Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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How should she part with Isabel? —
How wear that strange attire agen? —
How risk herself midst martial men ? —
And how be guarded on the way ? —
At least she might entreat delay.'



Kind Isabel with secret smile
Saw and forgave the maiden's wile,
Reluctant to be thought to move
At the first call of truant love.


O, blame her not ! — when zephyrs wake
The aspen's trembling leaves must shake ;
When beams the sun through April's shower
It needs must bloom, the violet flower ;
And Love, howe'er the maiden strive,
Must with reviving hope revive !
A thousand soft excuses came
To plead his cause 'gainst virgin shame.
Pledged by their sires in earliest youth,
He had her plighted faith and truth —
Then, 't was her liege's strict command,
And she beneath his royal hand
A ward in person and in land : —
And, last, she was resolved to stay
Only brief space — one little day —
Close hidden in her safe disguise
From all, but most from Ronald's eyes —
But once to see him more ! — nor blame
Her wish — to hear him name her name ! —
Then to bear back to solitude
The thought he had his falsehood rued !
But Isabel, who long had seen
Her pallid cheek and pensive mien,
And well herself the cause might know,
Though innocent, of Edith's woe,
Joyed, generous, that revolving time
Gave means to expiate the crime.
High glowed her bosom as she said,
1 Well shall her sufferings be repaid ! '
Now came the parting hour — a band
From Arran's mountains left the land;
Their chief, Fitz-Louis, had the care
The speechless Amadine to bear
To Bruce with honor, as behoved
To page the monarch dearly loved.

The king had deemed the maiden bright
Should reach him long before the fight,
Bui storms and fate her course delay :
It was on eve of battle-day
When o'er the Gillie's-hill she rode.
The landscape like a furnace glowed,
And tar as e CI the eye was borne
'I'ht lances waved like autumn-corn.
In battle! lour beneath their eye
Tin- forces of King Robert lie.

And one below the hill was laid.
Reserved for rescue and lor aid ;

And three advanced formed vaward-line,
"I'wi.xt Banna k's brook and Ninian's shrine.
Detached was each, yet each so nigh

As well might mutual aid supply.

Beyond, the Southern host appears,
A boundless wilderness of spears,
Whose verge or rear the anxious eye
Strove far, but strove in vain, to spy.
Thick flashing in the evening beam,
Glaives, lances, bills, and banners gleam ;
And where the heaven joined with the hill,
Was distant armor flashing still,
So wide, so far, the boundless host
Seemed in the blue, horizon lost.


Down from the hill the maiden passed,
At the wild show of war aghast ;
And traversed first the rearward host,
Reserved for aid 'where needed most.
The men of Carrick and of Ayr,
Lennox and Lanark too, were there,

And all the western land;
With these the valiant of the Isles
Beneath their chieftains ranked their files

In many a plaided band.
There in the centre proudly raised,
The Bruce's royal standard blazed,
And there Lord Ronald's banner bore
A galley driven by sail and oar.
A wild yet pleasing contrast made
Warriors in mail and plate arrayed
With -the plumed bonnet and the plaid

By these Hebrideans worn ;
But O, unseen for three long years,
Dear was the garb of mountaineers

To the fair Maid of Lorn !
For one she looked — but he was far
Busied amid the ranks of war —
Yet with affection's troubled eye
She marked his banner boldly fly,
Gave on the countless foe a glance,
And thought on battle's desperate chance.

To centre of the vaward-line
Fitz-Louis guided Amadine.
Armed all on foot, that host appears
A serried mass of glimmering spears.
There stood the Marchers' warlike band,
The warriors there of Lodon's land ;
Ettrick and Liddell bent the yew,
A band of archers fierce though few ;
The men of Nith and Annan's vale,
And the bold Spears of Teviotdale ; —
The dauntless Douglas these obey,
And the young Stuart's gentle sway.
Northeastward by Saint Ninian's shrine,
Beneath fierce Randolph's charge, combine
The warriors whom the hardy. North
From Tay to Sutherland sent forth.
The rest of Scotland's war-array
With Edward Bruce to westward lay,



Where Bannock with his broken bank
And deep ravine protects their flank.
Behind them, screened by sheltering wood,
The gallant Keith, Lord Marshal, stood :
His men-at-arms bare mace and lance,
And plumes that wave and helms that glance.
Thus fair divided by the king,
Centre and right and leftward wing
Composed his front ; nor distant far
Was strong reserve to aid the war.
And 't was to front of this array
Her guide and Edith made their way.


Here must they pause ; for, in advance

As far as one might pitch a lance,

The monarch rode along the van,

The foe's approaching force to scan,

His line to marshal and to range,

And ranks to square, and fronts to change.

Alone he rode — from head to heel

Sheathed in his ready arms of steel ;

Nor mounted yet on war-horse wight,

But, till more near the shock of fight,

Reining a palfrey low and light.

A diadem of gold was set

Above his bright steel basinet,

And clasped within its glittering twine

Was seen the glove of Argentine ;

Truncheon or leading staff he lacks,

Bearing instead a battle-axe.

He ranged his soldiers for the fight

Accoutred thus, in open sight

Of either host. — Three bowshots far,

Paused the deep front of England's war,

And rested on their arms awhile,

To close and rank their warlike file,

And hold high council if that night

Should view the strife or dawning light.


O, gay yet fearful to behold,

Flashing with steel and rough with gold,

And bristled o'er with bills and spears,
With plumes and pennons waving fair,
Was that bright battle-front ! for there

Rode England's king and peers :
And who, that saw that monarch ride,
His kingdom battled by his side,
Could then his direful doom foretell ! —
Fair was his seat in knightly selle,
And in his sprightly eye was set
Some spark of the Plantagenet.
Though light and wandering was his glance,
It flashed at sight of shield and lance.
' Know'st thou,' he said, ' De Argentine,
Yon knight who marshals thus their line ? ' —
' The tokens on his helmet tell
The Bruce, my liege : I know him well.' —
' And shall the audacious traitor brave



The presence where our banners wave ? —
' So please my liege,' said Argentine,
4 Were he but horsed on steed like mine,
To give him fair and knightly chance,
I would adventure forth my lance.' —
« In battle-day,' the king replied,
4 Nice tourney rules are set aside. —
Still must the rebel dare our wrath ?
Set on him — Sweep him from our path ! '
And at King Edward's signal soon
Dashed from the ranks Sir Henry Boune.


Of Hereford's high blood he came,

A race renowned for knightly fame.

He burned before his monarch's eye

To do some deed of chivalry.

He spurred his steed, he couched his lance,

And darted on the Bruce at once.

As motionless as rocks that bide

The wrath of the advancing tide,

The Bruce stood fast. — Each breast beat

And dazzled was each gazing eye —
The heart had hardly time to think,
The eyelid scarce had time to wink,
While on the king, like flash of flame,
Spurred to full speed the war-horse came !
The partridge may the falcon mock,
If that slight palfrey stand the shock —
But, swerving from the knight's career,
Just as they met, Bruce shunned the spear.
Onward the baffled warrior bore
His course — but soon his course was

o'er! —
High in his stirrups stood the king,
And gave his battle-axe the swing.
Right on De Boune the whiles he passed
Fell that stern dint — the first — the last ! —
Such strength upon the blow was put
The helmet crashed like hazel-nut ;
The axe-shaft with its brazen clasp
Was shivered to the gauntlet grasp.
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse ;
First of that fatal field, how soon,
How sudden, fell the fierce De Boune !


One pitying glance the monarch sped

Where on the field his foe lay dead;

Then gently turned his palfrey's head,

And, pacing back his sober way,

Slowly he gained his own array.

There round their king the leaders crowd,

And blame his recklessness aloud

That risked gainst each adventurous spear

A life so valued and so dear.

His broken weapon's shaft surveyed

The king, and careless answer made,
4 My loss may pay my folly's tax ;
I 've broke my trusty battle-axe.'
'T was then Fitz- Louis bending low
Did Isabel's commission show;
Edith disguised at distance stands,
And hides her blushes with her hands.
The monarch's brow has changed its hue,
Away the gory axe he threw,
While to the seeming page he drew,

Clearing war's terrors from his eye.
Her hand with gentle ease he took
With such a kind protecting look

As to a weak and timid boy
Might speak that elder brother's care
And elder brother's love were there.

' Fear not,' he said, ' young Amadine ! '

Then whispered, ' Still that name be thine.

Fate plays her wonted fantasy,

Kind Amadine, with thee and me,

And sends thee here in doubtful hour.

But soon we are beyond her power ;

For on this chosen battle-plain,

Victor or vanquished, I remain.

Do thou to yonder hill repair;

The followers of our host are there,

And all who may not weapons bear. —

Fitz-Louis, have him in thy care. —

Joyful we meet, if all go well ;

If not, in Arran's holy cell

Thou must take part with Isabel ;

For brave Lord Ronald too hath sworn,

Not to regain the Maid of Lorn —

The bliss on earth he covets most —

Would he forsake his battle-post,

Or shun the fortune that may fall

To Bruce, to Scotland, and to all. —

But, hark ! some news these trumpets tell ;

Forgive my haste — farewell ! — farewell ! '

And in a lower voice he said,

'Be of good cheer — farewell, sweet maid!'


* What train of dust, with trumpet-sound
And glimmering spears, is wheeling round
Our leftward flank?' — the monarch cried
To Moray's Earl who rode beside.

4 Lo ! round thy station pass the foes !
Randolph, thy wreath hath lost a rose."
The Earl his visor closed, and said

* My wreath shall bloom, or life shall fade. —
Follow, my household ! ' and they go
Like lightning on the advancing foe.

1 My liege,' said noble Douglas then,
1 Earl Randolph has but one to ten :
Let me go forth his band to aid ! ' —
4 Stir not. The error he hath made,



Let him amend it as he may ;
I will not weaken mine array.'
Then loudly rose the conflict-cry,
And Douglas's brave heart swelled high,
' My liege,' he said, ' with patient ear
I must not Moray's death-knell hear ! ' —
' Then go — but speed thee back again.'
Forth sprung the Douglas with his train
But when they won a rising hill
He bade his followers hold them still. —
' See, see ! the routed Southern fly !
The Earl hath won the victory.

Ah ! gentle planet ! other sight
Shall greet thee, next returning night,
Of broken arms and banners tore,
And marshes dark with human gore,
And piles of slaughtered men and horse,
And Forth that floats the frequent corse,
And many a wounded wretch to plain
Beneath thy silver light in vain !
But now from England's host the cry
Thou hear s't of wassail revelry,
While from the Scottish legions pass
The murmured prayer, the early mass ! —

Lo ! where yon steeds run masterless,
His banner towers above the press.
Rein up ; our presence would impair
The fame we come too late to share.'
Back to the host the Douglas rode,
And soon glad tidings are abroad
That, Dayncourt by stout Randolph slain,
His followers fled with loosened rein. —
That skirmish closed the busy day,
And couched in battle's prompt array,
Each army on their weapons lay.


It-was a night of lovely June,

High rode in cloudless blue the moon,

Demayet smiled beneath her ray ;
Old Stirling's towers arose in light,
And, twined in links of silver bright,

Her winding river lay.

Here, numbers had presumption given;
There, bands o'er-matched sought aid from


On Gillie's-hill, whose height commands
The battle-field, fair Edith stands
With serf and page unfit for war,
To eye the conflict from afar.
O, with what doubtful agony
She sees the dawning tint the sky ! —
Now on the Ochils gleams the sun,
And glistens now Demayet dun;
Is it the lark that carols shrill,
Is it the bittern's early hum ?
No ! — distant, but increasing still,
The trumpet's sound swells up the hill,
With the deep murmur of the drum.
Responsive from the Scottish host,



Pipe-clang and bugle-sound were tossed,
His breast and brow each soldier crossed

And started from the ground ;
Armed and arrayed for instant fight,
Rose archer, spearman, squire and knight,
And in the pomp of battle bright

The dread battalia frowned.


Now onward and in open view

The countless ranks of England drew,

Dark rolling like the ocean-tide

When the rough west hath chafed his pride,

And his deep roar sends challenge wide

To all that bars his way !
In front the gallant archers trode,
The men-at-arms behind them rode,
And midmost of the phalanx broad

The monarch held his sway.
Beside him many a war-horse fumes,
Around him waves a sea of plumes,
Where many a knight in battle known,
And some who spurs had first braced on
And deemed that fight should see them won,
' King Edward's hests obey.
De Argentine attends his side,
With stout De Valence, Pembroke's pride,
Selected champions from the train
To wait upon his bridle-rein.
Upon the Scottish foe he gazed —
At once before his sight amazed

Sunk banner, spear, and shield :
Each weapon-point is downward sent,
Each warrior to the ground is bent.
'The rebels, Argentine, repent!

For pardon they have kneeled.' —
4 Ay ! — but they bend to other powers,
And other pardon sue than ours !
See where yon barefoot abbot stands
And blesses them with lifted hands !
Upon the spot where they have kneeled
These men will die or win the field.' — •
1 Then prove we if they die or win !
Bid Gloster's Earl the fight begin.'


