Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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While falsehood stains thy name :
Go then to fight ! Clare bids thee go !
Clare can a warrior's feelings know

And weep a warrior's shame,
Can Red Earl Gilbert's spirit feel,
Buckle the spurs upon thy heel
And belt thee with thy brand of steel,

And send thee forth to fame ! '


That night upon the rocks and bay

The midnight moonbeam slumbering lay,



And poured its silver light and pure
Through loophole and through embrasure

Upon Tantallon tower and hall :
But chief where arched windows wide
Illuminate the chapel's pride

The sober glances fall.
Much was there need ; though seamed with

Two veterans of the Douglas' wars,

Though two gray priests were there,
And each a blazing torch held high,
You could not by their blaze descry

The chapel's carving fair.
Amid that dim and smoky light,
Checkering the silvery moonshine bright,

A bishop by the altar stood,

A noble lord of Douglas blood,
With mitre sheen and rochet white.
Yet showed his meek and thoughtful eye
But little pride of prelacy ;
More pleased that in a barbarous age
He gave rude Scotland Virgil's page
Than that beneath his rule he held
The bishopric of fair Dunkeld.
Beside him ancient _Angus stood,
Doffed his furred gown and sable hood ;
O'er his huge form and visage pale
He wore a cap and shirt of mail,
And leaned his large and wrinkled hand
Upon the huge and sweeping brand
Which wont of yore in battle fray
His foeman's limbs to shred away,
As wood-knife lops the sapling spray.

He seemed as, from the tombs around

Rising at judgment-day,
Some giant Douglas may be found

In all his old array :
So pale his face, so huge his limb,
So old his arms, his look so grim.

Then at the altar Wilton kneels,
And Clare the spurs bound on his heels ;
And think what next he must have felt
At buckling of the falchion belt !

And judge how Clara changed her hue
While fastening to her lover's side
A friend, which, though in danger tried,

He once had found untrue !
Then Douglas struck him with his blade :
' Saint Michael and Saint Andrew aid,

I dub thee knight.
Arise, Sir Ralph, De Wilton's heir !
For king, for church, for lady fair,

See that thou fight.'
And Bishop Gawain, as he rose.
Said : ' Wilton ! grieve not for thy woes,

Disgrace, and trouble ;
For He who honor best bestows

May give thee double.'
De Wilton sobbed, for sob he must :
* Where'er I meet a Douglas, trust

That Douglas is my brother ! '
1 Nay, nay,' old Angus said, ' not so ;
To Surrey's camp thou now must go,

Thy wrongs no longer smother.
I have two sons in yonder field ;



And, if thou meet'st them under shield,
Upon them bravely — do thy worst,
And foul fall him that blenches first ! '


Not far advanced was morning day
When Marmion did his troop array

To Surrey's camp to ride ;
He had safe-conduct for his band
Beneath the royal seal and hand,

And Douglas gave a guide.
The ancient earl with stately grace
Would Clara on her palfrey place,
And whispered in an undertone,
1 Let the hawk stoop, his prey is flown.'
The train from out the castle drew,
But Marmion stopped to bid adieu :

' Though something I might plain,' he
4 Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king's behest,

While in Tantallon's towers I stayed,

Part we in friendship from your land,
And, noble earl, receive my hand.' —
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke : —
' My manors, halls, and bowers shall still
Be open at my sovereign's will
To each one whom he lists, howe'er
Unmeet to be the owner's peer.
My castles are my king's alone,
From turret to foundation-stone —
The hand of Douglas is his own,
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.'


Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire
And shook his very frame for ire,

And — ' This to me ! ' he said,
' An 't were not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared

To cleave the Douglas' head !
And first I tell thee, haughty peer,
He who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state.
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate ;
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,

Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here in thy hold, thy vassals near, —
Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword, —

I tell thee, thou 'rt defied !
And if thou saidst I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near,

Lord Angus, thou hast lied ! '
On the earl's cheek the flush of rage
O'ercame the ashen hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth, — ' And darest thou

To beard the lion in his den,

The Douglas in his hall ?
And hopest thou hence un-
scathed to go ? —
No, by Saint Bride of Both-
well, no !
Up drawbridge, grooms —
what, warder, ho !
Let the portcullis fall.' —
Lord Marmion turned, — well

was his need, —
And dashed the rowels in his

Like arrow through the arch-
way sprung,
The ponderous grate behind

him rung ;
To pass there was such scanty

The bars descending razed his


The steed along the drawbridge flies
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim:
And when Lord Marmion reached his

He halts, and turns with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
1 Horse ! horse ! ' the Douglas cried, ' and

chase ! '
But soon he reined his fury's pace :
1 A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name. —



A letter forged ! Saint Jude to speed !
Did ever knight so foul a deed ?
At first in heart it liked me ill
When the king praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line ;

So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.
Saint Mary mend my fiery mood



* Bold can he speak and fairly ride,
I warrant him a warrior tried.'
With this his mandate he recalls,
And slowly seeks his castle halls.


The day in Marmion's journey wore ;
Yet, ere his passion's gust was o'er,
They crossed the heights of Stanrig-moor.
His troop more closely there he scanned,
And missed the Palmer from the band.
' Palmer or not,' young Blount did say,

* He parted at the peep of day ;
Good sooth, it was in strange array.'

1 In what array?' said Marmion quick.

1 My lord, I ill can spell the trick ;

But all night long with clink and bang

Close to my couch did hammers clang ;

At dawn the falling drawbridge rang,

And from a loophole while I peep,

Old Bell-the-Cat came from the keep,

Wrapped in a gown of sables fair,

As fearful of the morning air ;

Beneath, when that was blown aside,

A rusty shirt of mail I spied,

By Archibald won in bloody work

Against the Saracen and Turk :

Last night it hung not in the hall ; .

I thought some marvel would befall.

And next I saw them saddled lead

Old Cheviot forth, the earl's best steed,

A matchless horse, though something old,

Prompt in his paces, cool and bold.

I heard the Sheriff Sholto say

The earl did much the Master pray

To use him on the battle-day,

But he preferred ' — ' Nay, Henry, cease !

Thou sworn horse-courser, hold thy peace. —

Eustace, thou bear'st a brain — I pray,

What did Blount see at break of day ? ' —


* In brief, my lord, we both descried —
For then I stood by Henry's side —
The Palmer mount and outwards ride

Upon the earl's own favorite steed.
All sheathed he was in armor bright,
And much resembled that same knight
Subdued by you in Cotswold fight ;

Lord Angus wished him speed.' —
The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,
A sudden light on Marmion broke : —

* Ah ! dastard fool, to reason lost ! ' ■
He muttered ; ' 'T was nor fay nor ghost
I met upon the moonlight wold,

But living man of earthly mould. —

O dotage blind and gross !
Had I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,

My path no more to cross. —

How stand we now ? — he told his tale
To Douglas, and with some avail ;

'T was therefore gloomed his rugged
brow. —
Will Surrey dare to entertain
'Gainst Marmion charge disproved and
vain ?

Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun,
Must separate Constance from the nun —
Oh ! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive !
A Palmer too ! — no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye ;
I might have known there was but one
Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.'


Stung with these thoughts, he urged to

His troop, and reached at eve the Tweed,
Where Lennel's convent closed their march.
There now is left but one frail arch,

Yet mourn thou not its cells ;
Our time a fair exchange has made :
Hard by, in hospitable shade,

A reverend pilgrim dwells,
Well worth the whole Bernardine brood
That e'er wore sandal, frock, or hood. —
Yet did Saint Bernard's abbot there
Give Marmion entertainment fair,
And lodging for his train and Clare.
Next morn the baron climbed the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,

Encamped on Flodden edge ;
The white pavilions made a show
Like remnants of the winter snow

Along the dusky ridge.
Long Marmion looked : — at length his eye
Unusual movement might descry

Amid the shifting lines ;
The Scottish host drawn out appears,
For, flashing on the hedge of spears,

The eastern sunbeam shines.
Their front now deepening, now extending,
Their flank inclining, wheeling, bending,
Now drawing back, and now descending,
The skilful Marmion well could know
They watched the motions of some foe
Who traversed on the plain below.


