Изображения страниц
PDF

He was stately, and young, and tall,
Dreaded in baule, and loved in hall:
And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
a to her cheek a livelier red;
Then the half sigh her swelling breast
Igainst the silken riband press'd:
Then her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold-
Where would you fiod the peerless fair,
with Margaret of Branksome might compare !

He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,

But well Lord Cranstoun served he: And he of his service was full fain; . For once he had been ta'en or slain,

An it had not been his ministry. All between Home and Hermitage Talk'd of Lord Cranstoun's goblin-page.

XXIX. And now, fair dames, methinks I see fan listen to my minstrelsy: Your waving locks ye backward throw, Aed sideloog bend your decks of spow: Te weed to hear a melting tale, of two true lovers in a dale; dad bow the knight, with tender fire,

To paint his faithful passion strove; Spore, he might at her feet expire,

But never, never, cease to love; dod how she blush'd, and how she sigh'd, And, half consenting, half denied, And said that she would die a maid ;let, might the bloody feud be stay'd, Henry of Cranstoun, and only he, Margaret of Branksome's choice should be.

XXXIII.
For the baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish page,

To Mary's chapel of the Lowes :
For there, beside Our Lady's lake,

An offering he had sworn to make, · And he would pay his vows.

But the Ladye of Branksome gather'd a band
Of the best that would ride at her command;(18)

The frysting-place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither a main,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Delorainc;

They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-barp, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St Mary's lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the baron away.
They burnd the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's goblin-page.

- XXXIV: ,
And now, in Branksome's good green-wood,
As under the aged oak he stood,
The baron's courser pricks his ears,
As if a distant noise he hears ;
The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high,
And signs to the lovers to part and tly;
No time was then to vow or sigh.
Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove,
Flew like the startled cushat-dove:
The Dwarf the stirrup held, and rein;
Vaulted the knight on his steed amain,
And, pondering deep that morning's scene,
Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.

XXX. Alas! fair dames, your bopes are vain! Hy harp has lost the enchanting strain; Its lightness would my age reprove:

hairs are gray, my limbs are old, Vybeart is dead, my veins are cold: I may not, must not, sing of love.

XXXI.
bezach an oak, moss'd o'er by eld,
Le baron's Dwarf his courser held, (17) ,
dad held his crested belm and spear:
Twat Dwarf was scarcely an earthly man,,
the tales were true that of him ran
Tarough all the Border, far and near.
I was said, when the baron a-hunting rode
Through Redesdale's glens, but rarely trod,
lle beard a voice cry, «Lost! lost! lost!»
led, like tennis-ball by racquet toss'd,

A leap of thirty feet and three,
Hale from the gorse this elfin shape,
Pristorted like some dwarfish ape, .

And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knce.
Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismay'd;
T is said that five good miles he rade,

To rid him of his company; Lat where he rode one mile, the Dwarf ran four, And the Dwarf was first at the castle door,

While thus he poor'd the lengthen d tale, The Minstrel's voice began to fail : Full slyly smiled the observant page, And gave the wither'd hand of age A goblet, crown'd with mighty wine, The blood of Velez' scorched vine. He raised the silver cup on high, And, while the big drop fill'd his eye, Pray'd God to bless the duchess long, And all who cheer'd a son of song. The attending maidens smiled to see How long, how deep, how zealously, The precious juice the Minstrel quaffid; And he, embolden'd by the draught, Look'd gaily back to them, and laugh'd. The cordial nectar of the bowl Swell'd his old veins, and cheer'd his soul; A lighter, livelier prelude ran, Ere thus bis tale again began.

XXXI. Tee lessens marvel, it is said: Tinselfish Dwarf with the baron staid;

die be ate, and less be spoke, Jor mingled with the menial flock: And oft apart his arms he lossid, And often mutier'd, « Lost! lost! lost!»

1 Wood-pigeon,

[blocks in formation]

CANTO III.

And said I that my limbs were old;
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor wither'd heart was dead,

And that I might not sing of love ?How could I to the dearest theme, That ever warm'd a minstrel's dream,

So foul, so false a recreant prove ! How could I name Love's very name, Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!

