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The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
He sigh'd a sigh, and pray'd a prayer;
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 spurred his steed to full career. The meeting of these champions proud Seem'd like the bursting thunder-cloud.
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,
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. 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.
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 flinders 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.
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.
His armour red with many a stain:
For it was William of Deloraine.
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.”
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.
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.
| The crest of the Cranstouns, in allusion to their name, emphatic Border motto, Thou shalt reantere I want crane dormant, holding a in his foot, with an
ndix, Note 2 L.
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, Would not yield to unchristen'd hand, Till he smeard 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' night, Could make a ladye seem a knight; The cobwebs on a dungeon wall Seem tapestry in lordly hall; A nut-shell seem a gilded barge, A sheeling? seem a palace large, And youth seemn age, and age seem youth--. All was delusion, nought was truth.3
XII. As he repass'd the outer court, He spied the fair young child at sport: He thought to train him to the wood; 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.
Until they came to a woodland brook ;
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 crossd, And laugh'd, and shouted, “ Lost! lost I lost !"
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.
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 flung the warrior on the ground, And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.
Comes nigher still, and nigher:
And his red eye shot fire.
i Magical delusion.
2 A shepherd's hut.
* See Appendix, Note 2 0.
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
But still in act to spring;
He drew his tough bow-string; But a rough voice cried, “ Shoot not, hoy! Ho! shoot not, Edward—'Tis a boy!”
For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,
Our wardens had need to keep good order; My bow of yew to a hazel wand,
· Thou'lt make them work upon the Border. Meantime, be pleased to come with me, For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see; I think our work is well begun, When we have taken thy father's son."
And quell’d the ban-dog's ire:
And born in 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.
Set off his sun-burn'd face:
His barret-cap did grace;
All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;
XXI. Although the child was led away, In Branksome still he seem'd to stay, For so the Dwarf his part did play; And, in the shape of that young boy, He wrought the castle much annoy. The comrades of the young Buccleuch He pinch'd, and beat, and overthrew; Nay, some of them he wellnigh slew. He tore Dame Maudlin's silken tire, And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire, He lighted the match of his bandelier, And wofully scorch'd the hackbuteer. 8 It may be hardly thought or said, The mischief that the urchin made, Till many of the castle guess’d, That the young Baron was possess'd !
Reach'd scantly to his knee;
A furbish'd sheaf bore he;
No larger fence had he;
Would strike below the knee:
XVIII. He would not do the fair child harm, But held him with his powerful arm, That he might neither fight nor flee; For when 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.”
On the stone threshold stretch'd along; She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong; Because, despite her precept dread, Perchance he in the Book had read; But the broken lance in his bosom stood, And it was earthly steel and wood.
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!
And with a charm she stanch'd the blood ;* She bade the gash be cleansed and bound:
No longer by his couch she stood;
See Appendix, Note 2 P. 2 Bandrlier, belt for carrying ammunition.
a Flackbuteer, musketeer. * See Appendix, Note 2 Q.
But she has ta’en the broken lance,
XXVII. And wash'd it from the clotted gore,
The Seneschal, whose silver hair And salved the splinter o'er and o’er.'
Was redden'd by the torches' glare, William of Deloraine, in trance,
Stood in the midst, with gesture proud, Whene'er she turn d it round and round,
And issued forth his mandates loud: Twisted as if she gall’d his wound.
“ On Penchryst glows a bales of fire, Then to her maidens she did say,
And three are kindling on Priesthaughswire; That he should be whole man and sound,
Ride out, ride out, Within the eourse of a night and day.
The foe to scout! Full long she toil'd; for she did rue
Mount, mount for Branksome,' every man! Mishap to friend so stout and true.
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan,
That ever are true and stout-
Ye need not send to Liddesdale;
For when they see the blazing bale, 'Twas near the time of curfew bell;
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.-The air was mild, the wind was calm,
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life! The stream was smooth, the dew was balm;
And warn the Warder of the strife. E'en the rude watchman, on the tower,
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,
Our kin, and clan, and friends, to raise."
Fair Margaret, from the turret head, She waked at times the lute's soft tone;
Heard, far below, the coursers' tread, Touch'd a wild note, and all between
While loud the harness rung, Thought of the bower of hawthorns green.
As to their seats, with clamour dread, Her golden hair stream'd free from band,
The ready horsemen sprung: Her fair cheek rested on her hand,
And trampling hoofs, and iron coats, Her blue eyes sought the west afar,
And leaders' voices, mingled notes, For lovers love the western star.
And out! and out!
In hasty route,
The horsemen gallop'd forth;
Dispersing to the south to scout, That rises slowly to her ken,
And east, and west, and north, And, spreading broad its wavering light,
To view their coming enemies, Shakes its loose tresses on the night?
