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ARGUMENT. The Scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity of Loch-Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The tiine of Action includes Six Days, and the transactions of each day occupy a Canto.
[See page 98. CANTO FIRST
O wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand THE CHASE.
That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray;
O wake once more! though scarce my skill comIIARP of the North! that mouldering long hast
Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay ; On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's
Though harsh and faint, and soon to die away, spring
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain, And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway, Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
The wizard note has not been touched in vain. Muffing with verdant ringlet every string,
Then silent be no more! Enchantress, wake 0 minstrel harp, still must thine accents sleep?
again! Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring, Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence
keep, Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to
The Stag at eve had drunk his fill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
But, when the sun his beacon red
Resounded up the rocky way, Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and Beauty's And faint, from farther distance borne, matchless eye.
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone. As chief who hears his warder call, "To arms! the foemen storm the wall,"
VII. The antler'd monarch of the waste
Alone, but with unbated zeal, Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
That horseman plied the scourge and steel; But, ere his fleet career he took,
For, jaded now, and spent with toil, The dew-drops from his flanks he shook ;
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil, Like crested leader proud and high,
While every gasp with sobs he drew, Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;
The labouring Stag strained full in view, A moment gazed adown the dale,
Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's breed, A moment snuffed the tainted gale,
Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed, A moment listend to the cry,
Fast on his flying traces came, That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
And all but won that desperate game: Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch, With one brave hound the copse he eleared,
Vindictive toiled the bloodhounds staunch; And, stretching forward free and far,
Nor nearer might the dogs attain,
For farther might the quarry strain.
Thns up the margin of the lake,
Between the precipice and brake,
O'er stock and rock their race they take. Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back; To many a mingled sound at once
VIII. The awakened mountain gave response.
The hunter marked that mountain high, An hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
The lone lake's western boundary,
And deemed the Stag must turn to bay,
Where that huge rampart barred the way: An hundred voices joined the shont;
Already glorying in the prize, With hark and whoop and wild holloo.
Measured his antlers with his eyes: No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
For the death-wound, and death-halloo, Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Mustered his breath, his whinyard drew; Close in her covert cowered the doe;
But thundering as he came prepared,
With ready arm and weapon bared,
The wily quarry shunned the shock, Till far beyond her piercing ken
And turned him from the opposing rock; The hurricane had swept the glen.
Then, dashing down a darksome glen, Faint, and more faint, its falling din
Soon lost to hound and hunter's ken, Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn,
In the deep Trosach's wildest nook And silence settled, wide and still,
His solitary refuge took. On the lone wood and mighty hill.
There while, close couched, the thicket shed
Cold dews and wild flowers on his head, Legs lond the sounds of sylvan war
He heard the baffled dogs in vain Disturbed the heights of Vam-Var,
Rave through the hollow pass amain, And roused the cavern, where 'tis told
Chiding the rocks that yelled again. A giant made his den of old;
IX. For ere that steep ascent was won,
Close on the hounds the hunter came, High in his pathway hung the sun,
To cheer them on the vanished game; And many a gallant, stayed perforce,
But, stumbling in the rugged dell, Was fain to breathe his faltering horse;
The gallant horse exhausted fell. And of the trackers of the deer,
The impatient rider strove in vain Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
To rouse him with the spur and rein, So shrewdly, on the mountain side,
For the good steed, his labours o'er, Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
Stretched his stiff limbs to rise no more; v.
Then, touched with pity and remorse, The noble Stag was pausing now
He sorrowed o'er the expiring horse.
"I little thought, when first thy rein Upon the mountain's southern brow, Where broad extended, far beneath,
I slacked upon the banks of Seine, The varied realms of fair Menteith.
That highland eagle e'er should feed With anxious eye he wander'd o'er
On thy fleet limbs, may matchless steed! Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day,
That costs thy life, my gallant grey!"
Then through the dell his horn resounds,
From vain pursuit to call the hounds. And mingled with the pine trees blue
Back limped, with slow and crippled pace, On the bold cliffs of Ben-venue. Fresh vigour with the hope returned.
The sulky leaders of the chase:
Close to their master's side they pressed, With flying foot the heath he spurned,
With drooping tail and humbled cres? IIeld westward with unwearied race,
But still the dingle's hollow throne And left behind the panting chase.
39 Prolonged the swelling bugle-note. So VI.
The owlets started from their dream, "Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er,
The eagles answered with their scream, As swept the hunt through Cambtis-more;
Round and around the sounds were cast, What reins were tightened in despair,
Till echo seemed an answering blast; When rose Benledi's ridge in air;
And on the hunter hied his way Who flagged upon Bochastle's heath,
To join some comrades of the day: Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith,
Yet often paused, so strange the road, For twice that day, from shore to shore,
So wondrous were the scenes it show'd. The gallant Stag swam stoutly o’ér.
