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« Break off, we are not here alone;
A palmer form comes slowly on!
By cowl, and staff, and mantle known,

My monitor is near.
Now mark him, Gunnar, heedfully;
He pauses by the blighted tree-
Dost see him, youth ?- Thou couldst not see
When in the vale of Galilee

I first beheld his form,
Nor when we met that other while
In Cephalonia's rocky isle,

Before the fearful storm,-
Dost see him now?»—The page, distraught
With terror, answer'd, « I see nought,

And there is nought to see,
Save that the oak’s scathed boughs fling down
Upon the path a shadow brown,
That, like a pilgrim's dusky gown,

Waves with the waving tree.»

« Ah, no!» replied the page ; « the ill-starr'd love

Of some poor maid is in the emblem shown, Whose fates are with some hero's interwove,

And rooted on a heart to love unknown : And as the gentle dews of heaven alone

Nourish those drooping boughs, and as the scathe Of the red lightning rends both tree and stone,

So fares it with her unrequited faith,-
Her sole relief is tears—her only refuge death.»

« Thou art a fond fantastic boy,»
Harold replied, « to females coy,

Yet prating still of love;
Even so amid the clash of war
I know thou lovest to keep afar,
Though destined by thy evil star

With one like me to rove,
Whose business and whose joys are found
Upon the bloody battle-ground.

Yet, foolish trembler as thou art, Thou hast a nook of


rude heart, And thou and I will never part ;Harold would wrap the world in flame Ere injury on Gunnar came.»

Count Harold gazed upon the oak
As if his eye-strings would have broke,

And then resolvedly said, -
« Be what it will, yon phantom gray,
Nor heaven, nor hell, shall ever say
That for their shadows from his

Count Harold turn'd dismay'd:
I'll speak -him, though his accents fill
My heart with that unwonted thrill

Which vulgar minds call fear.
I will subdue it!»- Forth he strode,
Paused where the blighted oak-tree show'd
Its sable shadow on the road,
And, folding on his bosom broad

said « Speak-I hear.»

The grateful page made no reply,
But turn'd to heaven his gentle eye,
And clasp'd his hands, as one who said,

My toils—my wanderings are o'erpaid !»
Then in a gayer, lighter strain,
Compell’d himself to speech again ;

And, as they flow'd along,
His words took cadence soft and slow,
And liquid, like dissolving snow,

They melted into song.

The deep voice said, « O wild of will,
Furious thy purpose to fulfil-
Heart-sear'd and unrepentant still,
How long, O Harold, shall thy tread
Disturb the slumbers of the dead?
Each step
in thy wild way

thou makest,
The ashes of the dead thou wakest;
And shout in triumph o'er thy path
The fiends of bloodshed and of wrath.
In this thine hour, yet turn and hear!
For life is brief, and judgment near.»

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V. « What though through fields of carnage wide I

may not follow Harold's stride,
Yet who with faithful Gunnar's pride

Lord Harold's feats can see ?
And dearer than thc couch of pride
He loves the bed of


wolf's hide, When slumbering by Lord Harold's side

In forest, field, or lea.»

IX. Then ceased the voice.-The Dane replied In tones where awe and inborn pride For mastery strove,-«In vain


The wolf for ravaging the flock,
Or with its hardness taunt the rock,-
I am as they-my Danish strain
Sends streams of fire through every vein.
Amid thy realms of goule and ghost,
Say, is the fame of Erick lost?
Or Witikind's the Waster, known
Where fame or spoil was to be won;
Whose galleys ne'er bore off a shore

They left not black with flame?-
He was my sire, -and sprung of him,
That rover merciless and grim,

VI. « Break off !» said Harold, in a tone Where hurry and surprise were shown,

With some slight touch of fear,


Can I be soft and tame?

Part hence, and with my crimes no more upbraid me:
I am that Waster's son, and am but what he made me.»

Joy shook his torch above the band,
By many a various passion fann'd ;-
As elemental sparks can feed

On essence pure and coarsest weed,
The phantom groan'd;-the mountain shook around, Gentle, or stormy, or refined,
The fawn and wild-doe started at the sound,

Joy takes the colours of the mind.
The gorse and fern did wildly round them wave,

Lightsome and pure, but unrepress'd, As if some sudden storm the impulse gave.

He fired the bridegroom's gallant breast; « All thou hast said is truth-Yet on the head

More feebly strove with maiden fear, Of that bad sire let not the charge be laid,

Yet still joy glimmer'd through the tear That he, like thee, with unrelenting pace,

On the bride's blushing cheek, that shows From grave to cradle ran the evil race :

Like dew-drop on the budding rose; Relentless in his avarice and ire,

While Wulfstane's gloomy smile declared Churches and towns he gave to sword and fire;

The joy that selfish avarice shared, Shed blood like water, wasted every land,

And pleased revenge and malice high Like the destroying angel's burning brand;

Its semblance took in Jutta's eye.
Fulfill'd whate'er of ill might be invented,

On dangerous adventure sped
Yes-all these things he did-he did, but he REPENTED! The witch deem'd Harold with the dead,
Perchance it is part of his punishment still,

For thus that morn her demo
That his offspring pursues his example of ill.

« If, ere the set of sun, be tied But thou, when thy tempest of wrath shall next shake The knot 'twixt bridegroom and his bride, thee,

The Dane shall have no power of ill
Gird thy loins for resistance, my son, and awake thee ! O'er William and o'er Metelill.»
If thou yield'st to thy fury, how tempted soever,

And the pleased witch made answer, « Then
The gate of
repentance shall

for thee NEVER !»

Must Harold have pass'd from the paths of men !
Evil repose may his spirit have,-

May hemlock and mandrake find root in his grave,XI. « He is gone,» said Lord Harold, and gazed as he spoke; And his waking be worse at the answering day!»—

May his death-sleep be dogg’d by dreams of dismay, « There is nought on the path but the shade of the oak, He is gone,

whose strange presence my feeling oppress’d, Like the night-hag that sits on the slumberer's breast.

XIV. My heart beats as thick as a fugitive's tread,

Such was their various mood of glee And cold dews drop from my brow and my head.

Blent in one shout of ecstacy.
Ho! Gunnar, the flasket


But still when joy is brimming highest,
He said that three drops would recal from the grave. Of sorrow and misfortune nighest,
For the first time Count Harold owns leech-craft has Of terror with her ague cheek,

And lurking danger, sages speak:
Or, his courage to aid, lacks the juice of a flower!»

These haunt each path, but chief they lay
The page gave the flasket, which Walwayn had fill'd Their spares beside the primrose way.-
With the juice of wild roots that his art had distillid Thus found that bridal band their path
So baneful their influence on all that had breath,

Beset by Harold in his wrath.
One drop had been frenzy, and two had been death. Trembling beneath his maddening mood,
Harold took it, but drank not; for jubilee shrill,

High on a rock the giant stood;
And music and clamour, were heard on the hill,

His shout was like the doom of death And down the steep pathway, o'er stock, and o'er stone, Spoke o'er their heads that pass'd beneath. The train of a bridal came blithesomely on;

His destined victims might not spy There was song, there was pipe, there was timbrel, and The reddening terrors of his eye, — still

The frown of rage that writhed his face,
The burden was, « Joy to the fair Metelill !»

The lip that foam'd like boar's in chase;-
But all could see-and, seeing, all

Bore back to shun the threaten'd fall,

The fragment which their giant foe
Harold might see from his high stance,

Rent from the cliff and heaved to throw.
Himself unseen, that train advance

With mirth and melody; -
On horse and foot a mingled throng,

Measuring their steps to bric song

Backward they bore;- yet are there two
And bridal minstrelsy;

For battle who prepare :
And ever when the blithesome rout

No pause of dread Lord William knew,
Lent to the song their choral shout, 1

Ere bis good blade was bare;
Redoubling echoes rolld about,

And Wulfstane bent his fatal yew,
While echoing cave and eliff sent out

But ere the silken cord he drew,
The answering symphony,

As hurl'd from Hecla's thunder, flew
Of all those mimic notes which dwell

That ruin through the air ;-
lo hollow rock and sounding dell.

Full on the outlaw's front it came,

And all that late had human name,
And human face, and human frame,
That lived, and moved, and had free will
To chuse the path of good or ill,

Is to its reckoning gone;
And nought of Wulfstane rests behind,

Save that beneath that stone,
Half-buried in the dinted clay,
A red and shapeless mass there lay,

Of mingled flesh and bone !

