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Why should I tell the rigid doom,
How Ousenam's maidens tore their hair, Wept till their eyes were dead and dim, And wrung their hands for love of him,
Who died at Jedwood Air "
He paused : the listening dames again Applaud the hoary Minstrel's strain. With many a word of kindly cheer, In pity half, and half sincere, Marvell'd the duchess how so well His legendary song could tell– Of ancient deeds, so long forgot; of feuds, whose memory was not; Of forests, now laid waste and bare: Of towers, which harbour now the hare; Of manners, long since changed and gone ; Of chiefs, who under their gray stone So long had slept, that fickle Fame Had blotted from her rolls their name, And twined round some new minion's head The fading wreath for which they bled; In sooth, "t was strange, this old man's verse Could call thern from their marble hearse.
The harper smiled, well pleased; for ne'er Was flattery lost on poet's ear. A simple race : they waste their toil For the vain tribute of a smile; Een when in age their flame expires, Her dulcet breath can fan its fires; Their drooping fancy wakes at praise, And strives to trim the short-lived blaze.
Smiled then, well pleased, the aged man, And thus his tale continued ran.
Call it not vain :-they do not err,
who say, that, when the poet dies, Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,
And celebrates his obsequies; who say, tall cliff, and cavern lone, For the departed bard inake moan; That mountains weep in crystal rill; That flowers in tears of balm distil; Through his loved groves that breezes sigh, And oaks in deeper groan reply; And rivers teach their rushing wave To murmur dirges round his grave.
II. Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn Those things inanimate can mourn; But that the stream, the wood, the gale, Is vocal with the plaintive wail Of those, who, else forgotten long, Lived in the poet's faithful song. And, with the poet's parting breath, Whose memory feels a second death. The inaid's pale shade, who wails her lot, That love, true love, should be forgot, From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear Upon the gentle minstrel's bier: The phantom knight, his glory fled, Mourns o'er the field he heap'd with dead; Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain, And shrieks along the battle-plain: The chief, whose antique crownlet long Still sparkled in the feudal song, Now, from the mountain's misty throne, Sces, in the thanedom once his own, His ashes undistinguish'd lie, His place, his power, his memory die : His groans the lonely caverns fill, His tears of rage impel the rill; All mourn the minstrel's harp unstrung, Their name unknown, their praise unsung.
III. Scarcely the hot assault was staid, The terms of truce were scarcely made, when they could spy, from Branksome's towers, The advancing march of martial powers: Thick clouds of Just afar appear'd, And trampling steeds were faintly heard; Bright spears, above the columns dun, Glanced momentary to the sun; And feudal banners fair display'd The bands that moved to Branksome's aid.
IV. "Wails not to tell each hardy clan, From the fair Middle Marches came; The Bloody Heart blazed in the van, Announcing Douglas, dreaded name! (1) "Wails not to tell what steeds did spurn, where the Seven Spears of Wedderburne (2) Their men in battle-order set; And Swinton laid the lance in rest, That tamed of yore the sparkling crest Of Clarence's Plantagenet. (3) Nor lists I say what hundreds more, From the rich Merse and Lammermore, And Tweed's fair borders, to the war, Beneath the crest of old Dunbar, And Hepburn's mingled banners, come, Down the steep mountain glittering far, And shouting still, “A Home a Home!" (4)
V. Now squire and knight, from Branksome sent, on many a courteous message went; To every chief and lord they paid Meet thanks for prompt and powerful aid; And told them,-how a truce was made, And how a day of fight was ta'en
Twixt Musgrave and stout Deloraine;
WI. Now, noble dame, perchance you ask, How these two hostile armies met? Deeming it were no easy task To keep the truce which here was set: Where martial spirits, all on fire, Breathed only blood and mortal ire. By mutual inroads, mutual blows, By habit, and by nation, foes, They met on Teviot's strand: They met, and sate them mingled down, Without a threat, without a frown, As brothers meet in foreign land: The hands, the spear that lately grasp'd, Still in the mailed gauntlet clasp'd, Were interchanged in greeting dear; Wisors were raised, and faces shown, And many a friend, to friend made known, Partook of social cheer. Some drove the jolly bowl about; With dice and draughts some chased the day; And some, with many a merry shout, In riot, revelry, and rout, Pursued the foot-ball play. (5)
VII. Yet, be it known, had bugles blown, Or sign of war been seen, Those bands, so fair together ranged, Those hands, so frankly interchanged, Had dyed with gore the green: The merry shout by Teviot side Had sunk in war-cries wild and wide, And in the groan of death; And whingers,' now in friendship bare, The social meal to part and share, Had found a bloody sheath. "Twixt truce and war such sudden change Was not infrequent, nor held strange, In the old Border day: (6) But yet on Branksome's towers and town, In peaceful merriment, sunk down The sun's declining ray.
