Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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Wouldst thou thy every future year

In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
| Yet wait thy latter end with fear —

Then, daring warrior, follow me ! '


• Penance, father, will I none :

Prayer know I hardly one ;

For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,

Save to patter an Ave Mary,

When I ride on a Border foray.

Other- prayer can I none ;

So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.'


Again on the knight looked- the churchman
And again he sighed heavily ;

For he had himself been a warrior bold,

And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long

since by,
When his limbs were strong and his courage

was high

Now, slow and faint, he led the way
Where, cloistered round, the garden lay ;
The pillared arches were^ver their head,
And beneath their feet vvere the bones of
the dead.

Spreading herbs and flowerets bright
Glistened with the dew of night ;
Nor herb nor floweret glistened there
But was carved in the cloister-arches as fair.
The monk gazed long on the lovely moon,

Then into the night he looked forth;
And red and bright the streamers light

Were dancing in the glowing north.
So had he seen, in fair Castile,

The youth in glittering squadrons start,
Sudden the flying jennet wheel,

And hurl the unexpected dart.
He knew, by the streamers that shot so

That spirits were riding the northern light.




By a steel-clenched postern door

They entered now the chancel tall ;
The darkened roof rose high aloof

On pillars lofty and light and small :
The keystone that locked each ribbed aisle
Was a fleur-de-lys or a quatre-feuille ;
The corbels were carved grotesque and grim :
And the pillars, with clustered shafts so

With base and with capital flourished

Seemed bundles of lances which garlands
had bound.

Full many a scutcheon and banner riven
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,

Around the screened altar's pale ;
And there the dying lamps did burn
Before thy low and lonely urn,
O gallant Chief of Otterburne !

And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale !
O fading honors of the dead !
O high ambition lowly laid !


The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery com-
bined ;
Thou wouldst have thought

some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the

osier wand
In many a freakish knot had

Then framed a spell when the

work was done,
And changed the willow

wreaths to stone.
The silver light, so pale and

Showed many a prophet and

many a saint,

Whose image on the glass
was dyed ;

Full in the midst, his cross
of red

Triumphant Michael bran-
And trampled the
tate's pride.

The moonbeam kissed
holy pane,

And threw on the pavement
a bloody stain.


They sate them down on a marble stone —

A Scottish monarch slept below ;
Thus spoke the monk in solemn tone :

' I was not always a man of woe ;
For Paynim countries I have trod,
And fought beneath the Cross of God :
Now, strange to my eves thine arnMfcppear,
And their iron clang sounds stran^Tto my


1 In these far climes it was my lot

To meet the wondrous Michael Scott ;

A wizard of such dreaded fame
That when, in Salamanca's cave,
Him listed his magic wand to wave,

The bells would ring in Notre Dame !
Some of his skill he taught to me ;
And, warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon Hills in three,

And bridled the Tweed with a curb of
stone :

But to speak them were a deadly sin,
And for having but thought them my heart

A treble penance must be done.

' When Michael lay on his dying bed,
His conscience was awakened ;



He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed :

I was in Spain when the morning rose,
But I stood by his bed ere evening close.

"he words may not again be said
'hat he spoke to me, on death-bed laid ;
'hey would rend this Abbaye's massy nave,
md pile it in heaps above his grave.


I I swore to bury his Mighty Book,
That never mortal might therein look ;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his Chief of Branksome's need ;
And when that need was past and o'er,
Again the volume to restore.

J buried him on Saint Michael's night,
)When the bell tolled one and the moon was

And I dug his chamber among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained

red, •

That his patron's cross might over him

(And scare the fiends from the wizard's crave.

I It was a night of woe and dread
When Michael in the tomb I laid ;
Strange sounds along the chancel passed,
The banners waved without a blast ' —
Still spoke the monk, when the* bell tolled

one ! —
I tell you, that a braver man
Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
Against a foe ne'er spurred a steed ;

Yet somewhat was he chilled with dread,
And his hair did bristle upon his head.


' Lo, warrior ! now, the cross of red
/Points to the grave of the mighty dead:

Within it burns a wondrous light,

To chase the spirits that love the night ;

jThat lamp shall burn unquenchably,

[Until the eternal doom shall be.'