Earl Gilbert waved his truncheon high

Just as the Northern ranks arose,
Signal for England's archery

To halt and bend their bows.
Then stepped each yeoman forth a pace,
< i lanced at the intervening space,

And raised his left hand high ;

To the right ear the cords they bring

At once ten thousand bow-strings ring,

Ten thousand arrows fly !
Nor paused on the devoted Scot
The ceaseless fury of their shot;

As fiercely and as fast

Forth whistling came the gray-goose wing
As the wild hailstones pelt and ring

Adown December's blast.
Nor mountain targe of tough bull-hide,
Nor lowland mail, that storm may bide ;
Woe, woe to Scotland's bannered pride,

If the fell shower may last !
Upon the right behind the wood,
Each by his steed dismounted stood

The Scottish chivalry ; —
With foot in stirrup, hand on mane,
Fierce Edward Bruce can scarce restrain
His Own keen heart, his eager train,
Until the archers gained the plain;

Then, ' Mount, ye gallants free ! '
He cried; and vaulting from the ground
His saddle every horseman found.
On high their glittering crests they toss,
As springs the wild-fire from the moss ;
The shield hangs down on every breast,
Each ready lance is in the rest,

And loud shouts Edward Bruce,
1 Forth, Marshal ! on the peasant foe !
We '11 tame the terrors of their bow,

And cut the bow-string loose ! '


Then spurs were dashed in chargers' flanks,
They rushed among the archer ranks.
No spears were there the shock to let,
No stakes to turn the charge were set,
And how shall yeoman's armor slight
Stand the longJance and mace of might ?
Or what may their short swords avail
'Gainst barbed horse and shirt of mail?
Amid their ranks the chargers sprung,
High o'er their heads the weapons swung,
And shriek and groan and vengeful shout
Give note of triumph and of rout !
Awhile with stubborn hardihood .
Their English hearts the strife made good.
Borne down at length on every side,
Compelled to flight they scatter wide. —
Let stags of Sherwood leap for glee,
And bound the deer of Dallom-Lee !
The broken vows of Bannock's shore
Shall in the greenwood ring no more !
Round Wakefield's merry May-pole now
The maids may twine the summer bough,
May northward look with longing glance
For those that wont to lead the dance,
For the blithe archers look in vain !
Broken, dispersed, in flight o'erta'en,
Pierced through, trode down, by thousands

They cumber Bannock's bloody plain.


The king with scorn beheld their flight.
Are these,' he said, ' our yeomen wight ?



1 Each braggart churl could boast before
Twelve Scottish lives his baldric bore !
Fitter to plunder chase or park
Than make a manly foe their mark. —
Forward, each gentleman and knight !
Let gentle blood show generous might
And chivalry redeem the fight ! '
To rightward of the wild affray,
The field showed fair and level way ;

But in mid-space the Bruce's care
Had bored the ground with many a pit,
With turf and brushwood hidden yet,

That formed a ghastly snare.
Rushing, ten thousand horsemen came,
With spears in rest and hearts on flame

That panted for the shock !
With blazing crests and banners spread,
And trumpet-clang and clamor dread,
The wide plain thundered to their tread

As far as Stirling rock.
Down ! down ! in headlong overthrow,
Horseman and horse, the foremost go,

Wild floundering on the field !
The first are in destruction's gorge,
Their followers wildly o'er them urge ; — >

The knightly helm and shield,
The mail, the acton, and the spear,
Strong hand, high heart, are useless here !
Loud from the mass confused the cry
Of dying warriors swells on high.
And steeds that shriek in agony !
They came like mountain-torrent red
That thunders o'er its rocky bed ;
They broke like that same torrent's wave
When swallowed by a darksome cave.
Billows on billows burst and boil,
Maintaining still the stern turmoil,
And to. their wild and tortured groan
Each adds new terrors of his own !

Too strong in courage and in might
Was England yet to yield the fight.

Her noblest all are here ;
Names that to fear were never known,
Bold Norfolk's Earl De Brotherton,

And Oxford's famed De Vere.
There Gloster plied the bloody sword,
And Berkley, Grey, and Hereford,

Bottetourt and Sanzavere,
Ross, Montague, and Mauley came,
And Courtenay's pride, and Percy's fame —
Names known too well in Scotland's war
At Falkirk, Methven, and Dunbar,
Blazed broader yet in after years
At Cressy red and fell Poitiers.
Pembroke with these and Argentine
Brought up the rearward battle-line.
With caution o'er the ground they tread,
Slippery with blood and piled with dead,

Till hand to hand in battle set,
The bills with spears and axes met.
And, closing dark on every side,
Raged the full contest far and wide.
Then was the strength of Douglas tried,
Then proved was Randolph's generous pride,
And well did Stewart's actions grace
The sire of Scotland's royal race !

Firmly they kept their ground;
As firmly England onward pressed.
And down went many a noble crest,
And rent was many a valiant breast,

And Slaughter revelled round.


