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Our council aided and our laws.
I stanched thy father's death-feud stern
With stout De Vaux and gray Glencairn ;
And Both well's Lord henceforth we own
The friend and bulwark of our throne. —
But, lovely infidel, how now ?
What clouds thy misbelieving brow ?
Lord James of Douglas, lend thine aid ;
Thou must confirm this doubting maid.'

XXVIII.

Then forth the noble Douglas sprung,
And on his neck his daughter hung.
The Monarch drank, that happy hour,
The sweetest, holiest draught of Power, —
When it can say with godlike voice,



THE LADY OF THE LAKE.



247




Arise, sad Virtue, and rejoice !

Yet would not James the general eye

On nature's raptures long should pry :

He stepped between — ' Nay, Douglas,

nay,
Steal not my proselyte away !
The riddle 'tis my right to read,
That brought this happy chance to speed.
Yes, Ellen, when disguised I stray
In life's more low but happier way,
"T is under name which veils my power.
Nor falsely veils, — for Stirling's tower
Of yore the name of Snowdoun claims,
And Normans call me James Fitz-James.
Thus watch I o'er insulted laws,
Thus learn to right the injured cause.'
Then, in a tone apart and low, —
'■ Ah, little traitress ! none must know
What idle dream, what lighter thought,
What vanity full dearly bought,
Joined to thine eye's dark witchcraft, drew
My spell-bound steps to Benvenue
In dangerous hour, and all but gave
Thy Monarch's life to mountain glaive ! '
Aloud he spoke : ' Thou still dost hold
That little talisman of srold,



Pledge of my faith, Fitz-James's ring, —
What seeks fair Ellen of the King ? '



XXIX.

Full well the conscious maiden guessed
He probed the weakness of her breast ;
But with that consciousness there came
A lightening of her fears for Graeme,
And more she deemed the Monarch's ire
Kindled 'gainst him who for her sire
Rebellious broadsword boldly drew ;
And, to her generous feeling true,
She craved the grace of Roderick Dhu.
' Forbear thy suit ; — the King of kings
Alone can stay life's parting wings.
I know his heart, I know his hand,
Have shared his cheer, and proved his

brand ; —
My fairest earldom would I give
To bid Clan-Alpine's Chieftain live ! —
Hast thou no other boon to crave ?
No other captive friend to save ? '
Blushing, she turned her from the King,
And to the Douglas gave the ring,
As if she wished her sire to speak



248



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.




The suit that stained her glowing cheek.
4 Nay, then, my pledge has lost its force,
And stubborn justice holds her course.
Malcolm, come forth ! ' — and, at the word,
Down kneeled the Graeme to Scotland's

Lord.
1 For thee, rash youth, no suppliant sues,
From thee may Vengeance claim her dues,
Who, nurtured underneath our smile,



Hast paid our care by treacherous wile.
And sought amid thy faithful clan
A refuge for an outlawed man,
Dishonoring thus thy loyal name.—
Fetters and warder for the Graeme ! '
His chain of gold the King unstrung.
The links o'er Malcolm's neck he flung,
Then gently drew the glittering band.
And laid the clasp on Ellen's hand.




THE LADY OF THE LAKE.



249



Harp of the North, farewell ! The hills grow dark,

On purple peaks a deeper shade descending;
. In twilight copse the glow-worm lights her spark,-

The deer, half-seen, are to the covert wending.
Resume thy wizard elm ! the fountain lending,

And the wild breeze, thy wilder minstrelsy;
Thy numbers sweet with nature's vespers blending,

With distant echo from the fold and lea,
And herd-boy's evening pipe, and hum of housing bee.

Yet, once again, farewell, thou Minstrel Harp !

Yet, once again, forgive my feeble sway,
And little reck I of the censure sharp

May idly cavil at an idle lay.
Much have I owed thy strains on life's long way,

Through secret woes the world has never known,
When on the weary night dawned wearier day,

And bitterer was the grief devoured alone. —
That I o'erlive such woes, Enchantress ! is thine own.



Hark ! as my lingering footsteps slow retire,

Some Spirit of the Air has waked thy string !
'T is now a seraph bold, with touch of fire,

'Tis now the brush of Fairy's frolic wing.
Receding now, the dying numbers ring

Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell;
And now the mountain breezes scarcely bring

A wandering witch-note of the distant spell —
And now, 't is silent all ! — Enchantress, fare thee well !




Cfje fusion elf Bon &otjerun.



Quid dignum memorare tuts, Hispania, terris,
Vox humana valet! — Claudian.



JOHN WHITMORE, ESQ.,

AND TO THE

COMMITTEE OF SUBSCRIBERS FOR RELIEF OF THE PORTUGUESE SUFFERERS,

IN WHICH HE PRESIDES,

THIS POEM,

THE VISION OF DON RODERICK,

COMPOSED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE FUND UNDER THEIR MANAGEMENT,

IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED BY

" , WALTER SCOTT.



&fje Virion of ©oit EotJertcn.
INTRODUCTION.



Lives there a strain whose sounds of
mounting fire
May rise distinguished o'er the din of
war;
Or died it with yon Master of the Lyre,

Who sung beleaguered Ilion's evil star?
Such, Wellington, might reach thee
from afar,
Wafting its descant wide o'er Ocean's
range ;
Nor shouts, nor clashing arms, its mood
could mar,
All as it swelled 'twixt each loud trum-
pet-change,
That clangs to Britain victory, to Portugal
revenge !



Yes ! such a strain, with all o'er-powering
measure,
Might melodize with each tumultuous
sound,



Each voice of fear or triumph, woe or
pleasure,
That rings Mondego's ravaged shores
around ; •
The thundering cry of hosts with con-
quest crowned,
The female shriek, the ruined peasant's
moan,
The shout of captives from their chains
unbound,
The foiled oppressor's deep and sullen
groan,
A Nation's choral hymn for tyranny o'er-
thrown.



But we, weak minstrels of a laggard day,

Skilled but to imitate an elder page,
Timid and raptureless, can we repay
The debt thou claim'st in this exhausted
age?
Thou givest our lyres a theme, that might
engage
Those that could send thy name o'er
sea and land.
While sea and land shall last; for Ho-
mer's ragre



254



SCOTT S POETICAL WORKS.



A theme ; a theme for Milton's mighty
hand —
How much unmeet for us, a faint degener-
ate band !



Ye mountains stern ! within whose rugged
breast
The friends of Scottish freedom found
repose ;
Ye torrents ! whose hoarse sounds have
soothed their rest,
Returning from the field of vanquished
foes;
Say, have ye lost each wild majestic close,
That erst the choir of Bards or Druids
flung ;
What time their hymn of victory arose,
And Cattraeth's glens with voice of
triumph rung,
And mystic Merlin harped, and gray-haired
Llywarch sung?



O, if your wilds such minstrelsy retain,
As sure your changeful gales seem oft
to say,
When sweeping wild and sinking soft
again,
Like trumpet-jubilee or harp's wild
sway ;
If ye can echo such triumphant lay,
Then lend the note to him has loved
you long !
Who pious gathered each tradition gray,
That floats your solitary wastes along,
And with affection vain gave them new
voice in song.

VI.

For not till now, how oft soe'er the task
Of truant verse hath lightened graver
care,
From Muse or Sylvan was he wont to ask,

In phrase poetic, inspiration fair;
Careless he gave his numbers to the air,
They came unsought for, if applauses
came ;
Nor for himself prefers he now the prayer :
Let but his verse befit a hero's fame,
Immortal be the verse ! — forgot the poet's
name !

VII.

Hark, from yon misty cairn their answer

tost:

1 Minstrel ! the fame of whose romantic

lyre,

Capricious-swelling now, may soon be lost,

Like the light flickering of a cottage fire ;



If to such task presumptuous thou aspire
Seek not from us the meed to warrior
• due:
Age after age has gathered son to sire.
Since our gray cliffs the din of conflict
knew,
Or, pealing through our vales, victorious
bugles blew.

VIII.

' Decayed our old traditionary lore,
Save where the lingering fays renew
their ring,
By milkmaid seen beneath the hawthorn
hoar,
Or round the marge of Minchmore's
haunted spring;
Save where their legends gray-haired
shepherds sing,
That now scarce win a listening ear
but thine,
Of feuds obscure and Border ravaging,
And rugged deeds recount in rugged
line
Of moonlight foray made on Teviot, Tweed,
or Tyne.

IX.

' No ! search romantic lands, where the
near Sun
Gives with unstinted boon ethereal
flame,
Where the rude villager, his labor done,
In verse spontaneous chants some fa-
vored name,
Whether Olalia's charms his tribute claim,
Her eye of diamond and her locks of jet,
Or whether, kindling at the deeds of
Graeme,
He sing, to wild Morisco measure set,
Old Albin's red claymore, green Erin's
bayonet !



' Explore those regions, where the flinty
crest
Of wild Nevada ever gleams with snows,
Where in the proud Alhambra's ruined
breast
Barbaric monuments of pomp repose ;
Or where the banners of more ruthless foes
Than the fierce Moor float o'er Toledo's
fane,
From whose tall towers even now the
patriot throws
An anxious glance, to spy upon the
plain
The blended ranks of England, Portugal,
and Spain.



THE VISION OF DON RODERICK.



255



XI.

• There, of Numantian fire a swarthy

spark
Still lightens in the sunburnt native's
eye;
The stately port, slow step, and visage
dark
Still mark enduring pride and con-
stancy.
And, if the glow of feudal chivalry

Beam not, as once, thy nobles' dearest
pride,
Iberia ! oft thy crestless peasantry

Have seen the plumed Hidalgo quit
their side,
Have seen, yet dauntless stood — 'gainst
fortune fought and died.

XII.

* And cherished still by that unchanging

race,
Are themes for minstrelsy more high
than thine ;
Of strange tradition many a mystic trace,
Legend and vision, prophecy and sign ;
Where wonders wild of Arabesque com-
bine
With Gothic imagery of darker shade,
Forming a model meet for minstrel line.
Go, seek such theme ! ' — The Moun-
tain Spirit said :
With filial awe I heard — I heard, and I
obeyed.



&jje Utgiott at ©on Hfcotoeritft.



Rearing their crests amid the cloudless
skies,
And darkly clustering in the pale moon-
light,
Toledo's holy towers and spires arise,

As from a trembling lake of silver white.
Their mingled shadows intercept the sight
Of the broad burial-ground outstretched
below,
And naught disturbs the silence of the
night ;
All sleeps in sullen shade, or silver glow,
All save the heavy swell of Teio's ceaseless
flow.

11.

All save the rushing swell of Teio's tide,
Or, distant heard, a courser's neigh or
tramp,



Their changing rounds as watchful horse-
men ride,
To guard the limits of King Roderick's
camp.
For, through the river's night-fog rolling
damp,
Was many a proud pavilion dimly seen,
Which glimmered back, against the moon's
fair lamp,
Tissues of silk and silver twisted sheen,
And standards proudly pitched, and warders
armed between.



in.

But of their monarch's person keeping
ward,
Since last the deep-mouthed bell of
vespers tolled,
The chosen soldiers of the royal guard
The post beneath the proud cathedral
hold:
A band unlike their Gothic sires of old,

Who, for the cap of steel and iron mace,
Bear slender darts and casques bedecked
with gold,
While silver-studded belts their shoul-
ders grace,
Where ivory quivers ring in the broad fal-
chion's place.



IV.

In the light language of an idle court,
They murmured at their master's long
delay,
And held his lengthened orisons in sport :
1 What ! will Don Roderick here till
morning stay,
To wear in shrift and prayer the night
away?
And are his hours in such dull penance
past,
For fair Florinda's plundered charms to
pay?'
Then to the east their weary eyes they
cast,
And wished the lingering dawn would glim-
mer forth at last.



v.

But, far within, Toledo's prelate lent
An ear of fearful wonder to the king ;

The silver lamp a fitful lustre sent,
So long that sad confession witnessing :

For Roderick told of many a hidden thing,
Such as are lothly uttered to the air,

When Fear, Remorse, and Shame the



256



SCOTT S POETICAL WORKS.



And Guilt his secret burden* cannot
bear,
And Conscience seeks in speech a respite
from Despair.



