Copyright
Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

. (page 6 of 78)
Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 6 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Though rude and scant of courtesy ;
In raids he spilt but seldom blood,
Unless when men-at-arms withstood,
Or, as was meet, for deadly feud.
He ne'er bore grudge for stalwart blow,
Ta'en in fair fight from gallant foe.
And so 't was seen of him e'en now,

When on dead Musgrave he looked down
Grief darkened on his rugged brow,

Though half disguised with a frown :
And thus, while sorrow bent his head,
His foeman's epitaph he made :

XXIX.

1 Now, Richard Musgrave, liest thou here,

I ween, my deadly enemy :
For, if I slew thy brother dear,

Thou slew'st a sister's son to me ;
And when I lay in dungeon dark

Of Naworth Castle long months three,
Till ransomed for a thousand mark,

Dark Musgrave, it was long of thee.
And, Musgrave, could our fight be tried,

And thou wert now alive, as I,
No mortal man should us divide,

Till one, or both of us, did die :
Yet rest thee God ! for well I know
I ne'er shall find a nobler foe.
In all the northern counties here,
Whose word is Snaffle, spur, and spear.



THE LA Y OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



47



Thou wert the best to follow gear.
T was pleasure, as we looked behind,
To see how thou the chase couldst wind,
Cheer the dark bloodhound on his way,
And with the bugle rouse the fray !
I 'd give the lands of Deloraine,
Dark Musgrave were alive again.'

XXX.

So mourned he till Lord Dacre's band
Were bowning back to Cumberland.
They raised brave Musgrave from the field
And laid him on his bloody shield ;



The harp's wild notes, though hushed the

song,
The mimic march of death prolong ;
Now seems it far, and now a-near,
Now meets, and now eludes the ear,
Now seems some mountain side to sweep,
Now faintly dies in valley deep,
Seems now as if the Minstrel's wail,
Now the sad requiem, loads the gale ;
Last, o'er the warrior's closing grave,
Rung the full choir in choral stave.

After due pause, they bade him tell
Why he, who touched the harp so well,





On levelled lances, four and four,

By turns, the noble burden bore.

Before, at times, upon the gale

Was heard the Minstrel's plaintive

wail ;
Behind, four priests in sable stole
Sung requiem for the warrior's soul ;
Around, the horsemen slowly rode ;
With trailing pikes the spearmen trode ;
And thus the gallant knight they bore
Through Liddesdale to Leven's shore,
Thence to Holme Coltrame's lofty nave,
And laid him in his father's grave.



Should thus, with ill-rewarded toil,
Wander a poor and thankless soil,
When the more generous Southern Land
Would well requite his skilful hand.

The aged harper, howsoe'er

His only friend, his harp, was dear,

Liked not to hear it ranked so high

Above his flowing poesy :

Less liked he still that scornful jeer

Misprized the land he loved so dear ;

High was the sound as thus again

The bard resumed his minstrel strain.



4 8



scorrs poetical works.




Wqi Hag of tije Hast flmgtrel.

CANTO SIXTH.



Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land ?
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned

From wandering on a foreign strand ?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well ;
For him no minstrel raptures swell ;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim, —
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.



O Caledonia, stern and wild.

Meet nurse for a poetic child !

Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,

Land of the mountain and the flood,



Land of my sires ! what mortal hand

Can e'er untie the filial band

That knits me to thy rugged strand !

Still, as I view each well-known scene,

Think what is now and what hath been,

Seems as to me, of all bereft,

Sole friends thy woods and streams were

left;
And thus I love them better still,
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my withered cheek ;
Still lay my head by Teviot-stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The bard may draw his parting groan.

in.
Not scorned like me, to Branksome Hall
The minstrels came at festive call ;
Trooping they came from near and far.
The jovial priests of mirth and war ;
Alike for feast and fight prepared,
Battle and banquet both they shared.
Of late, before each martial clan
They blew their death-note in the van,
But now for every merry mate



THE LA V OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



49




Rose the portcullis' iron grate ;
They sound the pipe, they strike the string,
They dance, they revel, and they sing,
Till the rude turrets shake and ring.

IV.

Me lists not at this tide declare

The splendor of the spousal rite,
How mustered in the chapel fair

Both maid and matron, squire and knight ;
Me lists not tell of ovvches rare,
Of mantles green, and braided hair,
And kirtles furred with miniver ;
What plumage waved the altar round,
How spurs and ringing chainlets sound :
And hard it were for bard to speak
The changeful hue of Margaret's cheek,
That lovely hue which comes and flies,
As awe and shame alternate rise !



Some bards have sung, the Ladye high
Chapel or altar came not nigh,
Nor durst the rites of spousal grace,
So much she feared each holy place.
False slanders these : — I trust right well.
She wrought not by forbidden spell,
For mighty words and signs have power
O'er sprites in planetary hour ;



Yet scarce I praise their venturous part
Who tamper with such dangerous art.
But this for faithful truth I say, —

The Ladye by the altar stood,
Of sable velvet her array,

And on her head a crimson hood,
With pearls embroidered and entwined,
Guarded with gold, with ermine lined ;
A merlin sat upon her wrist,
Held by a leash of silken twist.



VI.

The spousal rites were ended soon ;
'T was now the merry hour of noon,
And in the lofty arched hall
Was spread the gorgeous festival.
Steward and squire, with heedful haste.
Marshalled the rank of every guest :
Pages, with ready blade, were there,
The mighty meal to carve and share :
O'er capon, heron-shew, and crane,
And princely peacock's gilded train,
And o'er the boar-head, garnished brave.
And cygnet from Saint Mary's wave,
O'er ptarmigan and venison,
The priest had spoke his beaison.
Then rose the riot and the din.
* Above, beneath, without, within !
For, from the lofty balcony,



50



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery :
Their clanging bowls old warriors quaffed,
Loudly they spoke and loudly laughed ;
Whispered young knights, in tone more mild,
To ladies fair, and ladies smiled.
The hooded hawks, high perched on beam,
The clamor joined with whistling scream,
And flapped their wings and shook their

bells,
In concert with the stag-hounds' yells.



By nature fierce, and warm with wine.
And now in humor highly crossed
About some steeds his band had lost,
High words to words succeeding still,
Smote with his gauntlet stout Hunthill,
A hot and hardy Rutherford,
Whom men called Dickon Draw-the-Sword.
He took it on the page's saye,
Hunthill had driven these steeds away.
Then Howard, Home, and Douglas rose r




Round go the flasks of ruddy wine,
From Bordeaux, Orleans, or the Rhine
Their tasks the busy sewers ply,
And all is mirth and revelry.



VII.



The Goblin Page, omitting still

No opportunity of ill,

Strove now, while blood ran hot and high,

To rouse debate and jealousy;

Till Conrad, Lord of Wolfenstein,



The kindling discord to compose ;

Stern Rutherford right little said,

But bit his glove and shook his head.

A fortnight thence, in Inglewood,

Stout Conrad, cold, and drenched in blood,

His bosom gored with many a wound,

Was by a woodman's lyme-dog found :

Unknown the manner of his death,

Gone was his brand, both sword and sheath ;

But ever from that time, 't was said,

That Dickon wore a Cologne blade.



THE LA Y OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



51



VIII.

The dwarf, who feared his master's eye
Might his foul treachery espie,

;Now sought the castle buttery,
Where many a yeoman, bold and free,
Revelled as merrily and well
As those that sat in lordly selle.
Watt Tinlinn there did frankly raise
The pledge to Arthur Fire-the-Braes ;
And he, as by his breeding bound,
To Howard's merrymen sent it round.
To quit them, on the English side,
Red Roland Forster loudly cried,
' A deep carouse to yon

fair bride ! '
At every pledge, from vat

and pail,
Foamed forth in floods the

nut-brown ale,
While shout the riders

every one :
Such day of mirth ne'er

cheered their clan,
Since old Buccleuch the

name did gain,
When in the cleuch the

buck was ta'en.

IX.

The wily page, withvenge-

ful thought,
Remembered him of

Tinlinn's yew,
And swore it should be

dearly bought
That ever he the arrow

drew.
First, he the yeoman did

molest

With bitter gibe and taunting jest ;
Told how he fled at Solway strife,
And how Hob Armstrong cheered his wife ;
Then, shunning still his powerful arm,
At unawares he wrought him harm ;
'From trencher stole his choicest cheer,
Dashed from his lips his can of beer ;
Then, to his knee sly creeping on,
With bodkin pierced him to the bone :
The venomed wound and festering joint
Long after rued that bodkin's point.
The startled yeoman swore and spurned,
And board and flagons overturned.
Riot and clamor wild began ;
Back to the hall the urchin ran,
Took in a darkling nook his post,
And grinned, and muttered, ' Lost ! lost !

lost ! '

x.
By this, the dame, lest farther fray
Should mar the concord of the day,



Had bid the minstrels tune their lay.
And first stepped forth old Albert Graeme,
The minstrel of that ancient name :
Was none who struck the harp so

well
Within the Land Debatable ;
Well friended too, his hardy kin,
Whoever lost, were sure to win ;
They sought the beeves that made their

broth
In Scotland and in England both.
In homely guise, as nature bade,
His simple song the Borderer said.




XI.

ALBERT GR^ME.

It was an English ladye bright,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)

And she would marry a Scottish knight,
For Love will still be lord of all.

Blithely they saw the rising sun,
When he shone fair on Carlisle wall ;

But they were sad ere day was done,
Though Love was still the lord of all.

Her sire gave brooch and jewel fine,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall ;

Her brother gave but a flask of wine,
For ire that Love was lord of all.

For she had lands both meadow and lea,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle
wall ;



52



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



And he swore her death, ere he would see
A Scottish knight the lord of all !

XII.

That wine she had not tasted well,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)

When dead, in her true love's arms, she fell,
For Love was still the lord of all.

He pierced her brother to the heart,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle
wall ; —

So perish all would true love part,
That Love may still be lord of all !

And then he took the cross divine,

Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle
wall,

And died for her sake in Palestine,
So Love was still the lord of all.

Now all ye lovers, that faithful prove,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)

Pray for their souls who died for love,
For Love shall still be lord of all !

XIII.

As ended Albert's simple lay,

Arose a bard of loftier port,
For sonnet, rhyme, and roundelay

Renowned in haughty Henry's court:
There rung thy harp, unrivalled long,
Fitztraver of the silver song !
The gentle Surrey loved his lyre —

Who has not heard of Surrey's fame ?
His was the hero's soul of fire,

And his the bard's immortal name,



And his was love, exalted high
By all the glow of chivalry.



XIV.

They sought together climes afar.

And oft, within some olive grove.
When even came with twinkling star.

They sung of Surrey's absent love.
His step the Italian peasant stayed,

And deemed that spirits from on high.
Round where some hermit saint was laid.

Were breathing heavenly melody :
So sweet did harp and voice combine
To praise the name of Geraldine.

XV.

Fitztraver, O, what tongue may say
The pangs thy faithful bosom knew.

When Surrey of the deathless lay
Ungrateful Tudor's sentence slew ?

Regardless of the tyrant's frown,

His harp called wrath and vengeance down.

He left, for Naworth's iron towers,

Windsor's green glades and courtly bowers.

And, faithful to his patron's name,

With Howard still Fitztraver came ;

Lord William's foremost favorite he.

And chief of all his minstrelsy.

XVI.
FITZTRAVER.

'T was All-souls' eve, and Surrey's heart
beat high ;
He heard the midnight bell with anx-
ious start,




THE LA Y OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



53




Which told the mystic hour, approaching
nigh,
When wise Cornelius promised by his

art
To show to him the ladye of his heart,
Albeit betwixt them roared the ocean
grim;
Yet so the sage had hight to play his
part,
That he should see her form in life and
limb,
And mark if still she loved and still she
thought of him.

XVII.

Dark was the vaulted room of gramarye,

To which the wizard led the gallant

knight.

Save that before a mirror, huge and high,

A hallowed taper shed a glimmering

light
On mystic implements of magic might,
On cross, and character, and talisman,

And almagest, and altar, nothing bright ;
For fitful was the lustre, pale and wan,
As watch-light by the bed of some departing
man.

XVIII.

But soon, within that mirror huge and
high,
Was seen a self-emitted light to gleam :
And forms upon its breast the earl gan

s py>



Cloudy and indistinct as feverish dream :
Till, slow arranging and defined, they
seem
To form a lordly and a lofty room,

Part lighted by a lamp with silver beam,
Placed by a couch of Agra's silken loom,
And part by moonshine pale, and part was
hid in gloom.

XIX.

Fair all the pageant — but how passing
fair
The slender form which lay on couch
of Ind !
O'er her white bosom strayed her hazel
hair,
Pale her dear cheek, as if for love she

pined ;
All in her night-robe loose she lay
reclined,
And pensive read from tablet eburnine
Some strain that seemed her inmost
soul to find :
That favored strain was Surrey's raptured
line,
That fair and lovely form the Lady Geraldine.

xx.

Slow rolled the clouds upon the lovely
form,

And swept the goodly vision all away —
So royal envy rolled the murky storm

O'er my beloved Master's glorious day.



