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THE’LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.
He paused : the listening dames again
Applaud the hoary Minstre.l'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 them 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;
E'en 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.
Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn;
But that the stream, the wood, the gale,
Of those, who, else forgotten long, 4“
And, with the poet's parting breath,
The phantom knight, his glory fled,
The chief, whose antique crownlet long
Now, from the mountain's misty throne,
His ashes undistinguish'd lie,
llis 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.
lll. 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 clopds of dust 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. I
IV. ’Vails not to tell each hardy clan, From the fair Middle Marches came; The Bloody Heart blazed in the van, Announcing Douglas, dreaded name! (t) 'Vails not to tell what steeds did spnrn, Where the Seven Spears of Wedderburne (1) 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 !
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 how a day of fight was ta'en
’Twixt Musgrave and stout Deloraine;
Nor, while they bade to feast each Scot;
Rode forth, in seemly terms to call Those gallant foes to Branksome-hall. Accepted Howard, than whom knight Was never dubb’d more bold in fight; Nor, when from war and armour free, More famed for stately courtesy:
But angry Dacre rather chose
In his pavilion to repose.
Now, noble dame, perchance you ask,
How these two hostile armies met!
To keep the truce which here was setr ',
They met on ’I‘eviot‘s strand:
As brothers meet in foreign land:
The hands, the spear that lately grasp'd,
Were interchanged in greeting dear;
Partook of social cheer.
Willi dice and draughts some chased the day;
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, liad found a bloody sheath. "l.‘wixt 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.
_ VIII. The blithesome signs of wassel gay Decay’d not with the dying day; Soon through the latticed windows tall
‘A sort of knife, or poninrd.
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 dcem'd, she shudder'd at the sight Of warriors met for mortal fight; But cause of terror, all unguess'd, \Vas 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,
While to each knight their care assign’d
That none, while lasts the strife,
And not a breath the silence broke,
XIX. suousu nsnno. Here standeth Richard of Musgrave, _ Good knight and true, and freely born,
' A martial piece of music Idllptad to the bagpipes
' See page :2, Stanza :3.
Amends from Deloraine to crave,
For foul despiteous scathe and scorn. ' Ile sayeth that William of Deloraine
Is traitor false by Border laws;
This with his sword he will maintain,
So help him God, and his good cause!
XX. scorriss nsnnn. Here standeth William of Deloraine. Good knight and true, of noble strain, \‘\'ho sayeth, that foul treason’s stain, Since he bore arms, ne’er soil’d his coat; And that, so help him God above, He will on l\lusgrc\ve's body prove, lle lies most foully in his throat. Loan mciuz. Forward, brave champions, to the fight! Sound trumpets!Loan noun. ——1< God defend the right!Then, Teviot! how thine echoes rang, When bugle-sound and trumpet-clang . Let loose the martial foes, And in mid list, with shield poised high And measured step and wary eye, The combatants did close.
Ill would it suit your gentle ear,
Ye lovely listeners, to hear
How to the axe the helms did sound,
And blood pout-‘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,
To yield a step for death or life.
He chokes in blood-—some friendly hand
Unfix the gorget’s iron clasp,
And give him room for life to gasp;—
O, bootless aid !-haste, holy friar,
Of all his guilt let him be shriven,
And Smooth his path from earth to heaven!
XXIII. In haste the holy friar sped;—
Ilis naked foot was dyed with red,
As through the lists he ran; Unmindful of the shouts on high, That hail'd the conqucror's victory,
He raised the dying man;
Loose waved his silver beard and hair, As o'er him he kncel'd down in prayer;
And still the crucifix on high
XXIV. As if exhausted in the fight, Or musing o'er the piteous sight, The silent victor stands; Ilis beaver did he not unclasp, lllark'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 liaggard 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; at And who art thou, » they cried, a Who hast this battle fought and won I n His plumed helm was soon und0ne— -c Cranstoun of Teviot side! _ For this fair prize I 've fought and Won,n And to the Ladye led her son.
XXVI. She look'd to river, look’d to hill, Thought on the Spirits’ prophecy, Then broke her silence stern and still,— at Not you, but Fate, has vanquish’d me; Their influence kindly stars may shower On Teviot’s tide and Branksomes tower. For pride is quell'd, and love is free.» She took fair Margaret by the hand, \Vho, breathless, trembling, scarce might stand; That hand to Cranstoun's lord gave sheu 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 betrolhing-day, And all these noble lords shall stay, To grace it with their company.»
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
“'hich from the wounded knight he took; And how he sought her castle high,
That morn, by help of gram-arye;
How, in Sir William's armour dight,
Stolen by his page, while slept the knight,
But half his tale he left unsaid,
And linger'd till hejoin‘d the maid.
Cared not the Ladye to betray
Her mystic arts in view of day;
But well she thought, ere midnight came,
And send it back to Michael's grave.-
'Twixt Margaret and 'twixt Cranstoun's lord;
And how her bosom fell and rose,
While he and Musgrave bandied blows.
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, I 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 front 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! I ween, my deadly enemy;
For, if I slew thy brother dear,
' The spectral apparition of a living person.
' The lands, that over Ouse to Berwick forth do bear.