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But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all;
He meetly stabled his steed in stall,
And sought the convent's lonely wall.
Here paused the harp, and with its swell
The master's fire and courage fell;
Dejectedly and low he bowed,
And, gazing timid on the crowd,
He seemed to seek, in every eye,
If they approved his minstrelsy;
And, diffident of present praise,
Somewhat he spoke of foriner days,
And how old age, and wand'ring long,
Had done his hand and harp some wrong.
The duchess and her daughters fair,
And every gentle lady there,
Each after each, in due degree,
Gave praises to his melody;
His hand was true, his voice was clear,
And much they longed the rest to hear,
Encouraged thus, the aged man,
After meet rest, again began.
If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day,
Gild but to flout the ruins grey.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruined 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;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go-but go alone the while-
Then view St. David's ruined pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!
Short halt did Deloraine make there:
Little recked 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 strait the wicket opened 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.
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 cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He entered the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,
To hail the monk of St. Mary's aisle.
IV. 'The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says, that the fated hour is come,
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 stiffened limbs he reared; A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.
v. And strangely on the knight looked he,
And his blue eyes gleamed wild and wide; 'And dar'st 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 wom;
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne'er be known.
Wouldst thou thy every future year
In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
Yet wait thy latter end with fear-
Then, daring warrior, follow me!'
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. Other prayer can I none; So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.'
Again on the knight looked 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 by,
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high ;-
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
Where, cloistered round, the garden lay:
The pillared arches were over their head,
And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead.
Spreading herbs and flowerets bright,
Glistened with the dew of night;
Nor herb nor flowerct glistened there,
But was carved in the cloister-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.
He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright,
That spirits were riding the northern light.
By a steel-clenched postern door,
They entered now the chancel tall;
The darkened roof rose high aloof
On pillars lofty and light and small :
The key-stone that locked each ribbed aisle,
Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quatrefeuille ;
The corbels were carved grotesque and grim;
And the pillars, with clustered shafts so trim,
With base and with capital flourished around,
Seemed bundles of lances which garlands had bound.
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
Around the screenèd altar's pale;
And there the dying lamps did burn,
Before thy low and lonely urn,
O gallant Chief of Otterburne!
And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale!
O fading honours of the dead!
O high ambition, lowly laid !
The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery combined;
Thou wouldst have thought some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the osier wand,
In many a freakish knot, had twined;
Then framed a spell, when the work was done,
And changed the willow-wreaths to stone.
The silver light, so pale and faint,
Showed many a prophet, and many a saint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Full in the midst, his Cross of Red
Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the Apostate's pride.
The moonbeam kissed the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.