Full on the prelate's face and silver hair
The stream of failing light was feebly
rolled ;
But Roderick's visage, though his head
was bare,
Was shadowed by his hand and mantle's
fold.
While of his hidden soul the sins he told,
Proud Alaric's descendant could not
brook
That mortal man his bearing should
behold,
Or boast that he had seen, when con-
science shook,
Fear tame a monarch's brow, remorse a
warrior's look.



The old man's faded cheek waxed yet
more pale,
As many a secret sad the king bewrayed;
As sign and glance eked out the unfin-
ished tale,
When in the midst his faltering whisper
staid. —
1 Thus royal Witiza was slain,' he said ;
4 Yet, holy father, deem not it was I.'
Thus still Ambition strives her crimes
to shade. —
' O, rather deem 't was stern necessity !
Self-preservation bade, and I must kill or
die.

VIII.

1 And if Florinda's shrieks alarmed the air,

If she invoked her absent sire in vain
And on her knees implored that I would
spare,
Yet, reverend priest, thy sentence rash
refrain !
All is not as it seems — the female train
Know by their bearing to disguise their
mood : ' —
But Conscience here, as if in high disdain,
Sent to the Monarch's cheek the burn
ing blood —
He stayed his speech abrupt — and up the
prelate stood.



IX.

1 O hardened offspring of an iron race !
What of thy crimes, Don Roderick,
shall I say?



What alms or prayers or penance can
efface
Murder's dark spot, wash treason's
stain away !
For the foul ravish er how shall I pray,
Who, scarce repentant, makes his crime
his boast ?
How hope Almighty vengeance shall
delay,
Unless, in mercy to yon Christian host,
He spare the shepherd lest the guiltless
sheep be lost.'



Then kindled the dark tyrant in his mood,
Apd to his brow returned its dauntless
gloom ;
' And welcome then,' he cried, 'be blood
for blood,
For treason treachery, for dishonor
doom !
Yet will I know whence come they or by
whom.
Show, for thou canst — give forth the
fated key,
And guide me, priest, to that mysterious
room
Where, if aught true in old traditionbe,
His nation's future fates a Spanish king
shall see.'

XI.

' Ill-fated Prince ! recall the desperate
word,
Or pause ere yet the omen thou obey !
Bethink, yon spell-bound portal would
afford
Never to former monarch entrance-way ;
Nor shall it ever ope, old records say,

Save to a king, the last of all his line,
What time his empire totters to decay,
And treasondigs beneath herfatalmine,
And high above impends avenging wrath
divine.' —



' Prelate ! a monarch's fate brooks no
delay ;
Lead on!' — The ponderous key the
old man took,
And held the winking lamp, and led the
way,
By winding stair, dark aisle, and secret
nook,
Then on an ancient gateway bent his look ;
And, as the key the desperate king
essayed,
Low muttered thunders the cathedral
shook,



THE VISION OF DON RODERICK.



257




And twice he stopped and twice new
effort made,
Till the huge bolts rolled back and the loud
hinges brayed.

XIII.

Long, large, and lofty was that vaulted
hall;
Roof, walls, and floor were all of mar-
ble stone,
Of polished marble, black as funeral pall,
Carved o'er with signs and characters
unknown.
A paly light, a^s of the dawning, shone
Through the sad bounds, but whence
they could not spy,
For window to the upper air was none:
Yet by that light Don Roderick could
descry
Wonders that ne'er till then were seen by
mortal eye.

XIV.

Grim sentinels, against the upper wall,
Of molten bronze, two Statues held
their place ;
Massive their naked limbs, their stature
tall, ,
Their frowning foreheads golden circles
grace.
Moulded they seemed for kings of giant



That lived and sinned before the aveng-
ing flood ;
This grasped a scythe, that rested on a
mace ;
This spread his wings for flight, that
pondering stood,
Each stubborn seemed and stern, immutable
of mood. . •



Fixed was the right-hand giant's brazen
look
Upon his brother's glass of shifting
sand,
As if its ebb he measured by a book,
Whose iron volume loaded his huge
hand;
In which was wrote of many a fallen land,
Of empires lost, and kings to exile
driven :
And o'er that pair their names in scroll
expand —
' Lo, Destiny and Time ! to whom
by Heaven
The guidance of the earth is for a season
given.' —

xv 1.

