Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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Doubtful too, when slowly rise
Dark-fringed lids of Gyneth's eyes,

What these eyes shall tell. —
1 Saint George ! Saint Mary ! can it be
That they will kindly look on me ! '


Gently, lo ! the warrior kneels,
Soft that lovely hand he steals,
Soft to kiss and soft to clasp —
But the warder leaves her grasp;

Lightning flashes, rolls the thunder !
Gyneth startles from her sleep,
Totters tower, and trembles keep,

Burst the castle-walls asunder!
Fierce and frequent were the shocks, —

Melt the magic halls away: —
But beneath their mystic rocks,
In the arms of bold De Vaux

Safe the princess lay ;
Safe and free from magic power,
Blushing like the rose's flower

Opening to the day;
And round the champion's brows were

The crown that Druidess had wound

Of the green laurel-bay.
And this was what remained of all
The wealth of each enchanted hall,

The Garland and the Dame :
But where should warrior seek the meed
Due to high worth for daring deed

Except from Love and Fame !

&Jje 2Srioal of Crfermam.

My Lucy, when the maid is won

The minstrel's task, thou know'st, is done :

And to require of bard
That to his dregs the tale should run

Were ordinance too hard.
Our lovers, briefly be it said,
Wedded as lovers wont to wed,

When tale or play is o'er ;
Lived long and blest, loved fond and true.
And saw a numerous race renew

The honors that they bore.
Know too that when a pilgrim strays
In morning mist or evening maze

Along the mountain lone,
That fairy fortress often mocks
His gaze upon the castled rocks

Of the valley of Saint John ;
But never man since brave De Vaux

The charmed portal won.
'T is now a vain illusive show
That melts whene'er the sunbeams glow,

Or the fresh breeze hath blown.

But see, my love, where far below
Our lingering wheels are moving slow.

The whiles, up-gazing still,
Our menials eye our steepy way,
Marvelling perchance what whim can stay
Our steps when eve is sinking gray

On this gigantic hill.
So think the vulgar — Life and time
Ring all their joys in one dull chime

Of luxury and ease ;
And O, beside these simple knaves,
How many better born are slaves

To such coarse joys as these,
Dead to the nobler sense that glows
When nature's grander scenes unclose I
But, Lucy, we will love them yet,
The mountain's misty coronet,

The greenwood and the wold ;
And love the more that of their maze
Adventure high of other days

By ancient bards is told,
Bringing perchance, like my poor tale,
Some moral truth in fiction's veil :
Nor love them less that o'er the hill
The evening breeze as now comes chill ; —

My love shall wrap her warm,
And, fearless of the slippery way
While safe she trips the heathy brae,

Shall hang on Arthur's arm.

Ci)e iLorti of ti)e J sles



The Scene of this Poem lies, at first, in the Castle of Artornish, on the coast of Argyleshire ; and, afterwards, in the
Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally, it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the
spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English, and the Barons who adhered
to that foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the
Scottish crown. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity. The authorities used are
chiefly those of the venerable Lord Hailes, as Well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the
restorer of Scottish Monarchy ; and of Archdeacon Barbour ; a correct edition of whose Metrical History of Robert
Bruce will soon, I trust, appear, under the care of my learned friend, the Rev. Dr. Jamieson.
Abbotsford, io/A December, 1814.

£fje Horti of tfje Isles.


Autumn departs — but still his mantle's fold
Rests on the groves of noble Somerville,
Beneath a shroud of russet drooped with gold
Tweed and his tributaries mingle still ;
Hoarser the wind and deeper sounds the rill,
Yet lingering notes of sylvan music swell,
The deep-toned cushat and the redbreast shrill;
And yet some tints of summer splendor tell
When the broad sun sinks down on Ettrick's western fell.

Autumn departs — from Gala's fields no more
Come rural sounds our kindred banks to cheer :
Blent with the stream and gale that wafts it o'er,
No more the distant reaper's mirth we hear.
The last blithe shout hath died upon our ear,
And harvest-home hath hushed the clanging wain,
On the waste hill no forms of life appear,
Save where, sad laggard of the autumnal train,
Some age-struck wanderer gleans few ears of scattered grain.

Deem'st thou these saddened scenes have pleasure still,
Lov'st thou through Autumn's fading realms to stray,
To see the heath-flower withered on the hill,
To listen to the woods' expiring lay,
To note the red leaf shivering on the spray,
To mark the last bright tints the mountain stain,
On the waste fields to trace the gleaner's way,
And moralize on mortal joy and pain? —
O, if such scenes thou lov'st, scorn not the minstrel strain !



No! do not scorn, although its hoarser note
Scarce with the cushat's homely song can vie,
Though faint its beauties as the tints remote
That gleam through mist in autumn's evening sky,
And few as leaves that tremble, sear and dry,
When wild November hath his bugle wound;
Nor mock my toil — a lonely gleaner I
Through fields time-wasted, on sad inquest bound
Where happier bards of yore have richer harvest found.

So shalt thou list, and haply not unmoved,
To a wild tale of Albyn's warrior day ;
In distant lands, by the rough West reproved,
Still live some relics of the ancient lay.
For, when on Coolin's hills the lights decay,
With such the Seer of Skye the eve beguiles;
'T is known amid the pathless wastes of Reay,
In Harries known and in Iona's piles,
Where rest from mortal coil the Mighty of the Isles.



UTfje 3L0ttJ of tjje Isles.

♦ Wake, Maid of Lorn ! ' the minstrels

sung. —
Thy rugged halls, Artornish, rung,
And the dark seas thy towers that lave
Heaved on the beach a softer wave,
As mid the tuneful choir to keep
The diapason of the deep.


' Wake, Maid of Lorn ! ' — 't was thus they

And yet more proud the descant rung,
1 Wake, Maid of Lorn ! high right is ours
To charm dull sleep from Beauty's bowers :
Earth, ocean, air, have naught so shy
But owns the power of minstrelsy.
In Lettermore the timid deer
Will pause the harp's wild chime to hear ;

Lulled were the winds on Inninmore
And green Loch-Alline's woodland shore,
As if wild woods and waves had pleasure
In listing to the lovely measure.
And ne'er to symphony more sweet
Gave mountain echoes answer meet
Since, met from mainland and from isle,
Ross, Arran, Islay, and Argyle,
Each minstrel's tributary lay
Paid homage to the festal day.
Dull and dishonored were the bard,
Worthless of guerdon and regard,
Deaf to the hope of minstrel fame,
Or lady's smiles, his noblest aim,
Who on that morn's resistless call
Was silent in Artornish hall.

Rude Heiskar's seal through surges dark
Will long pursue the minstrel's bark;
To list his notes the eagle proud
Will poise him on Ben-Cailliach's cloud ;
Then let not maiden's ear disdain
The summons of the minstrel train,
But while our harps wild music make,
Edith of Lorn, awake, awake !

1 O wake while Dawn with dewy shine
Wakes Nature's charms to vie with thine !
She bids the mottled thrush rejoice
To mate thy melody of voice ;
The dew that on the violet lies
Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes •,




But, Edith, wake, and all we see
Of sweet and fair shall yield to thee ! —
' She comes not yet,' gray Ferrand cried ;
1 Brethren, let softer spell be tried, .
Those notes prolonged, that soothing theme,
Which best may mix with Beauty's dream,
And whisper with their silvery tone
The hope she loves yet fears to own.'
He spoke, and on the harp-strings died
The strains of flattery and of pride ;
More soft, more low, more tender fell
The lay of love he bade them tell.

' Wake, Maid of Lorn ! the moments fly

Which yet that maiden-name allow ;
Wake, Maiden, wake ! the hour is nigh

When love shall claim a plighted vow.
By Fear, thy bosom's fluttering guest,

By Hope, that soon shall fears remove,
We bid thee break the bonds of rest,

And wake thee at the call of Love !

' Wake, Edith, wake ! in yonder bay-
Lies many a galley gayly manned, *

We hear the merry pibroch's play,
We see the streamers' silken band.

What chieftain's praise these pibrochs
What crest is on these banners wove,

The harp, the minstrel, dare not tell —
The riddle must be read by Love.'


Retired her maiden train among,

Kdith of Lorn received the song,

But tamed the minstrel's pride had been

That had her cold demeanor seen ;

For not upon her cheek awoke

The glow of pride when Flattery spoke,

Nor could their tenderest numbers bring

One sigh responsive to the string.

Al vainly had her maidens vied

In skill to deck the princely bride.

Her locks in dark-brown length arrayed,

Cathleen of Ulne, 't was thine to braid ;

Young Eva with meet reverence drew

( )n the light foot the silken shoe,

While on the ankle's slender round

Those strings of pearl fair Bertha wound

That, bleached Lochryan's depths within,

Seemed dusky still on Edith's skin.

But Einion, of experience old,

Had weightiest task — the mantle's fold

I n many an artful plait she tied

To show the form it seemed to hide,

Till on the floor descending rolled

Its waves of crimson blent with gold.

O, lives there now so cold a maid,
Who thus in beauty's pomp arrayed,
In beauty's proudest pitch of power,
And conquest won — the bridal hour —
With every charm that wins the heart,
By Nature given, enhanced by Art,
Could yet the fair reflection view
In the bright mirror pictured true,
And not one dimple on her cheek
A telltale consciousness bespeak ? —
Lives still such maid ? — Fair damsels, say.
For further vouches not my lay
Save that such lived in Britain's isle
When Lorn's bright Edith scorned to


But Morag, to whose fostering care

Proud Lorn had given his daughter fair,

Morag, who saw a mother's aid

By all a daughter's love repaid —

Strict was that bond, most kind of all,

Inviolate in Highland hall —

Gray Morag sate a space apart,

In Edith's eyes to read her heart.

In vain the attendant's fond appeal

To Morag's skill, to Morag's zeal ;

She marked her child receive their care,

Cold as the image sculptured fair —

Form of some sainted patroness —

Which cloistered maids combine to dress :

She marked — and knew her nursling's

In the vain pomp took little part.
Wistful awhile she gazed — then pressed
The maiden to her anxious breast
In finished loveliness — and led
To where a turret's airy head,
Slender and steep and battled round,
O'erlooked, dark Mull, thy mighty Sound.
Where thwarting tides with mingled roar
Part thy swarth hills from Morven's shore


1 Daughter,' she said, ' these seas behold.
Round twice a hundred islands rolled,
From Hirt that hears their northern roar
To the green Hay's fertile shore ;
Or mainland turn where many a tower
Owns thy bold brother's feudal power.
Each on its own dark cape reclined
And listening to its own wild wind,
From where Mingarry sternly placed
O'erawes the woodland and the waste,
To where Dunstaffnage hears the raging
Of Connal with its rocks engaging.
Think'st thou amid this ample round
A single brow but thine has frowned,



To sadden this auspicious morn
That bids the daughter of high Lorn
Impledge her spousal faith to wed
The heir of mighty Somerled ?
Ronald, from many a hero sprung,
The fair, the valiant, and the young,
Lord of the Isles, whose lofty name
A thousand bards have given to fame,
The mate of monarchs, and allied
On equal terms with England's pride. —
From chieftain's tower to bondsman's cot,
Who hears the tale, and triumphs not ?
The damsel dons her best attire,
The shepherd lights his beltane fire,
Joy ! joy ! each warder's horn hath sung,
Joy ! joy ! each matin bell hath rung;
The holy priest says grateful mass,
Loud shouts each hardy galla-glass,
No mountain den holds outcast boor
Of heart so dull, of soul so poor,
But he hath flung his task aside,
And claimed this morn for holy-tide ;
Yet, empress of this joyful day,
Edith is sad while all are gay.'


Proud Edith's soul came to her eye,
Resentment checked the struggling sigh.
Her hurrying hand indignant dried
The burning tears of injured pride —

' Morag, forbear ! or lend thy praise

To swell yon hireling harpers' lays ;

Make to yon maids thy boast of power,

That they may waste a wondering hour

Telling of banners proudly borne,

Of pealing bell and bugle horn,

Or, theme more dear, of robes of price,

Crownlets and gauds of rare device.

But thou, experienced as thou art,

Think'st thou with these to cheat the heart

That, bound in strong affection's chain,

Looks for return and looks in vain ?

No ! sum thine Edith's wretched lot

In these brief words — He loves her not 1

' Debate it not — too long I strove

To call his cold observance love,

All blinded by the league that styled

Edith of Lorn — while yet a child

She tripped the heath by-Morag's side —

The brave Lord Ronald's destined bride.

Ere yet I saw him, while afar

His broadsword blazed in Scotland's war r

Trained to believe our fates the same,

My bosom throbbed when Ronald's name

Came gracing Fame's heroic tale,

Like perfume on the summer gale.

What pilgrim sought our halls nor told

Of Ronald's deeds in battle bold ;



Who touched the harp to heroes' praise
But his achievements swelled the lays ?
Even Morag — not a tale of fame
Was hers but closed with Ronald's name.
He came ! and all that had been told
Of his high worth seemed poor and cold,
Tame, lifeless, void of energy,
Unjust to Ronald and to me !

