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THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

I.

Bard: Lord tled burgorder Wounedireaden,

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IX.

CANTO FIRST.

VII.
Such is the custom of Branksome Hall.

Many a valiant knight is here ;
The feast was over in Branksome Tower,

But he, the Chieftain of them all,
And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower ; His sword hangs rusting on the wall,
Her bower, that was guarded by word and by Beside his broken spear.
spell,

Bards long shall tell
Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell-

How Lord Walter fell! Jesu Maria, shield us well!

When startled burghers fled, afar, No living wight, save the Ladye alone,

The furies of the Border war;
Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

When the streets of high Dunedin
Saw lances gleam, and falchions redden.

And heard the slogan's* deadly yoll-
The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;

Then the chief of Branksome feil. Knight, and page, and household squire,

VIII. Loitered through the lofty hall,

Can piety the discord heal, Or crowded round the ample fire.

Or stanch the death-feud's enmity ? The stag-hounds, weary with the chase,

Can Christian lore, can patriot zeal,
Lay stretched upon the rushy floor,

I Can love of blessed charity?
And urged, in dreams, the forest race,
From Teviot-stone to Eskdale-moor.

No! vainly to each holy shrine,

In mutual pilgrimage, they drew;

Implored, in vain, The grace divine,
III

For chiefs their owns red falchions slew : Nine-and-twenty knights of fame

While Cessford owns the rule of Car, Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;

While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott, Nine-and-twenty squires of name

The slaughter'd chiofs, the mortal jar,
Brought them their steeds from bower to The havoc of the feudal war,
stall;

Shall never, never be forgot!
Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall
Waited, duteous, on them all:
They were all knights of mettle true,

In sorrow, O'er Lord Walter's bier,
Kinsmen to the bold Bucclench.

The warlike foresters had bent;

And many a flower, and many a tear,
IV.

Old Teviot's maids and matrons lent:
Ten of them were sheathed in steel,

But o'er her warrior's bloody bier With belted sword, and spur on heel:

The Ladye dropped nor flower nor tear! They quitted not their harness bright,

Vengeance, deep-brooding o'er the slain, Neither by day, nor yet by night:

Had locked the source of softer woe; They lay down to rest

And burning pride, and high disdain, With corslet laced,

Forbade the rising tear to flow, Pillowed on buckler cold and hard :

Until, amid his sorrowing clan, They carved at the meal

Her son lisped from the nurse's kneeWith gloves of steel,

"And, if I live to be a man, And they drank the red wine through the hel

My father's death revenged shall be !" met barred.

Then fast the mother's tears did seek
To dew the infant's kindling cheek.

X.
Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,

All loose her negligent attire, Waited the beck of the warders ten ;

All loose her golden hair, Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,

Hung Margaret o'er her slaughter'd sirc, Stood saddled in stable day and night,

And wept in wild despair. Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,

But not alone the bitter tear And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow;

Had filial grief supplied; A hundred more fed free in stall:

For hopeless love and anxious fear
Such was the custom of Branksoine Hall.

Had lent their mingled tide:
VI.

Nor in her mother's altered eye
Why do these steeds stand ready dight?

Dared she to look for sympathy. Why watch these warriors, armed, by night?

Her lover, 'gainst her father's clan,

With Car in arms had stood,
They watch, to hear the bloodhound baying:
They watch, to hear the war-horn braying-

When Mathouse-burn to Melrose rali,

All purple with their blood. To see St. George's red-cross streaming

And well she knew, her mother dread,
To see the midnight beacon gleaming;

Before Lord Cranstonn she shonld wed,
They watch, against Southern force and guile,
Lest Scroop, or Howard, or Percy's powers,

Would see her on her dying bed.
Threaten Branksome's lordly towers,
From Warkworth, or Naworth, or merry * The war-cry, or gathering-word, of a Border
Carlisle.

I clan.

on as frugels, bo makarriorhe steeds mois

XI.

The Northern Bear lowers black and grim; of noble race the Ladye came:

Orion's studded belt is dim; Her father was a clerk of fame,

Twinkling faint, and distant far, Of Bethune's line of Picardie:

Shimmers through mist each planet star; He learned the art that none inay name,

Ill may I read their high decree: In Padua, far beyond the sea.

But no kind influence deign they shower

On Teviot's tide and Branksome's tower, Men said he changed his mortal frame By feat of magic mystery ;

Till pride be quelled, and love be free." For when in studious mood he paced

XVIII. St. Andrew's cloistered hall,

The unearthly voices ceast, His form no darkening shadow traced

And the heavy sound was still;
Upon the sunny wall!

It died on the river's breast,
XII.

It died on the side of the hill.

But round Lord David's tower
And of his skill, as bards avow,

The sound still floated near;
He taught that Ladye fair,
Till to her bidding she could bow

For it rang in the Ladye's bower,

And it rung in the Ladye's ear. The viewless forms of air.

She raised her stately head, And now she sits in secret bower,

And her heart throbbed high with pride : In old Lord David's western tower,

"Your mountains shall bend, And listens to a heavy sound, That moans the mossy turrets round.

And your streams ascend, Is it the roar of Teviot's tide,

Ere Margaret be our focman's bride!" That chafes against the scaur's* red side?

ΧΙΧ. Is it the wind that swings the oaks?

The Ladye sought the lofty hall, Is it the echo from the rocks?

Where many a bold retainer lay. What may it be, the heavy sound,

And, with jocund din, among them all,
That moans old Branksome's turrets round?

Her son pursued his infant play.
XIII.

A fancied moss-trooper, the boy
At the sullen, moaning sound,

The truncheon of a spear bestrode, The ban-dogs bay and howl,

And round the hall, right merrily,

In mimic foray* rode.
And from the turrets round
Loud whoops the startled owl.

Even bearded knights, in arms grown old, In the hall both squire and knight

Share in his frolic-gambols bore, Swore that a storm was near,

Albeit their hearts, of rugged mould, And looked forth to view the night,

Were stubborn as the steel they wore.

For the gray warriors prophesied,
But the night was still and clear !

How the brave boy, in future war,
XIV.

Should tame the Unicorn's pride,
From the sound of Teviot's tide,

Exalt the Crescents and the Star.t
Chafing with the mountain's side,

XX.
From the groan of the wind-swing oak,
From the sullen echo of the rock,

The Ladye forgot her purpose high

One moment, and no more;
From the voice of the coming storm,
The Ladye knew it well.

One moment gazed with a mother's eye
It was the Spirit of the Flood that spoke,

As she pansed at the arched door; And he called on the Spirit of the Fell."

Then, from amid the armed train,

She called to her William of Deloraine.
xv.

XXI.
River Spirit.

A stark moss-trooping Scott was he “Sleepest thou, brother?"

As e'er couched border lance by knee:
Mountain Spirit.

Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss, | Brother, nay;

Blindfold, he knew the path to cross :

By wily turns, by desperate bounds, On my hill the moonbeams play

Had baffled Percy's best bloodhounds; From Craik-cross to Skelfhill-pen,

In Eske, or Liddel, fords were none,
By every rill, in every glen,

But he would ride them, one by one ;
Merry elves their morrice pacing,
To aërial minstrelsy,

Alike to him was time or tide,
Emerald rings on brown heath tracing,

December's snow, or July's pride;

Alike to him was tide, or time,
Trip it deft and merrily.

Moonless midnight, or matin prime:
Up, and mark their nimble feet !
Up, and list their music sweet!"

Steady of heart, and stout of hand,

As ever drove prey from Cumberland;
XVI.

Five times outlawed had he been,

By England's king, and Scotland's queen, River Spirit. Tears of an imprisoned maiden

XXII. Mix with my polluted stream;

“Sir William of Deloraine, good at need, Margaret of Branksome, sorrow-laden,

Mount thee on the whitest steed;
Mourns beneath the moon's pale beam.
Tell me, thou who viewest the stars,

Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
When shall cease these feudal jars?

Until thou come to fair Tweedside; What shall be the maiden's fate?

And in Melrose's holy pile Who shall be the maiden's mate?"

Seek thon the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.

Greet the father well from me;
XVII,

Say, that the fated hour is come,

And to-night he shall watch with thee,
Mountain Spirit.

To win the treasure of the tomb :
" Arthur's slow wain his course doth roll,
In utter darkness round the pole;

* Foray, a predatory inroad.

+ Alluding to the arinorial bearings of the * Scaur, a precipitous bank of earth.

Scotts and Cars.

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hon

For this will be St. Michael's night,

XXVIII. And, though stars be diin, the moon is bright;

Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine And the Cross, of bloody red,

To ancient Riddel's fair domain, Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.

Where Aill, from mountains freed,

Down from the lakes did raving come:
XXIII.

Each wave was crested with tawny foam, “What he gives thee, see thou keep;

Like the mane of a chesnut steed. Stay not thou for food or sleep:

In vain! no torrent, deep or broad,
Be it scroll, or be it book,

Might bar the bold moss-trooper's road.
Into it, knight, thou must not look ;
If thou readest, thou art lorn!

XXIX.
Better had'st thou ne'er been born."

At the first plunge the horse sunk low,

And the water broke o'er the saddle-bow;
XXIV.

Above the foaming tide, I ween,
"O swiftly can speed my dapple-gray steed, Scarce half the charger's neck was scen;
Which drinks of the Teviot clear ;

For he was barded* from counter to tail, Ere break of day," the warrior 'gan say,

And the rider was armed complete in inail; "Again will I be here:

Never heavier man and horse
And safer by none may thy errand be done, Stemmed a midnight torrent's force.
Than, noble dame, by me;

The warrior's very plume, I say,
Letter nor line know I never a one,

Was daggled by the dashing spray ; Wer't my neck-verse at Hairibee."*

Yet, through good heart, and our Ladye's grace,

At length he gained the landing-place.
XXV.

xxx.
Soon in his saddle sate he fast,
And soon the steed descent he past,

Now Bowden Moor the march-man won, Soon crossed the sounding barbican,t

And sternly shook his plumed head, And soon the Teviot side he won.

As glanced his eye on Halidon;t Eastward the wooded path he rode ;

For on his soul the slaughter red Green hazels o'r his basnet nod;

Of that unhallowed morn arose, He passed the Peelt of Godiland,

When first the Scott and Car were foes; And crossed old Borthwick's roaring strand; When royal James beheld the fray, Dimly he viewed the Moat-hill's mound,

Prize to the victor of the day; Where Druid shades still flitted round:

When Home and Douglas, in the van, In Hawick twinkled many a light;

Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan, Behind him soon they set in night;

Till gallant Cessford's heart-blood dear And soon he spurred his courser keen

Reeked on dark Elliot's Border spear.
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.

XXXI.
XXVI.

In bitter mood he spurred fast,
The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark:-

And soon the hated heath was past; “Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark."

And far beneath, in lustre wan, " For Branksome, ho!" the knight rejoined, Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran: And left the friendly tower behind.

Like some tall rock, with lichens gray, He turned him now from Teviotside,

Seemed, dimly huge, the dark Abbaye. And, guided by the tinkling rill,

When Hawick he passed, had curfew rung, Northward the dark ascent did ride,

Now midnight laudst were in Melrose sung. And gained the moor at Horseliehill:

The sound upon the fitful gale, Broad on the left before him lay,

In solemn wise did rise and fail, For many a mile, the Roman way.s

Like that wild harp, whose magic tone

Is wakened by the winds alone.
XXVII.

But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all;

He meetly stabled his steed in stall,
A moment now he slacked his speed,

And sought the convent's lonely wall.
A moment breathed his panting steed;
Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band,
And loosened in his sheath his brand,

Here paused the harp; and with its swell
On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint,

The Master's fire and courage fell : Where Barnhill hewed his bed of fint;

Dejectedly, and low, he bowed, Who flung his outlawed limbs to rest,

And, gazing timid on the crowd, Where falcons hang their giddy nest,

He seemed to seek in every eye Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle-eye

If they approved his minstrelsy; For many a league his prey could spy ;

And, diffident of present praise, Cliffs, donbling, on their echoes borne,

Somewhat he spoke of former days, The terrors of the robber's horn;

And how old age, and wandering long, Cliffs, which, for many a later year,

Had done his harp and hand some wrong. The warbling Doric reed shall hear.

The Duchess, and her daughters fair, When some sad swain shall teach the grove,

And every gentle ladye there,
Ambition is no cure for love.

Each after each, in due degree,
Gave praises to his melody;

His hand was true, his voice was clear, * Hairibee, the place of executing the Border

And much they longed the rest to hear. manranders at Carlisle. The neck-verse is the

Encouraged thus, the aged man, beginning of Psalm Li, Meserere mei, &c., an

After meet rest, again began. ciently read by criminals, claiming the benefit of clergy.

* Barded, or barbed, applied to a horse act Barbican, the defence of the onter gate of a

contred with defensive armour. fendal castle.

Halidon Hill, on which the battle of the same I Peel, a Border tower.

name was fought in 1333. S An ancient Roman road, crossed through Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic part of Roxburghshire.

| Church.

od need hestre weeds graves

kazing tin low, honrage for its swe

1.

IX.

CANTO SECOND

VIL
Again on the Knight looked the Churchinani old,

And again he sighed heavily;
If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,

For he had himself been a warrior bold, Go visit it by the pale moonlight;

And fought in Spain and Italy. For the gay beams of lightsome day

And he thought on the days that were long since Gild, but to flout, the rains gray,

by, When the broken arches are black in night,

When his limbs were strong, and his courage And each shafted oriel glimmers white;

was high:When the cold light's uncertain shower

Now, slow and faint, he led the way, Streams on the ruined central tower ;

Where, cloistered roand, the garden lay : When buttress and buttress, alternately,

The pillared arches were over their head, Seem framed of ebon and ivory;

And beneath their feet were the bones of the When silver edges the imagery,

dead.
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave.

VIII.
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave, | Spreading herbs, and flowerets bright,
Then go-but go alone the while-

Glistened with the dew of night;
Then view St. David's ruined pile ;

Nor herb nor floweret glistened there, And, home returning, soothly swear,

But was carved in the cloister-arches as fair. Was never scene so sad and fair!

The Monk gazed long on the lovely moon, II.

Then into the night he looked forth;

And red and bright the streamers light Short halt did Deloraine make there;

Were dancing in the glowing north. Little recked he of the scene so fair.

So had he seen, in fair Castile, With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,

The youth in glittering squadrons start He struck full loud, and struck full long.

Sudden the flying jennet wheel, The porter hurried to the gate

And hurl the unexpected dart. • Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late ?"

He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright, “From Branksome I," the warrior cried;

That spirits were riding the northern light. And straight the wicket opened wide: For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood,

To fence the rights of fair Melrose ; And lands and livings, many a rood,

By a steel-clenched postern door, Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose.

They entered now the chancel tall;

The darkened roof rose high aloof
III.

On pillars, lofty, and light, and small;
Bold Deloraine his errand said;

The key-stone, that locked each ribbed aisle, The porter bent his humble head;

| Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quatre-feuille ; With torch in hand, and feet unshod,

The corbells* were carved grotesque and griin; And noiseless step, the path he trod;

And the pillars, with clustered shafts so trim, The arched cloisters, far and wide,

With base and with capital flourished around, Rang to the warrior's clanking stride;

Seemed bundles of lances which garlands had Till, stooping low his lofty crest,

bonnd.
He entered the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,*
To hail the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.

Full many a scutcheon and banner, riven,

Shook to the cold night wind of heaven.
IV.

Around the screened altar's pale;
"The Ladye of Branksome greets thec by me; And there the dying lamps did burn,
Says, that the fated hour is come,

Before thy low and lonely arn, And that to-night I shall watch with thee,

O gallant chief of Otterburne, To win the treasure of the tomb."

And thine, dark Knight of Liddisdale ! From sackcloth couch the monk arose,

10 fading honours of the dead! With toil his stiffened limbs he reared;

O high ambition, lowly laid !
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.

XI.

The moon on the east oriel shone, And strangely on the Knight looked he,

Through slender shafts of shapely stone, And his blue eyes gleamed wild and wide,

By foliaged tracery combined; . And, dar'st thou, warrior! seek to see

Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand What heaven and hell alike would hide!

Twixt poplars straight the osier wand, My breast, in belt of iron bent,

In many a freakish knot, had twined; With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn ;

Then framed a spell, when the work was done, For threescore years, in penance spent,

And changed the willow-wreaths to stone. My knees those fiinty stones have worn;

The silver light, so pale and faint, Yet all too little to atone

Showed many a prophet, and many a saint, For knowing what should ne'er be known.

Whose image on the glass was dyed: Would'st thou thy every future year

Full in the midst, his Cross of Red In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,

Triumphant Michael brandished, Yet wait thy latter end with fear

And trampled the apostate's pride, Then, daring warrior, follow me!"

The moon-beam kissed the holy pane,

And threw on the pavement a bloody stain, VI.

XII. * Penance, father, will I none; Prayer know I hardly one;

They sate them down on a marble stone, For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,

A Scottish monarch slept below; Save to patter an Ave Mary,

Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone: When I ride on a Border foray:

"I was not always a man of woe; Other prayer can I none; So speed me my errand, and let me begone." * Corbells, the projections from which the

arches spring, usually cut in a fantastic face, or * Aventayle, visor of the helmet.

| mask.

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