Wiii. The blithesome signs of wassel gay Decay’d not with the dying day; Soon through the latticed windows tall
"A sort of knife, or poniard.
Of lofty Branksome's lordly hall,
Ix. Less frequent heard, and fainter still, At length the various clamours died; And you might hear, from Branksome hill, No sound but Teviot's rushing tide: Save, when the changing sentinel The challenge of his watch could tell; And save where, through the dark profound, The clanging axe and hammer's sound Rung from the nether lawn; For many a busy hand toil'd there Strong pales to shape, and beams to square, The lists dread barriers to prepare Against the morrow's dawn.
X. Margaret from hall did soon retreat, Despite the dame's reproving eye; Nor mark'd she, as she left her seat, Full many a stifled sigh: For many a noble warrior strove To win the Flower of Teviot's love, And many a bold ally.— With throbbing head and anxious heart, All in her lonely bower apart, In broken sleep she lay: By times, from silken couch she rose; While yet the banner'd hosts repose, She view'd the dawning day: Of all the hundreds sunk to rest, First woke the loveliest and the best.
XI. She gazed upon the inner court, Which in the tower's tall shadow lay; Where coursers' clang, and stamp, and snort, Had rung the livelong yesterday; Now still as death; till, stalking slow,The jingling spurs announced his tread, A stately warrior pass'd below; But when he raised his plumed head— Blessed Mary! can it be? Secure, as if in Ousenam bowers, He walks through Banksome's hostile towers, With fearless step and free. She dared not sign, she dared not speak— Oh! if one page's slumbers break, His blood the price must pay! Not all the pearls Queen Mary wears, Not Margaret's yet more precious tears, Shall buy his life a day.
xii. Yet was his hazard small; for well You may bethink you of the spell
Of that sly urchin page; This to his lord he did impart, And made him seem, by glamour art, A knight from Hermitage: Unchallenged, thus, the warder's post, The court, unchallenged, thus he cross'd, For all the vassalage: But, O! what magic's quaint disguise Could blind fair Margaret's azure eyes! She started from her seat; While with surprise and fear she strove, And both could scarcely master love— Lord Henry's at her feet.
xiii. Oft have I mused, what purpose bad That vile malicious urchin had To bring this meeting round; For happy love's a heavenly sight, And by a vile malignant sprite In such no joy is found; And oft I've deem’d, perchance he thought Their erring passion might have wrought Sorrow, and sin, and shame: And death to Cranstoun's gallant knight, And to the gentle ladye bright, Disgrace, and loss of fame. But earthly spirit could not tell The heart of them that loved so well. True love 's the gift which God has given To man alone beneath the heaven. It is not fantasy's hot fire, Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly; It liveth not in fierce desire, With dead desire it doth not die; It is the secret sympathy, The silver link, the silken tie, Which heart to heart, and mind to mind, In body and in soul can bind.— Now leave we Margaret and her knight, To tell you of the approaching fight.
Their warning blast the bugles blew,
The pipe's shrill port" aroused each clan; In haste, the deadly strife to view,
The trooping warriors eager ran :
Meantime full anxious was the dame;
But yet not long the strife—for, lo!