' Since then, what thought had Edith's

And gave not plighted love its part ! —
And what requital ? cold delay —
Excuse that shunned the spousal day- —
It dawns and Ronald is not here ! — '
Hunts he Bentalla's nimble deer,
Or loiters he in secret dell
To bid some lighter love farewell,
And swear that though he may not scorn
A daughter of the House of Lorn,
Yet, when these formal rites are o'er,
Again they meet to part no more ? '

' Hush, daughter, hush ! thy doubts re-
More nobly think of Ronald's love.
Look, where beneath the castle gray
His fleet unmoor from Aros bay !
See'st not each galley's topmast bend
As on the yards the sails ascend ?
Hiding the dark-blue land they rise,
Like the white clouds on April skies ;
The shouting vassals man the oars,
Behind them sink Mull's mountain shores,
Onward their merry course they keep
Through whistling breeze and foaming

And mark the headmost, seaward cast,
Stoop to the freshening gale her mast,
As if she veiled its bannered pride
To greet afar her prince's bride !
Thy Ronald comes, and while in speed
His galley mates the flying steed,
He chides her sloth ! ' — Fair Edith sighed,
Blushed, sadly smiled, and thus replied :


4 Sweet thought, but vain ! — No, Morag !

Type of his course, yon lonely bark,
That oft hath shifted helm and sail
To win its way against the gale.
Since peep of morn my vacant eyes
Have viewed by fits the course she tries ;
Now, though the darkening scud comes on,
And dawn's fair promises be gone,
And though the weary crew may see

Our sheltering haven on their lee,

Still closer to the rising wind

They strive her shivering sail to bind.

Still nearer to the shelves' dread verge

At every tack her course they urge,

As if they feared Artornish more

Than adverse winds and breakers' roar."


Sooth spoke the maid. Amid the tide

The skiff she marked lay tossing sore,
And shifted oft her stooping side,
In weary tack from shore to shore.
Yet on her destined course no more

She gained of forward way
Than what a minstrel may compare
To the poor meed which peasants share

Who toil the livelong day ;
And such the risk her pilot braves

That oft, before she wore,
Her boltsprit kissed the broken waves
Where in white foam the ocean raves

Upon the shelving shore.
Yet, to their destined purpose true,
Undaunted toiled her hardy crew,

Nor looked where shelter lay,
Nor for Artornish Castle drew,

Nor steered for Aros bay.


Thus while they strove with wind and seas,
Borne onward by the willing breeze,

Lord Ronald's fleet swept by,
Streamered with silk and tricked with gold,
Manned with the noble and the bold

Of Island chivalry.
Around their prows the ocean roars,
And chafes beneath their thousand oars,
. Yet bears them on their way :
So chafes the war-horse in his might
That fieldward bears some valiant knight,
Champs till both bit and boss are white,

But foaming must obey.
On each gay deck they might behold
Lances of steel and crests of gold,
And hauberks with their burnished fold

That shimmered fair and free ;
And each proud galley as she passed
To the wild cadence of the blast

Gave wilder minstrelsy.
Full many a shrill triumphant note
Saline and Scallastle bade float

Their misty shores around ;
And Morven's echoes answered well.
And Duart heard the distant swell

Come down the darksome Sound.


So bore they on with mirth and pride,
And if that laboring bark they spied,



'T was with such idle eye
As nobles cast on lowly boor
When, toiling in his task obscure,

They pass him careless by.
Let them sweep on with heedless eyes !
But had they known what mighty prize

In that frail vessel lay,
The famished wolf that prowls the wold
Had scathless passed the unguarded fold,
Ere, drifting by these galleys bold,

Unchallenged were her way !
And thou, Lord Ronald, sweep thou on
With mirth and pride and minstrel tone !
But hadst thou known who sailed so nigh,
Far other glance were in thine eye !
Far other flush were on thy brow,
That, shaded by the bonnet, now
Assumes but ill the blithesome cheer
Of bridegroom when the bride is near !


Yes, sweep they on ! — We will not leave,
For them that triumph, those who grieve.

With that armada gay
Be laughter loud and jocund shout,
And bards to cheer the wassail route

With tale, romance, and lay ;
And of wild mirth each clamorous art,
Which, if it cannot cheer the heart,
May stupefy and stun its smart
' For one loud busy day.
Yes, sweep they on ! — But with that skiff

Abides the minstrel tale,
Where there was dread of surge and cliff,
Labor that strained each sinew stiff,

And one sad maiden's wail.


All day with fruitless strife they toiled,
With eve the ebbing currents boiled

More fierce from strait and lake ;
And midway through the channel met
Conflicting tides that foam and fret,
And high their mingled billows jet,
As spears that in the battle set

Spring upward as they break.
Then too the lights of eve were past,
And louder sung the western blast

On rocks of Inninmore ;
Rent was the sail, and strained the mast,
And many a leak was gaping fast,
And the pale steersman stood aghast

And gave the conflict o'er.


