Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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The scarlet berry's mimic braid,

And while the beads she strung,
Like the blithe lark whose carol gay
Gives a good-morrow to the day,

So lightsomely she sung.



1 Lord William was born in gilded bower,
The heir of Wilton's lofty tower ;
Yet better loves Lord William now
To roam beneath wild Rookhope's brow ;
And William has lived where ladies fair
With gawds and jewels deck their hair,
Yet better loves the dewdrops still
That pearl the locks of Metelill.

' The pious palmer loves. I wis,
Saint Cuthbert's hallowed beads to kiss ;
But I, though simple girl I be,
Might have such homage paid to me ;
For did Lord William see me suit
This necklace of the bramble's fruit,
He fain — but must not have his will —
Would kiss the beads of Metelill.

* My nurse has told me many a tale,
How vows of love are weak and frail ;
My mother says that courtly youth
By rustic maid means seldom sooth.
What should they mean ? it cannot be
That such a warning 's meant for me,
For naught — O, naught of fraud or ill
Can William mean to Metelill ! '


Sudden she stops — and starts to feel
A weighty hand, a glove of steel,



Upon her shrinking shoulders laid ;
Fearful she turned, and saw dismayed
A knight in plate and mail arrayed,
His crest and bearing worn and frayed,

His surcoat soiled and riven,
Formed like that giant race of yore
Whose long-continued crimes outwore

The sufferance of Heaven.
Stern accents made his pleasure known,
Though then he used his gentlest tone :
' Maiden,' he said, ' sing forth thy glee.
Start not — sing on — it pleases me.'


Secured within his powerful hold,
To bend her knee, her hands to fold,

Was all the maiden might ;
And ' O, forgive,' she faintly said,
1 The terrors of a simple maid,

If thou art mortal wight !
But if — of such strange tales are told —
Unearthly warrior of the wold,
Thou comest to chide mine accents bold,
My mother, Jutta, knows the spell
At noon and midnight pleasing well

The disembodied ear;
O, let her powerful charms atone
For aught my rashness may have done,

And cease thy grasp of fear.'
Then laughed the knight — his laughter's

Half in the hollow helmet drowned ;
His barred visor then he raised,
And steady on the maiden gazed.
He smoothed his brows, as best he might,
To the dread calm of autumn night,

When sinks the tempest roar,
Yet still the cautious fishers eye
The clouds and fear the gloomy sky,

And haul their barks on shore.


' Damsel,' he said, ' be wise, and learn
Matters of weight and deep concern :

From distant realms I come,
And wanderer long at length have planned
In this my native Northern land

To seek myself a home.
Nor that alone — a mate I seek ;
She must be gentle, soft, and meek, —

No lordly dame for me ;
Myself am something rough of mood
And feel the fire of royal blood,
And therefore do not hold it good

To match in my degree.
Then, since coy maidens say my face
Is harsh, my form devoid of grace,
For a fair lineage to provide
'T is meet that my selected bride

In lineaments be fair;
I love thine well — till now I ne'er
Looked patient on a face of fear,
But now that tremulous sob and tear

Become thy beauty rare.
One kiss — nay, damsel, coy it not ! -
And now go seek thy parents' cot,
And say a bridegroom soon I come
To woo my love and bear her home.'


Home sprung the maid without a pause,
As leveret 'scaped from greyhound's jaws ;
But still she locked, howe'er distressed, ,
The secret in her boding breast ;
Dreading her sire, who oft forbade
Her steps should stray to distant glade.
Night came — to her accustomed nook
Her distaff aged Jutta took,
And by the lamp's imperfect glow
Rough Wulfstane trimmed his shafts and

Sudden and clamorous from the ground
Upstarted slumbering brach and hound ;
Loud knocking next the lodge alarms
And Wulfstane snatches at his arms,
When open flew the yielding door
And that grim warrior pressed the floor.


• All peace be here — What ! none replies ?
Dismiss your fears and your surprise.
'T is I — that maid hath told my tale, —
Or, trembler, did thy courage fail ?
It recks not — it is I demand
Fair Metelill in marriage band ;
Harold the Dauntless I, whose name
Is brave men's boast and caitiff's shame.'
The parents sought each other's eyes
With awe, resentment, and surprise :
Wulfstane, to quarrel prompt, began
The stranger's size and thews to scan ;
But as he scanned his courage sunk,
And from unequal strife he shrunk,
Then forth to blight and blemish flies
The harmful curse from Jutta's eyes ;
Yet, fatal howsoe'er, the spell
On Harold innocently fell !
And disappointment and amaze
Were in the witch's wildered gaze.


But soon the wit of woman woke,
And to the warrior mild she spoke :
' Her child was all too young.' — • A toy,
The refuge of a maiden coy.'
Again, ' A powerful baron's heir
Claims in her heart an interest fair.'



- A trifle — whisper in his ear

That Harold is a suitor here ! ' —

Baffled at length she sought delay :

■ Would not the knight till morning stay ?

Late was the hour — he there might rest

Till morn, their lodge's honored guest'

Such were her words — her craft might

Her honored guest should sleep his last :
• No, not to-night — but soon,' he swore,
' He would return, nor leave them more.'
The threshold then his huge stride crost,
And soon he was in darkness lost.


Appalled awhile the parents stood,

Then changed their fear to angry mood,

And foremost fell their words of ill

On unresisting Metelill :

Was she not cautioned and forbid,

Forewarned, implored, accused, and chid,

And must she still to greenwood roam

To marshal such misfortune home ?

1 Hence, minion — to thy chamber hence —

There prudence learn and penitence.'

She went — her lonely couch to steep

In tears which absent lovers weep;

Or if she gained a troubled sleep,

Fierce Harold's suit was still the theme

And terror of her feverish dream.


Scarce was she gone, her dame and sire

Upon each other bent their ire ;

4 A woodsman thou and hast a spear,

And couldst thou such an insult bear?'

Sullen he said, 'A man contends

With men, a witch with sprites and fiends;

Not to mere mortal wight belong

Yon gloomy brow and frame so strong.

But thou —is this thy promise fair,

That your Lord William, wealthy heir

To Ulrick, Baron of Witton-le-Wear,

Should Metelill to altar bear?

Do all the spells thou boast'st as thine

- hut to slay some peasant's kine,
His grain in autumn's storms to steep,
( )r thorough tog and fen to sweep
And hag-ride some poor rustic's sleep ?

Li h inc. in mischief worth the fame
and witch's name?

it-, which with all men's wish conspires,
With thy deserts and my desires,
To damn thy corpse to penal fires ?
Out on thee', witch I aroint! aroint!
What now shall put thy schemes in joint?
What save this trusty arrow's point,
From the dark dingle when it flies
And he who meets it gasps and dies? '


Stern she replied, ' I will not wage

War with thy folly or thy rage ;

But ere the morrow's sun be low,

Wulfstane of Rookhope, thou shalt know

If I can venge me on a foe.

Believe the while that whatsoe'er

I spoke in ire of bow and spear,

It is not Harold's destiny

The death of pilfered deer to die.

But he, and thou, and yon pale moon —

That shall be yet more pallid soon,

Before she sink behind the dell —

Thou, she, and Harold too, shall tell

What Jutta knows of charm or spell.'

Thus muttering, to the door she bent

Her wayward steps and forth she went,

And left alone the moody sire

To cherish or to slake his ire.


Far faster than belonged to age
Has Jutta made her pilgrimage.
A priest has met her as she passed,
And crossed himself and stood aghast :
She traced a hamlet — not a cur
His throat would ope, his foot would stir ;
By crouch, by trembling, and by groan,
They made her hated presence known !
But when she trode the sable fell,
Were wilder sounds her way to tell, —
For far was heard the fox's yell,
The black-cock waked and faintly crew,
Screamed o'er the moss the scared curlew ;
Where o'er the cataract the oak
Lay slant, was heard the raven's croak ;
The mountain-cat which sought his prey
Glared, screamed, and started from her way.
Such music cheered her journey lone
To the deep dell and rocking stone :
There with unhallowed hymn of praise
She called a god of heathen days.



' From thy Pomeranian throne,
Hewn in rock of living stone,
Where, to thy godhead faithful yet,
Bend Esthonian, Finn, and Lett,
And their swords in vengeance whet,
That shall make thine altars wet,
Wet and red for ages more
With the Christian's hated gore, —
Hear me, Sovereign of the Rock !
Hear me, mighty Zernebock !

1 Mightiest of the mighty known,
Here thy wonders have been shown ;



Hundred tribes in various tongue
Oft have here thy praises sung ;
Down that stone with Runic seamed
Hundred victims' blood hath streamed!
Now one woman comes alone
And but wets it with her own,
The last, the feeblest of thy flock, —
Hear — and be present, Zernebock !

' Hark ! he comes ! the night-blast cold
Wilder sweeps along the wold ;
The cloudless moon grows dark and dim,
And bristling hair and quaking limb
Proclaim the Master Demon nigh, —
Those who view his form shall die !
Lo ! I stoop and veil my head ;
Thou who ridest the tempest dread,
Shaking hill and rending oak —
Spare me ! spare me, Zernebock !

1 He comes not yet ! Shall cold delay
Thy votaress at her need repay ?
Thou — shall I call thee god or fiend? —
Let others on thy mood attend
With prayer and ritual — Jutta's arms
Are necromantic words and charms ;
Mine is the spell that uttered once
Shall wake thy Master from his trance,
Shake his red mansion-house of pain
And burst his seven-times-twisted chain ! -
So ! com'st thou ere the spell is spoke ?
I own thy presence, Zernebock.' —


• Daughter of dust,' the Deep Voice said -
Shook while it spoke the vale for dread,
Rocked on the base that massive stone,
The Evil Deity to own, —
' Daughter of dust ! not mine the power
Thou seek'st on Harold's fatal hour.

'Twixt heaven and hell there is a strife

Waged for his soul and for his life,

And fain would we the combat win

And snatch him in his hour of sin.

There is a star now rising red

That threats him with an influence dread:

Woman, thine arts of malice whet,

To use the space before it set.

Involve him with the church in strife,

Push on adventurous chance his life ;

Ourself will in the hour of need,

As best we may, thy counsels speed.'

So ceased the Voice ; for seven leagues

Each hamlet started at the sound,
But slept again as slowly died
Its thunders on the hill's brown side.

• And is this all,' said Jutta stern,

* That thou canst teach and I can learn ?
Hence ! to the land of fog and waste,
There fittest is thine influence placed,
Thou powerless, sluggish Deity !

But ne'er shall Briton bend the knee
Again before so poor a god.'
She struck the altar with her rod ;
Slight was the touch as when at need
A damsel stirs her tardy steed ;'
But to the blow the stone gave place,
And, starting from its balanced base,
Rolled thundering down the moonlight

dell, —
Re-echoed moorland, rock, and fell ;
Into the moonlight tarn it dashed,
Their shores the sounding surges lashed,

And there was ripple, rage, and foam ;
But on that lake, so dark and lone,
Placid and pale the moonbeam shone

As Jutta hied her home.

Varolii t&e JBauntlegs.


Gray towers of Durham ! there was once a time
I viewed your battlements with such vague hope
As brightens life in its first dawning prime ;
Not that e'en then came within fancy's scope
A vision vain of mitre, throne, or cope ;
Yet, gazing on the venerable hall,
Her flattering dreams would in perspective ope
Some reverend room, some prebendary's stall, —
And thus Hope me deceived as she deceiveth all.



