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The Scottish clans, in headlong sway, Had swept the scarlet ranks away. While stretched at length upon the floor, Again I fought each combat o'er, Pebbles and shells, in order laid, The mimic ranks of war displayed; And onward still the Scottish Lion bore, And still the scattered Southron fled before. Still with vain fondness could I trace, Anew, each kind familiar face, That brightened at our evening fire; From the thatched mansion's gray-haired sire, Wise without learning, plain and good, And sprung of Scotland's gentler blood; Whose eye in age, quick, clear and keen, Showed what in youth its glance had been; Whose doom discording neighbours sought, Content with equity unbought; To him the venerable priest, Our frequent and familiar guest, Whose life and manners well could paint Alike the student and the saint; Alas! whose speech too oft I broke With gambol rude and timeless joke; For I was wayward, bold, and wild, A self-willed imp, a grandame's child; But half a plague, and half a jest, Was still endured, beloved, carest. From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask The classic poet's well-conned task?
Nay, Erskine, nay—on the wild hill
Let the wild heathbell flourish still;
Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
But freely let the woodbine twine,
And leave untrimmed the eglantine:
Nay, my friend, nay—since oft thy praise
Hath given fresh vigour to my lays,
Since oft thy judgment could refine
My flattened thought, or cumbrous line,
Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
And in the minstrel spare the friend;
Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
Flow forth, flow unrestrained, my tale.
The livelong day Lord Marmion rode:
The mountain path the Palmer showed;
By glen and streamlet winded still,
Where stunted birches hid the rill.
They might not choose the lowland road,
For the Merse forayers were abroad,
Who, fired with hate and thirst of prey,
Had scarcely failed to bar their way.
Oft on the trampling band, from crown
Of some tall cliff, the deer looked down;
On wing of jet, from his repose
In the deep heath, the black-cock rose;
Sprung from the gorse the timid roe,
Nor waited for the bending bow;
And when the stony path began,
By which the naked peak they wan,
Up flew the snowy ptarmigan.
The noon had long been passed before
They gained the height of Lammermoor;
, Thence, winding down the northern way,
Before them, at the close of day,
Old Giffard's towers and hamlet lay.
No summons calls them to the tower,
To spend the hospitable hour.
To Scotland's camp the Lord was gone;
His cautious dame, in bower alone,
Dreaded her castle to unclose,
So late, to unknown friends or foes.
On through the hamlet as they paced,
Before a porch, whose front was graced
With bush and flaggon trimly placed,
Lord Marmion drew his rein:
The village inn seemed large, though rude;
Its cheerful fire and hearty food
Might well relieve his train.
Down from their seats the horsemen sprung,
With jingling spurs the court-yard rung;
They bend their horses to the stall,
For forage, food, and firing call,
And various clamour fills the hall;
Weighing the labour with the cost,
Toils every where the bustling host.