And warn their vassals and allies.
Awaked the need-fire's7 slumbering brand,
And ruddy blush'd the heaven:
For a sheet of flame, from the turret high,
Waved like a blood-flag on the sky, And blew his war-note loud and long,
All flaring and uneven ; Till, at the high and haughty sound,
And soon a score of fires, I ween, Rock, wood, and river, rung around.
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen; The blast alarm'd the festal hall,
Each with warlike tidings fraught; And startled forth the warriors all;
Each from each the signal caught; Far downward, in the castle-yard,
Each after each they glanced to sight, Full many a torch and cresset glared ;
As stars arise upon the night. And helms and plumes, confusedly toss'd,
They gleam'd on many a dusky tarn, Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;
Haunted by the lonely earn ;' And spears in wild disorder shook,
On many a cairn's 10
grey pyramid, Like reeds beside a frozen brook.
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid;
See Appendix, Note 2 R.
8 See Appendix, Note 2 8 2 “As another illustration of the prodigious improvement * Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts. which the style of the old romance is capable of receiving from 6 See Appendix, Note 2 T. a more liberal admixture of pathetic sentiments and gentle 6 We absolutely see the fires kindling, one after another, in affections, we insert the following passage, (Stanzas xxiv. to the following animated description."- Annual Revicu, 1204. xxvii.,) where the effect of the picture is finely assisted by the 7 Need-fire, beacon. 8 Tarn, a mountain lake. contrast of its two compartments."-JEFFREY.
9 Earn, a Scottish eagle. 10 See Appendix, Note 2 U.
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw,
And busied himself the strings withal,
The Lay of the Last Minstrel. The castle-bell, with backward clang,
Sent forth the larum peal;
1. To whelm the foe with deadly shower ;
SWEET Teviot! on thy silver tide Was frequent heard the changing guard,
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more; And watch-word from the sleepless ward;
No longer steel-clad warriors ride While, wearied by the endless din,
Along thy wild and willow'd shore ;* Blood-hound and ban-dog yell’d within.
Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill,
All, all is peaceful, all is still,
As if thy waves, since Time was born,
Since first they roll’d upon the Tweed, Shared the grey Seneschal's high toil,
Had only heard the shepherd's reed,
Nor started at the bugle-horn.
Unlike the tide of human time, Nor of his numbers knew they aught,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow, Nor what in time of truce he sought.
Retains each grief, retains each crime Some said, that there were thousands ten;
Its earliest course was doom’d to know; And others ween'd that it was nought
And, darker as it downward bears, But Leven Clans, or Tynedale men,
Is stain'd with past and present tears. Who came to gather in black-mail;8
Low as that tide has ebb’d with me, And Liddesdale, with small avail,
It still reflects to Memory's eye Might drive them lightly back agen.
The hour my brave, my only boy, So pass'd the anxious night away,
Fell by the side of great Dundee.
Why, when the volleying musket play'd
Why was not I beside him laid !-
Enough—he died with conquering Græme.
Now over Border, dale and fell, His wandering toil to share and cheer;
Full wide and far was terror spread; No son to be his father's stay,
For pathless marsh, and mountain cell, And guide him on the rugged way?
The peasant left his lowly shed. 8 “ Ay, once he had—but he was dead !”
The frighten'd flocks and herds were pent Upon the harp he stoop'd his head,
Beneath the peel's rude battlement; 1 Bouwne, make ready.
those in which the author drops the business of his story to ? Protection money exacted by treebooters.
moralize, and apply to his own situation the images and reflec8“ Nothing can excel the simple concise pathos of the tions it has suggested. After concluding one Canto with an close of this Canto-nor the touching picture of the Bard when, account of the warlike array which was prepared for the rewith assumed business, he tries to conceal real sorrow. How ception of the English invaders, he opens the succeeding one well the poet understands the art of contrast -and how judi- with the following beautiful verses, (Stanzas i. and ii.) ciously it is exerted in the exordium of the next Canto, where “ There are several other detached passages of equal our mourning sympathy is exchanged for the thrill of plea- beauty, which might be quoted in proof of the effect which sore!"--ANNA SEWARD.
is produced by this dramatic interference of the narrator."* “What luxury of sound in this line!"-ANNA SEWARD. JEFFREY.
"Since first they rolled their way to Tweed." 8 See Appendix, Note 2 V. 6 The Viscount of Dundee, slain in the battle of Killi
9 No one will dissent from this, who reads, in particular, the first two
and heart glowing stanzas of Canto VI.-non, by association of the " Some of the most interesting passages of the poem are past, rendered the more adeeting. -ED