Unflinching foot 'gainst foot was set,
Unceasing blow by blow was met ;

The groans of those who fell
Were drowned amid the shriller clang
That from the blades and harness rang,

And in the battle-yell.
Yet fast they fell, unheard, forgot,
Both Southern fierce and hardy Scot ;
And O, amid that waste of life
What various motives fired the strife !
The aspiring noble bled for fame,
The patriot for his country's claim ;
This knight his youthful strength to prove,
And that to win his lady's love ;
Some fought from ruflian thirst of blood,
From habit some or hardihood.
But ruffian stern and soldier good,

The noble and the slave,
From various cause the same wild road,
On the same bloody morning, trode

To that dark inn, the grave !

xxvi 1.
The tug of strife to flag begins,
Though neither loses yet nor wins.
High rides the sun, thick rolls the dust,
And feebler speeds the blow and thrust.
Douglas leans on his war-sword now,
And Randolph wipes his bloody brow ;
Nor less had toiled each Southern knight
From morn till mid-day in the fight.
Strong Egremont for air must gasp,
Beauchamp undoes his visor-clasp,
And Montague must quit his spear,
And sinks thy falchion, bold De Vere !
The blows of Berkley fall less fast,
And gallant Pembroke's bugle-blast

Hath lost its lively tone ;
Sinks, Argentine, thy battle-word,
And Percy's shout was fainter heard, —

1 My merry-men, fight on ! '


Bruce, with the pilot's wary eye,

The slackening of the storm could spy.




k One effort more and Scotland 's free !
Lord of the Isles, my trust in thee

Is firm as Ailsa Rock ;
Rush on with Highland sword and targe,
I with my Carrick spearmen charge ;

Now forward to the shock ! '
At once the spears were forward thrown,
Against the sun the broadswords shone ;
The pibroch lent its maddening tone,
And loud King Robert's voice was

known —
' Carrick, press on — they fail, they fail !
Press on, brave sons of Innisgail,

The foe is fainting fast !
Each strike for parent, child, and wife,
For Scotland, liberty, and life, —

The battle cannot last ! ■


The fresh and desperate onset bore
The foes three furlongs back and more,
Leaving their noblest in their gore.

Alone, De Argentine
Yet bears on high his red-cross shield,
Gathers the relics of the field,
Renews the ranks where they have reeled,

And still makes good the line.
Brief strife but fierce his efforts raise,
A bright but momentary blaze.
Fair Edith heard the Southern shout,
Beheld them turning from the rout,
Heard the wild call their trumpets sent
In notes 'twixt triumph and lament.
That rallying force, combined anew,
Appeared in her distracted view

To hem the Islesmen round;
4 O God ! the combat they renew,

And is no rescue found !
And ye that look thus tamely on,
And see your native land o'erthrown,
O, are your hearts of flesh or stone ? '


The multitude that watched afar,
Rejected from the ranks of war,
I lad not unmoved beheld the fight
When strove the Bruce for Scotland's

Each heart had caught the patriot spark,
Old man and stripling, priest and clerk,
Bondsman and serf; even female hand
Stretched to the hatchet or the brand ;
But when mute Amadine they heard
Give to their zeal his signal-word

A frenzy fired the throng ; —
• Portents and miracles impeach
Our sloth — the dumb our duties teach —
And he that gives the mute his speech
Can bid the weak be strong.

A native earth, a promised heaven ;

To us as to our lords belongs

The vengeance for our nation's wrongs ;

The choice 'twixt death or freedom warms

Our breasts as theirs — To arms ! to arms ! *

To arms they flew, — axe, club, or spear, —

And mimic ensigns high they rear,

And, like a bannered host afar,

Bear down on England's wearied war.

Already scattered o'er the plain,
Reproof, command, and counsel vain,
The rearward squadrons fled amain

Or made but doubtful stay ; —
But when they marked the seeming show
Of fresh and fierce and marshalled foe,

The boldest broke array.
O, give their hapless prince his due !
In vain the royal Edward threw

His person mid the spears,
Cried, ' Fight ! ' to terror and despair,
Menaced and wept and tore his hair,

And cursed their caitiff fears ;
Till Pembroke turned his bridle rein
And forced him from the fatal plain.
With them rode Argentine until
They gained the summit of the hill,

But quitted there the train : —
' In yonder field a gage I left,
I must not live of fame bereft ;

I needs must turn again.
Speed hence, my liege, for on your trace
The fiery Douglas takes the chase,

I know his banner well.
God send my sovereign joy and bliss,
And many a happier field than this ! —

Once more, my liege, farewell ! '


Again he faced the battle-field, —
Wildly they fly, are slain, or yield.
1 Now then,' he said, and couched his spear.
'My course is run, the goal is near;
One effort more, one brave career,

Must close this race of mine.'
Then in his stirrups rising high,

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 43 of 78)