Even while they read, the sand-glass
wastes away ;
And, as the last and lagging grains did
creep,



58



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



That right hand giant 'gan his club up-
sway,
As one that startles from a heavy sleep.
Full on the upper wall the mace's sweep
At once descended with the force of
thunder,
And, hurtling down at once in crumbled
heap,
The marble boundary was rent asunder,
And gave to Roderick's view new sights of
fear and wonder.

XVII.

For they might spy beyond that mighty
breach
Realms as of Spain in visioned pros
pect laid,
Castles and towers, in due proportion
each,
As by some skilful artist's hand por-
trayed :
Here, crossed by many a wild Sierra's
shade
And boundless plains that tire the
traveller's eye;
There, rich with vineyard and with olive
glade,
Or deep-embrowned by forests huge
and high,
Or washed by mighty streams that slowly
murmured by.

XVIII.

And here, as erst upon the antique stage
Passed forth the band of masquers
trimly led,
In various forms and various equipage,
While fitting strains the hearer's fancy
fed;
So, to sad Roderick's eye in order spread,
Successive pageants filled that mystic
scene,
Showing the fate of battles ere they bled,
And issue of events that had not been ;
And ever and anon strange sounds were
heard between.

XIX.

First shrilled an unrepeated female
shriek ! —
It seemed as if Don Roderick knew the
call,
For the bold blood was blanching in his
cheek. —
Then answered kettle-drum and atabal,
Gong-peal and cymbal-clank the ear ap-
pall,
The Tecbir war-cry and the Lelie's
yell



Ring wildly dissonant along the hall.
Needs not to Roderick their dread im-
port tell — ,
\ ' The Moor ! ' he cried, ' the Moor ! — ring
out the tocsin bell !



' They come ! they come ! I see the
groaning lands
White with the turbans of each Arab
horde ;
Swart Zaarah joins her misbelieving
bands,
Alia and Mahomet their battle-word,
The choice they yield, the Koran or the
sword. —
See how the Christians rush to arms
amain ! —
In yonder shout the voice of conflict
roared,
The shadowy hosts are closing on the
plain —
Now, God and Saint Iago strike for the
good cause of Spain!

XXI.

' By Heaven, the Moors prevail ! the
Christians yield !
Their coward leader gives for flight
the sign !
The sceptred craven mounts to quit the
field —
Is not yon steed Orelia ? — Yes, 'tis
mine !
But never was she turned from battle-
line :
Lo ! where the recreant spurs o'er
stock and stone ! —
Curses pursue the slave, and wrath di-
vine !
Rivers ingulf him ! ' — ' Hush,' in.
shuddering tone,
The prelate said ; ' rash prince, yon vis-
ioned form 's thine own.'

XXII.

Just then, a torrent crossed the flier's
course ;
The dangerous ford the kingly likeness
tried ;
But the deep eddies whelmed both man
and horse,
Swept like benighted peasant down
the tide;
And the proud Moslemah spread far and
wide,
As numerous as their native locust
band ;



THE VISION OF DON RODERICK.



259



Berber and Ismael's sons the spoils di-
vide,
With naked scimitars mete out the
land,
And for the bondsmen base the freeborn
natives brand.

XXIII.

Then rose the grated Harem, to enclose
The loveliest maidens of the Christian
line;
Then, menials, to their misbelieving foes
Castile's young nobles held forbidden
" wine ;
Then, too, the holy Cross, salvation's
sign,
By impious hands was from the altar
thrown,
And the deep aisles of the polluted shrine
Echoed, for holy hymn and organ-tone,
The Santon's frantic dance, the Fakir's
gibbering moan.

XXIV.

How fares Don Roderick ? — E'en as one
who spies
Flames dart their glare o'er midnight's
sable woof,
And hears around his children's piercing
cries,
And sees the pale assistants stand
aloof ;
While cruel Conscience brings him bitter
proof
His folly or his crime have caused his
grief;
And while above him nods the crumbling
roof,
He curses earth and Heaven — him-
self in chief —
Desperate of earthly aid, despairing
Heaven's relief !

