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Jntroduction to Canto Second.



Ashestiel, Ettricke Forest.

The scenes are desart now and bare, Where flourished once a forest fair, When these waste glens with copse were lined, And peopled with the hart and hind, Yon thorn—perchance whose prickly spears Have fenced hiin for three hundred years,

While fell around his green compeers

Yon lonely thorn, would he could tell
The changes of his parent dell,

Since he, so grey and stubborn now,
Waved in each breeze a sapling bough;
Would he could tell how deep the shade,
A thousand mingled branches made ;
How broad the shadows of the oak,
How clung the rowan * to the rock,
And through the foliage shewed his head,
With narrow leaves, and berries red;
What pines on every mountain sprung,
O’er every dell what birches hung,
In every breeze what aspens shook,
What alders shaded every brook!

Here, in my shade," methinks he'd say, “ The mighty stag at noontide lay: The wolf I've seen, a fiercer game, (The neighbouring dingle bears his name,) With lurching step around me prowl, And stop against the moon to howl ;

* Mountain-ash.

The mountain boar, on battle set,

His tusks upon my stem would whet;
While doe and roe, and red-deer good,
Have bounded by through gay green-wood.
Then oft, from Newark's riven tower,
Sallied a Scottish monarch's power :
A thousand vassals mustered round,
With horse, and hawk, and horn, and hound;
And I might see the youth intent,
Guard every pass with cross-bow bent;
And through the brake the rangers stalk,
And falc'ners hold the ready hawk;
And foresters, in green-wood trim,
Lead in the leash the gaze-hounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratchet’s * bay
From the dark covert drove the prey,
To slip them as he broke away.
The startled quarry bounds amain,
As fast the gallant grey-hounds strain ; .

* Slow-bound.

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