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The king had deem'd the maiden bright
Should reach him long before the fight,
But storms and fate her course delay:
It was on eve of battle-day,
When oʻer the Gillies' hill she rode.
The landscape like a furnace glow'd,
And far as e'er the eye was borne,
The lances waved like autumn-corn.
In battles four beneath their
The forces of King Robert lie. (10)
And one below the hill was laid,
Reserved for rescue and for aid;
And three, advanced, form'd va'ward line,
"Twixt Bannock's brook and Ninian's shrine.
Detach'd was each, yet cach so nigh
As well might mutual aid supply.
Beyond, the southern host appears, (11)
A boundless wilderness of
spears, Whose verge or rear the anxious eye Strove far, but strove in vain, to spy. Thick flashing in the evening beam, Glaives, lances, bills, and banners gleam; And where the heaven joind with the hill, Was distant armour flashing still, So wide, so far, the boundless host Seem'd in the blue horizon lost.
Again unknown to seek the cell,
And live and die with Isabel.»
Thus spoke the maid-King Robert's eye
Might have some glance of policy;
Dunstaffnage had the monarch ta’en,
And Lorn had owp'd King Robert's reign;
Her brother had to England fled,
And there in banishment was dead:
Ample, through exile, death, and flight,
O'er tower and land was Edith's right;
This ample right o'er tower and land
Were safe in Ronald's faithful hand.
Embarrassid eye and blushing cheek,
Pleasure, and shame, and fear bespeak!
Yet much the reasoning Edith made;
« Her sister's faith she must upbraid,
Who gave such secret, dark and dear,
In council to another's ear.
Why should she leave the peaceful cell ? —
How should she part with Isabel ?
How wear that strange attire azen ?--
How risk herself 'midst martial mnen?
And how be guarded on the way?-
At least she might entreat delay.»-
Kind Isabel, with secret smile,
Saw and forgave the maiden's wile,
Reluctant to be thought to move
At the first call of truant love.
Oh, blame her not!—when zephyrs wake,
The aspen's trembling leaves must shake;
When beams the sun through April's shower,
It needs must bloom, the violet-flower;
And love, howe'er the maiden strive,
Must with reviving hope revive!
A thousand soft excuses came,
To plead his cause 'gainst virgin shame.
Pledged by their sires in earliest youth,
He had her plighted faith and truth-
Then, 't was her liege's strict command,
And she, beneath his royal hand,
A ward in person and in land :-
And, last, she was resolved to stay
space-one little dayClose hidden in her safe disguise From all, but most from Ronald's eyesBut once to see him more!--nor blame Her wish-lo hear him name her name!-Then, to bear back to solitude The thought, he had his falsehood rued! But Isabel, who long had seen Her pallid cheek and pensive mien, And well herself the cause might know, Though innocent, of Edith's woe, Joy'd, generous, that revolving time Gave means to expiate the crime. High glow'd her bosom as she said, « Well shall her sufferings be repaid!»Now came the parting hour-a band From Arran's mountains left the land; Their chief, Fitz-Louis, (9) had the care The speechless Amadine to bear To Bruce, with honour, as behoved To page the monarch dearly loved.
Down from the hill the maiden pass'd,
At the wild show of war aghast;
And traversed first the rear-ward host,
Reserved for aid where needed most.
The men of Carrick and of Ayr,
Lennox and Lanark too, were there,
And all the western land;
With these the valiant of the Isles
Beneath their chieftains rank'd their files, (12)
many a plaided band.
There, in the centre, proudly raised,
The Bruce's royal standard blazed,
And there Lord Ronald's banner bore
A galley driven by sail and oar.
A wild, yet pleasing contrast, made
Warriors in mail and plate array'd,
With the plumed bonnet and the plaid
By these Hebrideans worn;
But O! unseen for three long years,
Dear was the garb of mountaineers
To the fair Maid of Lorn!
For one she look'd-but he was far
Busied amid the ranks of war-
Yet with affection's troubled eye
She mark'd his banner boldly fly,
Gave on the countless foe a glance,
And thought on battle's desperate chance.
XII. To centre of the va'ward line . Fitz-Louis guided Amadine. Arm'd all on foot, that host appears A serried mass of glimmering spears. There stood the Marchers' warlike band, The warriors there of Lodon's land; Ettrick and Liddel bent the yew, A band of archers fierce though few;
The men of Nith and Annan's vale,
And the bold spears of Teviotdale;
The dauntless Douglas these obey,
And the young Stuart's gentle sway.
North-eastward by Saint Nipian's shrine,
Beneath fierce Randolph's charge, combine
The warriors whom the hardy north
From Tay to Sutherland sent forth.
The rest of Scotland's war array
With Edward Bruce 10 westward lay,
Where Bannock, with his broken bank
And deep ravine protects their flank.
Behind them, screen'd by sheltering wood,
The gallant Keith, lord-marshal, stood:
His men-at-arms bear mace and lance,
And plumes that wave, and helms that glance.
Thus fair divided by the king,
Centre, and right, and left-ward wing,
Composed bis front; nor distant far
Was strong reserve to aid the war.
And 't was to front of this array,
Her guide and Edith made their way.
« Know'st thou,» he said, « De Argentine, Yon knight who marshals thus their line ?». « The tokens on his helmet tell The Bruce, my liege : I know him well.»« And shall the audacious traitor brave The presence where our banners wave?»«So please my liege,” said Argentine, «Were he but horsed on steed like mine, To give him fair and knightly chance, I would adventure forth my lance.» « In battle-day,» the king replied, « Nice tourney rules are set aside. -Still must the rebel dare our wrath? Set on him-sweep him from our path!»And, at King Edward's signal, soon Dash'd from the ranks Sir Henry Boune.
XIII. Here must they pause; for, in advance, As far as one might pitch a lance, The monarch rode along the van,(13) The foe's approaching force to scan, His line to marshal and to range, And ranks to square, and fronts to change. Alone he rode- from head to heel Sheathed in his ready arms of steel; Nor mounted yet on war-horse wight, But, till more near the shock of fight, Reining a palfrey low and light. A diadem of gold was set Above his bright steel bassinet, And clasp'd within its glittering twine Was seen the glove of Argentine; Truncheon or leading-staff he lacks, Bearing, instead, a battle-axe. He ranged his soldiers for the fight, Accoutred thus, in open sight Of either host.— Three bowshols far, Paused the deep front of England's war, And rested on their arms awhile, To close and rank their warlike file, And hold high council, if that night Should view the strife, or dawning light.
Of Hereford's high blood he came,
A race renowu'd for knightly fame.
He burn'd before his monarch's eye
To do some deed of chivalry.
He spurr'd his steed, he couch'd his lance,
And darted on the Bruce at once.
- As motionless as rocks, that bide
The wrath of the advancing tide,
The Bruce stood fast.-- Each breast beat high,
And dazzled was each gazing eye-
The heart had hardly time to think,
The eye-lid scarce had time to wink,
While on the king, like flash of flame,
Spurrd to full speed the war-horse came!
The partridge may the falcon mock,
If that slight palfrcy stand the shock--
But, swerving from the knight's career,
Just as they met, Bruce slunn'd the spear.
Onward the baftled warrior bore
His course-but soon his course was o'er!-
High in his stirrups stood the king,
And gave his battle-axe the swing.
Righi on De Boune, the whiles he passid,
Fell that stern dint--the first-the last! -
Such strength upon the blow was put,
The helmet crash'd like hazel-nut;
The axe-shaft, with its brazen-clasp,
Was shiver'd to the gauntlet grasp.
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse;
First of that fatal field, how soon,
How sudden, fell the fierce De Boune!
gay, yet fearful to behold, Flashing with steel and rough with gold,
And bristled o'er with bills and spears, With plumes and pennons waving fair, Was that bright battle-front! for there
Rode England's king and peers : And who, that saw the monarch ride, His kingdom battled by his side, Could then his direful doom foretell!Fair was his seat in knightly selle, And in his sprightly eye was set Some spark of the Plantagenet. Though light and wandering was his glance, It flash'd at sight of shield and lance.
XVI. One pitying glance the monarch sped, Where on the field his foe lay dead; Then gently turn'd his palfrey's head, And, pacing back luis sober way, Slowly he gain'd bis own array. There round their king the leaders crowd, And blame his recklessness aloud, That risk'd gainst each adventurous spear A life so valued and so dear. His broken weapon's shaft survey'd The king, and careless answer made,My loss may pay my folly's tax ; I've broke my trusty battle-axe.»—
'T was then Fitz-Louis, bending low,
Did Isabel's commission show;
Edith, disguised, at distance stands,
And hides her blushes with her hands.
