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Soon lost to hound and hunter’s ken,
In the deep Trosach's 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 yell'd again.
IX. Close on the hounds the hunter came, To cheer them on the vanished game; But, stumbling in the rugged dell, The gallant horse exhausted fell. 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 upon 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 gray !”
1 [“The term Trosachs signifies the rough or bristled territory.”—GRAHAM.]
X. 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,
1 [MS.—“And on the hunter hied his pace, To meet some comrades of the chase.”]
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,
F seem’d fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,
Wild crests as pagod ever deck'd,
Or mosque of Eastern architect.
Nor were these earth-born castles bare.”
Nor lack'd they many a banner fair ;
For, from their shiver'd brows displayed,
Far, o'er the unfathomable glade,
All twinkling with the dew-drops sheen,”
The brier-rose fell in streamers green,
And creeping shrubs, of thousand dyes,
Waved in the west-wind's summer sighs.
Hawthorn and hazel mingled there;
The primrose pale and violet flower,
Found in each cliff a narrow bower;
Foxglove and nightshade, side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride,
Group'd their dark hues with every stain
The weather-beaten crags retain.
With boughs that quaked at every breath,
Gray birch and aspen wept beneath ;
Aloft, the ash and warrior oak
Cast anchor in the rifted rock;
And, higher yet, the pine-tree hung
His shatter'd trunk, and frequent flung,"
Where seem'd the cliffs to meet on high,
His boughs athwart the narrow'd sky.
Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
Where glist’ning streamers waved and danced,
The wanderer's eye could barely view,
The summer heaven's delicious blue ;
So wondrous wild, the whole might seem
The scenery of a fairy dream.
1 [MS.—“His scathed trunk, and frequent flung,
Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
His rugged arms athwart the sky.
Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
Where twinkling streamers waved and danced.”]
Affording scarce such breadth of brim.'
As served the wild-duck’s brood to swim.
Lost for a space, through thickets veering,
But broader when again appearing,
Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face
Could on the dark-blue mirror trace;
And farther as the hunter stray'd,
Still broader sweep its channels made.
The shaggy mounds no longer stood,
Emerging from entangled wood.”
But, wave-encircled, seem'd to float,
Like castle girdled with its moat;
Yet broader floods extending still
Divide them from their parent hill,
Till each, retiring, claims to be
An islet in an inland sea.
And now, to issue from the glen,
No pathway meets the wanderer's ken,
Unless he climb, with footing nice,
A far projecting precipice.”