Изображения страниц
PDF

XXIV. So passed the day-the evening fell, 'Twas near the time of curfew bell; The air was mild, the wind was calm, The stream was smooth, the dew was balm; E'en the rude watchman, on the tower, Enjoyed and blessed the lovely hour. Far more fair Margaret loved and blessed The hour of silence and of rest. On the high turret sitting lone, She waked at times the lute's soft tone; Touched a wild note, and all between Thought of the bower of hawthorns green. Her golden hair streamed free from band, Her fair cheek rested on her hand, Her blue eyes sought the west afar, For lovers love the western star.

xxv. Is yon the star, o'er Penchryst Pen, That rises slowly to her ken, And, spreading broad its wavering light, Shakes its loose tresses on the night? Is yon red glare the western star ? Oh! 'tis the beacon-blaze of war ! Scarce could she draw her tightened breath, For well she knew the fire of death!

XXVI.
The warder viewed it blazing strong,
And blew his war-note loud and long,
Till, at the high and haughty sound,
Rock, wood, and river, rung around.
The blast alarmed the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all;

Far downward, in the castle yard,
Full many a torch and cresset glared;
And helms and plumes, confusedly tossed,
Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;
And spears in wild disorder shook,
Like reeds beside a frozen brook.

XXVII. The seneschal, whose silver hair Was reddened by the torches' glare, Stood in the midst, with gesture proud, And issued forth his mandates loud :"On Penchryst glows a bale of fire. And three are kindling on Priesthaughswire :

Ride out, ride out,

The foe to scout!
Mount, mount for Branksome, every man!
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan,

That ever are true and stout-
Ye need not send to Liddesdale;
For when they see the blazing bale,
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!
And warn the warden of the strife.
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,
Our kin, and clan, and friends, to raise.'

XXVIII.
Fair Margaret, from the turret head,
Heard, far below, the coursers' tread,

While loud the harness rung,
As to their seats, with clamour dread,

The ready horsemen sprung:
And trampling hoofs, and iron coats,
And leaders' voices, mingled notes,

And out! and out!

In hasty rout,
The horsemen galloped forth;
Dispersing to the south to scout,

And east, and west, and north,
To view their coming enemies,
And warn their vassals and allies.

XXIX. The ready page, with hurried hand, Awaked the need-fire's slumbering brand,

And ruddy blushed the heaven: For a sheet of flame, from the turret high, Waved like a blood-flag on the sky

All flaring and uneven; And soon a score of fires, I ween, From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen; Each with warlike tidings fraught ; Each from each the signal caught; Each after each they glanced to sight, As stars arise upon the night. They gleamed on many a dusky tarn, Haunted by the lonely earn; On many a cairn's grey pyramid, Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid; Till high Dunedin the blazes saw, From Soltra and Dumpender Law; And Lothian heard the Regent's order, That all should bowne them for the Border.

xxx.
The livelong night in Branksome rang

The ceaseless sound of steel;
The castle-bell, with backward clang,

Sent forth the 'larum peal:

Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar
Were piled on echoing keep and tower,
To whelm the foe with deadly shower;
Was frequent heard the changing guard,
And watchword from the sleepless ward ;
While, wearied by the endless din,
Bloodhound and bandog yelled within.

XXXI. The noble Dame, amid the broil, Shared the grey seneschal's high toil, And spoke of danger with a smile; Cheered the young knights, and council sage Held with the chiefs of riper age. No tidings of the foe were brought, Nor of his numbers knew they aught, Nor what in time of truce he sought.

Some said that there were thousands ten; And others weened that it was nought

But Leven Clans, or Tynedale men,
Who came to gather in black mail;
And Liddesdale, with small avail,

Might drive them lightly back again.
So passed the anxious night away,
And welcome was the peep of day.

Ceased the high sound-the listening throng
Applaud the master of the song;
And marvel much, in helpless age,
So hard should be his pilgrimage,
Had he no friend-no daughter dear,
His wandering toil to share and cheer;
No son to be his father's stay,
And guide him on the rugged way?

'Ay, once he had—but he was dead!'
Upon the harp he stooped his head,
And busied himself the strings withal,
To hide the tear that fain would fall.
In solemn measure, soft and slow,
Arose a father's notes of woe.

CANTO FOURTH.

Sweet Teviot: on thy silver tide

The glaring bale-fires blaze no more; No longer steel-clad warriors ride

Along thy wild and willowed shore; Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill, All, all is peaceful, all is still,

As if thy waves, since Time was born, Since first they rolled upon the Tweed, Had only heard the shepherd's reed,

Nor started at the bugle-horn.

II.

Unlike the tide of human time,

Which, though it change in ceaseless flow, Retains each grief, retains each crime

Its earliest course was doomed to know;
And, darker as it downward bears,
Is stained with past and present tears.

Low as that tide has ebbed with me,
It still reflects to Memory's eye
The hour my brave, my only boy,

Fell by the side of great Dundee.
Why, when the volleying musket played
Against the bloody Highland blade,
Why was not I beside him laid ?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »