Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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That, but for very shame,
Sir Carodac to fight that prize

Had given both cup and dame ,
Yet, since but one of that fair court

Was true to wedlock's shrine,
Brand him who will with base report,

He shall be free from mine.


4 Now caracoled the steeds in air,
Now plumes and pennons wantoned fair,
As all around the lists so wide
In panoply the champions ride.
King Arthur saw with startled eye
The flower of chivalry march by,
The bulwark of the Christian creed.
The kingdom's shield in hour of need.
Too late he thought him of the woe
Might from their civil conflict flow ;
For well he knew they would not part
Till cold was many a gallant heart.
His hasty vow he 'gan to rue,
And Gyneth then apart he drew ;
To her his leading-staff resigned,
But added caution grave and kind.


; " Thou see'st, my child, as promise-bound,

I bid the trump for tourney sound.

Take thou my warder as the queen

And umpire of the martial scene;

But mark thou this : — as Beauty bright

Is polar star to valiant knight,

As at her word his sword he draws,

I lis fairest guerdon her applause,

So gentle maid should never ask

Of knighthood vain and dangerous task ;

And Beauty's eyes should ever be

Like the twin stars that soothe the sea,

And Beauty's breath should whisper peace

And bid the storm of battle cease.

I tell thee this lest all too far

These knights urge tourney into war.

Blithe at the trumpet let them go,

And fairly counter blow for blow ; —

No striplings these, who succor need

For a razed helm or falling steed.

But. Gyneth, when the strife grows warm

And threatens death or deadly harm,

Thy sire entreats, thy king commands,
Thou drop the warder from thy hands.
Trust thou thy father with thy fate,
Doubt not he choose thee fitting mate :
Nor be it said through Gyneth 's pride
A rose of Arthur's chaplet died."


1 A proud and discontented glow
O'ershadowed Gyneth's brow of snow;

She put the warder by : —
" Reserve thy boon, my* liege," she said.
" Thus chaffered down and limited,
Debased and narrowed for a maid

Of less degree than I.
No petty chief but holds his heir
At a more honored price and rare

Than Britain's King holds me !
Although the sun-burned maid for dower
Has but her father's rugged tower,

His barren hill and lee."
King Arthur swore, " By crown and sword.
As belted knight and Britain's lord,
That a whole summer's day should strive
His knights, the bravest knights alive ! " —
" Recall thine oath ! and to her glen
Poor Gyneth can return agen ;
Not on thy daughter will the stain
That soils thy sword and crown remain.
But think not she will e'er be bride
Save to the bravest, proved and tried :
Pendragon's daughter will not fear
For clashing sword or splintered spear,

Nor shrink though blood should flow :
And all too well sad Guendolen
Hath taught the faithlessness of men
That child of hers should pity when

Their meed they undergo."


' He frowned and sighed, the monarch

bold : — .
" I give — what I may not withhold ;
For, not for danger, dread, or death,
Must British Arthur break his faith.
Too late I mark thy mother's art
Hath taught thee this relentless part.
I blame her not, for she had wrong,
But not to these my faults belong.
Use then the warder as thou wilt :
But trust me that, if life be spilt,
In Arthur's love, in Arthur's grace,
Gyneth shall lose a daughter's place.*'
With that he turned his head aside,
Nor brooked to gaze upon her pride,
As with the truncheon raised she sate
The arbitress of mortal fate ;
Nor brooked to mark in ranks disposed
How the bold champions stood opposed.



For shrill the trumpet-flourish fell
Upon his ear like passing bell !
Then first from sight of martial fray
Did Britain's hero turn away.


' But Gyneth heard the clangor high
As hears the hawk the partridge cry.
O, blame her not ! the blood was hers
That at the trumpet's summons stirs ! -
And e'en the gentlest female eye
Might the brave strife of chivalry
Awhile untroubled view ;

Like lark's shrill song the flourish flows,
Heard while the gale of April blows
The merry greenwood through.

' But soon to earnest grew their game,
The spears drew blood, the swords struck

And, horse and man, to ground there came

Knights who shall rise no more !
Gone was the pride the war that graced,
Gay shields were cleft and crests defaced,
And steel coats riven and helms unbraced,

So well accomplished was each knight
To strike and to defend in fight,
Their meeting was a goodly sight

While plate and mail held true.
The lists with painted plumes were strown,
Upon the wind at random thrown,
But helm and breastplate bloodless shone.
It seemed their feathered crests alone

Should this encounter rue.
And ever, as the combat grows,
The trumpet's cheery voice arose,

And pennons streamed with gore.
Gone too were fence and fair array,
And desperate strength made deadly way
At random through the bloody fray,
And blows were dealt with headlong

Unheeding where they fell ;
And now the trumpet's clamors seem
Like the shrill sea-bird's wailing scream
Heard o'er the whirlpool's gulfing stream,

The sinking seaman's knell !




' Seemed in this dismal hour that Fate
Would Camlan's ruin antedate,

And spare dark Mordred's crime ;
Already gasping on the ground
Lie twenty of the Table Round,

Of chivalry the prime.
Arthur in anguish tore away
From head and beard his tresses gray,
And she, proud Gyneth, felt dismay

And quaked with ruth and fear ;
But still she deemed her mother's shade
Hung o'er the tumult, and forbade
The sign that had the slaughter staid,

And chid the rising tear.
Then Brunor, Taulas, Mador, fell,
Helias the White, and Lionel,

And many a champion more ;
Rochemont and Dinadam are down,
And Ferrand of the Forest Brown

Lies gasping in his gore.
Vanoc, by mighty Morolt pressed
Even to the confines of the list,
Young Vanoc of the beardless face —
Fame spoke the youth of Merlin's race —
O'erpowered at Gyneth's footstool bled,
His heart's-blood dyed her sandals red.
But then the sky was overcast,
Then howled at once a whirlwind's blast,

And, rent by sudden throes,
Yawned in mid lists the quaking earth,
And from the gulf — tremendous birth ! —

The form of Merlin rose.


* Sternly the Wizard Prophet eyed

The dreary lists with slaughter dyed,
And sternly raised his hand : —

" Madmen," he said, " your strife forbear !

And thou, fair cause of mischief, hear
The doom thy fates demand !
Long shall close in stony sleep
Eyes for ruth that would not weep ;
Iron lethargy shall seal
Heart that pity scorned to feel.
Yet, because thy mother's art
Warped thine unsuspicious heart,
And for love of Arthur's race
Punishment is blent with grace,
Thou shalt bear thy penance lone
In the valley of Saint John,
And this weird shall overtake thee ;
S2eep until a knight shall wake thee,
For feats of arms as far renowned
As warrior of the Table Round.
I joe endurance of thy slumber
Well may teach the world to number
All their woes from Gyneth's pride,
When the Red Cross champions died."


'As Merlin speaks, on Gyneth's eye
Slumber's load begins to lie ;
Fear and anger vainly strive
Still to keep its light alive.
Twice with effort and with pause
O'er her brow her hand she draws ;
Twice her strength in vain she tries
From the fatal chair to rise ;
Merlin's magic doom is spoken,
Vanoc's death must now be wroken.
Slow the dark-fringed eyelids fall,
Curtaining each azure ball,
Slowly as on summer eves
Violets fold their dusky leaves.
The weighty baton of command
Now bears down her sinking hand,
On her shoulder droops her head ;
Net of pearl and golden thread
Bursting gave her locks to flow
O'er her arm and breast of snow.
And so lovely seemed she there,
Spell-bound in her ivory chair,
That her angry sire repenting
Craved stern Merlin for relenting,
And the champions for her sake
Would again the contest wake ;
Till in necromantic night
Gyneth vanished from their sight.


' Still she bears her weird alone
In the Valley of Saint John :
And her semblance oft will seem,
Mingling in a champion's dream,
Of her weary lot to plain
And crave his aid to burst her chain.
While her wondrous tale was new
Warriors to her rescue drew,
East and west, and south and north,
From the Liffy, Thames, and Forth.
Most have sought in vain the glen,
Tower nor castle could they ken ;
Not at every time or tide,
Nor by every eye, descried.
Fast and vigil must be borne,
Many a night in watching worn,
Ere an eye of mortal powers
Can discern those magic towers.
Of the persevering few
Some from hopeless task withdrew
When they read the dismal threat
Graved upon the gloomy gate.
Few have braved the yawning door,
And those few returned no more.
In the lapse of time forgot,
Wellnigh lost is Gyneth's lot ;
Sound her sleep as in the tomb
Till wakened by the trump of doom.'

3Eno of ilsulptJ's &alc.



Here pause, my tale ; for all too soon,
My Lucy, comes the hour of noon.
Already from thy lofty dome
Its courtly inmates 'gin to roam,
And each, to kill the goodly day
That God has granted them, his way
Of lazy sauntering has sought ;

Lordlings and witlings not a few,
Incapable of doing aught,
Yet ill at ease with naught to do.
Here is no longer place for me ;
For, Lucy, thou wouldst blush to see
Some phantom fashionably thin,
With limb of lath and kerchiefed chin,
And lounging gape or sneering grin,
Steal sudden on our privacy.
And how should I, so humbly born,
Endure the graceful spectre's scorn?
Faith ! ill, I fear, while conjuring wand
Of English oak is hard at hand.

Or grant the hour be all too soon
For Hessian boot and pantaloon,

And grant the lounger seldom strays
Beyond the smooth and gravelled maze,
Laud we the gods that Fashion's train
Holds hearts of more adventurous strain.
Artists are hers who scorn to trace
Their rules from Nature's boundless grace.
But their right paramount assert
To limit her by pedant art,
Damning whate'er of vast and fair
Exceeds a canvass three feet square.
This thicket, for their gumption fit,
May furnish such a happy bit.
Bards too are hers, wont to recite
Their own sweet lays by waxen light,
Half in the salver's tingle drowned,
While the chasse-cafe glides around ;
And such may hither secret stray
To labor an extempore :
Or sportsman with his boisterous hollo
May here his wiser spaniel follow,
Or stage-struck Juliet may presume
To choose this bower for tiring-room ;
And we alike must shun regard
From painter, player, sportsman, bard.
Insects that skim in fashion's sky,



Wasp, blue-bottle, or butterfly,
Lucy, have all alarms for us,
For all can hum and all can buzz.

But 0, my Lucy, say how long
We still must dread this trifling throng,
And stoop to hide with coward art
The genuine feelings of the heart !
No parents thine whose just command
Should rule their child's obedient hand ;
Thy guardians with contending voice
Press each his individual choice.
And which is Lucy's ? — Can it be
That puny fop, trimmed cap-a-pee,
Who loves in the saloon to show
The arms that never knew a foe :
Whose sabre trails along the ground,
Whose legs in shapeless boots are drowned
A new Achilles, sure — the steel
Fled from his breast to fence his heel ;
One, for the simple manly grace
That wont to deck our martial race,

Who comes in foreign trashery
Of tinkling chain and spur,

A walking haberdashery
Of feathers, lace, and fur :
In Rowley's antiquated phrase,
Horse-milliner of modern days ?


Or is it he, the wordy youth,

So early trained for statesman's part,

Who talks of honor, faith and truth,
As themes that he has got by heart ;
Whose ethics Chesterfield can teach,
Whose logic is from Single-speech ;
Who scorns the meanest thought to vent
Save in the phrase of Parliament;
Who, in a tale of cat and mouse,
Calls ' order,' and ' divides the house,'
Who ' craves permission to reply,'
Whose 'noble friend is in his eye ; '
Whose loving tender some have reckoned
A motion you should gladly second?

What, neither ? Can there be a third,
To such resistless swains preferred ?
O why, my Lucy, turn aside
With that quick glance of injured pride ?
Forgive me, love, T cannot bear
That altered and resentful air.
Were all the wealth of Russel mine
And all the rank of Howard's line,
All would I give for leave to dry
That dewdrop trembling in thine eye.
Think not I fear such fops can wile

From Lucy more than careless smile ;
But yet if wealth and high degree
Give gilded counters currency,
Must I not fear when rank and birth
Stamp the pure ore of genuine worth ?
Nobles there are whose martial fires
Rival the fame that raised their sires.
And patriots, skilled through storms of fate
To guide and guard the reeling state.
Such, such there are — If such should come,
Arthur must tremble and be dumb,
Self-exiled seek some distant shore,
And mourn till life and grief are o'er.


What sight, what signal of alarm,
That Lucy clings to Arthur's arm ?
Or is it that the rugged way
Makes Beauty lean on lover's stay?
O, no ! for on the vale and brake
Nor sight nor sounds of danger wake,
And this trim sward of velvet green
Were carpet for the Fairy Queen.
That pressure slight was but to tell
That Lucy loves her Arthur well,
And fain would banish from his mind
Suspicious fear and doubt unkind.


But wouldst thou bid the demons fly

Like mist before the dawning sky,

There is but one resistless spell —

Say, wilt thou guess or must I tell ?

'T were hard to name in minstrel phrase

A landaulet and four blood-bays,

But bards agree this wizard band

Can but be bound in Northern land.

'T is there — nay, draw not back thy

hand ! —
'T is there this slender finger round
Must golden amulet be bound,
Which, blessed with many a holy prayer,
Can change to rapture lovers' care,
And doubt and jealousy shall die,
And fears give place to ecstasy.


Now, trust me, Lucy, all too long
Has been thy lover's tale and song.
O, why so silent, love, I pray ?
Have I not spoke the livelong day ?
And will not Lucy deign to say

One word her friend to bless ?
I ask but one — a simple sound,
Within three little letters bound —

O, let the word be YES !



3Efje SSrioal of QLxizxmain.


Long loved, long wooed, and lately won,
My life's best hope, and now mine own !
Doth not this rude and Alpine glen
Recall our favorite haunts agen ?
A wild resemblance we can trace,
Though reft of every softer grace,
As the rough warrior's brow may bear
A likeness to a sister fair.
Full well advised our Highland host
That this wild pass on foot be crossed,
While round Ben-Cruach's mighty base
Wheel the slow steeds and lingering chase.
The keen old carle, with Scottish pride
He praised his glen and mountains wide ;
An eye he bears for nature's face,
Ay, and for woman's lovely grace.

Even in such mean degree we find
The subtle Scot's observing mind ;
For nor the chariot nor the train
Could gape of vulgar wonder gain,
But when old Allan would expound
Of Beal-na-paish the Celtic sound,
His bonnet doffed and bow applied
His legend to my bonny bride ;
While Lucy blushed beneath his eye,
Courteous and cautious, shrewd and sly,

Enough of him. — Now, ere we lose,
Plunged in the vale, the distant views,
Turn thee, my love ! look back once more
To the blue lake's retiring shore.
On its smooth breast the shadows seem
Like objects in a morning dream,
What time the slumberer is aware
He sleeps and all the vision 's air :
Even so on yonder liquid lawn,
In hues of bright reflection drawn,
Distinct the shaggy mountains lie,



Distinct the rocks, distinct the sky ;
The summer-clouds so plain we note
That we might count each dappled spot :
We gaze and we admire, yet know
The scene is all delusive show.
Such dreams of bliss would Arthur draw
When first his Lucy's form he saw,
Yet sighed and sickened as he drew,
Despairing they could e'er prove true !