Well yet I love thy mixed and massive piles,
Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot,
And long to roam these venerable aisles,
With records stored of deeds long since forgot ;
There might I share my Surtees' happier lot,
Who leaves at will his patrimonial field
To ransack every crypt and hallowed spot,
And from oblivion rend the spoils they yield,
Restoring priestly chant and clang of knightly shield.

Vain is the wish — since other cares demand
Each vacant hour, and in another clime ;
But still that northern harp invites my hand
Which tells the wonder of thine earlier time ;
And fain its numbers would I now command
To paint the beauties of that dawning fair
When Harold, gazing from its lofty stand
Upon the western heights of Beaurepaire,
Saw Saxon Eadmer's towers begirt by winding Wear.


Fair on the half-seen streams the sunbeams danced.
Betraying it beneath the woodland bank,
And fair between the Gothic turrets glanced
Broad lights, and shadows fell on front and flank,
Where tower and buttress rose in martial rank,
And girdled in the massive donjon keep,
And from their circuit pealed o'er bush and bank
The matin bell with summons long and deep,
And echo answered still with long-resounding sweep.

The morning mists rose from the ground,
Each merry bird awakened round

As if in revelry ;
Afar the bugle's clanging sound
Called to the chase the lagging hound ;

The gale breathed soft and free,
And seemed to linger on its way
To catch fresh odors from the spray,
And waved it in its wanton play

So light and gamesomely.
The scenes which morning beams reveal,

unds to hear, its gales to feel
In all their fragrance round him steal,
It melted Harold's heart of steel,
And, hardly wotting why,
He doffed his helmet's gloomy pride
And hung it on a tree beside,

I. aid mace and falchion by,
And on the greensward sate him down
And from his dark habitual frown

Relaxed his rugged brow —
Whoever hath the doubtful task
From that stern Dane a boon to ask

\\'« !«• wise to ask it now.


His place beside young Gunnar took
And marked his master's softening look,

And in his eye's dark mirror spied
The gloom of stormy thoughts subside,
And cautious watched the fittest tide

To speak a warning word.
So when the torrent's billows shrink,
The timid pilgrim on the brink
Waits long to see them wave and sink

Ere he dare brave the. ford,
And often after doubtful pause
His step advances or withdraws ;
Fearful to move the slumbering ire
Of his stern lord, thus stood the squire

Till Harold raised his eye,
That glanced as when athwart the shroud
Of the dispersing tempest-cloud

The bursting sunbeams fly.


1 Arouse thee, son of Ermengarde,
Offspring of prophetess and bard !
Take harp and greet this lovely prime
With some high strain of Runic rhyme,
Strong, deep, and powerful ! Peal it round
Like that loud bell's sonorous sound,
Yet wild by fits, as when the lay
Of bird and bugle hail the day.
Such was my grandsire Eric's sport
When dawn gleamed on his martial court.



Heymar the Scald with harp's high sound
Summoned the chiefs who slept around ;
Couched on the spoils of wolf and bear,
They roused like lions from their lair,
Then rushed in emulation forth
To enhance the glories of the north. —
Proud Eric, mightiest of thy race,
Where is thy shadowy resting-place ?
In wild Valhalla hast thou quaffed
From foeman's skull metheglin draught,
Or wanderest where thy cairn was piled
To frown o'er oceans wide and wild ?
Or have the milder Christians given
Thy refuge in their peaceful heaven ?
Where'er thou art, to thee are known
Our toils endured, our trophies won,
Our wars, our wanderings, and our woes.'
He ceased, and Gunnar's song arose.


* Hawk and osprey screamed for joy
O'er the beetling cliffs of Hoy,
Crimson foam the beach o'erspread,
The heath was dyed with darker red,

When o'er Eric, Inguar's son,
Dane and Northman piled the stone,
Singing wild the war-song stern,
" Rest thee, Dweller of the Cairn ! "

'Where eddying currents foam and boil
By Bersa's burgh and Graemsay's isle,
The seaman sees a martial form
Half-mingled with the mist and storm.
In anxious awe he bears away
To moor his bark in Stromna's bay,
And murmurs from the bounding stern,
" Rest thee, Dweller of the Cairn ! "

1 What cares disturb the mighty dead ?

Each honored rite was duly paid ;

No daring hand thy helm unlaced,

Thy sword, thy shield, were near thee

placed ;
Thy flinty couch no tear profaned :
Without, with hostile blood 'twas stained ;
Within, 't was lined with moss and fern, —
Then rest thee, Dweller of the Cairn !

1 He may not rest : from realms afar
Comes voice of battle and of war,
Of conquest wrought with bloody hand
On Carmel's cliffs and Jordan's strand,



When Odin's warlike son could daunt
The turbaned race of Termagaunt.'


* Peace,' said the knight, • the noble Scald
Our warlike fathers' deeds recalled,

But never strove to soothe the son
With tales of what himself had done.
At Odin's board the bard sits high
Whose harp ne'er stooped to flattery,
But highest he whose daring lay
Hath dared unwelcome truths to say.'
With doubtful smile young Gunnar eyed
His master's looks and naught replied —
But well that smile his master led
To construe what he left unsaid.

* Is it to me, thou timid youth,

Thou fear'st to speak unwelcome truth !
My soul no more thy censure grieves
Than frosts rob laurels of their leaves.
Say on — and yet — beware the rude
And wild distemper of my blood ;
Loath were I that mine ire should wrong
The youth that bore my shield so long,
And who, in service constant still,
Though weak in frame, art strong in will.' —
' O ! ' quoth the page, ' even there depends
My counsel — there my warning tends —
Oft seems as of my master's breast
Some demon were the sudden guest ;
Then at the first misconstrued word
His hand is on the mace and sword,
From her firm seat his wisdom driven,
His life to countless dangers given.
O, would that Gunnar could suffice
To be the fiend's last sacrifice,
So that, when glutted with my gore,
He fled and tempted thee no more ! '


Then waved his hand and shook his head
The impatient Dane while thus he said :
1 Profane not, youth — it is not thine
To jud^e the spirit of our line —
The bold Berserkar's rage divine,
Through whose inspiringdeeds are wrought
Past human strength and human thought.
When full upon his gloomy soul
The champion feels the influence roll,
He swims the lake, he leaps the wall —
Heeds not the depth, nor plumbs the fall —
\ n shielded, mail-less, on he goes
Singly against a host of foes ;
Their spears he holds like withered reeds,
Their mail like maiden's silken weeds ;
One 'gainst a hundred will he strive,

i Ountlesa wounds and yet survive.
Then rush the eagles to his cry
Of slaughter and of victory, —
And blood he quaffs like Odin's bowl,

Deep drinks his sword, — deep drinks his

And all that meet him in his ire
He gives to ruin, rout, and fire ;
Then, like gorged lion, seeks some den
And couches till he 's man agen. —
Thou know'st the signs of look and limb
When 'gins that rage to overbrim —
Thou know'st when I am moved and why :
And when thou see'st me roll mine eye, '
Set my teeth thus, and stamp my foot,
Regard thy safety and be mute ;
But else speak boldly out whate'er
Is fitting that a knight should hear.
I love thee, youth. Thy lay has power
Upon my dark and sullen hour ; —
So Christian monks are wont to say
Demons of old were charmed away ;
Then fear not I will rashly deem
111 of thy speech, whate'er the theme.'

As down some strait in doubt and dread
The watchful pilot drops the lead,
And, cautious in the midst to steer,
The shoaling channel sounds with fear ;
So, lest on dangerous ground he swerved,
The page his master's brow observed,
Pausing at intervals to fling
His hand on the melodious string,
And to his moody breast apply
The soothing charm of harmony,
While hinted half, and half exprest,
This warning song conveyed the rest. —

1 111 fares the bark with tackle riven,
And ill when on the breakers driven, —
111 when the storm-sprite shrieks in air,
And the scared mermaid tears her hair ;
But worse when on her helm the hand
Of some false traitor holds command.

