speed
His galley mates the flying steed,
He chides her sloth I”-Fair Edith sigh’d,
Blush'd, sadly smiled, and thus replied :-

XIII. “Sweet thought, but vain !—No, Morag!

mark,
Type of his course, yon lonely bark,
That oft hath shifted helm and sail,
To win its way against the gale.
Since peep of morn, my vacant eyes
Have view'd by fits the course she tries ;)
Now, though the darkening scud comes on,
And dawn's fair promises be gone,
And though the weary crew may see
Our sheltering haven on their lee,
Still closer to the rising wind
They strive her shivering sail to bind,
Still nearer to the shelves' dread verge
At every tack her course they urge,
As if they fear'd Artornish more
Than adverse winds and breakers' roar."

XV. Thus while they strove with wind and

seas, Borne onward by the willing breeze,

Lord Ronald's fleet swept by,
Streamer'd with silk, and trick'd with gold,
Mann'd with the noble and the bold

Of Island chivalry.
Around their prows the ocean roars,
And chafes beneath their thousand oars,

Yet bears them on their way:
So chafes the war-horse in his might,
That fieldward bears some valiant knight,
Champs, till both bit and boss are white,

But, foaming, must obey. .
On each gay deck they might behold
Lances of steel and crests of gold,
And hauberks with their burnish'd fold,

That shimmer'd fair and free;
And each proud galley, as she pass'd,
To the wild cadence of the blast

Gave wilder minstrelsy.
Full many a shrill triumphant note
Saline and Scallastle bade float

Their misty shores around;
And Morven's echoes answer'd well,
And Duart heard the distant swell

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

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »