Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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No other maiden by my side

Shall ever rest De Vaux's bride ! '


The faithful page he mounts his steed,
And soon he crossed green Irthing's mead.
Dashed o'er Kirkoswald's verdant plain,
And Eden barred his course in vain.
He passed red Penrith's Table Round,
For feats of chivalry renowned,
Left Mayburgh's mound and stones of

By Druids raised in magic hour,
And traced the Eamont's winding way
Till Ulfo's lake beneath him lay.


Onward he rode, the pathway still
Winding betwixt the lake and hill :
Till, on the fragment of a rock
Struck from its base by lightning shock,

He saw the hoary sage :
The silver moss and lichen twined,
With fern and deer-hair checked and lined,

A cushion fit for age ;
And o'er him shook the aspen-tree,
A restless rustling canopy.
Then sprung young Henry from his selle

And greeted Lyulph grave,
And then his master's tale did tell,

And then for counsel crave.
The man of years mused long and deep,
Of time's lost treasures taking keep,
And then, as rousing from a sleep,

His solemn answer gave.


1 That maid is born of middle earth

And may of man be won,
Though there have glided since her birth

Five hundred years and One,
But where 's the knight in all the north
That dare the adventure follow forth.
So perilous to knightly worth,

In the valley of Saint John ?
Listen, youth, to what I tell,
And bind it on thy memory well ;
Nor muse that I commence the rhyme
Far' distant mid the wrecks of time.


34 1

The mystic tale by bard and sage
Is handed down from Merlin's age.

ILgulpfj's Cale.

' King Arthur has ridden from merry Car

When Pentecost was o'er:
He journeyed like errant-knight the while,
And sweetly the summer sun did smile

On mountain, moss, and moor.
Above his solitary track
Rose Glaramara's ridgy back,
Amid whose yawning gulfs

the sun
Cast umbered radiance red

and dun,
Though never sunbeam

could discern
The surface of that sable

In whose black mirror you

may spy
The stars while noontide

lights the sky.
Thegallantkinghe skirted

The margin of that mightv

Rock upon rocks incum-
bent hung,
And torrents, down the

gullies flung,
Joined the rude river that brawled on,
Recoiling now from crag and stone,
Now diving deep from human ken,"
And raving down its darksome glen.
The monarch judged this desert wild,
With such romantic ruin piled,
Was theatre by Nature's hand
For feat of high achievement planned.


* O, rather he chose, that monarch bold,

On venturous quest to ride
In plate and mail by wood and wold
Than, with ermine trapped and cloth of

In princely bower to bide ;
The bursting crash of a foeman's spear,

As it shivered against his mail.
Was merrier music to his ear *

Than courtier's whispered tale:
And the clash of Caliburn more dear,

When on the hostile casque it rung,
Than all the lays
To the monarch's praise

That the harpers of Reged sung.
He loved better to rest bv wood or river

Than in bower of his bride, Dame Guen-

For he left that lady so lovely of cheer
To follow adventures of danger and fear ;
And the frank-hearted monarch full little

did wot
That she smiled in his absence on brave



1 He rode till over down and dell
The shade more broad and deeper fell ;
And though around the mountain's head
Flowed streams of purple and gold and red,

Dark at the base, unblest by beam,
Frowned the black rocks and roared the

With toil the king his way pursued
By lonely Threlkeld's waste and wood,
Till on his course obliquely shone
The narrow valley of Saint John,
Down sloping to the western sky
Where lingering sunbeams love to lie.
Right glad to feel those beams again,
The king drew up his charger's rein ;
With gauntlet raised he screened his sight,
As dazzled with the level light,
And from beneath his glove of mail
Scanned at his ease the lovely vale,
While 'gainst the sun his armor bright
Gleamed ruddy like the beacon's light.


1 Paled in by many a lofty hill,
The narrow dale lay smooth and still.
And, down its verdant bosom led,
A winding brooklet found its bed.
But midmost of the vale a mound
Arose with airy turrets crowned,
Buttress, and rampire's circling bound,



And mighty keep and tower ;
Seemed some primeval giant's hand
The castle's massive walls had planned,
A ponderous bulwark to withstand

Ambitious Nimrod's power.
Above the moated entrance slung,
The balanced drawbridge trembling hung,

As jealous of a foe ;
Wicket of oak, as iron hard,
With iron studded, clenched, and barred,
And pronged portcullis, joined to guard

The gloomy pass below.
But the gray walls no banners crowned,
Upon the watchtower's airy round
No warder stood his horn to sound,
No guard beside the bridge was found,
And where the Gothic gateway frowned

Glanced neither bill nor bow.