10 Few were the stragglers, following far,
The western waves of ebbing day that That reached the lake of Vennachar;
Rolled o'er the glen their level way...
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
| One burnish'd sheet of living gold, Was bathed in floods of living fire.
Loch-Katrine lay beneath him rolled : But not a setting beam could glow
In all her length far winding lay, Within the dark ravines below,
With promontory, creek, and bay, Where twined the path, in shadow hid,
And islands that, empurpled bright, Round many a rocky pyramid,
Floated amid the livelier light; Shooting abruptly from the dell
And mountains, that like giants stand, Its thunder-splintered pinnacle;
To sentinel enchanted land. Round many an insulated mass,
High on the south, huge Benvenue The native bulwarks of the pass,
Down to the lake in masses threw Huge as the tower which builders vain
Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly hurled, Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain.
The fragments of an earlier world; The rocky summits, split and rent,
A wildering forest feathered o'er Formed turret, dome, or battlement.
His ruined sides and summit hoar,
;! Or seemed fantastically set
While on the north, through middle air,
Ben-an heaved high his forehead bare.
From the steep promontory gazed
The Stranger, raptured and amazed. For, from their shivered brows displayed,
And, “What a scene were here," he cried, Far o'er the unfathomable glade,
“For princely pomp or churchman's pride! All twinkling with the dew-drop sheen,
On this bold brow, a lordly tower; The briar-rose fell in streamer's green,
In that soft vale, a lady's bower; And creeping shrubs, of thousand dyes,
On yonder meadow, far away, Waved in the west wind's summer sighs
The turrets of a cloister grey.
How blithely might the bugle-horn
Chide, on the lake, the lingering morn!
How sweet, at eve, the lover's lute Each plant or flower, the mountain's child. Chime, when the groves were still and mute! Here églantine embalmed the air,
And, when the midnight moon should lave Hawthorn and hazel mingled there :
Her forehead in the silver wave, The primrose pale, and violet flower,
How solemn on the ear would come i Found in each cliff a narrow bower;
The holy matin's distant hum, Foxglove and nightshade, side by side,
While the deep peal's commanding tone Emblems of punishment and pride,
Should wake, in yonder islet lone, Grouped their dark hues with every stain,
A sainted hermit from his cell, The weather-beaten crags retain.
To drop a bead with every knellWith boughs that quaked at every breath, And bugle, lute, and bell, and all, Grey birch and aspen wept beneath;
Should each bewildered stranger call Aloft the ash and warrior oak
To friendly feast and lighted hall. Cast anchor in the rifted rock;
XVI. ind higher yet the pine tree hung llis shatter'd trunk, and frequent flung,
"Blithe were it then to wander here ! Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
But now,-beshrew yon nimble deer,His boughs athwart the narrowed sky
Like that same hermit's, thin and spáre, Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
The copse must give my evening fare; Where glistening streamers waved and danced,
Some mossy bank my couch must be, The wanderer's eye could barely view
Some rustling oak my canopy. The summer heaven's delicious blue;
Yet pass we that the war and chase So wondrous wild, the whole might seem
Give little choice of resting-place; The scenery of a fairy dream.
A summer night, in green wood spent,
Were but to-morrow's merriment;
But hosts may in these wilds abound,
Such as are better missed than found; Onward, amid the copse 'gan peep
To meet with highland plunderers here A narrow inlet still and deep,
Were worse than loss of steed or deer.
I am alone-my buigle strain
i in! As served the wild-duck's brood to swim;
May call some straggler of the train ; 1 Lost for a space, through thickets veering,
Or, fall the worst that may betide, ! 17 But broader when again appearing,
Ere now this fanlchion has been tried."
But scarce again his horn he wound, Still broader sweep its channels made.
When lo! forth starting at the sound, The shaggy mounds no longer stood,
From underneath an aged oak, Emerging from entangled wood,
That slanted from the islet rock, But, wave-encircled, seemed to float,
A Damsel guider of its way, Like castle girdled with its moat;
A little skiff shot to the bay, Yet broader floods extending still,
That round the promontory steep Divide them from their parent hill,
Led its deep line in graceful sweep, Till each, retiring, claims to be
Eddying, in almost viewless wave, An islet in an inland sea.
The weeping willow twig to lave, :un:
And kiss, with whispering sound and slow, XIV.