Slow moved the monk to the broad flag-

Which the bloody cross was traced upon :

He pointed to a secret nook ;

An iron bar the warrior took ;

And the monk made a sign with his with-
ered hand,

The grave's huge portal to expand.

With beating heart to the task he went,
His sinewy frame o'er the gravestone bent,
With bar of iron heaved amain
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows like

It was by dint of passing strength
That he moved the massy stone at length.
I would you had been there to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Streamed upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof !
'No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright :
It shone like heaven's own blessed light,

And, issuing from the tomb,
Showed the monk's cowl and visage pale,



Danced on the dark-browed warrior's mail,
And kissed his waving plume.


Before their eyes the wizard lay,
As if he had not been dead a day.
His hoary beard in silver rolled,
He seemed some seventy winters old ;
A palmer's amice wrapped him round,

With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea :
His left hand held his Book of Might,
A silver cross was in his right ;

The lamp was placed beside his knee.
High and majestic was his look,
At which the fellest fiends had shook,
And all unruffled was his face :
They trusted his soul had gotten grace.

Often had William of Deloraine
Rode through the battle's bloody plain,
And trampled down the warriors slain,

And neither known remorse nor awe,
Yet now remorse and awe he owned ;
His breath came thick, his head swam round,

When this strange scene of death he saw.
Bewildered and unnerved he stood,
And the priest prayed fervently and loud :
With eyes averted prayed he ;
He might not endure the sight to see
Of the man he had loved so brotherly.


And when the priest his death-prayer had

Thus unto Deloraine he said :
' Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,
Or, warrior, we may dearly rue ;
For those thou mayst not look upon
Are gathering fast round the yawning stone ! *
Then Deloraine in terror took

From the cold hand the Mighty Book.
With iron clasped and with iron bound :
j He thought, as he took it, the dead man
frowned ;
But the glare of the sepulchral light
Perchance had dazzled the warrior's sight.


When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb,
The night returned in double gloom,
For the moon had gone down and the

stars were few ;
And as the knight and priest withdrew,
With wavering steps and dizzy brain,
They hardly might the postern gain.
'T is said, as through the aisles they

They heard strange noises on the blast ;
And through the cloister-galleries small,
Which at mid-height thread the chancel

Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,
And voices unlike the voice of man,
As if the fiends kept holiday
Because these spells were brought to day.
I cannot tell how the truth may be :
I say the tale as 't was said to me.


' Now, hie thee hence,' the father said,
' And when we are on death-bed laid,
O may our dear Ladye and sweet Saint John
Forgive our souls for the deed we have

done ! '
The monk returned him to his cell,

And many a prayer and penance sped :
When the convent met at the noontide bell,

The Monk of Saint Mary's aisle was dead !
Before the cross was the body laid,
With hands clasped fast, as if still he prayed.


The knight breathed free jn the morning

And strove his hardihood to find :
He was glad when he passed the tombstones

Which girdle round the fair Abbaye ;
For the mystic book, to his bosom pressed,
Felt like a load upon his breast,



And his joints, with nerves of iron twined,

Shook like the aspen-leaves in wind.

Full fain was he when the dawn of day

Began to brighten Cheviot gray ;

He joyed to see the cheerful light,

And he said Ave Mary as well as he might.

The sun had brightened Cheviot gray,

The sun had brightened the Carter's side ;
And soon beneath the rising day

Smiled Branksome towers and Teviot's
The wild birds told their warbling tale,

And wakened every flower that blows ;
And peeped forth the violet pale,

And spread her breast the mountain rose.
And lovelier thaxt the rose so red,

Yet paler than the violet pale,
She early left her sleepless bed,

The fairest maid of Teviotdale.


Why does fair Margaret so early awake,

And don her kirtle so hastilie ;
And the silken knots, which in hurry she
would make,

Why tremble her slender fingers to tie ?
Why does she stop and look often around,

As she glides down the secret stair ;
And why does she pat the shaggy blood-

As he rouses him up from his lair ;
And, though she passes the postern alone,
Why is not the watchman's bugle blown ?

The ladye steps in doubt and dread
Lest her watchful mother hear her tread ;
The ladye caresses the rough bloodhound
Lest his voice should waken the castle round
The watchman's bugle is not blown,
For he was her foster-father's son ;



And she glides through the greenwood at

dawn of light
To meet Baron Henry, her own true knight.