XVIII. But though his dreaded footsteps part, Death is behind and shakes his dart; Lord William on the plain is lying, Beside him Metelill seems dying! Bring odours-essences in hasteAnd lo! a flasket richly chased, But Jutta the elixir proves Ere pouring it for those she lovesThen Walwayn's potion was not wasted, For when three drops the hag had tasted,

So dismal was her yell,
Each bird of evil omen woke,
The raven gave his fatal croak,
And shriek’d the night-crow from the oak,
The screech-owl from the thicket broke,

And flutter'd down the dell!
So fearful was the sound and stern,
The slumbers of the full-gorged
Were startled, and from furze and fern

Of forest and of fell,
The fox and famish'd wolf replied
(For wolves then prowl’d the Cheviot side),
From mountain head to mountain head
The unhallow'd sounds around were sped;
But when their latest echo fled,
The sorceress on the ground lay dead.

As from the bosom of the sky

The eagle darts amain,
Three hounds from yonder summit high

Placed Harold on the plain.
As the scared wild-fowl scream and fly,

So fled the bridal train;
As 'gainst the eagle's peerless might
The noble falcon dares the fight,

But dares the fight in vain,
So fought the bridegroom; from his hand
The Dane's rude mace has struck his brand,
Its glittering fragments strew the sand,

lis lord lies on the plain.
Now, Heaven ! take noble William's part,
And melt that yet unmelted heart,
Or, ere his bridal bour depart,

The hapless bridegroom 's slain !


XIX. Such was the scene of blood and woes, With which the bridal morn arose

Of William and of Metelill; But oft, when dawning 'gins to spread, The summer morn peeps dim and red

Above the eastern hill, Ere, bright and fair, upon his road The king of splendour walks abroad; So, when this cloud had pass'd away, Bright was the noontide of their day, And all serene its setting ray.


Count Harold's frenzied


is high,
There is a death-fire in his eye,
Deep furrows on his brow are trench'd,
His teeth are set, his hand is clench'd,
'The foam upon his lip is white,
His deadly arm is up to smite!
But, as the mace aloft he swung,
To stop the blow young Gunnar sprung,
Around his master's knees he clung,

And cried, « In mercy spare!
O, think upon the words of fear
Spoke by that visionary seer,
The crisis he foretold is here,

Grant mercy,-or despair !»
This word suspended Harold's mood,
Yet still with arm upraised he stood,
And visage like the headsman's rude

for the sign.
« O mark thee with the blessed rood,»

page implored; «Speak word of good, Resist the fiend, or be subdued !»

De sign’d the cross divineInstant his


hath human light,
Less red, less keen, less fiercely bright;
His brow relax'd the obdurate frown,
The fatal mace sinks gently down,

lle turns and strides a way;
Yet oft, like revellers who leave
Unfinish'd feast, looks back to grieve,
As if repenting the reprieve

He granted to his prey.
Yet still of forbearance one sign hath he given,
And fierce Witikind's son made one step towards


Well do I hope that this my minstrel tale

Will tempt no traveller from southern fields,
Whether in tilbury, barouche, or mail,

To view the castle of these Seven proud Shields. Small confirmation its condition yields

To Meneville's high lay,---No towers are seen On the wild heath, but those that Fancy builds,

And, save a fosse which tracks the moor with green, Is nought remains to tell of what may there have been.

And yet grave authors, with the no small waste

Of their grave time, have dignified the spot By theories, to prove the fortress placed

By Roman hands, to curb the invading Scot. Hutchinson, Horsley, Camden, I might quote,

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Yet Harold and his page no signs have traced

Within the castle that of danger show'd;
For still the halls and courts were wild and waste,

As through their precincts the adventurers strode.
The seven huge towers rose stately, tall, and broad,

Each tower presenting to their scrutiny A hall in which a king make abode,

And fast beside, garnish'd both proud and high, Was placed a bower for rest in which a king might lie.

VII. The minstrel boy half smiled, half sigh’d, And his half-filling eyes be dried, And said, « The theme I should but wrong, Unless it were my dying song (Our scalds have said, in dying hour The Northern harp has treble power), Else could I tell of woman's faith Defying danger, scorn, and death. Firm was that faith, -as diamond stone Pure and unflawed,- her love unknown, And unrequited ;-firm and pure, Her stainless faith could all endure; From clime to clime, from place to place, Through want, and danger, and disgrace, A wanderer's wayward steps could trace.


As if a bridal there of late had been,

Deck'd stond the table in each gorgeous hall; And yet it was two hundred years, I ween,

Since date of that unhallow'd festival. Flagons, and ewers, and standing cups, were all

All this she did, and guerdon none
Required, save that her burial-stone
Should make at length her secret known.
Thus hath a faithful woman done.
Not in each breast such truth is laid,
But Eivir was a Danish maid.»

VIII. « Thou art a wild enthusiast,» said Count Harold, « for thy Danish maid; And yet, young Gunnar, I will own Hers were a faith to rest upon. But Eivir sleeps beneath her stone, And all resembling her are gone. What maid e'er show'd such constancy In plighted faith, like thine to me? But couch thee, boy; the darksome shade Falls thickly round, nor be dismay'd

Because the dead are by.
They were as we; our little day
O'erspent, and we shall be as they.
Yet near me, Gunnar, be thou laid,
Thy couch upon my mantle made,
That thou mayst think, should fear invade,

Thy master slumbers nigh.»
Thus couch'd they in that dread abode,
Until the beams of dawning glow'd.

Through their closed visors sparks of flame. The first proclaim'd in sounds of fear,

Harold the Dauntless, welcome here!'
The next cried 'Jubilee! we've won
Count Witikind the Waster's son!
And the third rider sternly spoke,
‘Mount, in the name of Zernebock!-
From us, O Harold, were thy powers,
Thy strength, thy dauntlessness, are ours;
Nor think, a vassal thou of hell,
With hell canst strive.' The fiend spoke true!
My inmost soul the summons knew,

As captives know the knell
That says the headsman's sword is bare,
And with an accent of despair

Commands them quit their cell.
I felt resistance was in vain,
My foot had that fell stirrup ta'en,
My hand was on the fatal mane,

When to my rescue sped
That palmer's visionary form,
And-like the passing of a storm-

The demons yell’d and fled!

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An alter'd man Lord Harold rose,
When he beheld that dawn unclose-

There's trouble in his eyes,
And traces on his brow and cheek
Of mingled awe and wonder speak :

« My page,» he said, « arise;-
Leave we this place, my page.»—No more
He utter'd till the castle-door
They cross'd—but there he paused and said,
My wildness hath awaked the dead

Disturb'd the sacred tomb! Methought this night I stood on high Where Hecla roars in middle sky, And in her cavern'd gulfs could spy

The central place of doom! And there before

Souls of the dead came flitting by,
Whom fiends, with many a fiendish cry,

Bore to that evil den!
My eyes grew dizzy, and my brain
Was wilder'd, as the elvish train,
With shriek and howl, drage'd on amain

Those who had late been men.

« His sable cowl, flung back, reveald
The features it before conccald;

And, Gunnar, I could find
In him whose counsels strove to stay
So oft my course on wilful way,

My father Witikind!
Doom'd for his sins, and doom'd for mine,
A wanderer upon earth to pine,
Until his son shall turn to grace,
And smooth for him a resting-place!-
Gunnar, he must not haunt in vain
This world of wretchedness and pain :
I'll tame my wilful heart to live
In peace-to pity and forgive-
And thou, for so the vision said,
Must in thy lord's repentance aid.
Thy mother was a prophetess,
He said, who by her skill could guess
How close the fatal textures join
Which knit thy thread of life with mine;
Then, dark, he hinted of disguise
She framed to cheat too curious eyes,
That not a moment might divide
Thy fated footsteps from my side.
Methought, wbile thus my sire did teach,
I caught the meaning of his speech,
Yet seems its purport doubtsul now.»--
His hand then sought his thoughtful brow,-
Then first he mark’d, that in the tower
His glove was left at waking hour.

my mortal

X. « With haggard eyes and streaming hair, Jutta, the sorceress, was there, And there pass'd Wulfsta'ne, lately slain, All crush'd and foul with bloody stain.More had I seen, but that uprose A whirlwind wild, and swept the snows; And with such sound as when at need A champion spurs his horse to speed, Three armed knights rush on, who lead Caparison'd, a sable steed. Sable their harness, and there came

XII. Trembling at first, and deadly pale, Had Gunnar heard the vision'd tale; But when he learned the dnbious close, He blush'd like any opening rose, And, glad to hide his tell-tale cheek, Hied back that glove of inail to seek; When soon a shriek of deadly dread Summon'd his master to his aid.

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