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But, passing such digression o'er,
Suffice it, that their route was laid
Across the furzy hills of Braid.
They passed the glen and scanty rill,
And climbed the opposing bank, until
They gained the top of Blackford Hill.
Blackford! on whose uncultured breast,
Among the broom, the thorn, and whin, A truant boy, I sought the nest, Or listed, as I lay at rest,
While rose, on breezes thin,
The murmur of the city crowd,
And, from his steeple jangling loud,
Saint Giles's mingling din.
Now, from the summit to the plain,
Waves all the hill with yellow grain ;
And o'er the landscape as I look,
Nought do I see unchanged remain,
Save the rude cliffs and chiming brook. To me they make a heavy moan, Of early friendships past and gone.
But different far the change has been,
Since Marmion, from the crown Of Blackford saw that martial scene
Upon the bent so brown: Thousand pavilions, white as snow, Spread o'er the Borough-moor below,
Upland, and dale, and down :-
A thousand did I say? I ween,
Thousands on thousands there were seen,
That chequered all the heath between
The streamlet and the town ;
In crossing ranks extending far,
Forming a camp irregular;
Oft giving way, where still there stood
Some reliques of the old oak-wood,
That darkly huge did intervene,
And tame the glaring white with green
In these extended lines there lay
A martial kingdom's vast array.
For from Hebudes, dark with rain,
To eastern Lodon's fertile plain,
And from the southern Redswire edge,
To farthest Rosse's rocky ledge;
From west to east, from south to north,
Scotland sent all her warriors forth.
Marmion might hear the mingled hum
Of myriads up the mountain come;
The horses' tramp, and tingling clank,
Where chiefs reviewed their vassal rank,
And charger's shrilling neigh ;
And see the shifting lines advance,
While frequent flashed, from shield and lance,
The sun's reflected ray.
Thin curling in the morning air,
The wreaths of failing smoke declare,
To embers now the brands decayed,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
Full many a baggage-cart and wain,
And dire artillery's clumsy car,
By sluggish oxen tugged to war;
And there were Borthwick's Sisters Seven,'
And culverins which France had given.
Ill-omened gift! the guns remain
The conqueror's spoil on Flodden plain.
Nor marked they less, where in the air
A thousand streamers flaunted fair ;
Various in shape, device, and hue,
Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
Broad, narrow, swallow-tailed, and square,
Scroll, pennon, pensil, bandrol, there
O'er the pavilions flew.
Highest, and midmost, was descried
The royal banner, floating wide;
The staff, a pine-tree strong and straight,
Pitched deeply in a massive stone,
Which still in memory is shown,
Yet bent beneath the standard's weight,
Whene'er the western wind unrolled,
With toil, the huge and cumbrous fold,
And gave to view the dazzling field,
Where, in proud Scotland's royal shield,
The ruddy Lion ramped in gold.
Seven culverins so called, cast by one Borthwick. , 2 Each of these feudal ensigns intimated the different rank of those entitled to display them.
Lord Marmion viewed the landscape bright,-
He viewed it with a chief's delight,-
Until within him burned his heart,
And lightning from his eye did part,
As on the battle-day ;
Such glance did falcon never dart,
When stooping on his prey.
“Oh! well, Lord-Lion, hast thou said,
Thy King from warfare to dissuade
Were but a vain essay ;
For, by Saint George, were that host mine,
Not power infernal, nor divine,
Should once to peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimmed their armour's shine
In glorious battle fray!” —
Answered the bard, of milder mood :
“ Fair is the sight,—and yet 'twere good,
That kings would think withal, When peace and wealth their land have blessed, 'Tis better to sit still at rest,
Than rise, perchance to fall.”
Still on the spot Lord Marmion stayed,
For fairer scene he ne'er surveyed.
When sated with the martial show
That peopled all the plain below,