Even so it was. From Flodden ridge
The Scots beheld the English host
Leave Barmore-wood, their evening post,
And heedful watched them as they crossed

The Till by Twisel Bridge.

High sight it is and haughty, while
They dive into the deep defile ;
Beneath the caverned cliff they fall,



Beneath the castle's airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn-tree,

Troop after troop are disappearing ;

Troop after troop their banners rearing
Upon the eastern bank you see ;
Still pouring down the rocky den

Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,

In slow succession still,
And sweeping o'er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on, in ceaseless march,

And sees, between him and his land,
Between him and Tweed's southern strand,

His host Lord Surrey lead ?
What vails the vain knight-errant's brand ? -—
O Douglas, for thy leading wand !

Fierce Randolph, for thy speed !
Oh ! for one hour of Wallace wight,
Or well-skilled Bruce, to rule the fight
And cry, ' Saint Andrew and our right ! '
Another sight had seen that morn,
From Fate's dark book a leaf been torn,
And Flodden had been Bannockbourne ! —

To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet clang,
Twisel ! thy rock's deep echo rang ;
And many a chief of birth and rank,
Saint Helen ! at thy fountain drank.
Thy hawthorn glade, which now we see
In spring-tide bloom so lavishly,
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.


And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden ! on thy airy brow,
Since England gains the pass the while,
And struggles through the deep defile ?
What checks the fiery soul of James ?
Why sits that champion of the dames
Inactive on his steed,

The precious hour has passed in vain,
And England's host has gained the plain,
Wheeling their march and circling still
Around the base of Flodden hill.


Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye,
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,
1 Hark ! hark ! my lord, an English drum !
And see ascending squadrons come

Between Tweed's river and the hill,
Foot, horse, and cannon ! Hap what hap,
My basnet to a prentice cap,

Lord Surrey 's o'er the Till ! —
Yet more ! yet more ! — how fair arrayed
They file from out the hawthorn shade,

And sweep so gallant by !
With all their banners bravely spread,



And all their armor flashing high,
Saint George might waken from the dead,

To see fair England's standards fly.' —
1 Stint in thy prate,' quoth Blount, ' thou 'dst

And listen to our lord's behest.' —
With kindling brow Lord Marmion said,
4 This instant be our band arrayed ;
The river must be quickly crossed,
That we may join Lord Surrey's host.
If fight King James, — as well I trust
That fight he will, and fight he must, —
The Lady Clare behind our lines
Shall tarry while the battle joins.'

Himself he swift on horseback threw,
Scarce to the abbot bade adieu,
Far less would listen to his prayer
To leave behind the helpless Clare.
Down to the Tweed his band he drew,
And muttered as the flood they view,
' The pheasant in the falcon's claw,
He scarce will yield to please a daw ;
Lord Angus may the abbot awe,

So Clare shall bide with me.'
Then on that dangerous ford and deep
Where to the Tweed Leat's eddies creep

He ventured desperately :
And not a moment will he bide
Till squire or groom before him ride ;
Headmost of all he stems the tide,

And stems it gallantly.
Eustace held Clare upon her horse,

Old Hubert led her rein,
Stoutly they braved the current's course,
And, though far downward driven perforce,

The southern bank they gain.

Behind them straggling came to shore,

As best they might, the train :
Each o'er his head his yew-bow bore,

A caution not in vain ;
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet unharmed, should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion stayed,
And breathed his steed, his men arrayed,

Then forward moved his band,
Until, Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
He halted by a cross of stone,
That on a hillock standing lone

Did all the field command.

Hence might they see the full array
Of either host for deadly fray ;
Their marshalled lines stretched east and
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation passed

From the loud cannon mouth ;
Not in the close successive rattle
That breathes the voice of modern battle,

But slow and far between.
The hillock gained, fcord Marmion stayed :
' Here, by this cross,' he gently said,

' You well may view the scene.
Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare :
Oh ! think of Marmion in thy prayer ! —
Thou wilt not? — well, no less my care
Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare. —
You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,

With ten picked archers of my train ;
With England if the day go hard,

To Berwick speed amain. —
But if we conquer, cruel maid,
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,

When here we meet again.'
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid's despair,

Nor heed the discontent-
ed look
From either squire, but

spurred amain,
And, dashing through the
His way to Surrey took.


'The good Lord Marmion,
by my life !
Welcome to danger's
hour! —

Short greeting serves in
time of strife. —
Thus have I ranged my
power :

Myself will rule this cen-
tral host,



Stout Stanley fronts their right,
My sons command the vaward post,

With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight ;

Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,

Shall be in rearward of the fight,
And succor those that need it most.

Now, gallant Marmion, well I know,

Would gladly to the vanguard go ;
Edmund, the Admiral, Tunstall there,
With thee their charge will blithely share ;
There fight thine own retainers too
Beneath De Burg, thy steward true.'
1 Thanks, noble Surrey ! ' Marmion said,
Nor further greeting there he paid,
But, parting like a thunderbolt,
First in the vanguard made a halt,

Where such a shout there rose
Of ' Marmion ! Marmion ! ' that the cry,
Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,

Startled the Scottish foes.


Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still
With Lady Clare upon the hill,
On which — for far the day was spent —
The western sunbeams now were bent ;
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view:
Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
' Unworthy office here to stay !
No hope of gilded spurs to-day. —
But see ! look up — on Flodden bent
The Scottish foe has fired his tent.'

And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,

Was wreathed in sable smoke.
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war

As down the hill they broke ;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march ; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,

At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne

King James did rushing come.
Scarce could they hear or see their foes
Until at weapon-point they close. —
They close in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway and with lance's thrust ;

And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth,

And fiends in upper air ;
Oh ! life and death were in the shout,
Recoil and rally, charge and rout,

And triumph and despair.
Long looked the anxious squires ; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.


At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast ;
And first the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening cloud appears,
And in the smoke the pennons flew,



As in the storm the white seamew.
Then marked they, dashing broad and far,
^The broken billows of the war,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave
Floating like foam upon the wave ;

But nought distinct they see :
Wide raged the battle on the plain ;
Spears sho^k and falchions flashed amain ;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ;
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,

Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly ;
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight,

Although against them come
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Badenoch-man,
And many a rugged Border clan,

With Huntly and with Home.

Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle,
Though there the western mountaineer
Rushed with bare bosom on the spear,
And flung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broadsword plied.
'T was vain. — But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile cheered Scotland's fight.
Then fell that spotless banner white,

The Howard's lion fell ;
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew

Around the battle-yell.
The Border slogan rent the sky !
A Home ! a Gordon ! was the cry :

Loud were the clanging blows ;
Advanced, — forced back, — now low, now

The pennon sunk and rose;
As bends the bark's-mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,

It wavered mid the foes.
No longer Blount the view could bear :
' By heaven and all its saints ! I swear

I will not see it lost !
Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare
May bid your beads and patter prayer, —

I gallop to the host.'
And to the fray he rode amain,
Followed by all the archer train.
The fiery youth, with desperate charge,
Made for a space an opening large, —

The rescued banner rose, —
But darkly closed the war around,
Like pine-tree rooted from the ground

It sank among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too, — yet stayed,

As loath to leave the helpless maid,

When, fast as shaft can fly,
Bloodshot his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,

Lord Marmion's steed rushed by ;
And Eustace, maddening at the sight,

A look and sign to Clara cast

To mark he would return in haste,
Then plunged into the fight.


Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone :

Perchance her reason stoops or reels ;
Perchance a courage, not her own,
Braces her mind to desperate tone. —

The scattered van of England wheels ; —
She only said, as loud in air
The tumult roared, ' Is Wilton there? ' —
They fly, or, maddened by despair,
Fight but to die, — ' Is Wilton there ? '

With that, straight up the hill there rode
Two horsemen drenched with gore,

And in their arms, a helpless load,
A wounded knight they bore.

His hand still strained the broken brand ;

His arms were smeared with blood and

Dragged from among the horses' feet,

With dinted shield and helmet beat,

The falcon-crest and plumage gone,

Can that be haughty M arm ion ! . . .

Young Blount his armor did unlace,

And, gazing on his ghastly face,
Said, ' By Saint George, he 's gone !

That spear-wound has our master sped,

And see the deep cut on his head !
Good-night to Marmion.' —

' Unnurtured Blount ! thy brawling cease :

He opes his eyes,' said Eustace; 'peace ! '

When, doffed his casque, he felt free air,

Around gan Marmion wildly stare :

1 Where 's Harry Blount ? Fitz-Eustace

where ?
Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare !
Redeem my pennon, — charge again !
Cry, " Marmion to the rescue ! "' — Vain !
Last of my race, on battle-plain
That shout shall ne'er be heard again ! —
Yet my last thought is England's — fly,

To Dacre bear my signet-ring;

Tell him his squadrons up to bring. —
Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie :

Tunstall lies dead upon the field,

His lifeblood stains the spotless shield ;

Edmund is down ; my life is reft ;

The Admiral alone is left.



Let Stanley charge with spur of fire, —
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Full upon Scotland's central host,
Or victory and England 's lost. —
Must I bid twice ? — hence, varlets !
fly! —

Leave Marmion here alone — to die.'

They parted, and alone he lay ;

Clare drew her from the sight away,
Till pain wrung forth a lowly moan,
And half he murmured, ' Is there none

Of all my halls have nurst,



Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring
Of blessed water from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst ! '


O Woman ! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made ;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou ! — .
Scarce were the piteous accents said, ■
When with the baron's casque the maid

To the nigh streamlet ran :
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears ;
The plaintive voice alone she hears,

Sees but the dying man.
She stooped her by the runnel's side,

But in abhorrence backward drew ;
For, oozing from the mountain's side
Where raged the war, a dark-red tide

Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
Where shall she turn ? — behold her mark

A little fountain cell,
Where water, clear as diamond-spark,

In a stone basin fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
Brink, foearg. pilgrim. Brink, ano. prag.
jFor. trje. kino, soul. of. Stbgl. ©reg.

®5Ef)0. built, this, cross. ano. rocii.
She filled the helm and back she hied,
And with surprise and joy espied

A monk supporting Marmion's head ;
A pious man, whom duty brought
To dubious verge of battle fought,

To shrieve the dying, bless the dead.


Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
And, as she stooped his brow to lave —
* Is it the hand of Clare,' he said,
1 Or injured Constance, bathes my head ? '

Then, as remembrance rose, —
1 Speak not to me of shrift or prayer !

I must redress her woes.
Short space, few words, are mine to spare
Forgive and listen, gentle Clare ! ' —

1 Alas ! ' she said, ' the while, —
Oh ! think of your immortal weal !
In vain for Constance is your zeal ;

She — died at Holy Isle.' —
Lord Marmion started from the ground
As light as if he felt no wound,
Though in the action burst the tide
In torrents from his wounded side.
4 Then it was truth,' he said — ' I knew
That the dark presage must be true. —
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance clue to all her wrongs,

Would spare me but a day !

For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,

Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be ! — this dizzy trance —
Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand !
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.'
Then fainting down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.


With fruitless labor Clara bound

And strove to stanch the gushing wound ;

The monk with unavailing cares

Exhausted all the Church's prayers.

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