Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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Ever, he said, that, close and near,

A lady's voice was in his ear,

And that the priest he could not hear :

For that she ever sung,
' In the lost battle, borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war's rattle with groans of
the dying / '

So the notes rung.

Avoid thee, Fiend

nth cruel hand

Shake not the dying sinner's sand ! —
Oh ! look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer's grace divine ;

Oh ! think on faith and bliss ! —
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen,

But never aught like this.' —
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly -thundering swelled the gale,

And ' Stanley ! ' was the cry. —
A light on Marmion's visage spread,

And fired his glazing eye ;
With dying hand above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,

And shouted ' Victory ! —
Charge, Chester, charge ! On, Stanley, on ! '
Were the last words of Marmion.


By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell,
For still the Scots around their king,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where 's now their victor vaward wing,

Where Huntly, and where Home ? —
Oh ! for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,

That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer,

On Roncesvalles died !
Such blasts might warn them, not in vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain
And turn the doubtful day again,

While yet on Flodden side



Afar the Royal Standard flies,

And round it toils and bleeds and dies

Our Caledonian pride!
In vain the wish — for far away,
While spoil and havoc mark their way,
Near Sibyl's Cross the plunderers stray. —
1 O lady,' cried the monk, ' away ! '

And placed her on her steed,
And led her to the chapel fair

Of Tilmouth upon Tweed.
There all the night they spent in prayer,
And at the dawn of morning there
She met her kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.


But as they left the darkening heath
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed ;
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep
To break the Scottish circle deep
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though billmen ply the ghastly blow,

Unbroken was the ring ;
The stubborn spearmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood

The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight ;
Linked in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight.

As fearlessly and well,
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O'er their thin host and wounded king.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shattered bands ;

And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves from wasted lands

Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know ;
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field, as snow,
When streams are swoln and south winds

Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,

While many a broken band
Disordered through her currents dash,

To gain the Scottish land ;




To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song
Shall many an age that wail prolong ;
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife and carnage drear

Of Flodden's fatal field, -
Where shivered was fair Scotland's spear

And broken was her shield !

Day dawns upon the mountain's side. —
There, Scotland ! lay thy bravest pride,
Chiefs, knights, and nobles, many a one ;
The sad survivors all are gone. —
View not that corpse mistrustfully,
Defaced and mangled though it be ;
Nor to yon Border castle high
Look northward with upbraiding eye ;

Nor cherish hope in vain
That, journeying far on foreign strand,
The Royal Pilgrim to his land

May yet return again.
He saw the wreck his rashness wrought ;
Reckless of life, he desperate fought,

And fell on Flodden plain :
And well in death his trusty brand,
Firm clenched within his manly hand,

Beseemed the monarch slain.
But oh ! how changed since yon blithe

night ! —
Gladly I turn me from the sight

Unto my tale again.


Short is my tale : — Fitz-Eustace' care

A pierced and mangled body bare

To moated Lichfield's lofty pile ;

And there, beneath the southern aisle,

A tomb with Gothic sculpture fair

Did long Lord Marmion's image bear. —

Now vainly for its site you look ;

"T was levelled when fanatic Brook

The fair cathedral stormed and took,

But, thanks to Heaven and good Saint Chad,

A guerdon meet the spoiler had ! —

There erst was martial Marmion found,

His feet upon a couchant hound,

His hands to heaven upraised ;
And all around, on scutcheon rich,
And tablet carved, and fretted niche,

His arms and feats were blazed. *
And yet, though all was carved so fair,
And priest for Marmion breathed the prayer,
The last Lord Marmion lay not there.
From Ettrick woods a peasant swain
Followed his lord to Flodden plain, —
One of those flowers whom plaintive lay
In Scotland mourns as ' wede away : '

Sore wounded, Sibyl's Cross he spied,
And dragged him to its foot, and died
Close by the noble Marmion's side.
The spoilers stripped and gashed the slain,,
And thus their corpses were mista'en ;
And thus in the proud baron's tomb
The lowly woodsman took the room.


Less easy task it were to show

Lord Marmion's nameless grave and low.

They dug his grave e'en where he lay,

But every mark is gone :
Time's wasting hand has done away
The simple Cross of Sibyl Grey,

And broke her font of stone ;
But yet from out the little hill
Oozes the slender springlet still.

