Copyright
Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

. (page 4 of 78)
Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 4 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,
And William of Deloraine, good at need,
And every Scott from Esk to Tweed ;
And, if thou dost not let me go,



XXI.

Although the child was led away,
In Branksome still he seemed to stay,
For so the Dwarf his part did play ;
And, in the shape of that young boy,
He wrought the castle much annoy.
The comrades of the young Buccleuch
He pinched and beat and overthrew ;
Nay, some of them he well-nigh slew.
He tore Dame Maudlin's silken tire,
And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire,
He lighted the match of his bandelier,
And wofully scorched the hackbuteer.




Despite thy arrows and thy bow,

I '11 have thee hanged to feed the crow !



xx.

f Gramercy for thy good-will, fair boy !
My mind was never set so high ;
But if thou art chief of such a clan,
And art the son of such a man,
And ever comest to thy command,

Our wardens had need to keep good order
My bow of yew to a hazel wand,

Thou 'It make them work upon the Border
Meantime, be pleased to come with me,
For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see ;
1 think our work is well begun,
When we have taken thy father's son."



It may be hardly thought or said,
The mischief that the urchin made,
Till many of the castle guessed
That the young baron was possessed !



Well I ween the charm he held
The noble Ladye had soon dispelled,
But she was deeply busied then
To tend the wounded Deloraine.
Much she wondered to find him lie

On the stone threshold stretched along :
She thought some spirit of the sky

Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong,
Because, despite her precept dread.
Perchance he in the book had read ;



26



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



But the broken lance in his bosom stood,
And it was earthly steel and wood.

XXIII.

She drew the splinter from the wound,

And with a charm she stanched the blood.
She bade the gash be cleansed and bound :

No longer by his couch she stood ;
But she has ta'en the broken lance,
And washed it from the clotted gore,
And salved the splinter o'er and o'er.
William of Deloraine, in trance,
Whene'er she turned it round and round,
Twisted as if she galled his wound.
Then to her maidens she did say,
That he should be whole man and sound
Within the course of a night and day.
Full long she toiled, for she did rue
Mishap to friend so stout and true.

XXIV.

So passed the day — the evening fell,
'Twas near the time of curfew bell;
The air was mild, the wind was calm,
The stream was smooth, the dew was balm ;
E'en the rude watchman on the tower
Enjoyed and blessed the lovely hour.
Far more fair Margaret loved and blessed
/The hour of silence and of rest.
\On the high turret sitting lone,
"he waked at times the lute's soft tone.
Touched a wild note, and all between
Thought of the bower of hawthorns green.
Her golden hair streamed free from band,
Her fair cheek rested on her hand,
Her blue eyes sought the west afar,
For lovers love the western star.

XXV.

Is yon the star, o'er Penchryst Pen,

That rises slowly to her ken,

And, spreading broad its wavering light,

Shakes its loose tresses on the night ?

Is yon red glare the western star ? —

O, 't is the beacon-blaze of war !

Scarce could she draw her tightened breath,

For well she knew the fire of death !

XXVI.

The warder viewed it blazing strong,
And blew his war-note loud and long,
Till, at the high and haughty sound,
Rock, wood, and river rung around.
The blast alarmed the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all ;
Far downward in the castle-yard
Full many a torch and cresset glared ;
And helms and plumes, confusedly tossed;
\yere in the blaze half seen, half lost ;



«



And spears in wild disorder shook,
Like reeds beside a frozen brook.

XXVII.

The seneschal, whose silver hair •

Was reddened by the torches' glare

Stood in the midst, with gesture proud,

And issued forth his mandates loud :

' On Penchryst glows a bale of fire,

And three are kindling on Priesthaughswire;

Ride out, ride out,

The foe to scout !
Mount, mount for Branksome, every man !
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan,

That ever are true and stout.
Ye need not send to Liddesdale,
For when they see the blazing bale
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail. —
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life,
And warn the warden of the strife ! —
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze.
Our kin and clan and friends to raise ! '

XXVIII.