'Ill fares the fainting palmer, placed
Mid Hebron's rocks or Rana's waste, —
111 when the scorching sun is high,
And the expected font is dry, —
Worse when his guide o'er sand and heath,
The barbarous Copt, has planned his death.

'Ill fares the knight with buckler cleft,
And ill when of his helm bereft, —
111 when his steed to earth is flung,
Or from his grasp his falchion wrung;
But worse, of instant ruin token,
When he lists rede by woman spoken.' —


* How now, fond boy? — Canst thou think

Said Harold, 'of fair Metelill?'



She may be fair,' the page replied
As through the strings he ranged, -

She may be fair; but yet,' he cried,
And then the strain he changed, —


' She may be fair,' he sang, ' but yet

Far fairer have I seen
Than she, for all her locks of jet

And eyes so dark and sheen.
Were I a Danish knight in arms,

As one day I may be,
My heart should own no foreign charms

A Danish maid for me !

4 1 love my father's northern land,

Where the dark pine-trees grow,
And the bold Baltic's echoing strand

Looks o'er each grassy oe.
I love to mark the lingering sun,

From Denmark loath to go,
And leaving on the billows bright,
To cheer the short-lived summer night,

A path of ruddy glow.

'But most the northern maid I love,

With breast like Denmark's snow
And form as fair as Denmark's pine,
Who loves with purple heath to twine

Her locks of sunny glow ;
And sweetly blend that shade of gold

With the cheek's rosy hue,
And Faith might for her mirror hold

That eye of matchless blue.

' 'T is hers the manly sports to love

That southern maidens fear,
To bend the bow by stream and grove,

And lift the hunter's spear.
She can her chosen champion's flight

With eye undazzled see,
Clasp him victorious from the strife,
Or on his corpse yield up her life, —

A Danish maid for me ! '


Then smiled the Dane — c Thou canst so well
The virtues of our maidens tell,
Half could I wish my choice had been
Blue eyes, and hair of golden sheen,
And lofty soul ; — yet what of ill
Hast thou to charge on Metelill ? '
' Nothing on her,' young Gunnar said,
• But her base sire's ignoble trade.
Her mother too — the general fame
Hath given to Jutta evil name,
And in her gray eye is a flame
Art cannot hide nor fear can tame. —
That sordid woodman's peasant cot
Twice have thine honored footsteps sought,
And twice returned with such ill rede
As sent thee on some desperate deed.'


1 Thou errest ; Jutta wisely said,
He that comes suitor to a maid,
Ere linked in marriage, should provide
Lands and a dwelling for his bride —
My father's by the Tyne and Wear
I have reclaimed.' — ' O, all too dear
And all too dangerous the prize,
E'en were it won,' young Gunnar cries ; —
' And then this Jutta's fresh device,
That thou shouldst seek, a heathen Dane,
From Durham's priests a boon to gain
When thou hast left their vassals slain
In their own halls ! ' — Flashed Harold's eye,
Thundered his voice — ' False page, you lie J
The castle, hall and tower, is mine,
Built by old Witikind on Tyne.
The wild-cat will defend his den,
Fights for her nest the timid wren ;
And think'st thou I '11 forego my right
For dread of monk or monkish knight ? —
Up and away, that deepening bell
Doth of the bishop's conclave tell.
Thither will I in manner due,
As Jutta bade, my claim to sue ;
And if to right me they are loath,
Then woe to church and chapter both ! '
Now shift the scene and let the curtain fall,
And our next entry be Saint Cuthbert's hall.




Varolii tfje ©atmtless-


Full many a bard hath sung the solemn gloom
Of the long Gothic aisle and stone-ribbed roof,
O'er-canopying shrine and gorgeous tomb,
Carved screen, and altar glimmering far aloof
And blending with the shade —a matchless proof
Of high devotion, which hath now waxed cold;

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 46 of 78)