Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

. (page 7 of 78)
Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 7 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Hi shed is the harp — the Minstrel gone.

And did he wander forth alone ?

Alone, in indigence and age,

To linger out his pilgrimage ?

No : close beneath proud Newark's tower

Arose the Minstrel's lowly bower,

A simple hut ; but there was seen

The little garden hedged with green.

The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean.

There sheltered wanderers, by the blaze,

Oft heard the tale of other days ;

For much he loved to ope his door,

And give the aid he begged before.

So passed the winter's day ; but still,

When summer smiled on sweet Bowhill.

And July's eve, with balmy breath,

Waved the blue-bells on Newark heath,

When throstles sung in Harehead-shaw,

And corn was green on Carterhaugh,

And flourished, broad, Blackandro's oak,

The aged harper's soul awoke !

Then would he sing achievements high

And circumstance of chivalry,

Till the rapt traveller would stay,

Forgetful of the closing day ;

And noble youths, the strain to hear,

Forsook the hunting of the deer ;

And Yarrow, as he rolled along,

Bore burden to the Minstrel's sons:.



Alas ! that Scottish maid should sing

The combat where her lover fell !
That Scottish Bard should wake the string,

The triumph of our foes to tell !

Leyden's Ode on Visiting Flodden.


&c, &c, &c,



Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest.

November's sky is chill and drear,
November's leaf is red and sear :
Late, gazing down the steepy linn
That hems our little garden in,
Low in its dark and narrow glen,
You scarce the rivulet might ken,
So thick the tangled greenwood grew,
So feeble trilled the streamlet through ;
Now, murmuring hoarse, and frequent seen
Through bush and brier, no longer green,
An angry brook, it sweeps the glade,
Brawls over rock and wild cascade,
And, foaming brown with double speed,
Hurries its waters to the Tweed.

No longer autumn's glowing red
Upon our Forest hills is shed ;
No more, beneath the evening beam,
Fair Tweed reflects their purple gleam.
Away hath passed the heather-bell
That bloomed so rich on Needpath-fell :
Sallow his brow, and russet bare
Are now the sister-heights of Yair.
The sheep, before the pinching heaven,
To sheltered dale and down are driven,
Where yet some faded herbage pines,
And yet a watery sunbeam shines ;
In meek despondency they eye
The withered sward and wintry sky,
And far beneath their summer hill
Stray sadly by Glenkinnon's rill.
The shepherd shifts his mantle's fold,
And wraps him closer from the cold :
His dogs no merry circles wheel,
But shivering follow at his heel ;
A cowering glance they often cast,
As deeper moans the gathering blast.

My imps, though hardy, bold, and wild,
As best befits the mountain child,
Feel the sad influence of the hour,
And wail the daisy's vanished flower,
Their summer gambols tell, and mourn,
And anxious ask, — Will spring return,
And birds and lambs again be gay,
And blossoms clothe the hawthorn spray ?



Yes, prattlers, yes. The daisy's flower
Again shall paint your summer bower :
Again the hawthorn shall supply
The garlands you delight to tie ;
The lambs upon the lea shall bound,
The wild birds carol to the round ;
And while you frolic light as they,
Too short shall seem the summer day.

To mute and to material things
New life revolving summer brings ;
The genial call dead Nature hears,
And in her glory reappears.
But oh ! my country's wintry state
What second spring shall renovate ?
What powerful call shall bid arise
The buried warlike and the wise,
The mind that thought for Britain's weal,
The hand that grasped the victor steel ?
The vernal sun new life bestows
Even on the meanest flower that blows ;
But vainly, vainly may he shine
Where Glory weeps o'er Nelson's shrine,
And vainly pierce the solemn gloom
That shrouds, O Pitt, thy hallowed tomb !

Deep graved in every British heart,
Oh, never let those names depart !
Say to your sons, — Lo, here his grave
Who victor died on Gadite wave !
To him, as to the burning levin,
Short, bright, resistless course was given ;
Where'er his country's foes were found,
Was heard the fated thunder's sound,
Till burst the bolt on yonder shore,
Rolled, blazed, destroyed, — and was no

Nor mourn ye less his perished worth
Who bade the conqueror go forth,
And launched that thunderbolt of war
On Egypt, Hafnia, Trafalgar;
Who, born to guide such high emprise,
For Britain's weal was early wise ;
Alas ! to whom the Almighty gave,
For Britain's sins, an early grave !
His worth who, in his mightiest hour,
A bauble held the pride of power,
Spurned at the sordid lust of pelf,
And served his Albion for herself ;
Who, when the frantic crowd amain
Strained at subjection's bursting rein,
O'er their wild mood full conquest gained,
The pride, he would not crush, restrained,
Showed their fierce zeal a worthier cause,
And brought the freeman's arm to aid the
freeman's laws.

Hadst thou but lived, though stripped of
A watchman on the lonely tower,
Thy thrilling trump had roused the land,

When fraud or danger were at hand ;
By thee, as by the beacon-light,
Our pilots had kept course aright ;
As some proud column, though alone,
Thy strength had propped the tottering

Now is the stately column broke,
The beacon-light is quenched in smoke.
The trumpet's silver sound is still,
The warder silent on the hill !

Oh, think, how to his latest day.
When Death, just hovering, claimed his prey.
With Palinure's unaltered mood,
Firm at his dangerous post he stood,
Each call for needful rest repelled,
With dying hand the rudder held,
Till, in his fall, with fateful sway,
The steerage of the realm gave way !
Then, while on Britain's thousand plains
One unpolluted church remains,
Whose peaceful bells ne'er sent around
The bloody tocsin's maddening sound,
But still, upon the hallowed day,
Convoke the swains to praise and pray ;
While faith and civil peace are dear,
Grace this cold marble with a tear,
He who preserved them, Pitt, lies here.

Nor yet suppress the generous sigh
Because his rival slumbers nigh,
Nor be thy requiescat dumb
Lest it be said o'er Fox's tomb ;
For talents mourn, untimely lost,
When best employed and wanted most ;
Mourn genius high, and lore profound,
And wit that loved to play, not wound ;
And all the reasoning powers divine,
To penetrate, resolve, combine ;
And feelings keen, and fancy's glow,
They sleep with him who sleeps below :
And, if thou mourn'st they could not save
From error him who owns this grave,
Be every harsher thought suppressed,
And sacred be the last long rest.
Here, where the end of earthly things
Lays heroes, patriots, bards, and kings ;
Where stiff the hand, and still the tongue,
Of those who fought, and spoke, and sung ;
Here, where the fretted aisles prolong
The distant notes of holy song,
As if some angel spoke again,
1 All peace on earth, good-will to men ; '
If ever from an English heart,
Oh, here let prejudice depart,
And, partial feeling cast aside,
Record that Fox a Briton died !
When Europe crouched to France's yoke,
And Austria bent, and Prussia broke,
And the firm Russian's purpose brave
Was bartered by a timorous slave,



Even then dishonor's peace he spurned,
The sullied olive-branch returned,
Stood for his country's glory fast,
And nailed her colors .to the mast !
Heaven, to reward his firmness, gave
A portion in this honored grave,
And ne'er held marble in its trust
Of two such wondrous men the dust.

With more than mortal powers endowed,
How high they soared above the crowd !
Theirs was no common party race,
Jostling by dark intrigue for place ;
Like fabled Gods, their mighty war
Shook realms and nations in its jar ;
Beneath each banner proud to stand,
Looked up the noblest of the land,
Till through the British world were known
The names of Pitt and Fox alone.
Spells of such force no wizard grave
E'er framed in dark Thessalian cave,
Though his could drain the ocean dry,
And force the planets from the sky.
These spells are spent, and, spent with these,
The wine of life is on the lees,
Genius and taste and talent gone,
Forever tombed beneath the stone,
Where — taming thought to human pride ! —
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.
Drop upon Fox's grave the tear,
'T will trickle to his rival's bier ;
O'er Pitt's the mournful requiem sound,
And Fox's shall the notes rebound.
The solemn echo seems to cry, —
' Here let their discord with them die.
Speak not for those a separate doom
Whom Fate made brothers in the tomb ;
But search the land, of living men,
Where wilt thou find their like again ? '

Rest, ardent spirits, till the cries
Of dying nature bid you rise !
Not even your Britain's groans can pierce
The leaden silence of your hearse ;
Then, oh, how impotent and vain
This grateful tributary strain !
Though not unmarked from northern clime,
Ye heard the Border Minstrel's rhyme :
His Gothic harp has o'er you rung;
The Bard you deigned to praise, your death-
less names has sung.

Stay yet, illusion, stay a while,
My wildered fancy still beguile !
From this high theme how can I part,
Ere half unloaded is my heart !
For all the tears e'er sorrow drew,
And all the raptures fancy knew,
And all the keener rush of blood
That throbs through bard in bardlike mood,

Were here a tribute mean and low,
Though all their mingled streams could

flow —
Woe, wonder, and sensation high,
In one spring-tide of ecstasy ! —
It will not be — it may not last —
The vision of enchantment 's past :
Like frostwork in the morning ray,
The fancy fabric melts away ;
Each Gothic arch, memorial-stone,
And long, dim, lofty aisle, are gone ;
And, lingering last, deception dear,
The choir's high sounds die on my ear.
Now slow return the lonely down,
The silent pastures bleak and brown,
The farm begirt with copsewood wild,
The gambols of each frolic child,
Mixing their shrill cries with the tone
Of Tweed's dark waters rushing on.

Prompt on unequal tasks to run,
Thus Nature disciplines her son :
Meeter, she says, for me to stray,
And waste the solitary day
In plucking from yon fen the reed,
And watch it floating down the Tweed,
Or idly list the shrilling lay
With which the milkmaid cheers her way.
Marking its cadence rise and fail,
As from the field, beneath her pail,
She trips it down the uneven dale ;
Meeter for me, by yonder cairn,
The ancient shepherd's tale to learn,
Though oft he stop in rustic fear,
Lest his old legends tire the ear
Of one who, in his simple mind,
May boast of book-learned taste refined.

But thou, my friend, canst fitly tell —
For few have read romance so well —
How still the legendary lay
O'er poet's bosom holds its sway ;
How on the ancient minstrel strain
Time lays his palsied hand in vain ;
And how our hearts at doughty deeds,
By warriors wrought in steely weeds,
Still throb for fear and pity's sake ;
As when the Champion of the Lake
Enters Morgana's fated house,
Or in the Chapel Perilous,
Despising spells and demons' force,
Holds converse with the unburied corse ;
Or when, Dame Ganore's grace to move —
Alas, that lawless was their love ! —
He sought proud Tarquin in his den,
And freed full sixty knights ; or when,
A sinful man and unconfessed,
He took the Sangreal's holy quest,
And slumbering saw the vision high
He might not view with waking eye.

6 4


The mightiest chiefs of British song
Scorned not such legends to prolong.
They gleam through Spenser's elfin dream,
And mix in Milton's heavenly theme :
And Dryden, in immortal strain,
Had raised the Table Round again.
But that a ribald king and court
Bade him toil on, to make them sport:
Demanded for their niggard pay,
Fit for their souls, a looser lay,
Licentious satire" song, and play ;
The world defrauded of the high design,
Profaned the God-given strength, and
marred the lofty line.

Warmed by such names, well may we then,
Though dwindled sons of little men,
Essay to break a feeble lance
In the fair fields of old romance ;
Or seek the moated castle's cell,
Where long through talisman and spell,
While tyrants ruled and damsels wept,
Thy Genius, Chivalry, hath slept.
There sound the harpings of the North,
Till he awake and sally forth,
On venturous quest to prick again.
In all his arms, with all his train,
Shield, lance, and brand, and plume, and

Fay, giant, dragon, squire, and dwarf,
And wizard with his wand of might,
And errant maid on palfrey white.
Around the Genius weave their spells,
Pure Love, who scarce his passion tells ;
Mystery, half veiled and half revealed ;
And Honor, with his spotless shield;
Attention, with fixed eye ; and Fear,
That loves the tale she shrinks to hear ;
And gentle Courtesy; and Faith,
Unchanged by sufferings, time, or death :
And Valor, lion-mettled lord,
Leaning upon his own good sword.

Well has thy fair achievement shown
A worthy meed may thus be won :
Ytene's oaks — beneath whose shade
Their theme the merry minstrels made,
Of Ascapart, and Bevis bold,
And that Red King, who, while of old
Through Boldrewood the chase he led,
By his loved huntsman's arrow bled —
Ytene's oaks have heard again
Renewed such legendary strain ;
For thou hast sung, how he of Gaul,
That Amadis so famed in hall,
For Oriana, foiled in fight
The Necromancer's felon might ;
And well in modern verse hast wove
Partenopex's mystic love :
Hear, then, attentive to my lay,
A knightly tale of Albion's elder day.




DAY set on Norham's castled steep,
And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,

And Cheviot's mountains lone ;
The battled towers, the donjon keep,
The loophole grates where captives weep,
The flanking walls that round it sweep,

In yellow lustre shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky.

Seemed forms of giant height ;
Their armor, as it caught the rays.
Flashed back again the western blaze,

In lines of dazzling light.

Saint George's banner, broad and gay.
Now faded, as the fading ray

Less bright, and less, was flung :
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the donjon tower,

So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,

The castle gates were barred ;
Above the gloomy portal arch.
Timing his footsteps to a march,

The warder kept his guard.
Low humming, as he paced along,
Some ancient Border gathering song.


A distant trampling sound he hears :
He looks abroad, and soon appears.
O'er Horncliff-hill, a plump of spears

Beneath a pennon gay ;
A horseman, darting from the crowd
Like lightning from a summer cloud,
Spurs on his mettled courser proud,

Before the dark array.
Beneath the sable palisade
That closed the castle barricade,

His bugle-horn he blew;
The warder hasted from the wall,
And warned the captain in the hall,

For well the blast he knew ;
And joyfully that knight did call
To sewer, squire, and seneschal.


' Now broach ye a pipe of Malvoisie,

Bring pasties of the doe,
And quickly make the entrance free,



And bid my heralds ready be,
And every minstrel sound his glee,

And all our trumpets blow ;
And, from the platform, spare ye not
To fire a noble salvo-shot ;

Lord M arm ion waits below ! '
Then to*the castle's lower ward

Sped forty yeomen tall,
The iron-studded gates unbarred,
Raised the portcullis 1 ponderous guard,
The lofty palisade unsparred,

And let the drawbridge fall.

Along the bridge Lord Marmion rode,
Proudly his red-roan charger trode,
His helm hung at the saddle bow ;
Well by his visage you might know
He was a stalworth knieht and keen,
And had in many a battle been ;
The scar on his brown cheek revealed
A token true of Bosworth field ;
His eyebrow dark and eye of fire
Showed spirit proud and prompt to ire,
Yet lines of thought upon his cheek
Did deep design and counsel speak.
His forehead, by his casque worn bare,
His thick moustache and curly hair,
Coal-black, and grizzled here and there,

But more through toil than age,
His square-turned joints and strength


Showed him no carpet knight so trim.
But in close fight a champion grim,
In camps a leader sage.


Well was he armed from head to heel, '

In mail and plate of Milan steel ;

But his strong helm, of mighty cost,

Was all with burnished gold embossed.

Amid the plumage of the crest

A falcon hovered on her nest,

With wings outspread and forward breast

E'en such a falcon, on his shield,

Soared sable in an azure field :

The golden legend bore aright,

* Who checks at me, to death is dight.'

Blue was the charger's broidered rein ;

Blue ribbons decked his arching mane ;

The knightly housing's ample fold

Was velvet blue and trapped with gold.


Behind him rode two gallant squires,
Of noble name and knightly sires :
They burned the gilded spurs to claim,
For well could each a war-horse tame,
Could draw the bow, the sword could sway.
And lightly bear the ring away ;
Nor less with courteous precepts stored,
Could dance in hall, and carve at board,
And frame love-ditties passing rare,
And sing them to a lady fair.




Four men-at-arms came at their backs,
With halbert, bill, and battle-axe ;
They bore Lord Marmion's lance so stron<
And led his sumpter-mules along,

And ambling palfrey, when at need
Him listed ease his battle-steed.
The last and trustiest of the four
On high his forky pennon bore ;
Like swallow's tail in shape and hue,



Flattered die streamer glossy blue,
Where, blazoned sable, as before.
The towering falcon seemed to soar.
last, twenty yeomen, two and two,
in boeen bw k end jerkins blue,
With Ealcom broidered on each breast,
tided on their lord's beh

Knew huntJnc-craft by lake or wood;
I i< li one 1 -ix-foot bow could bend.
Ainr tar a cloth yard shaft could send:

Each held a boar-spear tough and strong.
And at their belti their quivers rung.
Their dusty palfreys and array
Showed they had marched a weary way.


thai I should tell you now,
ut Iv ann.d. .wn\ ordered how,

The soldiers of the guard,
With musket, pike, and morion,
To welcome noble Marmion,

Stood in the castle-yard:
Minstrels and trumpeters were there,
The gunner held his linstock yare,

For welcome-shot prepared :
Entered the train, and such a clang
As then through all his turrets rang

Old Norham never heard.

The guards their morrice-pikes advanced,
The trumpets flourished brave,

The cannon from the ramparts glanced,

And thundering welcome gave.
A blithe salute, in martial sort,

The minstrels well might sound,
For, as Lord Marmion crossed the court,

He scattered angels round.
1 Welcome to Norham, Marmion !

Stout heart and open hand !
Well dost thou brook thy gallant roan,

Thou flower of English land ! '


Two pursuivants, whom tabards deck,
With silver scutcheon round their neck,

Stood on the steps of stone
By which you reach the donjon gate,
And there, with herald pomp and state,

They hailed Lord Marmion :
They hailed him Lord of Fontenaye,
Of Lutterward, and Scrivelbaye,

Of Tamworth tower and town ;
And he, their courtesy to requite,
Gave them a chain of twelve marks' weight,

All as he lighted down.
' Now, largesse, largesse, Lord Marmion,

Knight of the crest of gold !
A blazoned shield, in battle won,

Ne'er guarded heart so bold.'


They marshalled him to the castle-hall,

Where the guests stood all aside,
And loudly flourished the trumpet-call,



And the heralds loudly cried, —
1 Room, lordlings, room for Lord Marmion,

With the crest 'and helm of gold !
Full well we know the trophies won

In the lists at Cottiswold :
There, vainly Ralph de Wilton strove

'Gainst Marmion's force to stand :
To him he lost his lady-love,

And to the king his land.
Ourselves beheld the listed field,

A sight both sad and fair :
We saw Lord Marmion pierce his shield.

And saw his saddle bare ;
We saw the victor win the crest

He wears with worthy pride,
And on the gibbet-tree, reversed,

His foeman's scutcheon tied.
Place, nobles, for the Falcon-Knight !

Room, room, ye gentles gay,
For him who conquered in the right.

Marmion of Fontenaye ! '


Then stepped, to meet that noble lord.

Sir Hugh the Heron bold.
Baron of Twisell and of Ford,

And Captain of the Hold :
He led Lord Marmion to the deas.

Raised o'er the pavement high.
And placed him in the upper place —

They feasted full and high :
The whiles a Northern harper rude
Chanted a rhyme of deadly feud.

• How the ice Thirwalls. and Ridleys all.

Stout Willimondswick,
And Hardriding Dick.
And Hughie of Hawdon. and
Will o' the Wall.
Have set on Sir Albany I

And taken his lite at the I
Scantly Lord Marmion 1
could brook
The harper's barban ma la) .
Yet much he praised the
pains he took.
And well those pains did
pay :
For lady's suit and minstrel's

By knight .should ne'er Ik
in vain.

i .od Lord Marmion.
Heron U
'Of your fair court
I pray you bide some litth
In this poor tower with me.
Here may you keep your arms from ru>t.

May breathe your war-horse well :
Seldom hath passed a week but joust

Or feat of arms befell.
The Scots can rein a mettled steed.

And love to couch a spear : —
Saint George ! a stirring life they lead

That have such neighbors near !
Then stay with us a little space.
Our Northern wars to learn :
I pray you for your lady's gra<
Lord Marmion's brow grew stern.

The captain marked his altered look.

And gave the squire the sign :
A mighty wassail-bowl he took.

And crowned it high with wine.
1 Now pledge me here, Lord Marmion :

But first I pray thee fair,
Where hast thou left that page of thine
That used to serve thy cup of wine.

Whose beauty was so rare ?
When last in Raby-towers we met,

The boy I closely eyed,
And often marked his cheeks were wet

With tears he fain would hide.
His was no rugged horse-boy's hand.
To burnish shield or sharpen brand.

Or saddle battle-steed,
But meeter seemed for lady fair.
To fan her cheek, or curl her hair.
Or through embroider}-, rich and rare



The slender silk to lead :
His skin was fair, his ringlets gold.

His bosom — when he sighed,
The russet doublet's rugged fold

Could scarce repel its pride !
Say, hast thou given that lovely youth

To serve in lady's bower ?

Or was the gentle page, in sooth,
A gentle paramour ? '


Lord Marmion ill could brook such jest ;

He rolled his kindling eye,
With pain his rising wrath suppressed,



Yet made a calm reply :
' That boy thou thought so goodly fair.
He might not brook the Northern air.
More of his fate if thou wouldst learn,
I left him sick in Lindisfarne.
Enough of him. — But, Heron, say,
Why does thy lovely lady gay
Disdain to grace the hall to-day ?
Or has that dame, so fair and sage,
Gone on some pious pilgrimage ? ' —
He spoke in covert scorn, for fame
Whispered light tales of Heron's dame.

I have not ridden in Scotland since
James backed the cause of that mock prince.
Warbeck, that Flemish counterfeit,
Who on the gibbet paid the cheat.
Then did I march with Surrey's power,
What time we razed old Ayton tower.' —


' For such-like need, my lord, I trow,
Norham can find you guides enow ;
For here be some have pricked as far
On Scottish ground as to Dunbar,


Unmarked, at least unrecked, the taunt,

Careless the knight replied :
1 No*bird whose feathers gayly flaunt

Delights in cage to bide ;
Norham is grim and grated close,
Hemmed in by battlement and fosse,

And many a darksome tower,
And better loves my lady bright
To sit in liberty and light

In fair Queen Margaret's bower.
We hold our greyhound in our hand,

Our falcon on our glove,
But where shall we find leash or band

For dame that loves to rove ?
Let the wild falcon soar her swing,
She '11 stoop when she has tired her wing.'


' Nay, if with Royal James's bride
The lovely Lady Heron bide,
Behold me here a messenger,
Your tender greetings prompt to bear ;
For, to the Scottish court addressed,
I journey at our king's behest,
And pray you, of your grace, provide
For me and mine a trusty guide.

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 7 of 78)