Stern was the dint the Borderer lent;
The stately baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse's tail,
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough aslı spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.
But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;
Through shield, and jack, and acton past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last.-
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast,
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurid on a heap lay man and horse.
The baron onward pass'd his course;
Nor knew--so giddy roll'd his brain-
His foc lay stretch'd upon the plain.

In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
Ja war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
Ja bamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.

VII.
But when he reind his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground

Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He bade his page to staunch the wound,

And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate: His noble mind was inly moved For the kiosman of the maid he loved. « 'This shalt thou do without delay; No longer here myself may stay: Unless the swifter I speed away, Short shrift will be at my dying day.»—

So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
Wbile, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green.

But the page shouted wild and shrill-
And scarce bis heimet could he don,

When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior's steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sweat, and splash'd with clay;

His armour red with many a stain:
He seemd in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the livelong night;

For it was William of Deloraine.

VIII. Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode; The goblin-page behind abode; His lord's command he ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took, The Dwarf espied the mighty book! Much he marvelld, a knight of pride Like a book-bosom'd priest should ride: (3) He thought not to search or staunch the wound Until the secret he had found.

IV. But no whit weary did he seem, When, dancing in the sunny beam, He mark'd the crane on the baron's crest;(1) For his ready spear was in his rest. Few were the words, and stero and high,

That mark'd the foemen's feudal hate,
For question fierce and proud reply

Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seem'd to know
That each was other's mortal foe,
And shorted fire, when wheeld around,
To give each knight his vantage ground.

IX. The iron band, the iron clasp, . Resisted long the eltin grasp; For when the first he had undone, It closed as he the next begun. Those iron clasps, that iron band, Would not yield to unchristen'd hand, Till he smeard the cover o'er With the Borderer's curdled gore; A moment then the volume spread, And one short spell therein he read. It had much of glamour' might, (3) Could make a ladye seem a knight; The cobwebs on a dungeon wall Seem tapestry in lordly hall; A nut-shell seem a gilded barge, A sheeling' seem a palace large,

In rapid round the baron bent;

He sigh'd a sigh, and pray'd a prayer; The prayer was to his patron saint,

The sigla was to his ladye fair. Stout Delorainc por sighd por pray'd, Nor saint nor ladye call'd to aid ; But he stoop'd his head, and conch'd his spear, And spurr'd his steed to full carcer. The meeting of these champions proud Seem'd like the bursting thunder-cloud.

Magical delusion. ? A shepherd's hut.

THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

And youth seem age, and age seem youth

vas delusion, nought was truth.

The woodland brook he bounding cross'd, And laughd, and shouted « Lost! lost! lost!»

X

b bad not read another spell, Then on his cheek a buffet fell, so feree, it stretch'd him on the plain, beside the wounded Deloraine. From the ground he rose dismay'd, And shook his huge and matted head ; One word he matter'd, and no more«Man of age, thou smitest sore!» Na more the elfin page durst try luto the wondrous book to pry; The clasps, though smeard with christian gore, Shat faster than they were before, He bid it underneath his cloak. Now, if you ask who gave the stroke, I cannot tell, so mot I thrive ; It was not given by man alive. (4)

XIV. Full sore amazed at the wondrous change,

And frighten'd, as a child might be, At the wild yell and visage strange,

And the dark words of gramarye, The child, amidst the forest bower, Stood rooted like a lily flower; And when at length, with trembling pace,

He sought to find where Branksome lay, He fear'd to see that grisly face

Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journey'd on,
And deeper in the wood is gone,-
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray,-
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.

XI. l'avillingly himself be address'd To do his master's high behest : He lifted up the living corse, And laid it on the weary horse; He led him into Branksome-hall, before the beards of the warders all; And each did after swear and say, There only pass'd a wain of hay. He took him to Lord David's tower, Even to the Ladye's secret bower; And, but that stronger spells were spread, And the door might not be opened, Be had laid him on her very bed. Tate'er he did of gramarye,' is always done maliciously; klong the warrior on the ground, kad the blood welld freshly from the wound.

