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Canto V



The Gael, of plain and river heir,

Shall, with strong hand, redeem his share.
Where live the mountain Chiefs who hold
That plundering Lowland field and fold
Is aught but retribution true?

Seek other cause 'gainst Roderick Dhu.'


Answer'd Fitz-James,- And, if I sought,
Think'st thou no other could be brought?
What deem ye of my path waylaid?
My life given o'er to ambuscade?'--
'As of a meed to rashness due:
Hadst thou sent warning fair and true,-
I seek my hound, or falcon stray'd,
I seek, good faith, a Highland maid,-
Free hadst thou been to come and go;

But secret path marks secret foe.
Nor yet, for this, even as a spy,

Hadst thou, unheard, been doom'd to die,
Save to fulfil an augury.'-

'Well, let it pass; nor will I now

Fresh cause of enmity avow,

To chafe thy mood and cloud thy brow.
Enough, I am by promise tied

To match me with this man of pride:
Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine's glen
In peace; but when I come agen,

I come with banner, brand, and bow,
As leader seeks his mortal foe.

For love-lorn swain, in lady's bower,
Ne'er panted for the appointed hour,
As I, until before me stand

This rebel Chieftain and his band!'

Canto V

The Combat


'Have, then, thy wish!'-he whistled shrill,
And he was answer'd from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.

Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets, and spears, and bended bows;
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles grey their lances start,
The bracken bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrior arm'd for strife.
That whistle garrison'd the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leader's beck and will,
All silent there they stood, and still.

Like the loose crags whose threatening mass
Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass,
As if an infant's touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge,

With step and weapon forward flung,

Canto V

The Combat

Upon the mountain-side they hung.
The Mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi's living side,

Then fix'd his eye and sable brow

Full on Fitz-James-'How say'st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon,-I am Roderick Dhu!'



Fitz-James was brave :-Though to his heart
The life-blood thrill'd with sudden start,
He mann'd himself with dauntless air,
Return'd the Chief his haughty stare,
His back against a rock he bore,
And firmly placed his foot before:-
'Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as Ì.'
Sir Roderick mark'd-and in his eyes
Respect was mingled with surprise,
And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel.

Short space he stood-then waved his hand:
Down sunk the disappearing band;

Each warrior vanish'd where he stood,
In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
Sunk brand, and spear, and bended bow,
In osiers pale and copses low;

It seem'd as if their mother Earth
Had swallow'd up her warlike birth.
The wind's last breath had toss'd in air,
Pennon, and plaid, and plumage fair,—

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