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Will be no boastful tale to tell,

The peasants are so few.'

The gallant Swiss Confederates there,

They prayed to God aloud,
And he displayed his rainbow fair

Against a swarthy cloud.

Then heart and pulse throbbed more and
more

With courage firm and high,
And down the good Confederates bore

On the Austrian chivalry.

The Austrian Lion 'gan to growl

And toss his main and tail,
And ball and shaft and crossbow bolt

Went whistling forth like hail.

Lance, pike, and halbert mingled there,
The game was nothing sweet ;

The boughs of many a stately tree
Lay shivered at their feet.

The Austrian men-at-arms stood fast,
So close their spears they laid ;

It chafed the gallant Winkelreid,
Who to his comrades said —

' I have a virtuous wife at home,

A wife and infant son ;
I leave them to my country's care, —

This field shall soon be won.

' These nobles lay their spears right thick

And keep full firm array,
Yet shall my charge their order break

And make my brethren way.'

He rushed against the Austrian band,

In desperate career,
And with his body, breast, and hand,

Bore down each hostile spear.

Four lances splintered on his crest,

Six shivered in his side ;
Still on the serried files he pressed —

He broke their ranks and died.

This patriot's self-devoted deed

First tamed the Lion's mood,
And the four Forest Cantons freed

From thraldom by his blood.

Right where his charge had made a lane

His valiant comrades burst,
With sword and axe and partisan,

And hack and stab and thrust.



BALLADS FROM THE GERMAN.



477



The daunted Lion 'gan to whine

And granted ground amain,
The Mountain Bull he bent his brows,

And gored his sides again.

Then lost was banner, spear, and shield

At Sempach in the flight,
The cloister vaults at Konig's-field

Hold many an Austrian knight.

It was the Archduke Leopold,

So lordly would he ride,
But he came against the Switzer churls,

And they slew him in his pride.

The heifer said unto the bull,

* And shall I not complain ?
There came a foreign nobleman

To milk me on the plain.

1 One thrust of thine outrageous horn
Has galled the knight so sore

That to the churchyard he is borne,
To range our glens no more.'

An Austrian noble left the stour,
And fast the flight 'gan take ;

And he arrived in luckless hour
At Sempach on the lake.

He and his squire a fisher called —
His name was Hans von Rot —

1 For love or meed or charity,
Receive us in thy boat ! '

Their anxious call the fisher heard,

And, glad the meed to win,
His shallop to the shore he steered

And took the flyers in.

And while against the tide and wind

Hans stoutly rowed his way,
The noble to his follower signed

He should the boatman slay.

The fisher's back was to them turned,

The squire his dagger drew,
Hans saw his shadow in the lake,

The boat he overthrew.

He whelmed the boat, and as they strove
He stunned them with his oar,

1 Now, drink ye deep, my gentle sirs,
You '11 ne'er stab boatman more.

! Two gilded fishes in the lake
This morning have I caught,

Their silver scales may much avail,
Their carrion flesh is naught.'



It was a messenger of woe

Has sought the Austrian land :

1 Ah ! gracious lady, evil news !
My lord lies on the strand.

4 At Sempach, on the battle-field,
His bloody corpse lies there.' —

1 Ah, gracious God ! ' the lady cried,
' What tidings of despair ! '

Now would you know the minstrel wight
Who sings of strife so stern,

Albert the Souter is he hight,
A burgher of Lucerne.

A merry man was he, I wot,

The night he made the lay,
Returning from the bloody spot

Where God had judged the day.



&f>e Noble HHormser.

AN ANCIENT BALLAD.

O, will you hear a knightly tale of old

Bohemian day,
It was the noble Moringer in wedlock bed

he lay ;
He halsed and kissed his dearest dame

that was as sweet as May,
And said, ' Now, lady of my heart, attend

the words I say.

"Tis I have vowed a pilgrimage unto a

distant shrine,
And I must seek Saint Thomas-land and

leave the land that 's mine ;
Here shalt thou dwell the while in state,

so thou wilt pledge thy fay
That thou for my return wilt wait seven

twelvemonths and a day.'

Then out and spoke that lady bright, sore

troubled in her cheer,
• Now tell me true, thou noble knight, what

order takest thou here ;
And who shall lead thy vassal band and

hold thy lordly sway,
And be thy lady's guardian true when thou

art far away ? '

Out spoke the noble Moringer, 'Of that

have thou no care,
There's many a valiant gentleman of me

holds living fair ;



478



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



The trustiest shall rule my land, my vassals,

and my state,
And be a guardian tried and true to thee,

my lovely mate.

'As Christian-man, I needs must keep the

vow which I have plight,
When I am far in foreign land, remember

thy true knight ;
And cease, my dearest dame, to grieve, for

vain were sorrow now,
But grant thy Moringer his leave, since God

hath heard his vow.'



It was the noble Moringer from bed he

made him boune,
And met him there his chamberlain with

ewer and with gown :
He flung the mantle on his back, 't was

furred with miniver,
He dipped his hand in water cold and

bathed his forehead fair.

1 Now hear,' he said, ' Sir Chamberlain, true

vassal art thou mine,
And such the trust that I repose in that

proved worth of thine,
For seven years shalt thou rule my towers

and lead my vassal train,
And pledge thee for my lady's faith till I

return again.'

The chamberlain was blunt and true, and

sturdily said he,
'Abide, my lord, and rule your own, and

take this rede from me;
That woman's faith's a brittle trust — Seven

twelvemonths didst thou say?
1 '11 pledge me for no lady's truth beyond

the seventh fair day/

The noble baron turned him round, his

heart was full of care,
His gallant esquire stood him nigh, he was*

Marstetten's heir,
To whom he spoke right anxiously, ' Thou

trusty squire to me,
Wilt thou receive this weighty trust when

I am o'er the sea ?

' To watch and ward my castle strong, and

to protect my land,
And to the hunting or the host to lead my

al bond ;
And pledge thee for my lady's faith till seven

long yean are gone,
And guard her as Our Lady dear was

guarded by Saint John.'



Marstetten's heir was kind and true, but
fiery, hot, and young,

And readily he answer made with too pre-
sumptuous tongue :

' My noble lord, cast care away and on your
journey wend,

And trust this charge to me until your pil-
grimage have end.

' Rely upon my plighted faith, which shall

be truly tried,
To guard your lands, and ward your towers,

and with your vassals ride ;
And for your lovely lady's faith, so virtuous

and so dear,
I '11 gage my head it knows no change, be

absent thirty year.'

The noble Moringer took cheer when thus
he heard him speak,

And doubt forsook his troubled brow and
sorrow left his cheek ;

A long adieu he bids to all— hoists top-
sails and away,

And wanders in Saint Thomas-land seven
twelvemonths and a day.

It was the noble Moringer within an orchard

slept,
When on the baron's slumbering sense a

boding vision crept ;
And whispered in his ear a voice, "T is

time, Sir Knight, to wake,
Thy lady and thy heritage another master

take.

'Thy tower another banner knows, thy

steeds another rein,
And stoop them to another's will thy gal- .

lant vassal train ;
And she, the lady of thy love, so faithful

once and fair,
This night within thy fathers' hall she weds

Marstetten's heir.'

It is the noble Moringer starts up and tears

his beard,
'O, would that I had ne'er been born!

what tidings have I heard !
To lose my lordship and my lands the less

would be my care,
But, God ! that e'er a squire untrue should

wed my lady fair.

* O good Saint Thomas, hear,' he prayed,

'my patron saint art thou,
A traitor robs me of ray land even while I

pay my vow !



BALLADS FROM THE GERMAN.



479



My wife he brings to infamy that was so
pure of name,

And I am far in foreign land and must en-
dure the shame.'

It was the good Saint Thomas then who
heard his pilgrim's prayer,

And sent a sleep so deep and dead that it
o'erpowered his care ;

He waked in fair Bohemian land out-
stretched beside a rill,

High on the right a castle stood, low on
the left a mill.

The Moringer he started up as one from

spell unbound,
And dizzy with surprise and joy gazed

wildly all around;
1 1 know my fathers' ancient towers, the

mill, the stream I know,
Now blessed be my patron saint who

cheered his pilgrim's woe ! '

He leant upon his pilgrim staff and to the

mill he drew,
So altered was his goodly form that none

their master knew;
The baron to the miller said, ' Good friend,

for charity,
Tell a poor palmer in your land what tidings

may there be?'

The miller answered him again, ' He knew

of little news,
Save that the lady of the land did a new

bridegroom choose ;
Her husband died in distant land, such is

the constant word,
His death sits heavy on our souls, he was

a worthy lord.

4 Of him I held the little mill which wins

me living free,
God rest the baron in his grave, he still was

kind to me !
And when Saint Martin's tide comes round

and millers take their toll,
The priest that prays for Moringer shall

have both cope and stole.'

It was the noble Moringer to climb the hill

began,
And stood before the bolted gate a woe

and weary man;
' Now help me, every saint in heaven that

can compassion take,
To gain the entrance of my hall this woful

match to break.'



His very knock it sounded sad, his call was

sad and slow,
For heart and head, and voice and hand,

were heavy all with woe ;
And to the warder thus he spoke : ' Friend,

to thy lady say,
A pilgrim from Saint Thomas-land craves

harbor for a day.

1 1 've wandered many a weary step, my
strength is well-nigh done,

And if she turn me from her gate I '11 see
no morrow's sun ;

I pray, for sweet Saint Thomas' sake, a
pilgrim's bed and dole,

And for the sake of Moringer's, her once-
loved husband's soul.'

It was the stalwart warder then he came

his dame before,
'A pilgrim, worn and travel-toiled, stands

at the castle-door ;
And prays, for sweet Saint Thomas' sake,

for harbor and for dole,
And for the sake of Moringer, thy noble

husband's soul.'

The lady's gentle heart was moved, * Do up
the gate,' she said,

* And bid the wanderer welcome be to ban-

quet and to bed ;
And since he names my husband's name,

so that he lists to stay,
These towers shall be his harborage a

twelvemonth and a day.'

It was the stalwart warder then undid the

portal broad,
It was the noble Moringer that o'er the

threshold strode;

• And have thou thanks, kind Heaven,' he

said, ' though from a man of sin,
That the true lord stands here once more
his castle-gate within.'

Then up the halls paced Moringer, his step

was sad and slow ;
It sat full heavy on his heart none seemed

their lord to know ;
He sat him on a lowly bench, oppressed

with woe and wrong,
Short space he sat, but ne'er to him seemed

little space so long.

Now spent was day and feasting o'er, and

come was evening hour,
The time was nigh when new-made brides

retire to nuptial bower ;



480



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



' Our castle's wont,' a bridesman said, ' hath

been both firm and long
No guest to harbor in our halls till he shall

chant a song.'

Then spoke the youthful bridegroom there
as he sat by the bride,

'My merry minstrel folk,' quoth he, 'lay
shalm and harp aside ;

Our pilgrim guest must sing a lay, the cas-
tle's rule to hold,

And well his guerdon will I pay with gar-
ment and with gold.'

'Chill flows the lay of frozen age,' 'twas

thus the pilgrim sung,
' Nor golden meed nor garment gay unlocks

his heavy tongue ;
Once did I sit, thou bridegroom gay, at

board as rich as thine,
And by my side as fair a bride with all her

charms was mine.

' But time traced furrows on my face and I

frew silver-haired,
ocks of brown and cheeks of youth
she left this brow and beard ;
Once rich, but now a palmer poor, I tread

life's latest stage,
And mingle with your bridal mirth the lay
of frozen age.'

It was the noble lady there this woful lay

that hears,
And for the aged pilgrim's grief her eye

was dimmed with tears ;
She bade her gallant cupbearer a golden

beaker take,
And bear it to the palmer poor to quaff it

for her sake.

It was the noble Moringer that dropped

amid the wine
A bridal ring of burning gold so costly and

so fine :
Now listen, gentles, to my song, it tells you

but the sooth,
'Twas with that very ring of gold he

pledged his bridal truth.

Then to the cupbearer he said, 'Do me

one kindly deed,
And should my better days return, full rich

shall be thy meed;
Bear back the golden cup again to yonder

bride so gay,
And crave her of her courtesy to pledge

the palmer gray.'



The cupbearer was courtly bred nor was

the boon denied,
The golden cup he took again and bore it

to the bride ;
' Lady,' he said, ' your reverend guest sends

this, and bids me pray
That, in thy noble courtesy, thou pledge

the palmer gray.'

The ring hath caught the lady's eye, she

views it close and near,
Then might you hear her shriek aloud,

' The Moringer is here ! '
Then might you see her start from seat

while tears in torrents fell,
But whether 't was for joy or woe the ladies

best can tell.



But loud she uttered thanks to Heaven and

every saintly power
That had returned the Moringer before the

midnight hour ;
And loud she uttered vow on vow that

never was there bride
That had like her preserved her troth or

been so sorely tried.

' Yes, here I claim the praise,' she said, ' to

constant matrons due,
Who keep the troth that they have plight

so steadfastly and true ;
For count the term howe'er you will, so

that you count aright,
Seven twelvemonths and a day are out

when bells toll twelve to-night.'

It was Marstetten then rose up, his falchion

there he drew,
He kneeled before the Moringer and down

his weapon threw ;
'My oath and knightly faith are broke,'

these were the words he said,
'Then take, my liege, thy vassal's sword,

and take thy vassal's head.'

The noble Moringer he smiled, and then

aloud did say,
1 He gathers wisdom that hath roamed

seven twelvemonths and a day ;
My daughter now hath fifteen years, fame

speaks her sweet and fair,
I give her for the bride you lose and name

her for my heir.

♦The young bridegroom hath youthful
bride ' the old bridegroom the old,

Whose faith was kept till term and tide so
punctually were told ;



BALLADS FROM THE GERMAN,



481



But blessings on the warder kind that oped

my castle gate,
For had I come at morrow tide I came a

day too late.'



Wgt Erl-IBing.

FROM THE GERMAN OF GOETHE.

O, who rides by night thro' the woodland

so wild ?
It is the fond father embracing his child ;
And close the boy nestles within his loved

arm,
To hold himself fast and to keep himself

warm.

'O father, see yonder! see yonder!' he

says ;
'My boy, upon what dost thou fearfully

gaze ? ' —
1 0, 't is the Erl-King with his crown and

his shroud.' —
1 No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the

cloud.'

{The Erl-King speaks.)

*■ O, come and go with me, thou loveliest
child ;

By many a gay sport shall thy time be be-
guiled ;

My mother keeps for thee full many a fair
toy,

And many a fine flower shall she pluck for
my boy.'

* O father, my father, and did you not hear
The Erl-King whisper so low in my
ear ? ' —



'Be still, my heart's darling — my child,

be at ease ;
It was but the wild blast as it sung thro'

the trees.'

Erl-King.

'O, wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest

boy?
My daughter shall tend thee with care and

with joy ;
She shall bear thee so lightly thro' wet and

thro' wild,
And press thee and kiss thee and sing to

my child.'

'O, father, my father, and saw you not

plain,
The Erl-King's pale daughter, glide past

through the rain ? ' —
' O yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full

soon;
It was the gray willow that danced to the

moon.'

Erl-King.

' O, come and go with me, no longer delay,
Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away.' —
1 O father ! O father ! now, now keep your

hold,
The Erl-King has seized me — his grasp is

so cold ! '

Sore trembled the father ; he spurred thro'

the wild,
Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering

child ;
He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in

dread,
But, clasped to his bosom, the infant was

dead/




3i



BaliatJS.



©Unfinlag :

OR, LORD RONALD'S CORONACH.

For them the viewless forms of air obey,
Their bidding heed, and at their beck repair;

They know what spirit brews the stormf ul day,
And heartless oft, like moody madness stare,

To see the phantom-train their secret work prepare.

^ Collins.

' O hone a rie' ! O hone a rie' !

The pride of Albin's line is o'er,
And fallen Glenartney's stateliest tree ;

We ne'er shall see Lord Ronald more ! '

O, sprung from great Macgillianore,
The chief that never feared a foe,

How matchless was thy broad claymore,
How deadly thine unerring bow !

Well can the Saxon widows tell

How on the Teith's resounding shore

The boldest Lowland warriors fell,
As down from Lenny's pass you bore.

But o'er his hills in festal day

How blazed Lord Ronald's beltane-tree,
While youths and maids the light strathspey

So nimbly danced with Highland glee !

Cheered by the strength of Ronald's shell,
% E'en age forgot his tresses hoar ;
now the loud lament we swell,

i » see Lord Ronald more !

distant isles a chieftain came
of Ronald's halls to find,
Aim Ith him the dark-brown game

I ii.it bounds o'er Albin's hills of wind.

is Moy ; whom in Columba's isle
'IIh- leer's prophetic spirit found,
. with a minstrel's tire the while,
II. waked his harp's harmonious sound.



Full many a spell to him was known

Which wandering spirits shrink to hear:

And many a lay of potent tone
Was never meant for mortal ear.

For there, 't is said, in mystic mood
High converse with the dead they hold,

And oft espy the fated shroud

That shall the future corpse enfold.

O, so it fell that on a day,

To rouse the red deer from their den,
The chiefs have ta'en their distant way,

And scoured the deep Glenfinlas glen.

No vassals wait their sports to aid,

To watch their safety, deck their board:

Their simple dress the Highland plaid,
Their trusty guard the Highland sword.

Three summer days through brake and dell
Their whistling shafts successful flew ;

And still when dewy evening fell
The quarry to their hut they drew.

In gray Glenfinlas' deepest nook

The solitary cabin stood,
Fast by Moneira's sullen brook,

Which murmurs through that lonely wood.

Soft fell the night, the sky was calm,
When three successive days had flown ;

And summer mist in dewy balm

Steeped heathy bank and mossy stone.

The moon, half-hid in silvery flakes,
Afar her dubious radiance shed,

Quivering on Katrine's distant lakes,
And resting on Benledi's head.

Now in their hut in social guise
Their sylvan fare the chiefs enjoy ;

And pleasure laughs in Ronald's eyes,
As many a pledge he quaffs to Moy.



BALLADS.



483



* What lack we here to crown our bliss,

While thus the pulse of joy beats high ?
What but fair woman's yielding kiss,
Her panting breath and melting eye ?

* To chase the deer of yonder shades,

This morning left their father's pile
The fairest of our mountain maids,
The daughters of the proud Glengyle.

' Long have I sought sweet Mary's heart,
And dropped the tear and heaved the sigh :

But vain the lover's wily art
Beneath a sister's watchful eye.



' Since Enrick's fight, since Morna's death,
No more on me shall rapture rise,

Responsive to the panting breath,
Or yielding kiss or melting eyes.

' E'en then, when o'er the heath of woe
Where sunk my hopes of love and fame,

I bade my harp's wild wailings flow,
On me the Seer's sad spirit came.

; The last dread curse of angry heaven,
With ghastly sights and sounds of woe

To dash each glimpse of joy was given —
The gift the future ill to know.




• But thou mayst teach that guardian fair,

While far with Mary I am flown,
Of other hearts to cease her care,
And find it hard to guard her own.

• Touch but thy harp, thou soon shalt see

The lovely Flora of Glengyle,
Unmindful of her charge and me,

Hang on thy notes 'twixt tear and smile.

1 Or, if she choose a melting tale,

All underneath the greenwood bough,

Will good Saint Oran's rule prevail,
Stern huntsman of the rigid brow ? '



1 The bark thou saw'st, yon summer morn,
So gayly part from Oban's bay,

My eye beheld her dashed and torn
Far on the rocky Colonsay.

' Thy Fergus too — thy sister's son,

Thou saw'st with pride the gallant's power,

As marching 'gainst the Lord of Downe
He left the skirts of huge Benmore.

1 Thou only saw'st their tartans wave
As down Benvoirlich's side they wound,

Heard'st but the pibroch answering brave
To many a target clanking round.



484



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



' I heard the groans, I marked the tears,
I saw the wound his bosom bore,

When on the serried Saxon spears
He poured his clan's resistless roar.

* And thou, who bidst me think of bliss,
And bidst my heart awake to glee,

And court like thee the wanton kiss —
That heart, O Ronald, bleeds for thee !

1 1 see the death-damps chill thy brow :
I hear thy Warning Spirit cry ;

The corpse-lights dance — they 're gone,
and now —
No more is given to gifted eye ! '

4 Alone enjoy thy dreary dreams,

Sad prophet of the evil hour !
Say, should we scorn joy's transient beams

Because to-morrow's storm may lour ?

' Or false or sooth thy words of woe,
Clangillian's Chieftain ne'er shall fear ;

His blood shall bound at rapture's glow,
Though doomed to stain the Saxon spear.

4 E'en now, to meet me in yon dell,
My Mary's buskins brush the dew.

He spoke, nor bade the chief farewell,
But called his dogs and gay withdrew.

Within an hour returned each hound,
In rushed the rousers of the deer ;

They howled in melancholy sound,
Then closely couched beside the Seer.

No Ronald yet , though midnight came,
And sad were Moy's prophetic dreams,

As, bending o'er the dying flame,

He fed the watch-fire's quivering gleams.

Sudden the hounds erect their ears,

And sudden cease their moaning howl ,
Close pressed to Moy, they mark their fears
hivering limbs and stifled growl.

Untouched the harp began to ring
As softly, slowly, oped the door ;

And shook responsive every string
As light a footstep pressed the floor.

And by the watch-fire's -limmering light
the minstrel's side was seen
An huntress maid, in beauty bright,
All dropping wet her robes of green.

All dropping wet her garments seem ;

Chilled was her cheek, her bosom bare,
As, bending o'er the dying gleam,

She wrung the moisture from her hair.



With maiden blush she softly said,
' O gentle huntsman, hast thou seen,

In deep Glenfinlas' moonlight glade,
A lovely maid in vest of green :

1 With her a chief in Highland pride ;

His shoulders bear the hunter's bow,
The mountain dirk adorns his side,

Far on the wind his tartans flow ? ' —

• And who art thou ? and who are they ? '
All ghastly gazing, Moy replied :

' And why, beneath the moon's pale ray,
Dare ye thus roam Glenfinlas' side ? '

4 Where wild Loch Katrine pours her tide,
Blue, dark, and deep, round many an isle,

Our father's towers o'erhang her side.
The castle of the bold Glengyle.

1 To chase the dun Glenfinlas deer
Our woodland course this morn we bore,

And haply met while wandering here
The son of great Macgillianore.

1 O, aid me then to seek the pair,

Whom, loitering in the woods, I lost ;

Alone I dare not venture there,

Where walks, they say, the shrieking
ghost'

1 Yes, many a shrieking ghost walks there ;

Then first, my own sad vow to keep,
Here will I pour my midnight prayer,

Which still must rise when mortals sleep.'

' O, first, for pity's gentle sake,

Guide a" lone wanderer on her way !

For I must cross the haunted brake,
And reach my father's towers ere day.'

1 First, three times tell each Ave-bead,
And thrice a Pater-noster say ;

Then kiss with me the holy rede ;
So shall we safely wend our way.'

' O, shame to knighthood, strange and foul !

Go, doff the bonnet from thy brow,
And shroud thee in the monkish cowl,

Which best befits thy sullen vow.

' Not so, by high Dunlathmon's fire,



Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 50 of 78)