Fair Margaret from the turret head
Heard far below the coursers' tread,

While loud the harness rung,
As to their seats with clamor dread

The ready horsemen sprung :
And trampling hoofs, and iron coats,
And leaders' voices, mingled notes,
And out ! and out !
In hasty rout,

The horsemen galloped forth ;
Dispersing to the south to scout,

And east, and west, and north,
To view their coming enemies.
And warn their vassals and allies.

XXIX.

The ready page with hurried hand
Awaked the need-fire's slumbering brand,

And ruddy blushed the heaven ;
For a sheet of flame from the turret high
Waved like a blood-flag on the skv.

All flaring and uneven.
And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height and hill and cliff were seen.
Each with warlike tidings fraught ;
Each from each the signal caught ;
Each after each they glanced to sight,
As stars arise upon the night.
They gleamed on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn ;
On many a cairn's gray pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid ;
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw
From Soltra and Dumpender Law,
And Lothian heard the Regent's order
That all should bowne them for the Border.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



27




XXX.



The livelong night in Branksome rang
The ceaseless sound of steel ;

The castle-bell with backward clang
Sent forth the larum peal.



Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar
Were piled on echoing keep and tower,
To whelm the foe with deadly shower ;
Was frequent heard the changing guard,



28



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



And watchword from the sleepless ward ;
While, wearied by the endless din,
Bloodhound and ban-dog yelled within.

XXXI.

The noble dame, amid the broil,
Shared the gray seneschal's high toil,
And spoke of danger with a smile,
Cheered the young knights, and council sage
Held with the chiefs of riper age.
No tidings of the foe were brought,
Nor of his numbers knew they aught,
Nor what in time of truce he sought.

Some said that there were thousands ten ;
And others weened that it was nought

But Leven Clans or Tynedale men,
Who came to gather in black-mail ;
And Liddesdale, with small avail,

Might drive them lightly back agen.
So passed the anxious night away,
And welcome was the peep of day.



Ceased the high sound — the listening

throng
Applaud the Master of the Song;
And marvel much, in helpless age,
So hard should be his pilgrimage.
Had he no friend — no daughter dear,
His wandering toil to share and cheer?
No son to be his father's stay,
And guide him on the rugged way?
' Ay, once he had — but he was dead ! ' —
Upon the harp he stooped his head,
And busied himself the strings withal.
To hide the tear that fain would fall.
In solemn measure, soft and slow,
Arose a father's notes of woe.



2Tfje Hag of tfje Hast JSmstrEl.



CANTO FOURTH.



Sweet Teviot ! on thy silver tide

The glaring bale-fires blaze no more ;
No longer steel-clad warriors ride

Along thy wild and willowed shore ;
Where'er thou wind'st by dale or hill,
All, all is peaceful, all is still,

As if thy waves, since time was born,
Since first they rolled upon the Tweed,
Had only heard the shepherd's reed,

Nor startled at the bugle-horn.



Unlike the tide of human time,

Which, though it change in ceaseless flow,
Retains each grief, retains each crime,
. Its earliest course was doomed to know,
And, darker as it downward bears,
Is stained with past and present tears.

Low as that tide has ebbed with me,
It still reflects to memory's eye
The hour my brave, my only boy

Fell by the side of great Dundee.
Why, when the volleying musket played
Against the bloody Highland blade,
Why was not I beside him laid? —
Enough — he died the death of fame ;
Enough — he died with conquering Graeme.

in.
Now over Border dale and fell

Full wide and far was terror spread ;
For pathless marsh and mountain cell

The peasant left his lowly shed.
The frightened flocks and herds were pent
Beneath the peel's rude battlement ;
And maids and matrons dropped the tear,
While ready warriors seized the spear.
From Branksome's towers the watchman's

eye
Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy,
Which, curling in the rising sun,
Showed Southern ravage was begun.