XV.
And hark ! and bark! the deep-mouth'd bark

Comes nigher still, and nigher;
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound,
His tawny muzzle track'd the ground,

And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wilder'd child saw he,
He flew at bim right furiouslie.
I ween you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of his noble sire,
His wet cheek glow'd 'ewixt fear and ire!
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
And held his little bat on high ;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bay'd,

But still in act to spring;
When dash'd an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stay'd,
He drew his tough bow-string;
But a rough voice cried, « Shoot not, hoy!
Ho! shoot not, Edward-'t is a boy!»

XII. At he repass'd the outer court, ke spied the fair young child at sport; ke thought to train him to the wood; fortat a word, be it understood, He is always for ill, and never for good. Seemnd to the boy, some comrade gay lal bim forth to the woods to play; On the draw-bridge the warders stout Sav a terrier and lurcher passing out.

XIII.
He led the boy o'er bank and fell,

Until they came to a woodland brook;
The running stream dissolved the spell, (5)

And his own elvish shape he took. Could he have had his pleasure vilde, Be bad crippled the joints of the noble child; Or, with bis fogers long and lean, Had strangled him in fiendish spleen. Bat his awful mother he had in dread, And also his power was limited; So he but scowld on the started child, and darted through the forest wild;

XVI.
The speaker issued from the wood,
And check'd his fellow's surly mood,

And quelld the ban-dog's ire :
He was an English yeoman good,

And born in Lancashire. Well could he hit a fallow deer

Five hundred feet him fro; With hand more true, and eve more clear.

No archer bended bow. "
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,

Set off his sunburnt face;
Old England's sign, St George's cross,

His barret-cap did grace;
His bugle-hỏro hung by his side,
All in a wolf-skin baldric tied ;
And his short falchion, sharp and elear,
Had pierced the throat of many a deer.

XVII. His kirtle, made of forest green,

Reach'd scantly to his knee;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The duchess, and her daughters fair, And every gentle ladye there, Each after each, in due degree, Gave praises to his melody; His hand was true, his voice was clear, And much they long'd the rest to hear. Encouraged thus, the aged man, After meet rest, again began.

And that to-night I shall watch with thee,

To win the treasure of the tomb.»From sackcloth couch the monk arose,

With toil his stiffen'd limbs he reard ; A hundred years had fung their spows

On his thin locks and floating beard.

V

CANTO II.

And strangely on the knight look'd he,

And his blue eyes gleamd wild and wide; « And darest thou, warrior, seek to see

What heaven and hell alike would hide ? My breast, in belt of iron pent,

With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn, For threescore years, in penance spent,

My knees those flinty stones have wora; Yet all too litue to atone For knowing what should ne'er be known. Wouldst thou thy every future year

Io ceaseless prayer and pegance drie, Yet wait thy latter end with fear

Then, dariug warrior, follow me!

If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moon-light;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild but to flout the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each chafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin'd central tower;
When buttress and buttress alternately
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; (1)
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to loot o'er the dead man's grave;
Then go-but go alone the while-
Then view St David's ruin'd pile; (2)
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!

VI. « Penance, father, will I none; Prayer know I hardly one; For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry, Save to patter an Ave Mary, When I ride on a Border foray: (4) Other prayer can I none; So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.»

II.
Short halt did Deloraine make there ;
Little reck'd he of the scene so fair!
With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate-
« Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?»-
« From Branksome I,» the warrior cried,
And straight the wicket opend wide:
For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood,

To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,

Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose. (3)

VII.
Again on the knight look d the churchman old

And again he sighed heavily;
For he had himself been a warrior bold,

And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long since
When his limbs were strooc, and his courage !

high: Now slow and faint, he led the way, Where, cloister'd round, the garden lay; The pillar'd arches were over their head, And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead

JJI. Bold Deloraine his errand said; The porter bent his humble head; With torch in hand, and feet unshod, And noiseless step, the path he trod: The arched cloisters far and wide Rang to the warrior's clanking stride; Till, stooping low his lofty crest, He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest, And lifted his barred aven tayle," To hail the Monk of St Mary's aisle.