But, Lucy, turn thee now to view

Up the fair glen our destined way :
The fairy path that we pursue,
Distinguished but by greener hue,

Winds round the purple brae,
While Alpine flowers of varied dye
For carpet serve or tapestry.
See how the little runnels leap
In threads of silver down the steep

To swell the brooklet's moan !
Seems that the Highland Naiad grieves,
Fantastic while her crown she weaves
Of rowan, birch, and alder leaves,

So lovely and so lone.
There 's no illusion there ; these flowers,
That wailing brook, these lovely bowers,

Are, Lucy, all our own ;
And, since thine Arthur called thee wife,
Such seems the prospect of his life,
A lovely path on-winding still
By gurgling brook and sloping hill.
'T is true that mortals cannot tell
What waits them in the distant dell ;
But be it hap or be it harm,
We tread the pathway arm in arm.


And now, my Lucy, wot'st thou why
I could thy bidding twice deny,
When twice you prayed I would again
Resume the legendary strain
Of the bold knight of Triermain ?
At length yon peevish vow you swore
That you would sue to me no more,
Until the minstrel fit drew near
And made me prize a listening ear.
But, loveliest, when thou first didst pray
Continuance of the knightly lay,
Was it not on the happy day

That made thy hand mine own ?
When, dizzied with mine ecstasy,
Naught past, or present, or to be,
Could I or think on, hear, or see,

Save, Lucy, thee alone !
A giddy draught my rapture was
As ever chemist's magic gas.


Again the summons I denied
In yon fair capital of Clyde :
My harp — or let me rather choose
The good old classic form — my Muse -
For harp 's an over-scutched phrase,
Worn out by bards of modern days —
My Muse, then — seldom will she wake,
Save by dim wood and silent lake ;
She is the wild and rustic maid
Whose foot unsandalled loves to tread
Where the soft greensward is inlaid

With varied moss and thyme ;
And, lest the simple lily-braid,
That coronets her temples fade,
She hides her still in greenwood shade

To meditate her rhyme.

And now she comes ! The murmur dear
Of the wild brook hath caught her ear,

The glade hath won her eye ;
She longs to join with each blithe rill
That dances down the Highland hill

Her blither melody.
And now my Lucy's way to cheer
She bids Ben-Cruach's echoes hear
How closed the tale my love whilere

Loved for its chivalry.
List how she tells in notes of flame
• Child Roland to the dark tower came ! '

2T}je Brioal of Crfermam.


Bewcastle now must keep the hold,

Speir-Adam's steeds must bide in stall.
Of Hartley-burn the bowmen bold

Must only shoot from battled wall ;
And Liddesdale may buckle spur,

And Teviot now may belt the brand,
Tarras and Ewes keep nightly stir,

And Eskdale foray Cumberland.
Of wasted fields and plundered flocks

The Borderers bootless may complain ;
They lack the sword of brave* De Vaux,

There comes no aid from Triermain.
That lord on high adventure bound

Hath wandered forth alone,
And day and night keeps watchful round

In the valley of Saint John.



When first began his vigil bold

The moon twelve summer nights was old

And shone both fair and full ;
High in the vault of cloudless blue,
O'er streamlet, dale, and rock, she threw

Her light composed and cool.
Stretched on the brown hill's heathy breast,

Sir Roland eyed the vale ;
Chief where, distinguished from the rest,
Those clustering rocks upreared their crest,
The dwelling of the fair distressed,

As told gray Lyulph's tale.
Thus as he lay, the lamp of night
Was quivering on his armor bright

In beams that rose and fell,
And danced upon his buckler's boss
That lay beside him on the moss

As on a crystal well.

