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The Lady of the Lake.


The Chast.

HARP of the North! that mouldering long hast hung

On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring, And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,

Till envious ivy did around thee cling, Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,

O Minstrel Harp, still must thine accents sleep? Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,

Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep, Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?

Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,

Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd, When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,

Aroused the fearful, or subdued the proud. At each according pause, was heard aloud

Thine ardent symphony, sublime and high! Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bowd;

For still the burden of thy minstrelsy
Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and Beauty's matchless eye.
O wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand

That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray;
O wake once more! though scarce my skill command

Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay:
Though harsh and faint, and soon to die away,

And all unworthy of thy nobler strain, Yet, if one heart throb higher at its sway,

The wizard note has not been touched in vain. Then, silent be no more! Enchantress, wake again!

I. The stag at eve had drunk his fill Where danced the moon on Monan's rill, And deep his midnight lair had made In lone Glenartney's hazel shade; But, when the sun his beacon red Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head, The deep-mouth'd bloodhound's heavy bay Resounded up the rocky way, And faint, from farther distance borne, Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.

II. As Chief, who hears his warder call, “ To Arms! the foemen storm the wall,” The antler'd monarch of the waste Sprung from his heathery couch in haste. But, ere his fleet career he took, The dew-drops from his flanks he shook; Like crested leader proud and high, Tossd his beam'd frontlet to the sky; A moment gazed adown the dale, A moment snuff’d the tainted gale, A moment listen'd to the cry, That thicken'd as the chase drew nigh; Then, as the headmost foes appear'd, With one brave bound the copse he cleard, And stretching forward free and far, Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.*


Yell'd on the view the opening pack; Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them bac To many a mingled sound at once The awaken'd mountain gave response. A hundred dogs bay'd deep and strong, Clatter'd a hundred steeds along, Their peal the merry horns rung out, A hundred voices join'd the shout; With hark, and whoop, and wild halloo, No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew. Far from the tumult fled the roe, Close in her covert cower'd the doe; The falcon, from her caim on high, Cast on the rout a wondering eye, Till far beyond her piercing ken The hurricane had swept the glen.

* See Note I.

Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Return'd from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.

Less loud the sounds of silvan war
Disturb’d the heights of Uam-Var,
And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told,
A giant made his den of old;
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in his pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stay'd perforce,
Was fain to breathe his faltering horse,
And of the trackers of the deer,
Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
So shrewdly on the mountain side,
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.


The noble stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wander'd o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And ponder'd refuge from his toil,
By far* Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copsewood grey,
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Benvenue.
Fresh vigour with the hope return'd,
With flying foot the heath he spurn'd,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.


'Twere long to tell what steeds gave o’er,
As swept the hunt through Cambusmore;
What reigns were tighten'd in despair,
When rose Benledi’s ridge in air;
Who flagg’d upon Bochastle's heath,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith;
For twice that day, from shore to shore,
The gallant stag swam stoutly o’er.
Few were the stragglers, following far,
That reach'd the lake of Vennachar;
And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone,

* See Note 2,

VII. Alone, but with unbated zeal, That horseman plied the scourge and steel ; For jaded now, and spent with toil, Emboss'd with foam, and dark with soil, While every gasp with sobs he drew, The labouring stag strain'd full in view. Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's * breed, Unmatch'd for courage, breath, and speed, Fast on his flying traces came, And all but won that desperate game; For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch, Vindictive toild the bloodhound's staunch; Nor nearer might the dogs attain, Nor farther might the quarry strain. Thus up the margin of the lake, Between the precipice and brake, O'er stock and rock their race they take.

VIII. The Hunter mark'd that mountain high, The lone lake's western boundary, And deem'd the stag must turn to bay, Where that huge rampart barrd the way; Already glorying in the prize, Measured his antlers with his eyes; For the death-wound and death-halloo, Muster'd his breath, his whinyard + drew; But thundering as he came prepared, With ready arm and weapon bared, The wily quarry shunnid the shock, And turn'd him from the opposing rock; Then, dashing down a darksome glen, Soon lost to hound and Hunter's ken, In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook His solitary refuge took. There, while close couch'd, the thicket shed Cold dews and wild flowers on his head, He heard the baffled dogs in vain Rave through the hollow pass amain, Chiding the rocks that yeīl'd again.


Close on the hounds the Hunter came,
To cheer them on the vanish'd game;
But, stumbling in the rugged dell,
The gallant horse exhausted fell.

* See Note 3.

+ See Note 4.

The impatient rider strove in vain
To rouse him with the spur and rein,
For the good steed, his labours o'er,
Stretch'd his stiff limbs, to rise no more;
Then, touch'd with pity and remorse,
He sorrow'd o'er the expiring horse.
“I little thought, when first thy rein
I slack'd


the banks of Seine, That Highland eagle e'er should feed On thy fleet limbs, my matchless steed! Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day, That costs thy life, my gallant grey!”


Then through the dell his horn resounds,
From vain pursuit to call the hounds.
Back limp'd, with slow and crippled pace,
The sulky leaders of the chase;
Close to their master's side they press’d,
With drooping tail and humbled crest;
But still the dingle's hollow throat
Prolong'd the swelling bugle-note.
The owlets started from their dream,
The eagles answer'd with their scream,
Round and around the sounds were cast
Till echo seem'd an answering blast;
And on the Hunter hied his way,
To join some comrades of the day;
Yet often paused, so strange the road,
So wondrous were the scenes it show'd


The western waves of ebbing day
Roll’d o'er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.
But not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path in shadow hid,
Round many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splinter'd pinnacle;
Round many an insulated mass,
The native bulwarks of the pass,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain.
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Form'd turret, dome, or battlement,
Or seem'd fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,

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