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And, would the noble duchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.

The humble boon was soon obtained ; The aged minstrel audience gained. But when he reached the room of state, Where she, with all her ladies, sate, Perchance he wished his boon denied : For, when to tune his harp he tried, His trembling hand had lost the ease, Which marks security to please ; And scenes, long past, of joy and pain, Came wildering o'er his aged brain He tried to tune his harp in vain ! The pitying duchess praised its chime, And gave him heart, and gave him time, Till every string's according glee Was blended into harmony. And then, he said, he would full fain He could recall an ancient strain, He never thought to sing again. It was not framed for village churls, But for high dames and mighty earls: He had played it to King Charles the good, When he kept court in Holyrood; And much he wished, yet feared, to try The long-forgotten melody. Amid the strings his fingers strayed, And an uncertain warbling made, And oft he shook his hoary head. But when he caught the measure wild,

The old man raised his face, and smiled;
And lightened up his faded eye,
With all a poet's ecstasy!
In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along:
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot:
Cold diffidence, and age's frost,
In the full tide of song were lost;
Each blank, in faithless memory void,
The poet's glowing thought supplied:
And, while his harp responsive rung,
'Twas thus the latest minstrel sung.


The feast was over in Branksome Tower,
And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower;
Her bower that was guarded by word and by spell,
Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell-
Jesu Maria, shield us well!
No living wight, save the Ladye alone,
Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;

Knight, and page, and household squire,
Loitered through the lofty hall,

Or crowded round the ample fire: The stag-hounds, weary of the chase,

Lay stretched upon the rushy floor, And urged, in dreams, the forest-race,

From Teviot Stone to Eskdale Moor.

Nine-and-twenty knights of fame

Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;
Nine-and-twenty squires of name
Brought them their steeds to bower from stall;

Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall
Waited, duteous, on them all :
They were all knights of metal true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.


Ten of them were sheathed in steel,
With belted sword, and spur on heel:
They quitted not their harness bright,
Neither by day nor yet by night:

They lay down to rest

With corslet laced,
Pillowed on buckler cold and hard;

They carved at the meal

With gloves of steel,
And they drank the red wine through

The helmet barred.

Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,
Waited the beck of the warders ten;
Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,
Stood saddled in stable day and night,
Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,
And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow;
A hundred more fed free in stall:
Such was the custom of Branksome Hall.


Why do these steeds stand ready dight?
Why watch these warriors, armed, by night?

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While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott, The slaughtered chiefs, the mortal jar, The havoc of the feudal war,

Shall never, never be forgot!

In sorrow o'er Lord Walter's bier

The warlike foresters had bent;
And many a flower, and many a tear,

Old Teviot's maids and matrons lent: But o'er her warrior's bloody bier The Ladye dropped nor flower nor tear! Vengeance, deep-brooding o'er the slain,

Had locked the source of softer woc; And burning pride, and high disdain,

Forbade the rising tear to flow; Until, amid his sorrowing clan,

Her son lisped from the nurse's knee"And if I live to be a man,

My father's death revenged shall be !' Then fast the mother's tears did seek To dew the infant's kindling cheek.

All loose her negligent attire,

All loose her golden hair,
Hung Margaret o'er her slaughtered sire,

And wept in wild despair,
But not alone the bitter tear

Had filial grief supplied ;
For hopeless love, and anxious fear,

Had lent their mingled tide:
Nor in her mother's altered eye
Dared she to look for sympathy.
Her lover, 'gainst her father's clan,

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