Now loud the heedful gate-ward cried :
' Prepare ye all for blows and blood !
Watt Tinlinn, from the Liddel-side,
Comes wading through the flood.
Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock
At his lone gate and prove the lock ;
It was but last Saint Barnabright
They sieged him a whole summer night,
But fled at morning ; well they knew,
In vain he never twanged the yew.
Right sharp has been the evening shower
That drove him from his Liddel tower ;
And, by my faith,' the gate- ward said,
• I think 't will prove a Warden-Raid.'

v.

While thus he spoke, the bold yeoman
Entered the echoing barbican.
H^ed a small and shaggy nag,
That through a bog, from hag to hag,
Could bound like any Billhope stag.
It bore his wife and children twain ; •
A half-clothed serf was all their train :
His wife, stout, ruddy, and dark-browed,
Of silver brooch and bracelet proud,
Laughed to her friends among the crowd.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



29




He was of stature passing tall.
But sparely formed and lean withal :
A battered morion on his brow ;
A leathern jack, as fence enow,
On his broad shoulders loosely hung ;
A Border axe behind was slung ;

His spear, six Scottish ells in length,
Seemed newly dyed with gore ;

His shafts and bow, of wondrous strength,
His hardy partner bore.

VI.

Thus to the Ladye did Tinlinn show

The tidings of the English foe :

I Belted Will Howard is marching here,

And hot Lord Dacre, with many a spear,

And all the German hackbut-men

Who have long lain at Askerten.

They crossed the Liddel at curfew hour,

And burned my little lonely tower —

The fiend receive their souls therefor !

It had not been burnt this year and more.

Barnyard and dwelling, blazing bright,

Served to guide me on my flight,

But I was chased the livelong night.

Black John of Akeshaw and Fergus Graeme

Fast upon my traces came,

Until I turned at Priesthaugh Scrogg,

And shot their horses in the bog,

Slew Fergus with my lance outright —

I had him long at high despite ;

He drove my cows last Fastern's night.'



VII.

Now weary scouts from Liddesdale,
Fast hurrying in, confirmed the tale ;
As far as they could judge by ken,

Three hours would bring to Teviot's strand
Three thousand armed Englishmen.

Meanwhile, full many a warlike band,
From Teviot, Aill, and Ettrick shadej
Came in, their chief's defence to aid.
There was saddling and mounting in haste,

There was pricking o'er moor and lea ;
He that was last at the try sting-place

Was but lightly held of his gay ladye.

VIII.

From fair Saint Mary's silver wave,

From dreary Gamescleuch's dusky height,
His ready lances Thirkstane brave

Arrayed beneath a banner bright.
The tressured fleur-de-luce he claims
To wreathe his shield, since royal James,
Encamped by Fala's mossy wave,
The proud distinction grateful gave

For faith mid feudal jars ;
What time, save Thirlestane alone,
Of Scotland's stubborn barons none

Would march to southern wars ;
And hence, in fair remembrance worn,
Yon sheaf of spears his crest has borne ;
Hence his high motto shines revealed,
• Ready, aye ready,' for the field.



30



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



IX.

An aged knight, to danger steeled,
With many a moss-trooper, came on ;

And, azure in a golden field,

The stars and crescent graced his shield,
Without the bend of Murdieston.

Wide lay his lands round Oakwood Tower,

And wide round haunted Castle-Ower ;

High over Borthwick's mountain flood

His wood-embosomed mansion stood ;

In the dark glen, so deep below,

The herds of plundered England low,

His bold retainers' daily food,

And bought with danger, blows, and blood.