The knight and ladye fair are met,

And under the hawthorn's boughs are set.

A fairer pair were never seen

To meet beneath the hawthorn green.

He was stately and young and tall,

Dreaded in battle and loved in hall ;

And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,

Lent to her cheek a livelier red.

And said that she would die a maid : —
Yet, might the bloody feud be stayed,
Henry of Cranstoun, and only he,
Margaret of Branksome's choice should be.


Alas ! fair dames, your hopes are vain !
My harp has lost the enchanting strain ;

Its lightness would my age reprove :
My hairs are gray, my limbs are old,
My heart is dead, my veins are cold :

1 may not, must not, sing of love.

When the half sigh her swelling breast
Against the silken ribbon pressed,
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold —
Where would you find the peerless fair
With Margaret of Branksome might com-



And now, fair dames, methinks I see

You listen to my minstrelsy ;

Your waving locks ye backward throw,

AncJ sidelong bend your necks of snow.

Ye ween to hear a melting tale

Of two true lovers in a dale ;

And how the knight, with tender fire,

To paint his faithful passion strove,
Swore he might at her feet expire,

But never, never cease to love ;
And how she blushed, and how she sighed,
And, half consenting, half denied,


Beneath an oak, mossed o'er by eld.
The Baron's dwarf his courser held,

And held. his crested helm and spear:
That dwarf was scarce an earthly man.
If the tales were true that of him ran

Through all the Border far and near.
'T was said, when the Baron a-huntingrode
Through Reedsdale's glens, but rarely trod,
He heard a voice cry, ' Lost ! lost ! lost ! '
And, like tennis-ball by racket tossed,

A leap of thirty feet and three
Made from the gorse this elfin shape.
Distorted like some dwarfish ape.

And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee.
Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismayed ;
'T is said that five good miles he rade,

To rid him of his company ;
But where he rode one mile, the dwarf ran

And the dwarf was first at the castle door.




Use lessens marvel, it is said : .
This elfish dwarf with the Baron staid
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
Nor mingled with the menial flock ;

And oft apart his arms he tossed,
And often muttered, ■ Lost ! lost ! lost !
He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he :
And he of his service was full fain ;



For once he had been ta'en or slain,

An it had not been for his ministry.
All between Home and Hermitage
Talked of Lord Cranstoun's Goblin Page.


For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elfish page,

To Mary's Chapel of the Lowes :
For there, beside Our Ladye's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,

And he would pay his vows.
.But the Ladye of Branksome gathered a band
Of the best that would ride at her command :

The trysting-place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Deloraine ;

They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to Saint Mary's lake ere day,
But the chapel was void and the Baron away.
They burned the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's Goblin Page


And now, in Branksome's good greenwood,
As under the aged oak he stood,
The Baron's courser pricks his ears,
As if a distant noise he hears.

The dwarf waves his long lean arm on high,
And signs. to the lovers to part and fly;
No time was then to vow or sigh.
Fair Margaret through the hazel-grove
Flew like the startled cushat-dove :
The dwarf the stirrup held and rein ;
Vaulted the knight on his steed amain,
And, pondering deep that morning's scene,
Rode eastward through the hawthorns-

While thus he poured the lengthened tale,
The Minstrel's voice began to fail.
Full slyly smiled the observant page,
And gave the withered hand of age
A goblet, crowned with mighty wine,
The blood of Velez' scorched vine.
He raised the silver cup on high,
And, while the big drop filled his eye,
Prayed God to bless the Duchess long,
And all who cheered a son of song.
The attending maidens smiled to see
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the Minstrel quaffed.;
And he, emboldened by the draught,
Looked gayly back to them and laughed.
The cordial nectar of the bowl
Swelled his old veins and cheered his soul ;
A lighter, livelier prelude ran,
Ere thus his tale again began.



£fje ILag of tjje ILast fflmstrel.


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 withered heart was dead,

And that I might not sing of love ? —
How could I to the dearest theme
That ever warmed 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 ?


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.


So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome's hawthorn

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.
That warrior's steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sweat and splashed with clay,

His armor red with many a stain :
He seemed in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the livelong night ;

For it was William of Deloraine.


But no whit weary did he seem,

When, dancing in the sunny beam,

He marked the crane on the Baron's crest ;

For his ready spear was in his rest.

Few were the words, and stern and high.

That marked the foemen's feudal hate ;
For question fierce and proud reply

Gave signal soon of dire debate.



Their very coursers seemed to know
That each was other's mortal foe,
And snorted fire when wheeled around
To give each knight his vantage-ground.

In rapid round the Baron bent ;

He sighed a sigh and prayed a prayer ;
The prayer was to his patron saint.

The sigh was to his ladye fair.
Stout Deloraine nor sighed nor prayed,
Nor saint nor ladye called to aid ;
But he stooped his head, and couched his

And spurred his steed to full career.
The meeting of these champions proud
Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.


Stern was the dint the Borderer lent !

The stately Baron backwards bent,

Bent backwards to his horse's tail,

A^id 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 passed,
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,
Hurled on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward passed his course,
Nor knew — so giddy rolled his brain —
His foe lay stretched upon the plain.


But when he reined 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.
1 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.'


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 corselet off he took,

The dwarf espied the Mighty Book !
Much he marvelled a knight of pride
Like a book-bosomed priest should ride :
He thought not to search or stanch the wound
Until the secret he had found.


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 unchristened hand
Till he smeared 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 might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight,
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall,
A nutshell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth
All was delusion, nought was truth.

He had not read another spell,

When on his cheek a buffet fell,

So fierce, it stretched him on the plain

Beside the wounded Deloraine.

From the ground he rose dismayed,

And shook his huge and matted head ;

One word he muttered and no more,

1 Man of age, thou smitest sore ! '

No more the elfin page durst try

Into the wondrous book to pry ;

The clasps, though smeared with Christian

Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak. —
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive ;
It was not given by man alive.

Unwillingly himself he addressed

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 passed 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 welled freshly from the wound.

As he repassed 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.

Seemed 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


He led the boy o'er bank and fell,

Until they came to a woodland brook ;
The running stream dissolved the spell

And his own elfish 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 scowled on the startled child.
And darted through the forest wild ;

The woodland brook he bounding crossed,
And laughed, and shouted, ' Lost ! lost !
lost ! '

Full sore amazed at the wondrous change,

And frightened, as a child might be,
At the wild yell and visage strange,
I And the dark words of gramarye,
(The child, amidst the forest bower, .
jStood rooted like a lily flower :
I And when at length, with trembling pace, ,
He sought to find where Branksome lay,
|He feared to see that grisly face

Glare from some tnicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journeyed on,
And deeper in the wood is gone, —
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray, —
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.


And hark ! and hark ! the deep-mouthed bark
Comes nigher still and nigher;

Bursts on the path a dark bloodhound,

His tawny muzzle tracked the ground,
And his red eye shot fire.

Soon as the wildered child saw he,

He flew at him right furiouslie.

2 4



I ween you would have seen with joy

The bearing of the gallant boy,

When, worthy of his noble sire,

His wet cheek glowed 'twixt fear and ire !

He faced the bloodhound manfully,

And held his little bat on high ;

So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,

At cautious distance hoarsely bayed,

But still in act to spring ;
When dashed an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stayed,

He drew his tough bowstring;
But a rough voice cried, ' Shoot not, hoy!
Ho ! shoot not, Edward, — 't is a boy ! '

Old England's sign, Saint

George's cross,
His barret-cap did grace ;
His bugle-horn hung by his

All in a wolf-skin baldric

And his short falchion,

sharp and clear,
Had pierced the throat of

many a deer.


His kirtle, made of forest
Reached scantly to his
knee ;
And, at his belt, of arrows
A furbished sheaf bore
His buckler scarce in
breadth a span,
No longer fence had he ;
He never counted him a man,

Would strike below the knee :
His slackened bow was in his hand,
And the leash that was his bloodhound's


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 Saint George,' the archer cries,

1 Edward, methinks we have a prize !


The speaker issued from

the wood,
And checked his fellow's
surly mood,
And quelled the ban-
dog's ire :
He was an English yeo-
man good
And born in Lancashire.
Well could he hit a fallow-
Five hundred feet him
With hand more true and
eye more clear
No archer bended bow.
His coal-black hair, shorn
round and close,
Set off his sun-burned
face ;



This boy's fair face and courage free
Show he is come of high degree.'


* 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 !

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 3 of 78)