Oft halts the stranger there,
For thence may best his curious eye
The memorable field descry ;

And shepherd boys repair
To seek the water-flag and rush,
And rest them by the hazel bush,

And plait their garlands fair,
Nor dream they sit upon the grave
That holds the bones of Marmion brave. —
When thou shalt find the little hill,
With thy heart commune and be still.
If ever in temptation strong
Thou left'st the right path for the wrong,
If every devious step thus trod
Still led thee further from the road,
Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom
On noble Marmion's lowly tomb ;
But say, ' He died a gallant knight,
With sword in hand, for England's right.*


I do not rhyme to that dull elf

Who cannot image to himself

That all through Flodden's dismal night

Wilton was foremost in the fight,

That when brave Surrey's steed was slain

'T was Wilton mounted him again ;

'T was Wilton's brand that deepest hewed

Amid the spearmen's stubborn wood :

Unnamed by Holinshed or Hall,

He was the living soul of all ;

That, after fight, his faith made plain,

He won his rank and lands again,

And charged his old paternal shield

With bearings won on Flodden Field.

Nor sing I to that simple maid

To whom it must in terms be said

That king and kinsmen did agree

To bless fair Clara's constancy ;

Who cannot, unless I relate,

Paint to her mind the bridal's state, —



That Wolsey's voice the blessing spoke,
More, Sands, and Denny, passed the joke ;
That bluff King Hal the curtain drew,
And Katherine's hand the stocking threw ;
And afterwards, for many a day,
That it was held enough to say,
In blessing to a wedded pair,
' Love they like Wilton and like Clare ! '



Why then a final note prolong,
Or lengthen out a closing song,
Unless to bid the gentles speed,

Who long have listed to my rede ?

To statesmen grave, if such may deign

To read the minstrel's idle strain,

Sound head, clean hand, and piercing wit,

And patriotic heart — as Pitt !

A garland for the hero's crest,

And twined by her he loves the best !

To every lovely lady bright,

What can I wish but faithful knight ?

To every faithful lover too,

What can I wish but lady true ?

And knowledge to the studious sage,

And pillow soft to head of age !

To thee, dear school-boy, whom my lay

Has cheated of thy hour of play,

Light task and merry holiday !

To all, to each, a fair good-night,

And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light !

Cf)e iUtip of tf)e £afce.



&c, &c, &c,




The scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity of Loch Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perth-
shire. The time of Action includes Six Days, and the transactions of each Day occupy a Canto.

GP&e 1a*8 of tje Hake.


Harp of the North ! that mouldering long
hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint
Fillan's spring,
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers
Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string, —
O Minstrel Harp, still must thine accents
sleep ?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmur-
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence
Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid
to weep ?

Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,
Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd,

When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,

Aroused the fearful or subdued the proud.
At each according pause was heard aloud

Thine ardent symphony sublime and high !
Fair dames and crested chiefs attention
bowed ;
For still the burden of thy minstrelsy
Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and
Beauty's matchless eye.

O, wake once more! how rude soe'er the
That ventures o'er thy magic maze to
stray ;
O, wake once more ! though scarce my skill
Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay :
Though harsh and faint, and soon to die
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain,
Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway,
The wizard note has not been touched
in vain.
Then silent be no more ! Enchantress,
wake again!



The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill.
And deep his midnight lair had made %
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,

The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.


As Chief, who hears his warder call,
4 To arms ! the foemen storm the wall,'
The antlered monarch of the waste
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But ere his fleet career he took,
The dew-drops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high
Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky ;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuffed the tainted gale,
A moment listened to the cry,

That thickened as the chase drew nigh ;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.


Yelled on the View the opening pack ;
Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back ;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awakened mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
A hundred voices joined the shout ;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.



Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cowered the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.


Less loud the sounds of sylvan war
Disturbed the heights of Uam-Var,
And roused the cavern where, 't is told,
A giant made his den of old ;
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in his pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stayed perforce,
Was fain to breathe his'faltering horse,
And of the trackers of the deer
Scarce half the lessening pack was near
So shrewdly on the mountain-side
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.

The noble stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wandered o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And pondered refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copsewood gray
That waved and wept on Loch Achray,

And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Benvenue.
Fresh vigor with the hope returned,
With flying foot the heath he spurned,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.

'T were long to tell what steeds gave o'er,
As swept the hunt through Cambusmore ;
What reins were tightened in despair,
When rose Benledi's ridge in air ;
Who flagged upon Bochastle's heath,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith, —
For twice that day, from shore to shore,
The gallant stag swam stoutly o'er.
Few were the stragglers, following far,
That reached the lake of Vennachar ;
And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone.

Alone, but with unbated zeal,
That horseman plied the scourge and steel ;
For jaded now, and spent with toil,
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil,
While every gasp with sobs he drew,
The laboring stag strained full in view.
Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's breed,
Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed,
Fast on his flying traces came,
And all but won that desperate game ;
For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch,
Vindictive toiled the bloodhounds stanch ;
Nor nearer might the dogs attain,
Nor farther might the quarry strain.