VIII. Spreading herbs and flowerets bright Glisten'd with the dew of night; Nor herb nor floweret glisten'd there, But was carved in the cloister'd arches as fair The monk gazed long on the lovely moon,

Then into the night he looked forth; And red and bright the streamers light

Were dancing in the glowing north. So had he seen, in fair Castile,

The youth in glittering squadrons start; Sudden the flying jennet wheel,

And hurl the unexpected dart. (6) He knew, by the streamers that shot so brighi, That spirits were riding the northern light.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The key-stone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle, Was a fleur-de-lis, or a quatre-feuille; The corbells were carved grotesque and grim; kad the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim, Wch base and with capital flourish'd around, bad bundles of lances which garlands had bound.

X.
Full many a scutcheon and banner, riven,
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,

Around the screened altar's pale;
And there the dying lamps did burn
Before thy low and lonely urn,
O galbot chief of Otterburne! (7)

And thine, dark knight of Liddesdale! (8) Obading honours of the dead! 0 high ambition, lowly laid!

He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed:
I was in Spain when the morning rose,
But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
The words may not again be said
That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid;
They would rend this abbaye's massy nave,
And pile it iq heaps above his grave.

XV.
«I swore to bury his mighty book,
That never mortal might therein look;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his chief of Branksome's need;
And when that need was past and o'er,
Again the volume to restore.
I buried him on St Michael's night,
When title bell told one, and the moon was bright,
And I dug his chamber among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron's cross might over him wave,
And scare the fiends from the wizard's grave.

XI.
The moon on the east oriel shone (9)
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,

By foliaged tracery combined;
Thou wouldst have thought some fairy's hand
Tsitt poplars straight the ozier wand,

la many a freakish knot, had twined; Then framed a spell, when the work was done, And changed the willow-wreaths to stone. "be silver light, so pale and faint, Show'd many a prophet, and many a saint,

Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Fall in the midst, his cross of red
Triumphant Michael brandished,

Aed trampled the Apostate's pride.
The moon-beam kies'd the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.

XVI. «It was a night of woe and dread, When Michael in the tomb I laid! Strange sounds along the chancel past, The banners waved without a blast»---Suill spoke the monk when the bell tolld one! I tell you, that a braver mau Than William of Deloraine, good at need, Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed; Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread, And his hair did bristle upon liis head.

XII.
They sate them down on a marble stone,

A Scottish monarch slept below;(10)
Thas spoke the monk, in solemn tone-

el was not always a man of woe; For Paynim countries I have trod, And fought beneath the cross of God : Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear, Ind their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.

XVII. « Lo, warrior! now the cross of red Points to the grave of the mighty dead; Within it burns a wonderous light, To chase the spirits that love the night : That lamp shall burn unquenchably, (15) Until the eternal doom shall be.»--Slow moved the monk to the broad Nag-stone, Which the bloody cross was traced upon ; He pointed to a secret nook ; An iron bar the warrior took ; And the monk made a sign with his wither'd hand, The grave's huge portal to expand.

XIII. • In these far climes, it was my lot To meet the wondrous Michael Scott; (1)

A wizard of such dreaded fame,
That when, in Salamanca's cave, (12)
Him listed his magic wand to wave,

The bells would ring in Notre Dame! (13)
Sone of his skill he taught to me;
And, warrior, I could say to thee
Tae words that cleft Eildon lills in three,

And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone: (14)
Bat to speak them were a deadly sin;
Aud for having but thought them my heart within,
A treble penance must be done.

XVIII.
With beating heart to the lask he went;
His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent;
With bar of iron beaved amain,
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows, like rain.
It was by dint of passing strength
That he moved the massy stone at length.
I would you had been there to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream'd upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof!
No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright:
It shone like heaven's own blessed light;

And, issuing from the tomb,
Show'd the monk's cowl, and visage pale,
Danced on the dark-brow'd warrior's mail,

And kiss'd his waving plume.

XIV. • When Michael lay on bis dying bed, His conscience was awakened ;

Farbetli, the projections from which the arebes spring, usually eins fantastic face, or mask.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »