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And after, oft the Knight would say,
That not when prize of festal day
Was dealt him by the brightest fair
Who e'er wore jewel in her hair,
So highly did his bosom swell
As at that simple mute farewell.
Now, with a trusty mountain-guide,
And his dark stag-hounds by his side,
the maid unconscious still,
Watch'd him wind slowly round the hill;
But when his stately form was hid,
The guardian in her bosom chid,
"Thy Malcolm! vain and selfish maid!"
'T was thus upbraiding conscience said,
"Not so had Malcolm idly hung
On the smooth phrase of Southern tongue;
Not so had Malcolm strain'd his eye
Another step than thine to spy. —
Wake, Allan-Bane," aloud she cried
To the old Minstrel by her side,
"Arouse thee from thy moody dream!
I'll give thy harp heroic theme,
And warm thee with a noble name:
Pour forth the glory of the Græme!
Scarce from her lip the work had rush'd,
When deep the conscious maiden blush'd;
For of his clan, in hall and bower,
Young Malcolm Græme was held the flower.
The Minstrel waked his harp,
Arose the well-known martial chimes,
And thrice their high heroic pride
In melancholy murmurs died.
Vainly thou bid'st, O noble maid,"
Clasping his wither'd hands, he said,
"Vainly thou bid'st me wake the strain, Though all unwont to bid in vain.
Alas! than mine a mightier hand
Has tuned my harp, my strings has spann'd!
I touch the chords of joy, but low
And mournful answer notes of woe;
And the proud march which victors tread,
Sinks in the wailing for the dead.
O well for me if mine alone
That dirge's deep prophetic tone!
If, as my tuneful fathers said,
This harp, which erst Saint Modan sway'd,
Can thus its master's fate foretell,
Then welcome be the Minstrel's knell !
"But ah! dear lady, thus it sigh'd,
The eve thy sainted mother died;
And such the sounds which, while I strove To wake a lay of war or love,
Came marring all the festal mirth,
Appalling me who gave them birth,
And, disobedient to my call,
Wail'd loud through Bothwell's banner'd hall
Ere Douglasses, to ruin driven,
Were exiled from their native heaven.
Oh, if yet worse mishap and woe
My master's house must undergo,
Or aught but weal to Ellen fair
Brood in these accents of despair,
No future bard, sad Harp! shall fling
Triumph or rapture from thy string;
One short, one final strain shall flow,
Fraught with unutterable woe;
Then shiver'd shall thy fragments lie.
Thy master cast him down and die!"
Soothing she answer'd him,
Mine honor'd friend, the fears of age;
All melodies to thee are known
That harp has rung or pipe has blown,
In Lowland vale or Highland glen,
From Tweed to Spey, — what marvel, then,
At times unbidden notes should rise,
Confusedly bound in memory's ties,
Entangling, as they rush along,
The war-march with the funeral song? —
Small ground is now for boding fear;
Obscure, but safe, we rest us here.
My sire, in native virtue great,
Resigning lordship, lands, and state,
Not then to fortune more resign'd
Than yonder oak might give the wind;
The graceful foliage storms may reave,
The noble stem they cannot grieve.
For me," she stoop'd, and, looking round, Pluck'd a blue harebell from the ground,
For me, whose memory scarce conveys
An image of more splendid days,
This little flower, that loves the lea,
May well my simple emblem be;
It drinks heaven's dew as blithe as rose
That in the King's own garden grows;
And when I place it in my hair,
Allan, a bard is bound to swear
He ne'er saw coronet so fair."
Then playfully the chaplet wild
She wreathed in her dark locks, and smiled.
Her smile, her speech, with winning sway, Wiled the old Harper's mood away.
With such a look as hermits throw
When angels stoop to soothe their woe,
He gazed, till fond regret and pride
Thrill'd to a tear, then thus replied:
"Loveliest and best! thou little know'st
The rank, the honors, thou hast lost!
O might I live to see thee grace,
In Scotland's court, thy birthright place,
To see my favorite's step advance,
The lightest in the courtly dance,
The cause of every gallant's sigh,
And leading star of every eye,
And theme of every minstrel's art,
The lady of the Bleeding Heart!".
"Fair dreams are these," the maiden cried,
(Light was her accent, yet she sigh'd,)
"Yet is this mossy rock to me
Worth splendid chair and canopy;
Nor would my footstep spring more gay
In courtly dance than blithe strathspey,
Nor half so pleased mine ear incline
To royal minstrel's lay as thine.
And then for suitors proud and high,
To bend before my conquering eye,-
Thou, flattering bard! thyself wilt say
That grim Sir Roderick owns its sway.