Marauding chief ! his sole delight



I
warlike



and fierce and



The vassals v

rude ;
High of heart and haughty of word,
Little they recked of a tame liege-lord.
The earl into fair Eskdale came,
Homage and seigniory to claim :
Of Gilbert the Galliard a heriot he sought,
Saying, ' Give thy best steed, as a vassal

ought.'
' Dear to me is my bonny white steed,
Oft has he helped me at pinch of need ;
Lord and earl though thou be, I trow,
I can rein Bucksfoot better than thou.'
Word on word gave fuel to fire,
Till so high blazed the Beattison's ire,







The moonlight raid, the morning fight ;
Not even the Flower of Yajrow's charms
In youth might tame his rage for arms ;
And still in age he spurned at rest,
And still his brows the helmet pressed,
Albeit the blanched locks below
Were white as Dinlay's spotless snow.
Five stately warriors drew the sword

Before their father's band ;
A braver knight than Harden's lord

Ne'er belted on a brand.



x.

Scotts of Eskdale, a stalwart band,

Came trooping down the Todshawhill ;

By the sword they won their land,
And by the sword they hold it still.

Hearken, Ladye, to the tale

How thy sires won fair Eskdale.

Earl Morton was lord of that valley fair,

The Beattisons were his vassals there. .

The earl was gentle and mild of mood,



But that the earl the flight had ta'en,

The vassals there their lord had slain.

Sore he plied both whip and spur,

As he urged his steed through Eskdale muir :

And it fell down a weary weight,

Just on the threshold of Branksome gate.



The earl was a wrathful man to see,
Full fain avenged would he be.
In haste to Branksome's lord he spoke,
Saying, ' Take these traitors to thy yoke :
For a cast of hawks, and a purse of gold,
All Eskdale I '11 sell thee, to have and hold :
Beshrew thy heart, of the Beattisons' clan
If thou leavest on Eske a landed man !
But spare Woodkerrick's lands alone,
For he lent me his horse to escape upon.'
A glad man then was Branksome bold,
Down he flung him the purse of gold ;
To Eskdale soon he spurred amain,
And with him five hundred riders has ta'en.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



31



He left his merrymen in the mist of the hill,

And bade them hold them close and still ;

And alone he wended to the plain,

To meet with the Galliard and all his train.

To Gilbert the Galliard thus he said :

• Know thou me for thy liege-lord and head ;

Deal not with me as with Morton tame,

For Scotts play best at the roughest game.

Give me in peace my heriot due,

Thy bonny white steed, or thou shalt rue.

If my horn I three times wind,

Eskdale shall long have the sound in mind.'



L



XII.



oudly the Beattison laughed in scorn ;
' Little care we for thy winded horn.
Ne'er shall it be the Galliard's lot
To yield his steed to a haughty Scott.
Wend thou to Branksome back on foot,
With rusty spur and miry boot.'
He blew his bugle so loud and hoarse
That the dun deer started at far Craikcross ;
He blew again so loud and clear.
Through the gray mountain-mist there did

lances appear ;
And the third blast rang with such a din
That the echoes answered from Pentoun-

linn,
And all his riders came lightly in.
Then had you seen a gallant shock,
When saddles were emptied and lances

broke !
For each scornful word the Galliard had said
A Beattison on the field was laid.
His own good sword the chieftain drew,
And he bore the Galliard through and

through ;
Where the Beattisons' blood mixed with

the rill,
The Galliard's Haugh men

call it still.
The Scotts have scattered

the Beattison clan,
In Eskdale they left but

one landed man.
Th e valley of Eske, from the

mouth to the source,
Was lost and won for that

bonny white horse.

XIII.

Whitslade the Hawk, and

Headshaw came,
And warriors more than I

may name ;
From Yarrow-cleugh to

Hindhaugh-swair,
From Woodhouselie to

Chester-glen,



Trooped man and horse, and bow and spear ;

Their gathering word was Bellenden.
And better hearts o'er Border sod
To siege or rescue never rode.
The Ladye marked the aids come in,

And high her heart of pride arose ;
She bade her youthful son attend,
That he might know his father's friend,

And learn to face his foes :
' The boy is ripe to look on war ;

I. saw him draw a cross-bow stiff,
And his true arrow struck afar

The raven's nest upon the cliff;
The red cross on a Southern breast
Is broader than the raven's nest :
Thou, Whitslade, shall teach him his

weapon to wield,
And o'er him hold his father's shield.'