Thus up the margin of the lake,

Between the precipice and brake,

O'er stock and rock their race they take.


The Hunter marked that mountain high,
The lone lake's western boundary,
And deemed the stag must turn to bay,
Where that huge rampart barred the way ;
Already glorying in the prize,
Measured his antlers with his eyes ;
For the death-wound and death-halloo
Mustered his breath, his whinyard drew : —
But thundering as he came prepared,
With ready arm and weapon bared,
The wily quarry shunned the shock,
And turned him from the opposing rock ;
Then, dashing down a darksome glen,
Soon lost to hound and Hunters ken,
In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook
His solitary refuge took.
There, while close couched the thicket shed
Cold dews and wild flowers on his head,
He heard the baffled dogs in vain
Rave through the hollow pass amain,
Chiding the rocks that yelled again.

Close on the hounds the Hunter came,
To cheer them on the vanished game ;
But, stumbling in the rugged dell,
The gallant horse exhausted fell.
The impatient rider strove in vain
To rouse him with the spur and rein,

For the good steed, his labors o'er,
Stretched his stiff limbs, to rise no more ;
Then, touched with pity and remorse,
He sorrowed o'er the expiring horse.
' I little thought, when first thy rein
I slacked upon the banks of Seine,
That Highland eagle e'er should feed
On thy fleet limbs, my matchless steed !
Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day,
That costs thy life, my gallant gray ! '

Then through the dell his horn resounds,
From vain pursuit to call the hounds.
Back limped, with slow and crippled pace,
The sulky leaders of the chase ;
Close to their master's side they pressed,
With drooping tail and humbled crest ;
But still the dingle's hollow throat
Prolonged the swelling bugle-note.
The owlets started from their dream,
The eagles answered with their scream,
Round and around the sounds were cast,
Till echo seemed an answering blast ;
And on the Hunter hied his way,
To join some comrades of the day,
Yet often paused, so strange the road,
So wondrous were the scenes it showed.

The western waves of ebbing day
Rolled o'er the glen their level way :
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living: fire.



But not a setting beam could glow

Within the dark ravines below,

Where twined the path in shadow hid,

Round many a rocky pyramid,

Shooting abruptly from the dell

Its thunder-splintered pinnacle ;

Round many an insulated mass,

The native bulwarks of the pass,

Huge as the tower which builders vain

Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain.

The rocky summits, split and rent,

Formed turret, dome, or battlement,

Or seemed fantastically set

With cupola or minaret,

Wild crests as pagod ever decked,

Or mosque of Eastern architect.

Nor were these earth-born castles bare,

Nor lacked they many a banner fair ;

For, from their shivered brows displayed

Far o'er the unfathomable glade,

All twinkling with the dewdrop sheen,

The brier-rose fell in streamers green,

And creeping shrubs of thousand dyes
Waved in the west-wind's summer sighs.

Boon nature scattered, free and wild.
Each plant or flower, the mountain's child.
Here eglantine embalmed the air,
Hawthorn and hazel mingled there ;
The primrose pale and violet flower
Found in each clift a narrow bower;
Foxglove and nightshade, side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride,



Grouped their dark hues with every stain
The weather-beaten crags retain.
With boughs that quaked at every breath,
Gray birch and aspen wept beneath ;
Aloft, the ash and warrior oak
Cast anchor in the rifted rock :
And, higher yet, the pine-tree hung
His shattered trunk, and frequent flung,
Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
His boughs athwart the narrowed sky.
Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
Where glistening streamers waved and

The wanderer's eye* could barely view
The summer heaven's delicious blue ;
So wondrous wild, the whole might seem
The scenery of a fairy dream.


Onward, amid the copse 'gan peep
A narrow inlet, still and deep,
Affording scarce such breadth of brim
As served the wild duck's brood to swim.
Lost for a space, through thickets veering.
But broader when again appearing,
Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face
Could on the dark-blue mirror trace ;
And farther as the Hunter strayed.
Still broader sweep its channels made.

The shaggy mounds no longer stood,
Emerging from entangled wood,
But, wave-encircled, seemed to float,
Like castle girdled with its moat ;
Yet broader floods extending still
Divide them from their parent hill,
Till each, retiring, claims to be
An islet in an inland sea.

And now, to issue from the glen,
No pathway meets the wanderer's ken,
Unless he climb with footing nice
A far-projecting precipice.
The broom's tough roots his ladder made,
The hazel saplings lent their aid ;
And thus an airy point he won,
Where, gleaming with the setting sun,
One burnished sheet of living gold,
Loch Katrine lay beneath him rolled,
In all her length far winding lay,
With promontory, creek, and bay,
And islands that, empurpled bright.
Floated amid the livelier light,
And mountains that like giants stand
To sentinel enchanted land.
High on the south, huge Benvenue
Down to the lake in masses threw
Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly



The fragments of an earlier world ;
A wildering forest feathered o'er
His ruined sides and summit hoar,
While on the north, through middle air,
Ben-an heaved high his forehead bare.

From the steep promontory gazed

The stranger, raptured and amazed,

And, ' What a scene were here,' he cried,

' For princely pomp or churchman's pride !

On this bold brow, a lordly tower ;

In that soft vale, a lady's bower ;

On yonder meadow far away,

The turrets of a cloister gray ;

How blithely might the bugle-horn

Chide on the lake the lingering morn

How sweet at eve the lover's lute

Chime whe;i the groves were still and mute !

And when the midnight moon should lave

Her forehead in the silver wave,

How solemn on the ear would come

The holy matins' distant hum,

While the deep peal's commanding tone

Should wake, in yonder islet lone,

A sainted hermit from his cell,

To drop a bead with every knell !

And bugle, lute, and bell, and all,

Should each bewildered stranger call
To friendly feast and lighted hall.


' Blithe were it then to wander here !
But now — beshrew yon nimble deer —
Like that same hermit's, thin and spare,
The copse must give my evening fare ;
Some mossy bank my couch must be,
Some rustling oak my canopy.
Yet pass we that ; the war and chase
Give little choice of resting-place ; —
A summer night in greenwood spent
Were but to-morrow's merriment :
But hosts may in these wilds abound,
Such as are better missed than found ;
To meet with Highland plunderers here
Were worse than loss of steed or deer. -
I am alone ; — my bugle-strain
May call some straggler of the train ;
Or, fall the worst that may betide,
Ere now this falchion has been tried.'


But scarce again his horn he wound,
When lo ! forth starting at the sound,
From underneath an aged oak
That slanted from the islet rock,

i 5 8

scorrs poetical works.

A damsel guider of its way,

A little skiff shot to the bay,

That round the promontory steep

Led its deep line in graceful sweep,

Eddying, in almost viewless wave,

The weeping willow twig to lave,

And kiss, with whispering sound and slow,

The beach of pebbles bright as snow.

The boat had touched this silver strand

Just as the Hunter left his stand,

And stood concealed amid the brake,

To view this Lady of the Lake.

The maiden paused, as if again

She thought to catch the distant strain.
With head upraised, and look intent,
And eye and ear attentive bent,
And locks flung back, and lips apart,
Like monument of Grecian art,
In listening mood, she seemed to stand,
The guardian Naiad of the strand.


And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace
A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace,
Of finer form or lovelier face !



What though the sun, with ardent frown,
Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown, —
The sportive toil, which, short and light,
Had dyed her glowing hue so bright,
Served too in hastier swell to show
Short glimpses of a breast of snow :
What though no rule of courtly grace
To measured mood had trained her pace, —
A foot more light, a step more true,
Ne'er from the heath-flower dashed the dew;
E'en the slight harebell raised its head,
Elastic from her airy tread :
What though upon her speech there hung

The accents of the mountain tongue, —
Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear,
The listener held his breath to hear !


A chieftain's daughter seemed the maid ;

Her satin snood, her silken plaid,

Her golden brooch, such birth betrayed.

And seldom was a snood amid

Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid,

Whose glossy black to shame might bring

The plumage of the raven's wing;



And seldom o'er a breast so fair
Mantled a plaid with modest care,
And never brooch the folds combined
Above a heart more good and kind.
Her kindness and her worth to spy,
You need but gaze on Ellen's eye ;
Not Katrine in her mirror blue
Gives back the shaggy banks more true,
Than every free-born glance confessed
The guileless movements of her breast ;
Whether joy danced in her dark eye,
Or woe or pity claimed a sigh,

Or filial love was glowing there,
Or meek devotion poured a prayer,
Or tale of injury called forth
The indignant spirit of the North.
One only passion unrevealed
With maiden pride the maid concealed,
Yet not less purely felt the flame ; —
O, need I tell that passion's name ?


Impatient of the silent horn,

Now on the gale her voice was borne : —



' Father ! ' she cried ; the rocks around
Loved to prolong the gentle sound.
Awhile she paused, no answer came ; —
' Malcolm, was thine the blast ? ' the name
Less resolutely uttered fell,
The echoes could not catch the swell.
' A stranger I,' the Huntsman said,
Advancing from the hazel shade.
The maid, alarmed, with hasty oar
Pushed her light shallop from the shore.
And when a space was gained between,
Closer she drew her bosom's screen ; —
So forth the startled swan would swing,
So turn to prune his ruffled wing.
Then safe, though fluttered and amazed,

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 16 of 78)