1 Beneath the castle's gloomy pride,
In ample round did Arthur ride
Three times ; nor living thing he spied,

Nor heard a living sound,
Save that, awakening from her dream,
The owlet now began to scream
In concert with the rushing stream

That washed the battled mound.
He lighted from his goodly steed,
And he left him to graze on bank and mead ;
And slowly he climbed the narrow way
That reached the entrance grim and gray,
And he stood the outward arch below,
And his bugle-horn prepared to blow

In summons blithe and bold,
Deeming to rouse from iron sleep
The guardian of this dismal keep,

Which well he guessed the hold
Of wizard stern, or goblin grim,
Or pagan of gigantic limb,

The tyrant of the wold.

' The ivory bugle's golden tip

Twice touched the monarch's manly lip,

And twice his hand withdrew. —
Think not but Arthur's heart was good !
His shield was crossed by the blessed

rood :
Had a pagan host before him stood,

He had charged them through and
through ;
Yet the silence of that ancient place
Sunk on his heart, and he paused a space

Ere yet his horn he blew.
But, instant as its larum rung,
The castle gate was open flung,
Portcullis rose with crashing groan
Full harshly up its groove of stone ;

The balance-beams obeyed the blast,
And down the trembling drawbridge cast :
The vaulted arch before him lay
With naught to bar the gloomy way,
And onward Arthur paced with hand
On Caliburn's resistless brand.


1 A hundred torches flashing bright
Dispelled at once the gloomy night

That loured along the walls,
And showed the king's astonished sight

The inmates of the halls.
Nor wizard stern, nor goblin grim,
Nor giant huge of form and limb,

Nor heathen knight, was there ;
But the cressets which odors flung aloft
Showed by their yellow light and soft

A band of damsels fair.
Onward they came, like summer wave

That dances to the shore ;
An hundred voices welcome gave,

And welcome o'er and o'er !
An hundred lovely hands assail
The bucklers of the monarch's mail,
And busy labored to unhasp
Rivet of steel and iron clasp.
One wrapped him in a mantle fair,
And one flung odors on his hair ;
His I short curled ringlets one smoothed

One wreathed them with a myrtle crown.
A bride upon her wedding-day
Was tended ne'er by troop so gay.


' Loud laughed they all, — the king in vain
With questions tasked the giddy train ;
Let him entreat or crave or call,
'T was one reply — loud laughed they all.
Then o'er him mimic chains they fling
Framed of the fairest flowers of spring;
While some their gentle force unite
Onward to drag the wondering knight,
Some bolder urge his pace with blows,
Dealt with the lily or the rose.
Behind him were in triumph borne
The warlike arms he late had worn.
Four of the train combined to rear
The terrors of Tintadgel's spear ;
Two, laughing at their lack of strength,
Dragged Caliburn in cumbrous length ;
One, while she aped a martial stride,
Placed on her brows the helmet's pride ;
Then screamed 'twixt laughter and surprise
To feel its depth o'erwhelm her eyes.
With revel-shout and triumph-song
Thus gayly marched the giddy throng.




• Through many a gallery and hall
They led, I ween, their royal thrall ;
At length, beneath a fair arcade

Their march and song at once they staid.
The eldest maiden of the band —

The lovely maid was scarce eighteen —
Raised with imposing air her hand,
And reverent silence did command

On entrance of their Queen,
And they were mute. — But as a glance
They steal on Arthur's countenance

Bewildered with surprise,
Their smothered mirth again 'gan speak
In archly dimpled chin and cheek

And laughter-lighted eyes.


* The attributes of those high days
Now only live in minstrel-lays ;
For Nature, now exhausted, still
Was then profuse of good and ill.
Strength was gigantic, valor high,
And wisdom soared beyond the sky,
And beauty had such matchless beam
As lights not now a lover's dream.
Yet e'en in that romantic age

Ne'er were such charms by mortal seen
As Arthur's dazzled eyes engage,
When forth on that enchanted stage
With glittering train of maid and page

Advanced the castle's queen !
While up the hall she slowly passed,
Her dark eye on the king she cast

That flashed expression strong ;
The longer dwelt that lingering look,
Her cheek the livelier color took,
And scarce the shame-faced king could

The gaze that lasted long.
A sage who had that look espied,
Where kindling passion strove with pride,

Had whispered, " Prince, beware !
From the chafed tiger rend the prey,
Rush on the lion when at bay,
Bar the fell dragon's blighted way,

But shun that lovely snare ! "


1 At once, that inward strife suppressed,
The dame approached her warlike guest,
With greeting in that fair degree
Where female pride and courtesy
Are blended with such passing art
As awes at once and charms the heart.
A courtly welcome first she gave,
Then of his goodness 'gan to crave

Construction fair and true
Of her light maidens' idle mirth,

Who drew from lonely glens their birth
Nor knew to pay to stranger worth

And dignity their due ;
And then she prayed that he would rest
That night her castle's honored guest.
The monarch meetly thanks expressed ;
The banquet rose at her behest,
With lay and tale, and laugh and jest,

Apace the evening flew.