XIV.

Well may you think the wily page

Cared not to face the Ladye sage.

He counterfeited childish fear,

And shrieked, and shed full many a tear.

And moaned, and plained in manner wild.

The attendants to the Ladye told,
Some fairy, sure, had changed the child,

That wont to be so free and bold.
Then wrathful was the noble dame ;
She blushed blood-red for very shame :
' Hence ! ere the clan his faintness view ;
Hence with the weakling to Buccleuch ! —
Watt Tinlinn, thou shalt be his guide
To Rangleburn's lonely side. —
Sure, some fell fiend has cursed our line,
That coward should e'er be son of mine ! '

xv.
A heavy task Watt Tinlinn had,
To guide the counterfeited lad.




32



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.







Soon as the palfrey felt the weight
Of that ill-omened elfish freight,
He bolted, sprung, and reared amain,
Nor heeded bit nor curb nor rein.
It cost Watt Tinlinn mickle toil
To drive him but a Scottish mile ;

But as a shallow brook they crossed,
The elf, amid the running stream,
His figure changed, like form in dream,

And fled, and shouted, ' Lost ! lost ! lost ! '
/Full fast the urchin ran and laughed,
But faster still a cloth-yard shaft
Whistled from startled Tinlinn's yew.
And pierced his shoulder through and

through.
Although the imp might not be slain,
And though the wound soon healed again,
Yet, as he ran, he yelled for pain ;
And Watt of Tinlinn, much aghast.
Rode back to Branksome fiery fast.

XVI.

Soon on the hill's steep verge he stood,
That looks o'er Branksome's towers and

wood ;
And martial murmurs from below
Proclaimed the approaching Southern foe.
Through the dark wood, in mingled tone,
Were Border pipes and bugles blown ;
The coursers' neighing he could ken,



A measured tread of marching men :
While broke at times the solemn hum.
The Almayn's sullen kettle-drum :
And banners tall, of crimson sheen,

Above the copse appear ;
And, glistening through the hawthorns
green,

Shine helm and shield and spear.



Light forayers first, to view the ground,
Spurred their fleet coursers loosely round ;
Behind, in close array, and fast,

The Kendal archers, all in green,
Obedient to the bugle blast,

Advancing from the wood were seen.
To back and guard the archer band,
Lord Dacre's billmen were at hand :
A hardy race, on Irthing bred,
With kirtles white and crosses red,
Arrayed beneath the banner tall
That streamed o'er Acre's conquered wall :
And minstrels, as they marched in order,
Played, ' Noble Lord Dacre, he dwells on
the Border.'

XVIII.

Behind the English bill and bow
The mercenaries, firm and slow,
Moved on to fight in dark array,



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



33



By Conrad led of Wolfenstein,

Who brought the band from distant Rhine,

And sold their blood for foreign pay.
The camp their home, their law the sword,
They knew no country, owned no lord :
They were not armed like England's sons,
But bore the levin-darting guns ;
Buff coats, all frounced and broidered o'er,
And morsing-horns and scarfs they wore ;
Each better knee was bared, to aid
The warriors in the escalade;
All as they marched, in rugged

tongue
Songs of Teutonic feuds they

sung.

XIX.

But louder still the clamor grew,

And loucler still the minstrels
blew,

When, from beneath the green-
wood tree,

Rode forth Lord Howard's chiv-
alry ;

His men-at-arms, with glaive
and spear, f

Brought up the battle's glitter-
ing rear.

There many a youthful knight,
full keen

To gain his spurs, in arms was
seen,

With favor in his crest or glove,

Memorial of his ladye-love.