54



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



Thou yealous, ruthless tyrant! Heaven

repay

On thee, and on thy children's latest line,

The wild caprice of thy despotic sway,

The gory bridal bed, the plundered shrine,

The murdered Surrey's blood, the tears of

Geraldine !

XXI.

Both Scots and Southern chiefs prolong
Applauses of Fitztraver's song;
These hated Henry's name as death,
And those still held the ancient faith.
Then from his seat with lofty air



The Norsemen, trained to spoil and blood.
Skilled to prepare the raven's food,
Kings of the main their leaders brave.
Their barks the dragons of the wave ;
And there, in many a stormy vale.
The Scald had told his wondrous tale.
And many a Runic column high
Had witnessed grim idolatry.
And thus had Harold in his youth
Learned many a Saga's rhyme uncouth, —
Of that Sea-Snake, tremendous curled,
Whose monstrous circle girds the world ;
Of those dread Maids whose hideous yell
Maddens the battle's bloody swell ;




Rose Harold, bard of brave Saint Clair, —
Saint Clair, who, feasting high at Home,
Had with that lord to battle come.
Harold was born where restless seas
Howl round the storm-swept Orcades ;
Where erst Saint Clairs held princely sway
O'er isle and islet, strait and bay ; —
Still nods their palace to its fall,
Thy pride and sorrow, fair Kirkwall ! —
Thence oft he marked fierce Pentland

rave,
As if grim Odin rode her wave,
And watched the whilst, with visage pale
And throbbing heart, the struggling sail ;
For all of wonderful and wild
Had rapture for the lonely child.

XXII.

And much of wild and wonderful
In these rude isles might Fancy cull ;
For thither came in times afar
Stern Lochlin's sons of roving war,



Of chiefs who, guided through the gloom
By the pale death-lights of the tomb,
Ransacked the graves of warriors old,
Their falchions wrenched from corpses'

hold,
Waked the deaf tomb with war's alarms,
And bade the dead arise to arms !
With war and wonder all on flame,
To Roslin's bowers young Harold came,
Where, by sweet glen and greenwood

tree,
He learned a milder minstrelsy ;
Yet something of the Northern spell '
Mixed with the softer numbers well.



XXIII.
HAROLD.

O, listen, listen, ladies gay !

No haughty feat of arms I tell ;
Soft is the note, and sad the lay,

That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



55




' Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!

And, gentle ladye, deign to stay !
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,

Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

' The blackening wave is edged with white;

To inch and rock the sea-mews fly ;
The fishers have heard the Water Sprite,

Whose screams forebode that wreck is
nigh.

1 Last night the gifted Seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay ;

Then stay thee, fair, in Ravensheuch :
Why cross the gloomy firth to-day ? '

• 'T is not because Lord Lindesay's heir

To-night at Roslin leads the ball,
But that my ladye-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

* 'T is not because the ring they ride,

And Lindesay at the ring rides well,
But that my sire the wine will chide,
•If 'tis not filled by Rosabelle.'

O'er Roslin all that dreary night

A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam ;

'T was broader than the watch-fire light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.



It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
It ruddied all the copsewood glen ;

'T was seen from Dreyden's groves of oak,
And seen from caverned Hawthornden.

Seemed all on fire that chapel proud
Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffined lie,

Each baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheathed in his iron panoply.

Seemed all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar's pale ;

Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
And glimmered all the dead men's mail.

Blazed battlement and pinnet high,

Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair —

So still they blaze when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high Saint Clair.

There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle ;

Each one the holy vault doth hold —
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle !

And each Saint Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell ;

But the sea-caves rung and the wild winds
sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.



56



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



t



XXIV.

So sweet was Harold's piteous lay,

Scarce marked the guests' the darkened
hall,
Though, long before the sinking day,

A wondrous shade involved them all.
It was not eddying mist or fog,
Drained by the sun from fen or bog ;

Of no eclipse had sages told ;
And yet, as it came on apace,
Each one could scarce his neighbor's face,

Could scarce his own stretched hand
behold.
A secret horror checked the feast,
And chilled the soul of every guest ;
Even the high dame stood half aghast,
She knew some evil on the blast ;
The elfish page fell to the ground,
And, shuddering, muttered, ' Found ! found !
found ! '

XXV.

Then sudden through the darkened air

A flash of lightning came ;
So broad, so bright, so red the glare,

The castle seemed on flame.
Glanced every rafter of the hall,
Glanced every shield upon the wall ;
Each trophiedbeam, each sculptured stone,
Were instant seen and instant gone ;
Full through the guests' bedazzled band



Resistless flashed the levin-brand,

And filled the hall with smouldering smoke,

As on the elfish page it broke.

It broke with thunder long and loud,

Dismayed the brave, appalled the proud, —

From sea to sea the larum rung;
On Berwick wall, and at Carlisle withal,

To arms the startled warders sprung.
When ended was the dreadful roar,
The elfish dwarf was seen no more !



wvi.
Some heard a voice in Branksome Hall,
Some saw a sight, not seen by all :
That dreadful voice was heard by some
Cry, with loud summons, 4 ( '.vi .wis. I OME !

And on the spot where burst the brand,
Just where the page had flung him down.

Some saw an arm, and some a hand,
And some the waving <>l a gown.
The guests in silence prayed and shook,
And terror dimmed each lofty look.
But none of all the astonished train
Was so dismayed as Deloraine :
His blood did freeze, his brain did burn,
'T was feared his mind would ne'er

turn ;
For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him of whom the story ran,
Who spoke the spectre-hound in Man.
At length by fits he darkly told,



re




THE LA Y OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



57



With broken hint and shuddering cold,

That he had seen right certainly
A shape with amice wrapped around,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,

Like pilgrim from beyond the sea;
And knew — but how it mattered not —
It was the wizard, Michael Scott.

XXVII.

The anxious crowd, with horror pale,
All trembling heard the wondrous tale :



And monks should sing and bells should

toll,
All for the weal of Michael's soul.
While vows were ta'en and prayers were

prayed,
'T is said the noble dame, dismayed,
Renounced for aye dark magic's aid.

XXVIII.

Nought of the bridal will I tell,
Which after in short space befell ;




No sound was made, no word was spoke,
Till noble Angus silence broke ;

And he a solemn sacred plight
Did to Saint Bride of Douglas make,
That be a pilgrimage would take
To Melrose Abbey, for the sake

Of Michael's restless sprite.
Then each, to ease his troubled breast,
To some blest saint his prayers addressed
Some to Saint Modan made their vows,
Some to Saint Mary of the Lowes,
Some to the Holy Rood of Lisle,
Some to Our Lady of the Isle ;
Kach did his patron witness make
That he such pilgrimage would take,



Nor how brave sons and daughters fair
Blessed Teviot's Flower and Cranstoun's

heir:
After such dreadful scene 't were vain
To wake the note of mirth again.
More meet it were to mark the day

Of penitence and prayer divine,
When pilgrim-chiefs, in sad array,

Sought Melrose' holy shrine.

XXIX.

With naked foot, and sackcloth vest,
And arms enfolded on his breast,
Did every pilgrim go ;



58



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORK'S.



The standers-by might hear uneath
Footstep, or voice, or high-drawn breath,

Through all the lengthened row :
No lordly look nor martial stride,
Gone was their glory, sunk their pride,

Forgotten their renown ;
Silent and slow, like ghosts, they glide
To the high altar's hallowed side,

And there they knelt them down.
Above the suppliant chieftains wave
The banners of departed brave ;
Beneath the lettered stones were laid
The ashes of their fathers dead :




From many a garnished niche around
Stern saints and tortured martyrs frowned.

XXX.

And slow up the dim aisle afar,
With sable cowl and scapular,
And snow-white stoles, in order due,
The holy fathers, two and two,

In long procession came ;
Taper and host and book they bare,
And holy banner, flourished fair

With the Redeemer's name.
Above the prostrate pilgrim band
The mitred abbot stretched his hand,

And blessed them as they kneeled;
With holy cross he signed them all,
And prayed they might be sage in hall

And fortunate in field.
Then mass was sung, and prayers were said,
And solemn requiem for the dead ;
And bells tolled out their mighty peal
For the departed spirit's weal ;
And ever in the office close
The hymn of intercession rose :



And far the echoing aisles prolong
The awful burden of the song,
Dies ir.e, dies illa,

SOLVET SMCIAJM IN F.wil.LA,
While the pealing organ rung.
Were it meet with sacred strain
To close my lay, so light and vain.
Thus the holy fathers sung :



P?pmn for trjc Drag.

That day of wrath, that dreadful day.
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinners stay ?
How shall he meet that dreadful day ?

When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll,
When louder yet, and yet more dread.
Swells the high trump that wakes the
dead !

O, on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be Thou the trembling sinner's stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass
away !



Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 6 of 78)