'T was then that One whose lofty look
Nor labor dulled nor terror shook

Thus to the leader spoke : —
' Brother, how hop'st thou to abide

The fury of this wildered tide,
Or how avoid the rock's rude side

Until the day has broke ?
Didst thou not mark the vessel reel
With quivering planks and groaning keel

At the last billow's shock ?
Yet how of better counsel tell,
Though here thou see'st poor Isabel

Half dead with want and fear ;
For look on sea, or look on land,
Or yon dark sky, on every hand

Despair and death are near.
For her alone I grieve — on me
Danger sits light by land and sea,

I follow where thou wilt ;
Either to bide the tempest's lour,
Or wend to yon unfriendly tower,
Or rush amid their naval power,
With war-cry wake their wassail-hour,

And die with hand on hilt.'


That elder leader's calm reply

In steady voice was given,
' In man's most dark extremity

Oft succor dawns from heaven.
Edward, trim thou the shattered sail,
The helm be mine, and down the gale

Let our free course be driven ;
So shall we 'scape the western bay,
The hostile fleet, the unequal fray,
So safely hold our vessel's way

Beneath tne castle wall :
For if a hope of safety rest,
'T is on the sacred name of guest,
Who seeks for shelter storm-distressed

Within a chieftain's hall.
If not — it best beseems our worth,
Our name, our right, our lofty birth,

By noble hands to fall.'


The helm, to his strong arm consigned,
Gave the reefed sail to meet the wind,

And on her altered way
Fierce bounding forward sprung the ship,
Like greyhound starting from the slip

To seize his flying prey.
Awaked before the rushing prow
The mimic fires of ocean glow, .

Those lightnings of the wave ;
Wild sparkles crest the broken tides,
And flashing round the vessel's sides

With elfish lustre lave,
While far behind their livid light
To the dark billows of the night

A gloomy splendor gave, *

It seems as if old Ocean snakes
From his dark brow the lucid flakes

In envious pageantry,



To match the meteor-light that streaks
Grim Hecla's midnight sky.


Nor lacked they steadier light to keep
Their course upon the darkened deep ; —
Artornish, on her frowning steep

"Twixt cloud and ocean hung,
Glanced with a thousand lights of glee, .
And landward far and far to sea

Her festal radiance flung.
By that blithe beacon-light they steered,

Whose lustre mingled well
With the pale beam that now appeared,
As the cold moon her head upreared

Above the eastern fell.


Thus guided, on their course they bore
Until they neared the mainland shore,
When frequent on the hollow blast
Wild shouts of merriment were cast,
And wind and wave and sea-birds' cry
With wassail sounds in concert vie,
Like funeral shrieks with revelry,

Or like the battle-shout
By peasants heard from cliffs on high
When Triumph, Rage, and Agony

Madden the fight and rout.
Now nearer yet through mist and storm
Dimly arose the castle's form .

And deepened shadow made,
Far lengthened on the main below,
Where dancing in reflected glow

A hundred torches played,
Spangling the wave with lights as vain
As pleasures in this vale of pain,

That dazzle as they fade.

Beneath the castle's sheltering lee
They staid their course in quiet sea.
Hewn in the rock, a passage there
Sought the dark fortress by a stair,

So strait, so high, so steep,
With peasant's staff one valiant hand
Might well the dizzy pass have manned
"Gainst hundreds armed with spear and

And plunged them in the deep.
His bugle then the helmsman wound :
Loud answered every echo round

From turret, rock, and bay.
The postern's hinges crash and groan,
And soon the warder's cresset shone
< )u those rude steps of slippery stone,

To light the upward way.
4 Thrice welcome, holy Sire ! ' he said ;

' Full long the spousal train have staid,

And, vexed at thy delay,
Feared lest amidst these wildering seas
The darksome night and freshening breeze

Had driven thy bark astray.' —


' Warder,' the younger stranger said,
' Thine erring guess some mirth had made
In mirthful hour ; but nights like these,
When the rough winds wake western seas,
Brook not of glee. We crave some aid
And needful shelter for this maid

Until the break of day ;
For to ourselves the deck's rude plank
Is easy as the mossy bank

That 's breathed upon by May.
And for our storm-tossed skiff we seek
Short shelter in this leeward creek,
Prompt when the dawn the east shall streak

Again to bear away.'
Answered the warder, ' In what name
Assert ye hospitable claim ?

Whence come or whither bound ?
Hath Erin seen your parting sails,
Or come ye on Norweyan gales ?
And seek ye England's fertile vales,

Or Scotland's mountain ground?'


' Warriors — for other title none
For some brief space we list to own,
Bound by a vow — warriors are we;
In strife by land and storm by sea

We have been known to fame ;
And these brief words have import dear,
When sounded in a rfoble ear,
To harbor safe and friendly cheer

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 37 of 78)