Ever he watched and oft he deemed,
While on the mound the moonlight streamed,

It altered to his eyes;
Fain would he hope the rocks 'gan change
To buttressed walls their shapeless range,
Fain think by transmutation strange

He saw gray turrets rise.
But scarce his heart with hope throbbed

Before the wild illusions fly

Which fancy had conceived,
Abetted by an anxious eye

That longed to be deceived.
It was a fond deception all,
Such as in solitary hall

Beguiles the musing eye
When, gazing on the sinking fire,
Bulwark, and battlement, and spire

In the red gulf we spy.
For, seen by moon of middle night,
Or by the blaze of noontide bright,
Or by the dawn of morning light,

Or evening's western flame,
In every tide, at every hour,
In mist, in sunshine, and in shower,

The rocks remained the same.

Oft has he traced the charmed mound,
Oft climbed its crest or paced it round,

Yet nothing might explore,
Save that the crags so rudely piled,
At distance seen, resemblance wild

To a rough fortress bore.
Yet still his watch the warrior keeps,
Feeds hard and spare, and seldom sleeps,

And drinks but of the well ;
Ever by day he walks the hill,
And when the evening gale is chill

He seeks a rocky cell,
Like hermit poor to bid his bead,
And tell his Ave and his Creed,
Invoking every saint at need

For aid to burst his spell.

And now the moon her orb has hid
And dwindled to a silver thread,

Dim seen in middle heaven,
While o'er its curve careering fast
Before the fury of the blast

The midnight clouds are driven.
The brooklet raved, for on the hills
The upland showers had swoln the rills

And down the torrents came;
Muttered the distant thunder dread,
And frequent o'er the vale was spread

A sheet of lightning flame.
De Vaux within his mountain cave —
No human step the storm durst brave —
To moody meditation gave

Each faculty of soul,
Till, lulled by distant torrent sound
And the sad winds that whistled round,
Upon his thoughts in musing drowned

A broken slumber stole.


'T was then was heard a heavy sound —

Sound, strange and fearful there to hear,
'Mongst desert hills where leagues around

Dwelt but the gorcock and the deer.
As, starting from his couch of fern,
Again he heard in clangor stern

That deep and solemn swell,
Twelve times in measured tone it spoke,
Like some proud minster's pealing clock

Or city's larum-bell.
What thought was Roland's first when fell
In that deep wilderness the knell

Upon his startled ear ?
To slander warrior were I loath,
Yet must I hold my minstrel troth —

It was a thought of fear.

But lively was the mingled thrill
That chased that momentary chill,

For Love's keen wish was there,
And eager Hope, and Valor high,
And the proud glow of Chivalry

That burned to do and dare.
Forth from the cave the warrior rushed,
Long ere the mountain-voice was hushed

That answered to the knell ;
For long and far the unwonted sound,
Eddying in echoes round and round,

Was tossed from fell to fell ;



And Glaramara answer flung,
And Grisdale-pike responsive rung,
And Legbert heights their echoes swung
As far as Derwent's dell.


Forth upon trackless darkness gazed
The knight, bedeafened and amazed,

Till all was hushed and still,
Save the swoln torrent's sullen roar,
And the night-blast that wildly bore

Its course along the hill.
Then on the northern sky there came
A light as of reflected flame,

And over Legbert-head,
As if by magic art controlled,
A' mighty meteor slowly rolled

Its orb of fiery red ;
Thou wouldst have thought some demon

Came mounted on that car of fire

To do his errand dread.
Far on the sloping valley's course,
On thicket, rock, and torrent hoarse,
Shingle and Scrae, and Fell and Force,

A dusky light arose :
Displayed, yet altered was the scene :
Dark rock, and brook of silver sheen,
Even the gay thicket's summer green,

In bloody tincture glows.


De Vaux had marked the sunbeams set
At eve upon the coronet

Of that enchanted mound,
And seen but crags at random flung,
That, o'er the brawling torrent hung,

In desolation frowned.
What sees he by that meteor's lour ? —
A bannered castle, keep, and tower

Return the lurid gleam,
With battled walls and buttress fast,
And barbican and ballium vast,
And airy flanking towers that cast

Their shadows on the stream.
'T is no deceit ! distinctly clear
Crenell and parapet appear,
While o'er the pile that meteor drear

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 35 of 78)