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In numbers high, the witching tale

The prophet pour'd along; No after bard might e'er avail 1

Those numbers to prolong.

Yet fragments of the lofty strain

Float down the tide of years, As, buoyant on the stormy main,

A parted wreck appears.2

He sung King Arthur's Table Round:

The Warrior of the Lake; How courteous Gawaine met the wound,8

And bled for ladies' sake.

But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,

The notes melodious swell;
Was none excell'd in Arthur's days,

The knight of Lionelle.4

For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,

A venom'd wound he bore; When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,

Upon the Irish shore.

1 See Introduction to this ballad.

2 [This stanza was quoted by the Edinburgh Reviewer, of 1804, as a noble contrast to the ordinary humility of the genuine ballad diction.—Ed.]

8 See, in the Fabliaux of Monsieur le Grand, elegantly translated by the late Gregory Way, Esq., the tale of the Knight and the Sword. [Vol. ii. p. 3.]

4 [See Sir Tristrem.]

No art the poison might withstand;

No medicine could be found, Till lovely Isolde's lily hand

Had probed the rankling wound.

With gentle hand and soothing tongue

She bore the leech's part;
And, while she o'er his sick-bed hung,

He paid her with his heart.

O fatal was the gift, I ween!

For, doom'd in evil tide, The maid must be rude Cornwall's queen,

His cowardly uncle's bride.

Their loves, their woes, the gifted bard,

In fairy tissue wove; Where lords, and knights, and ladies bright,

In gay confusion strove.

The Garde Joyeuse, amid the tale,
High rear'd its glittering head;

And Avalon's enchanted vale
In all its wonders spread.

Brangwain was there, and Segramore,
And fiend-born Merlin's gramarye f

Of that famed wizard's mighty lore,
O who could sing but he?

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Through many a maze the winning song

In changeful passion led,
Till bent at length the listening throng

O'er Tristrem's dying bed.

His ancient wounds their scars expand, With agony his heart is wrung:
O where is Isolde's lilye hand, And where her soothing tongue?

She comes! she comes !—like flash of flame

Can lovers' footsteps fly:
She comes! she comes!—she only came

To see her Tristrem die.

She saw him die; her latest sigh
Join'd in a kiss his parting breath;

The gentlest pair, that Britain bare,
United are in death.

There paus'd the harp: its lingering sound

Died slowly on the ear;
The silent guests still bent around,

For still they seem'd to hear.

Then woe broke forth in murmurs weak:
Nor ladies heaved alone the sigh;

But, half ashamed, the rugged cheek
Did many a gauntlet dry.

On Leader's stream, and Learmont's tower.

The mists of evening close; In camp, in castle, or in bower,

Each warrior sought repose.

Lord Douglas, in his lofty tent,

Dream'd o'er the woeful tale; When footsteps light, across the bent,

The warrior's ear assail.

He starts, he wakes;—" What, Richard, ho!

Arise, my page, arise!
What venturous wight, at dead of night,

Dare step where Douglas lies !"—

Then forth they rush'd: by Leader's tide,

A selcouth 1 sight they see—
A hart and hind pace side by side,

As white as snow on Fairnalie.2

Beneath the moon, with gesture proud,
They stately move and slow;

1 Selcouth—Wondrous.

2 An ancient seat upon the Tweed, in Selkirkshire. In a popular edition of the first part of Thomas the Rhymer, the Fairy Queen thus addresses him:—

"Gin ye wad meet wi' me again,
Gang to the bonny banks of Fairnalie."

[Fairnilee is now one of the seats of Mr. Pringle of Clifton, M. P. for Selkirkshire. 1833.]

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Nor scare they at the gathering crowd, Who marvel as they go.

To Learmont's tower a message sped,

As fast as page might run; And Thomas started from his bed,

And soon his clothes did on.

First he woxe pale, and then woxe red;

Never a word he spake but three ;— "My sand is run; my thread is spun;

This sign regardeth me."

The elfin harp his neck around,

In minstrel guise, he hung;
And on the wind, in doleful sound,

Its dying accents rung.

Then forth he went; yet turn'd him oft

To view his ancient hall:
On the grey tower, in lustre soft,

The autumn moonbeams fall;

And Leader's waves, like silver sheen, Danced shimmering in the ray;In deepening mass, at distance seen, Broad Soltra's mountains lay.

"Farewell, my father's ancient tower! A long farewell," said he:

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