So rode they forth in fair array,

Till full their lengthened lines
display ;

Then called a halt, and made a stand,

And cried, ' Saint George for merry Eng-
land ! '

xx.

Now every English eye intent

On Branksome's armed towers was bent ;

So near they were that they might know

The straining harsh of each cross-bow ;

On battlement and bartizan

Gleamed axe and spear and partisan ;

Falcon and culver on each tower

Stood prompt their deadly hail J;o shower ;

And flashing armor frequent broke

From eddying whirls of sable smoke,

Where upon tower and turret head

The seething pitch and molten lead

Reeked like a witch's caldron red.

While yet they gaze, the bridges fall,

The wicket opes, and from the wall

Rides forth the hoary seneschal.

XXI.

Armed he rode, all save the head,

His white beard o'er his breastplate spread ;



Unbroke by age, erect his seat,
He ruled his eager courser's gait,
Forced him with chastened fire to prance,
And, high curvetting, slow advance :
In sign of truce, his better hand
Displayed a peeled willow wand ;
His squire, attending in the rear,
Bore high a gauntlet on a spear.
When they espied him riding out,
Lord Howard and Lord Dacre stout




Sped to the front of their array,

To hear what this old knight should say,

XXII.

' Ye English warden lords, of you
Demands the Ladye of Buccleuch,
Why, 'gainst the truce of Border tide,
In hostile guise ye dare to ride,
With Kendal bow and Gilsland brand,
And all yon mercenary band,
Upon the bounds of fair Scotland ?
My Ladye reads you swith return;
And, if out one poor straw you burn,
Or do our towers so much molest
As scare one swallow from her nest,
Saint Mary ! but we '11 light a brand
Shall warm your hearths in Cumberland.'

XXIII.

A wrathful man was Dacre's lord,
But calmer Howard took the word:
' May 't please thy dame, Sir Seneschal,
To seek the castle's outward wall,
Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show
Both why we came and when we go.'



34



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



The message sped, the noble dame
To the wall's outward circle came ;
Each chief around leaned on his spear,
To see the pursuivant appear.
All in Lord Howard's livery dressed,
The lion argent decked his breast ;
He led a boy of blooming hue —
O sight to meet a mother's view !
It was the heir of great Buccleuch.
Obeisance meet the herald made,
And thus his master's will he said:

XXIV.

c It irks, high dame, my noble lords,
'Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords ;
But yet they may not tamely see,
All through the Western Wardenry,
Your law-contemning kinsmen ride,
And burn and spoil the Border-side ;
And ill beseems your rank and birth
To make your towers a flemens-firth.
We claim from thee William of Deloraine,
That he may suffer march-treason pain.
It was but last Saint Cuthbert's even
He pricked to Stapleton on Leven,
Harried the lands of Richard Musgrave,
And slew his brother by dint of glaive.
Then, since a lone and widowed dame
These restless riders may not tame,
Either receive within thy towers
Two hundred of my master's powers,



Or straight they sound their warrison,
And storm and spoil thy garrison ;
And this fair boy, to London led,
Shall good King Edward's page be bred.'

XXV.

He ceased — and loud the boy did cry,
And stretched his little arms on high,
Implored for aid each well-known face,
And strove to seek the dame's embrace.
A moment changed that Ladye's cheer,
Gushed to her eye the unbidden tear ;
She gazed upon the leaders round,
And dark and sad each warrior frowned ;
Then deep within her sobbing breast
She locked the struggling sigh to rest,
Unaltered and collected stood,
And thus replied in dauntless mood :

xxvi.
' Say to your lords of high emprise
Who war on women and on boys,
That either William of Deloraine
Will cleanse him by oath of march-treason

stain,
Or else he will the combat take •

'Gainst Musgrave for his honor's sake.
No knight in Cumberland so good
But William may count with him kin and

blood.
Knighthood he took of Douglas' sword,




Z0Zz^^.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



35



When English blood swelled



Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 4 of 78)