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Thou gravely labouring to portray
The blighted oak's fantastic spray;
I spelling o'er, with much delight,
The legend of that antique knight,
Tirante by name, yeleped the White.
At either's feet a trusty squire,
Pandour and Camp, with eyes of fire,
Jealous, each other's motions viewed,
And scarce suppressed their ancient feud.
The laverock whistled from the cloud;
The stream was lively, but not loud;
From the white-thorn the May-flower shed
Its dewy fragrance round our head:
Not Ariel lived more merrily
Under the blossomed bough, than we.
And blithsome nights, too, have been ours,
When Winter stript the summer's bowers;
Careless we heard, what now I hear,
The wild blast sighing deep and drear,
When fires were bright, and lamps beamed gay,
And ladies tuned the lovely lay;
And he was held a laggard soul,
Who shunned to quaff the sparkling bowl.
Then he, whose absence we deplore,
Who breathes the gales of Devon's shore,
The longer missed, bewailed the more; -
And thou, and I, and dear loved R–,
And one whose name I may not say,+
For not Mimosa's tender tree
Shrinks sooner from the touch than he,”
In merry chorus, well combined,
With laughter drowned the whistling wind.
Mirth was within; and Care without
Might gnaw her nails to hear our shout.
Not but amid the buxom scene
Some grave discourse might intervene—
Of the good horse that bore him best,
His shoulder, hoof, and arching crest:
For like mad Tom's,” our chiefest care,
Was horse to ride, and weapon wear.
Such nights we've had, and though the game
Of manhood be more sober tame,
And though the field-day, or the drill,
Seem less important now—yet still
Such may we hope to share again.
The sprightly thought inspires my strain;
And mark, how, like a horseman true,
Hord Marmion's march I thus renew.
Eustace, I said, did blithely mark
The first notes of the merry lark.
The lark sung shrill, the cock he crew,
And loudly Marmion's clarions blew,
And, with their light and lively call,
Brought groom and yeoman to the stals.
Whistling they came, and free of heart;
But soon their mood was changed: . Complaint was heard on every part,
Of something disarranged. Some clamoured for armour lost; Some brawled and wrangled with the host; “By Becket's bones,” cried one, “I swear, That some false Scot has stolen my spear!” Young Blount, Lord Marmion's second squire, Found his steed wet with sweat and mire; Although the rated horse-boy sware, Last night he dressed him sleek and fair,
While chafed the impatient squire like thunder,
Old Hubert shouts, in fear and wonder,
“Help, gentle Blount! help, comrades all!
Bevis lies dying in his stall:
To Marmion who the plight dare tell,
Of the good steed he loves so well ?”
Gaping for fear and ruth, they saw
The charger panting on his straw;
Till one, who would seem wisest, cried, -
*What else but evil could betide,
With that cursed Palmer for our guide?
Better we had through mire and bush
Been lanthorn-led by Friar Rush.” *
II. Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guessed, Nor wholly understood, His comrade's clamorous plaints suppressed; He knew Lord Marmion's mood. Him, ere he issued forth, he sought, And found deep plunged in gloomy thought, And did his tale display Simply, as if he knew of nought To cause such disarray. Lord Marmion gave attention cold, Nor marvelled at the wonders told,—
* Alias Will o'the Wisp. See Note.
Passed them as accidents of course,
And bade his clarions sound to horse.
III. Young Henry Blount meanwhile the cost Had reckoned with their Scottish host; And, as the charge he cast and paid, “Ill thou deserv'st thy hire,” he said; “Dost see, thou knave, my horse's plight? Fairies have ridden him all the night, And left him in a foam." I trust, that soon a conjuring band, With English cross and blazing brand, Shall drive the devils from this land, To their infernal home: For in this haunted den, I trow, All night they trampled to and fro.” The laughing host looked on the hire, “Gramercy, gentle southern squire, And if thou com'st among the rest, With Scottish broad sword to be blest, Sharp be the brand, and sure the blow, And short the pang to undergo.”— Here stayed their talk-for Marmion Gave now the signal to set on. The Palmer showing forth the way, They journeyed all the morning day.