The monarch's brow has changed its hue,
Away the gory axe he threw,
While to the seeming page he drew,'
Clearing war's lerrors from his eye.
Her band with gentle ease he look,
With such a kind protecting look,
As to a weak and timid boy
Might speak, that elder brother's care
And elder brother's love were there.
« See, see! the routed southern fly!
The earl hath won the victory.
Lo! where you steeds run masterless,
His banner towers above the press.
Rein up; our presence would impair
The fame we come too late to share.»
Back ļo the host the Douglas rode,
And soon glad tidings are abroad,
That, Dayncourt by stout Randolph slain,
His followers fled with loosen'd rein.
That skirmish closed the busy day,
And, couch'd in battle's prompt array,
Each army on their weapons lay.
XVII. « Fear not,» he said, a young Amadine!» Then whisper'd, «Still that name be thine. Fate plays her wonted fantasy, Kind Amadine, with thee and me, And sends thee here in doubtful hour. But soon we are beyond her power ; For on this chosen battle-plain, Victor or vanquish'd, I remain. Do thon to yonder hill repair; The followers of our host are there, And all who may not weapons bear.– Fitz-Louis, have him in thy care.Joyful we meet, if all go well; If not, in Arran's holy cell Thou must take part with Isabel; For brave Lord Ronald, too, hath sworn, Not to regain the Maid of Lorn (The bliss on earth he covets most), Would he forsake his battle-post, Or shun the fortune that may fall To Bruce, to Scotland, and to all. But bark! some news these trumpets tell; Forgive my haste-farewell—farewell.»-And in a lower voice he said, « Be of good chcer-farewell, sweet maid!»–
It was a night of lovely June,
High rode in cloudless blue ille moon,
Demayet smiled beneath her ray;
Old Stirling's towers arose in light,
And, twined in links of silver bright,
Her winding river lay. Ah, gentle planet! other sight Shall greet thee next returning night, Of broken arms and banners tore, And marshes dark with human gore, And piles of slaughter'd men and horse, And Forth that floats the frequent corse, And many a wounded wretch to plain Beneath thy silver light in vain! But now, from England's host, the cry Thou hear'st of wassail revelry, While from the Scottish legions pass The murmur'd prayer, the early mass! Here, numbers had presumption given; There, bands o'er-match'd sought aid from Heaven.
On Gillie's hill, whose height commands
The battle-field, fair Edith stands,
With serf and page unfit for war,
the conflict from afar.
O! with what doubtful agony
She sees the dawning tiot the sky!
Now on the Ochils gleams the sun,
And glistens now Demayet dun:
Is it the lark that carols shrill,
Is it the bittern's early hum?
No!-distant, but increasing still,
The trumpet's sound swells up the hill,
With the deep murmur of the drum.
Responsive from the Scottish host,
Pipe-clang and bugle-sound were toss'd, (i5)
His breast and brow each soldier cross'd,
And started from the ground;
Arm'd and array'd for instant fight,
Rose archer, spearman, squirc, and night,
And in the pomp of battle bright
The dread baualia frown'd.
XVIIT. « What train of dust, with trumpet-sound. And glimmering spears, is wheeling round Our left-ward flank ?»(14)--the monarch cried To Moray's Earl, who rode beside. « Lo! round thy station pass the foes ! Randolph, thy wreath has lost a rose.»— The earl bis visor closed, and said,
My wreath shall bloom, or life shall fade.Follow, my household !»-And they go Like lightning on the advancing foe.
My liege,» said noble Douglas then, « Earl Randolph has but one to ten: Let me go forth his band to aid !»-«Stir not. The error he hath made, Let him amend it as he may; I will not weaken mine array.», Then loudly rose the conflict cry, And Douglas's brave heart swell'd high, « My liege,» he said, « with patient car I must not Moray's death-knell hear!»« Then go-but speed thee back again.»— Forth sprung the Douglas with his train ; But, when they won a rising hill, He bade his followers hold them still.-
XXI. Now onward, and in open view, The countless ranks of England drew, (16) Dark rolling like the ocean- tide, When the rough west hath chafed his pride, And his deep roar sends challenge wide
To all that bars his way!
Forth, marshal, on the peasant foe! We'll tame the terrors of their bow,
And cut the bow-string loose!» (18)
In front the gallant archers trode,
The men-al-arms behind them rode,
And midmost of the phalanx broad
The monarch held his sway.
Beside him many a war-horse fumes,
Around him waves a sea of plumes,
Where many a knight in battle krown,
And some who spurs had first braced on,
And deem'd that fight should see them won,
King Edward's hests obey.
De Argentine atlends his side,
With stout De Valance, Pembroke's bride,
Selected champions from the train,
To wait upon his bridle-rein.
Upon the Scottish foe he gazed-
-At once before his sight amazed,
Sunk banner, spear, and shield;
Each weapon-point is downward sent,
Eachi warrior to the ground is bent.
« The rebels, Argentine, repent !
For pardon they have kneeld.»« Ay!—but they bend to other
And other pardon sue than ours!
See where yon bare-foot abbot stands,
And blesses them with lifted hards! (17)
Upon the spot where they have kneeld,
These men will die, or win the field.»--
—« Then prove we if they die or win!
Bid Gloster's Earl the fight begin.»-
Earl Gilbert waved his truncheon high,
Just as the northern ranks arose,
Signal for England's archery
To halt and bend their bows.
Then stopp'd each yeoman forth a pace,
Glanced at the intervening space,
And raised his left hand high ;
To the right ear the cords they bring-
--Al once ten thousand bow-strings ring,
Ten thousand arrows fly!
Nor paused on the devoted Scot
The ceaseless fury of their shot;
As fiercely and as fast,
Forth whistling came the gray-goose wing,
As the wild hail-stones pelt and ring
Adown December's blast.
Nor mountain targe of tough bull-hide,
Nor Lowland mail, that storm may bide;
Woe, woe to Scotland's banner'd pride,
If the fell shower may
Upon the right, behind the wood,
Each by his steed dismounted, stood
The Scottish chivalry ;-
- With foot in stirrup, hand on mane,
Fierce Edward Bruce can scarce restrain
His own keep heart, his eager train,
Until the archers gain'd the plain ;
Then, « Mount, ye gallants free!»
He cried; and, vaulting from the ground,
His saddle every horseman found.
On high their glittering crests they loss,
As springs the wild-fire from the moss;
The shield hangs down on every breast,
Each ready lance is in the
And loud shouts Edward Bruce, -
XXUL Then spurs were dash'd in chargers' flanks, They rush'd among the archer ranks. No spears were there the shock to let, No stakes to turn the charge were set, And how shall yeoman's armour slight Stand the long lance and mace of might? Or what may their short swords avail, 'Gainst barbed horse and shirt of mail : Amid their ranks the chargers sprung, High o'er their heads the weapons swung, And shriek and groan and vengeful shout Give note of triumph and of rout! Awhile, with stubborn hardiliood, Their English hearts the strife made good; Borne down at length on every side, Compeil'd to tlight, they scatter wideLet stags of Sherwood leap for glee, And bound the deer of Dallom-Lee ! The broken bows of Bannock's shore Shall in the green-wood ring no more! Round Wakefield's merry May-pole now, The maids may twine the summer bough, May northward look with longing glance, For those that wont to lead the dance, For the blithe archers look in vain! Broken, dispersed, in flight o'erta'en, Pierced through, trod down, by thousands slain, They cumber Bannock's bloody plaia.
XXIV. The king with scorn beheld their flight. « Are these,» he said, « our yeomen wight? Each braggart churl could boast before, Twelve Scottish lives his baldric bore! (19) Fitter to plunder chase or park, Than make a manly foe their mark.Forward, each gentleman and knight! Let gentle blood show generous might, And chivalry redeem the fight !»To right-ward of the wild affray, The field show'd fair and level way;
But, in mid space, the Bruce's care
Vad bored the ground with many a pit,
With turf and brushwood hidden yet,
That form'd a ghastly suare.
Rushing, ten thousand horsemen came,
spears in rest, and hearts on flame,
That panted for the shock!
With blazing crests and banners spread,
And trumpet-clang and clamour dread,
The wide plain thunder'd on their tread,
As far as Stirling rock.
Down! down! in leadlong overthrow,
Horseman and horse, the foremost go, (20)
Wild floundering on the field !
The first are in destruction's gorge,
Their followers wildly o'er them urge;-
The knighuy helm and shield,
The mail, the acton, and the spear,
Strong hand, high heart, are useless here!
Loud from the mass confused the cry
Of dying warriors swells on high,
And steeds that shriek in agony!(21)
They came like mountain-corrent red,
That thunders o'er its rocky bed ;
They broke like that same torrent's wave,
When swallowd by a darksome cave.
Billows on billows burst and boil,
Maintaining still the stern turmoil,
And to their wild and tortured groan
Each adds new terrors of his own!
Too strong in courage and in might
Was England yet, to yield the fight.
Her noblest all are here;
Names that to fear were never known,
Bola Norfolk's Earl De Brotherton,
And Oxford's famed De Vere.
There Gloster plied the bloody sword,
And Berkley, Grey, and Hereford,
Bottetourt and Sanzavere,
Ross, Montague, and Mauley, came,
And Courtenay's pride, and Percy's fame,
Names known too well in Scotland's war,
At Falkirk, Methven, and Dunbar,
Blazed broader yet in after years,
At Cressy red and fell Poitiers.
Pembroke with these, and Argentine,
Brought up the rear-ward battle-line.
With caution o'er the ground they tread,
Slippery with blood and piled with dead,
Till hand to hand in battle set,
The bills with spears and axes met,
And, closing dark on every side,
Raged the full contest far and wide.
Then was the strength of Douglas tried,
Then proved was Randolph's generous pride,
And well did Stuart's actions grace
The sire of Scotland's royal race!
Firmly they kept their ground;
As firmly England onward press d,
And down went many a noble crest,
And rent was many a valiant breast,
And Slaughter reveild round,
From various cause the same wild road,
On the same bloody morning, trode,
To that dark inn, the grave!
The tug of strife to flag begins,
Though neither loses yet nor wins.
High rides the sun, thick rolls the dust,
And feebler speeds the blow and thrust.
Douglas leans on his war-sword now,
And Randolph wipes his bloody brow,
Nor less had toil'd each southern knight,
From morn till mid-day in the fight.
Strong Egremont for air must gasp,
Beauchamp undoes his visor-clasp,
And Montague must quit his spear,
And sinks thy falchion, bold De Vere!
The blows of Berkley fall less fast,
And gallant Pembroke's bugle-blast
Hath lost its lively tone;
Sinks, Argentine, thy battle word,
And Percy's shout was fainter heard,
My merry-men, fight on!»
Bruce, with the pilot's wary eye,
The slackening of the storm could spy.,
« One effort more, and Scotland's free!
Lord of the Isles, my trust in thee
Is firm as Ailsa-rock;
Rush on with Highland sword and targe;
I, with my Carrick spearmen, charge; (22)
Now, forward to the sliock !»— At once the spears were forward thrown, Against the sun the broadswords shone ; The pibroch lent its maddening tone, And loud King Robert's voice was known
Carrick, press on-they fail, they fail !
Press brave sons of Innisfail,
The foe is fainting fast!
Each strike for parent, child, and wife,
For Scotland, liberty, and life,
The battle cannot last!»
Unflinching foot 'gainst foot was set,
Unceasing blow by blow was met;
The groans of those who fell
Were drown'd amid the shriller clang,
That from the blades and harness rang,
And in the battle-yell.
Yet fast they fell, unheard, forgot,
Both southern fierce and hardy Scot;-
And O! amid that waste of life,
What various motives fired the strife!
The aspiring noble bled for fame,
The patriot for his country's claim;
This knight his youthful strength to prove,
And that to win his lady's love;
Some fought from ruffian thirst of blood,
From habit some, or hardihood.
But ruffian stern, and soldier good,
The noble and the slave,
XXIX. The fresh and desperate onset bore The foes three furlongs back and more, Leaving their noblest in their gore.
Alone, De Argentine Yet bears on high his red-cross shield, Gathers the relics of the field, Renews the ranks where they have reeld,
And still makes good the line. Brief strife, but fierce, bis efforts raise, A bright but momentary blaze. Fair Edith heard the southern shout, Beheld them turning from the rout, Heard the wild call their trumpets sent, In noies 'twixt triumph and lament. That rallying force, combined anew, Appear'd, in her distracted view,
To hem the Islesmen round;
« O God! the combat they renew,
And is no rescue found
And ye that look thus tamely on,
And see your native land o'erthrown,
0! are your hearts of flesh or stone?»-