The beach of pebbles bright as snow, And now, to issue from the glen,
The boat had touch'd this silver strand, No pathway meets the wanderer's ken,
Just as the Hunter left his stand, Unless he climb, with footing nice,
And stood concealed amid the brake, A far projecting precipice.
To view this Lady of the Lake. The broom's tough roots his ladder made,
The maiden paused, as if again The hazel saplings lent their aid;
She thought to catch the distant strain. And thus an airy point he won,
With head upraised, and look intent, Where, gleaming with the setting sun,
1 And eye and ear attentive bent,
To fucor broaden and purple for you:
And locks flung back, and lips a part,
Forward and frolic glee was there, Like monument of Grecian art,
The will to do, the soul to dare, In listening mood, she seemed to stand
The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire, The guardian Naiad of the strand.
Of hasty love or headlong ire.
His limbs were cast in manly mould,
For hardy sports or contest bold;
And though in peaceful garb arrayed, And ne'er did Grecian chizzel trace
And weaponless, except his blade, A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace,
His stately mien, as well implied Of finer form or lovelier face!
A high-born heart, a martial pride, What though the sun, with ardent frown,
As if a baron's crest he wore, Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown,
And sheathed in armour trod the shore. The sportive toil, which, short and light,
Slighting the petty need he showed, Had dyed her glowing hne so bright,
He told of his benighted road; Served too in hastier swell to show:
His ready speech flowed fair and free, Short glimpses of a breast of snow:
In phrase of gentlest courtesy; What though no rule of courtly grace
Yet seemed that tone and gesture bland To measured mood had trained her pace,
Less used to sue than to command.
A while the maid the Stranger eyed,
And, reassured, at last replied, The accents of the mountain tongue,
That highland halls were open still Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear,
To wildered wanderers of the hill. The list'ner held his breath to hear.
“Nor think you unexpected come
To yon lone isle, our desert home;
Before the heath had lost the dew,
This morn, a couch was pulled for you ; A chieftain's daughter seemed the maid;
On yonder mountain's purple head Her satin snood, her silken plaid,
Have ptarmigan and heath-cock bled, Her golden brooch, such birth betray'd.
And our broad nets have swept the inere, And seldom was a snood amid
To furnish forth your evening cheer."Buch wild luxuriant ringlets hid,
“Now, by the rood, my lovely maid, Whose glossy black to shame might bring
Your courtesy has érred," he said; The plumage of the raven's wing;
“No right have I to claim, misplaced, And seldom o'er a breast so fair,
The welcome of expected guest. Mantled a plaid with modest care,
A wanderer here, by fortune tost, And never brooch the folds combined
My way, my friends, my courser lost, Above a heart more good and kind.
I ne'er before, believe ine, fair, Her kindness and her worth to spy.
Have ever drawn your mountain air, You need but gaze on Ellen's eye;
Till on this lake's romantic strand,
I found a fay in fairy land."-
"I well believe," the maid replied, Whether joy danced in her dark eye,
As her light skiff approached the side, Or woe or pity claimed a sigh,
“I well believe, that ne'er before Or filial love was glowing there,
Your foot has trod Loch-Katrine's shore; Or meek devotion poured a prayer,
But yet, as far as yesternight, Or tale of injury called forth
Old Allan-bane foretold your plight,The indignant spirit of the north.
A grey-haired sire, whose eye intent One only passion, unrevealed,
Was on the visioned future bent. With maiden pride the maid concealed,
He saw your steed, a dappled grey, Yet not less purely felt the flame ;
Lie dead beneath the birchen way; O need I tell that passion's name !
Painted exact your form and mien,
Your hunting suit of Lincoln green,
That tassell'd horn so gaily gilt,
That faulchion's crooked blade and hilt, Now on the gale her voice was borne:
That cap with heron's plumage trim, “Father!" she cried ; the rocks around
And yon two hounds so dark and grim. Loved to prolong the gentle sound.
He bade that all should ready be, A while she paused, no answer came,
To grace a guest of fair degree; "Malcolm, was thine the blast?" the namo
But light I held his prophecy, Less resolutely uttered fell,
And deemed it was my father's horn, The echos could not catch the swell.
Whose echoes o'er the lake were borne." "A stranger I," the Huntsman said, Advancing from the hazel shade.
XXIV. The maid alarmed, with hasty oar,
The Stranger smiled :-“Since to your home, Pushed her light shallop from the shore, . A destined errant knight I come, And when a space was gained between,
Announced by prophet sooth and old, Closer she drew her bosom's screen;
Doomed, doubtless, for achievement bold, (So forth the startled swan would swing,
I'll lightly front each high emprize, So turn to prune his ruffled wing),
For one kind glance of those bright eyes ; Then safe, though fluttered and amazed,
Permit me, first, the task to guide She paused, and on the Stranger gazed.
Your fairy frigate o'er the tide."Not his the form, nor his the eye,
The maid, with smile suppressed and sly, -! That youthful maidens wont to fly
The toil unwonted saw him try;
For seldom, sure, if e'er before,
His noble hand had grasped an oar:
Yet with main strength his strokes he drew, Had slightly pressed its signet sage,
And o'er the lake the shallop fiew; Yet had not quenched the open truth,
With heads erect, and whimpering cry, And fiery vehemence of youth;
The hounds behind their passage ply,
grey the visione da dappled grey
Nor frequent does the bright oar break
And as the brand he poised and swayed, The darkening mirror of the lake,
"I never knew but one," he said, Until the rocky isle they reach,
** Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield And moor their shallop on the beach.
A blade like this in battle field."
She sighed, then smiled and took the word; XXV.
" You see the guardian champion's sword; The Stranger viewed the shore around;
As light it trembles in his hand,
As in my grasp a hazel wand; 'Twas all so close with copse-wood bound,
My sire's tall form might grace the part
of Ferragus or Ascabart; Until the mountain maiden showed
But in the absent giant's hold
Are women now, and menials old."
The mistress of the mansion came,
Mature of age, a graceful dame; Some chief had framed å rustic bower.
Whose easy step and stately port
Had well become a princely court,
To whom, though more than kindred knew, It was a lodge of ample size,
Young Ellen gave a mother's due. But strange of structure and device;
Meet welcome to her guest she made, Of such materials, as around
And every courteous rite was paid, The workman's hand had readiest found.
That hospitality could claim, Lopped of their boughs, their hoar trunks
Though all unasked his birth and name. bared,
Such then the reverence to a guest, And by the hatchet rudely squared,
That fellest foe might join the feast, To give the walls their destined height,
And from his deadliest foemans' door The sturdy oak and ash unite;
Unquestion'd turn, the banquet o'er. While moss and clay and leaves combined
At length his rank the Stranger names, To fence each crevice from the wind.
"The Knight of Snowdoun, James Fitz-James The lighter pine trees, over head,
Lord of a barren heritage, Their slender length for rafters spread,
Which his brave sires, from age to age, And withered heath and rushes dry
By their good swords had held with toil; Supplied a russet canopy.
His sire had fallen in such turmoil, Die westward, fronting to the green.
And he, God wot, was forced to stand A rural portico was seen,
Oft for his right with blade in hand. Aloft on native pillars borne,
This morning with Lord Moray's train Of mountain fir with bark inshorn,
He chased a stalwart stag in vain, Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine
Out-stripped his comrades, missed the deer, The ivy and Idæan vine,
Lost his good steed, and wandered here."
Fain would the Knight in turn require
The name and state of Ellen's sire ; And gaily to the Stranger said,
Well showed the elder lady's mien, "On Heaven and on thy lady call,
That courts and cities she had seen: And enter the enchanted hall!"
Ellen, though more her looks displayed
The simple grace of sylvan maid,
In speech and gesture, form and face, "My hope, my heaven, my trust must be,
Shewed she was come of gentle race; My gentle guide, in following thee."
'Twere strange in ruder rank to find He crossed the threshold-and a clang
Such looks, such manners, and such mind. Of angry steel that instant rang.
Each hint the Knight of Snowdonn gave, To his bold brow his spirit rushed,
Dame Margaret heard with silence grave; But soon for vain alarm he blushed,
Or Ellen, innocently gay, When on the floor he saw displayed,
Turned all inquiry light away :Cause of the din, a naked blade,
" Weird women we! by dale and down, Dropped from the sheath, that careless fiung We dwell afar from tower and town. Upon a stag's huge antler's swung ;
We stem the flood, we ride the blast, For all around, the walls to grace,
On wandering knights our spells we cast; Hung trophies of the fight or chase :
While viewless minstrels touch the string, A target there, a bugle here,
Tis thus our charmed rhymes we sing."
She sung, and still a harp unseen
* Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, That blackening streaks of blood retained,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking: And deer-skins, dappled, dun, and white,
Dream of battled fields no more, With otter's fur and seal's unite,
Days of danger, nights of waking. In rude and uncouth tapestry all,
In our isle's enchanted hall, To garnish forth the sylvan hall.
Hands unseen thy couch are strewing,
Fairy strains of music fall,
Every sense in slumber dewing.
Dream of fighting fields no more ;
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
Cause on the vain nis spirits rang.
A tas trophind, the antie: that can