1 The lady sate the monarch by,
Now in her turn abashed and shy,
And with indifference seemed to hear
The toys he whispered in her ear.
Her bearing modest was and fair,
Yet shadows of constraint were there
That showed an over-cautious care

Some inward thought to hide ;
Oft did she pause in full reply,
And oft cast down her large dark eye,
Oft checked the soft voluptuous sigh

That heaved her bosom's pride.
Slight symptoms these, but shepherds

How hot the mid-day sun shall glow

From the mist of morning sky ;
And so the wily monarch guessed
That this assumed restraint expressed
More ardent passions in the breast

Than ventured to the eye.
Closer he pressed while beakers rang,
While maidens laughed and minstrels sang.

Still closer to her ear —
But why pursue the common tale ?
Or wherefore show how knights prevail

When ladies dare to hear?
Or wherefore trace from what slight cause
Its source one tyrant passion draws,

Till, mastering all within,
Where lives the man that has not tried
How mirth can into folly glide

And folly into sin ! '

8Hje Brftial of Crtermam.

ILsuIpb's €ale Continue!*.

1 Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away !
The Saxon stern, the pagan Dane,
Maraud on Britain's shores again.
Arthur, of Christendom the flower,
Lies loitering in a lady's bower ;



The horn that foemen wont to fear
Sounds but to wake the Cumbrian deer,
And Caliburn, the British pride,
Hangs useless by a lover's side.

Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away.
Heroic plans in pleasure drowned,
He thinks not of the Table Round ;
In lawless love dissolved his life,
He thinks not of his beauteous wife :
Better he loves to snatch a flower
From bosom of his paramour
Than from a Saxon knight to wrest
The honors of his heathen crest ;
Better to wreathe mid tresses brown
The heron's plume her hawk struck down
Than o'er the altar give to flow
The banners of a Paynim foe.
Thus week by week and day by day
His life inglorious glides away ;
But she that soothes his dream with fear
Beholds his hour of waking near.

; Much force have mortal charms to stay
Our pace in Virtue's toilsome way ;
But Guendolen's might far outshine
Each maid of merely mortal line.
Her mother was of human birth,
Her sire a Genie of the earth,
In days of old deemed to preside
O'er lovers' wiles and beauty's pride,
By youths and virgins worshipped long
With festive dance and choral song,
Till, when the cross to Britain came,
On heathen altars died the flame.
Now, deep in Wastdale solitude,
The downfall of his rights he rued,
And born of his resentment heir,
He trained to guile that lady fair,
To sink in slothful sin and shame
The champions of the Christian name.
Well skilled to keep vain thoughts alive,
And all to promise, naught to give,
The timid youth had hope in store,
The bold and pressing gained no more.
As wildered children leave their home
After the rainbow's arch to roam,
Her lovers bartered fair esteem,
Faith, fame, and honor, for a dream.

■ Her sire's soft arts the soul to tame
She practised thus — till Arthur came ;
Then frail humanity had part,
And all the mother claimed her heart.
Forgot each rule her father gave,
Sunk from a princess to a slave,

Too late must Guendolen deplore,
He that has all can hope no more !
Now must she see her lover strain
At every turn her feeble chain,
Watch to new-bind each knot and shrink
To view each fast-decaying link.
Art she invokes to Nature's aid,
Her vest to zone, her locks to braid ;
Each varied pleasure heard her call,
The feast, the tourney, and the ball :
Her storied lore she next applies,
Taxing her mind to aid her eyes ;
Now more than mortal wise and then
In female softness sunk again ;
Now raptured with each wish complying,
With feigned reluctance now denying ;
Each charm she varied to retain
A varying heart — and all in vain !


' Thus in the garden's narrow bound
Flanked by some castle's Gothic round.
Fain would the artist's skill provide
The limits of his realms to hide.
The walks in labyrinths he twines,
Shade after shade with skill combines
With many a varied flowery knot
And copse and arbor decks the spot,
Tempting the hasty foot to stay
And linger on the lovely way —
Vain art ! vain hope ! 't is fruitless all !
At length we reach the bounding wall,
And, sick of flower and trim-dressed tree,
Long for rough glades and forest free.


' Three summer months had scantly flown
When Arthur in embarrassed tone
Spoke of his liegemen and his throne :
Said all too long had been his stay,
And duties which a monarch sway,
Duties unknown to humbler men,
Must tear her knight from Guendolen.
She listened silently the while,
Her mood expressed in bitter smile
Beneath her eye must Arthur quail
And oft resume the unfinished tale,
Confessing by his downcast eye
The wrong he sought to justify.
He ceased. A moment mute she gazed,
And then her looks to heaven she raised ;
One palm her temples veiled to hide
The tear that sprung in spite of pride :
The other for an instant pressed
The foldings of her silken vest !

' At her reproachful sign and look,

The hint the monarch's conscience took.



Eager he spoke — " No, lady, no !

Deem not of British Arthur so,

Nor think he can deserter prove

To the dear pledge of mutual love.

I swear by sceptre and by sword,

As belted knight and Britain's lord,

That if a boy shall claim my care,

That boy is born a kingdom's heir;

But, if a maiden Fate allows,

To choose that mate a fitting spouse,

A summer-day in lists shall strive

My knights — the bravest knights alive —

The monarch gave a passing sigh
To penitence and pleasures by,
When, lo ! to his astonished ken
Appeared the form of Guendolen.


4 Beyond the outmost wall she stood,
Attired like huntress of the wood :
Sandalled her feet, her ankles bare,
And eagle-plumage decked her hair ;
Firm was her look, her bearing bold,
And in her hand a cup of gold.

And he, the best and bravest tried,
Shall Arthur's daughter claim for bride."
He spoke with voice resolved and high —
The lady deigned him not reply.


' At dawn of morn ere on the brake
His matins did a warbler make
Or stirred his wing to brush away
A single dewdrop from the spray,
Ere yet a sunbeam through the mist
The castle-battlements had kissed,
The gates revolve, the drawbridge falls,
And Arthur sallies from the walls.
Doffed his soft garb of Persia's loom,
And steel from spur to helmet plume,
His Lybian steed full proudly trode,
And joyful neighed beneath his load.

" Thou goest ! " she said, " and ne'er again

Must we two meet in joy or pain.

Full fain would I this hour delay,

Though weak the wish — yet wilt thou stay ?

No! thou look'st forward. Still attend, —

Part we like lover and like friend."

She raised the cup — " Not this the juice

The sluggish vines of earth produce ;

Pledge we at parting in the draught

Which Genii love ! " — she said and quaffed;

And strange unwonted lustres fly

From her flushed cheek and sparkling eye.

' The courteous monarch bent him low
And, stooping down from saddlebow,
Lifted the cup in act to drink.
A drop escaped the goblet's brink —



Intense as liquid fire from hell,
Upon the charger's neck it fell.
Screaming with agony and fright,
He bolted twenty feet upright —
The peasant still can show the dint
Where his hoofs lighted on the flint. —
From Arthur's hand the goblet flew,
Scattering a shower of fiery dew
That burned and blighted where it fell !
The frantic steed rushed up the dell,
As whistles from the bow the reed ;
Nor bit nor rein could check his speed

Until he gained the hill ;
Then breath and sinew failed apace,
And, reeling from the desperate race,

He stood exhausted, still.
The monarch, breathless and amazed,
Back on the fatal castle gazed —
Nor tower nor donjon could he spy,
Darkening against the morning sky ;
But on the spot where once they frowned
The lonely streamlet brawled around
A tufted knoll, where dimly shone
Fragments of rock and rifted stone,
fusing on this strange hap the while,
The king wends back to fair Carlisle ;
And cares that cumber royal sway
■Wore memory of the past away.


' Full fifteen years and more were sped,

Each brought new wreaths to Arthur's head.

Twelve bloody fields with glory fought

The Saxons to subjection brought :

Rython, the mighty giant, slain

By his good brand, relieved Bretagne :

The Pictish Gillamore in fight

And Roman Lucius owned his might ;

And wide were through the world renowned

The glories of his Table Round.

Each knight who sought adventurous fame

To the bold court of Britain came,

And all who suffered causeless wrong,

From tyrant proud or faitour strong,

Sought Arthur's presence to complain,

Nor there for aid implored in vain.


4 For this the king with pomp and pride
Held solemn court at Whitsuntide,

And summoned prince and peer,
All who owed homage for their land,
Or who craved knighthood from his hand,
Or who had succour to demand,

To come from far and near.
At such high tide were glee and game
Mingled with feats of martial fame,
For many a stranger champion came

In lists to break a spear ;

And not a knight of Arthur's host,
Save that he trode some foreign coast,
But at this feast of Pentecost

Before him must appear.
Ah, minstrels ! when the Table Round
Arose with all its warriors crowned,
There was a theme for bards to sound

In triumph to their string !
Five hundred years are past and gone,
But time shall draw his dying groan
Ere he behold the British throne

Begirt with such a ring !


' The heralds named the appointed spot,
As Caerleon or Camelot,

Or Carlisle fair and free.
At Penrith now the feast was set,
And in fair Eamont's vale were met

The flower of chivalry.
There Galaad sate with manly grace,
Yet maiden meekness in his face ;
There Morolt of the iron mace,

And love-lorn Tristrem there ;
And Dinadam with lively glance,
And Larival with the fairy lance,
And Mordred with his look askance,

Brunor and Bevidere.
Why should I tell of numbers more ?
Sir Cay, Sir Bannier, and Sir Bore,

Sir Carodac the keen,
The gentle Gawain's courteous lore,
Hector de Mares and Pellinore,
And Lancelot, that evermore

Looked stolen-wise on the queen.


' When wine and mirth did most abound
And harpers played their blithest round,
A shrilly trumpet shook the ground

And marshals cleared the ring ;
A maiden on a palfrey white,
Heading a band of damsels bright,
Paced through the circle to alight

And kneel before the king.
Arthur with strong emotion saw
Her graceful boldness checked by awd
Her dress like huntress of the wold,
Her bow and baldric trapped with gold,
Her sandalled feet, her ankles bare,
And the eagle-plume that decked her hair.
Graceful her veil she backward flung —
The king, as from his seat he sprung,

Almost cried, " Guendolen ! "
But 't was a face more frank and wild,
Betwixt the woman and the child,
Where less of magic beauty smiled

Than of the race of men ;
And in the forehead's haughty grace



The lines of Britain's royal race.
Pendragon's you might ken.

* Faltering, yet gracefully she said —

" Great Prince ! behold an orphan maid,
In her departed mother's name,
A father's vowed protection claim !
The vow was sworn in desert lone
In the deep valley of Saint John."
At once the king the suppliant raised,
And kissed her brow, her beauty praised ;
His vow, he said, should well be kept,
Ere in the sea the sun was dipped, —
Then conscious glanced upon his queen :
But she, unruffled at the scene
Of human frailty construed mild,
Looked upon Lancelot and smiled.


* " Up ! up ! each knight of gallant crest

Take buckler, spear, and brand !
He that to-day shall bear him best

Shall win my Gyneth's hand.
And Arthur's daughter when a bride

Shall bring a noble dower,
Both fair Strath-Clyde and Reged wide,

And Carlisle town and tower."
Then might you hear each valiant knight

To page and squire that cried,
" Bring my armor bright and my courser

'T is not each day that a warrior's might

May win a royal bride."
Then cloaks and caps of maintenance

In haste aside they fling ;
The helmets glance and gleams the lance,

And the steel-weaved hauberks ring.
Small care had they of their peaceful array,

They might gather it that wolde ;

For brake and bramble glittered gay
With pearls and cloth of gold.


1 Within trumpet sound of the Table Round,

Were fifty champions free,
And they all arise to fight that prize,—

They all arise but three.
Nor love's fond troth nor wedlock's oath

One gallant could withhold,
For priests will allow of a broken vow

For penance or for gold.
But sigh and glance from ladies bright

Among the troop were thrown,
To plead their right and true-love plight,

And plain of honor flown.
The knights they busied them so fast

With buckling spur and belt
That sigh and look by ladies cast

Were neither seen nor felt.
From pleading or upbraiding glance

Each gallant turns aside,
And only thought, " If speeds my lance,

A queen becomes my bride !
She has fair Strath-Clyde and Reged wide,

And Carlisle tower and town ;
She is the loveliest maid, beside,

That ever heired a crown."
So in haste their coursers they bestride

And strike their visors down. •


1 The champions, armed in martial sort,

Have thronged into the list,
And but three knights of Arthur's court

Are from the tourney missed.
And still these lovers' fame survives

For faith so constant shown, —
There were two who loved their neighbors'



And one who loved his own.
The first was Lancelot de Lac,

The second Tristrem bold,
The third was valiant Carodac,

Who won the cup of gold
What time ; of all King Arthur's crew —

Thereof came jeer and laugh —
He, as the mate of lady true,

Alone the cup could quaff.
Though envy's tongue would fain surmise

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 34 of 78)