XXV.

That scythe-armed Giant turned his fatal
glass
And twilight on the landscape closed
her wings ;
Far to Asturian hills the war-sounds pass,
And in their stead rebeck or timbrel
rings ;
And to the sound the bell-decked dancer
springs,
Bazars resound as when their marts
are met,
In tourney light the Moor his jerrid flings,
And on the land as evening seemed to
set, •

The Imaum's chant was heard from mosque
or minaret.



So passed that pageant. Ere another
came,
The visionary scene was wrapped in
smoke,
Whose sulphurous wreaths were crossed
by sheets of flame ;
With every flash a bolt explosive broke,
Till Roderick deemed the fiends had
burst their yoke
And waved 'gainst heaven the infernal
gonfalone !
For War a new and dreadful language
spoke,
Never by ancient warrior heard or
known ;
Lightning and smoke her breath, and
thunder was her tone.

XXVII.

From the dim landscape roll the clouds
away —
The Christians have regained their
heritage ;
Before the Cross has waned the Cres-
cent's ray,
And many a monastery decks the stage,
And lofty church, and low-browed hermi-
tage.
The land obeys a Hermit and a
Knight, —
The Genii these of Spain for many an
age;
This clad in sackcloth, that in armor
bright,
And that was Valor named, this Bigotry
was hignt.

XXVIII.

Valor was harnessed like a chief of old,
Armed at all points, and prompt for
knightly gest ;
His sword was tempered in the Ebro cold,
Morena's eagle plume adorned his crest,
The spoils of Afric's lion bound his
breast.
Fierce he stepped forward and flung
down his gage ;
As if of mortal kind to brave the best.
Him followed his companion, dark and
sage
As he my Master sung, the dangerous
Arch image.

XXIX.

Haughty of heart and brow the warrior
came,
In look and language proud as proud
might be,



26o



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



Vaunting his lordship, lineage, fights,
and fame :
Yet was that barefoot monk more
proud than he ;
And as the ivy climbs the tallest tree,
So round the loftiest soul his toils he
wound,
And with his spells subdued the fierce
and free.
Till ermined Age and Youth in arms
renowned,
Honoring his scourge and haircloth, meekly
kissed the ground.

XXX.

And thus it chanced that Valor, peer-
less knight,
Who ne'er to king or Kaiser veiled his
crest,
Victorious still in bull-feast or in fight,
Since first his limbs with mail he did
invest.
Stooped ever to that anchoret's behest :
Nor reasoned of the right nor of the
wrong,
But at his bidding laid the lance in rest,
And wrought fell deeds the troubled
world along,
For he was fierce as brave and pitiless as
strong.

XXXI.

Oft his proud galleys sought some new-
found world,
That latest sees the sun or first the
morn ;
Still at that wizard's feet their spoils he
hurled, —
Ingots of ore from rich Potosi borne,
Crowns by Caciques, aigrettes by Om-
rahs worn,
Wrought of rare gems, but broken,
rent, and foul ;
Idols of gold from heathen temples torn,
Bedabbled all with blood. — With
grisly scowl
The hermit marked the stains and smiled
beneath his cowl.

XXXII.

Then did he bless the offering, and bade
make
Tribute to Heaven of gratitude and
praise ;
And at his word the choral hymns awake,
And many a hand the silver censer
sways,
But with the incense-breath these censers
raise



Mix steams from corpses smouldering
in the fire ;
The groans of prisoned victims mar the
lays,
And shrieks of agony confound the
quire ;
While, 'mid the mingled sounds, the dark-
ened scenes expire.



XXXIII.

Preluding light, were strains of music
heard,
As once again revolved that measured
sand ;
Such sounds as when, for sylvan dance
prepared,
Gay Xeres summons forth her vintage
band ;
When for the light bolero ready stand
The mozo blithe, with gay muchacha
met,
He conscious of his broidered cap and
band,
She of her netted locks and light cor-
sette,
Each tiptoe perched to spring and shake
the castanet.



Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 24 of 78)