"A martial piece of music adapted to the bagpipes.
In armour sheath'd from top to toe, Appeard, and craved the combat due. The dame her charm successful knew," And the fierce chiefs their claims withdrew.
XVI. When for the lists they sought the plain, The stately Ladye's silken rein Did noble Howard hold; Unarmed by her side he walk'd, And much, in courteous phrase, they talk'd Of feats of arms of old. Costly his garb—his Flemish ruff Fell o'er his doublet, shaped of buff, With satin slash'd and lined; Tawny his boot, and gold his spur, His cloak was all of Poland fur; His hose with silver twined: His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt, Hung in a broad and studded belt; Hence, in rude phrase, the Borderers still Call'd noble Howard, Belted Will.
Behind Lord Howard and the dame,
Whose foot-cloth swept the ground; White was her wimple, and her veil, And her loose locks a chaplet pale
Of whitest roses bound. The lordly Angus, by her side, In courtesy to cheer her tried; Without his aid, her hand in vain Had strove to guide her broider'd rein. He deem’d, she shudder'd at the sight Of warriors met for mortal fight; But cause of terror, all unguess'd, Was fluttering in her gentle breast, When, in their chairs of crimson placed, The dame and she the barriers graced.
Prize of the field, the young Buccleuch,
That none, while lasts the strife, Should dare, by look, or sign, or word, Aid to a champion to afford,
On peril of his life;
XiX. rNG Lish her ALn. Here standeth Richard of Musgrave, Good knight and true, and freely born,
* See page 12, Stanza 23.
Amends from Deloraine to crave,
He sayeth that William of Deloraine
This with his sword he will maintain,
Here standeth William of Deloraine,
And that, so help him God above,
He will on Musgrave's body prove, He lies most foully in his throat.
Then, Teviot! how thine echoes rang,
Let loose the martial foes,
The combatants did close.
xxi. Ill would it suit your gentle ear, Ye lovely listeners, to hear How to the axe the helms did sound, And blood pour'd down from many a wound; For desperate was the strife and long, And either warrior fierce and strong. But, were each dame a listening knight, I well could tell how warriors fight; For I have seen war's lightning flashing, Seen the claymore with bayonet clashing, Seen through red blood the war-horse dashing, And scorn'd, amid the reeling strife, To yield a step for death or life.
'T is done, ’t is done that fatal blow
Has stretch'd him on the bloody plain; He strives to rise—Brave Musgrave, no!
Thence never shalt thou rise again! He chokes in blood—some friendly hand Undo the visor's barred band, Unfix the gorget's iron clasp, And give him room for life to gasp;0, bootless aid!—haste, holy friar, Haste, ere the sinner shall expire! Of all his guilt let him be shriven, And smooth his path from earth to heaven!
In haste the holy friar sped;—
As through the lists he ran;
He raised the dying man; Loose waved his silver beard and hair, As o'er him he kneel'd down in prayer;
And still the crucifix on high
IIe holds before his darkening eye;
And still he bends an anxious ear,
XXIV. As if exhausted in the fight, Or musing o'er the piteous sight, The silent victor stands; His beaver did he not unclasp, Mark'd not the shouts, felt not the grasp Of gratulating hands. When lo! strange cries of wild surprise, Mingled with seeming terror, rise Among the Scottish bands; And all, amid the throng'd array, In panic haste gave open way To a half-naked ghastly man, Who downward from the castle ran : He cross'd the barriers at a bound, And wild and haggard look'd around, As dizzy, and in pain; And all, upon the armed ground, Knew William of Deloraine ! Each ladye sprung from seat with speed; Vaulted each marshal from his steed; “And who art thou, o they cried, « Who hast this battle fought and won a His plumed helm was soon undone— “Cranstoun of Teviot side : For this fair prize I've fought and won,” And to the Ladye led her son.
Full of the rescued boy she kiss'd,
For Howard was a generous foe—
The Ladye would the feud forego, And deign to bless the nuptial hour Of Cranstoun's Lord and Teviot's Flower.
XXVI. She look'd to river, look'd to hill, Thought on the Spirits' prophecy, Then broke her silencestern and still,— « Not you, but Fate, has vanquish'd me; Their influence kindly stars may shower On Teviot's tide and Branksome's tower. For pride is quell'd, and love is free.” She took fair Margaret by the hand, Who, breathless, trembling, scarce might stand; That hand to Cranstoun's lord tave she« As I am true to thee and thine, Do thou be true to me and mine!
This clasp of love our bond shall be, For this is your betrothing-day, And all these noble lords shall stay,
To grace it with their company." —
xxvii. All as they left the listed plain, Much of the story she did gain; How Cranstoun fought with Deloraine, And of his page, and of the book Which from the wounded knight he took; And how he sought her castle high, That morn, by help of gramarye; How, in Sir William's armour dight, Stolen by his page, while slept the knight, He took on him the single fight. But half his tale he left unsaid, And linger'd till he join'd the maid.— Cared not the Ladye to betray Her mystic arts in view of day; But well she thought, ere midnight came, Of that strange page the pride to tame, From his foul hands the book to save, And send it back to Michael's grave.— Needs not to tell each tender word "Twixt Margaret and 'twixt Cranstoun's lord; Nor how she told of former woes, And how her bosom fell and rose, while he and Musgrave bandied blows. Needs not these lovers' joys to tell; One day, fair maids, you'll know them well.
XXVIII. William of Deloraine, some chance had waken'd from his deathlike trance; And taught that, in the listed plain, Another, in his arms and shield, Against fierce Musgrave axe did wield, Under the name of Deloraine. Hence, to the field, unarm’d, he ran, And hence, his presence scared the clan, Who held him for some fleeting wraith," And not a man of blood and breath. Not much this new ally he loved, Yet, when he saw what hap had proved, He greeted him right heartilie: He would not waken old debate, For he was void of rancorous hate, Though rude, and scant of courtesy; In raids he spilt but seldom blood, Unless when men-at-arms withstood, Or, as was meet, for deadly feud. He ne'er bore grudge for stalwart blow, Ta’en in fair fight from gallant foe: And so 't was seen of him, e'en now, when on dead Musgrave he look'd down; Grief darken'd on his rugged brow, Though half disguised with a frown; And thus, while sorrow bent his head, His foeman's epitaph he made.
XXix. . Now, Richard Musgrave, liest thou here! 1 ween, my deadly enemy;
* The spectral apparition of a living person.
For, if I slew thy brother dear,
XXX. So mourn’d he, till Lord Dacre's band Were bowning back to Cumberland. They raised brave Musgrave from the field, And laid him on his bloody shield; On levell'd lances, four and four, By turns, the noble burden bore. Before, at times, upon the gale, Was heard the minstrel's plaintive wail; Behind, four priests, in sable stole, Sung requiem for the warrior's soul: Around, the horsemen slowly rode; With trailing pikes the spearmen trode; And thus the gallant knight they bore, Through Liddesdale to Leven's shore; Thence to Holme Coltrame's lofty nave, And laid him in his father's grave.
The harp's wild notes, though hush'd the song, The mimic march of death prolong. Now seems it far, and now a-near, Now meets, and now eludes the ear; Now seems some mountain side to sweep, Now faintly dies in valley deep; Seems now as if the minstrel's wail, Now the sad requien, loads the gale; Last, o'er the warrior's closing grave, Rung the full choir in choral stave.
After due pause they bade him tell, Why he, who touch'd the harp so well, Should thus, with ill-rewarded toil, Wander a poor and thankless soil, When the more generous southern land Would well requite his skilful hand.
The aged harper, howsoe'er Ilis only friend, his harp, was dear,
the lands, that over Ouse to Berwick forth do bear. Have for their blazon had, the snaffle, spur, and spear. Poly-Aidion, Song xiii.