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Well chanced it that Adolf, the night when he wed, Loud revell'd the guests, and the goblets loud rang, Had confess'd and had sain d him ere boune to his bed; But louder the minstrel, Hugh Meneville, sang; He sprung from his couch, and his broad-sword he And Harold, the hurry and pride of whose soul,
gate of the castle he bolted and seald, Than wine, or than wassail, to him was more dear And hung o'er each arch-stone a crown and a shield; The miostrel's high tale of enchantment to hear; To the cells of St Dunstan then wended his way, And the bishop that day might of Vinsauf complain
And died in his cloister an anchorite gray. That his art had but wasted his wine-casks in vain.
Seven monarchs' wealth in that castle lies stow'd, . XIV.
The foul fiends brood o'er them like raven and toad. THE CASTLE OF THE SEVEN SHIELDS.-ABALLAD.
Whoever shall guesten these chambers within, The Druid Crien had daughters seven,
From curfew till matins, that treasure shall win. Their skill could call the moon from heaven; So fair their forms, and so high their fame,
But manhood grows faint as the world waxes old! That seven proud kings for their suitors came.
There lives not in Britain a champion so bold,
So dauntless of heart, and so prudent of brain, King Mador and Rhys came from Powis and Wales, As to dare the adventure that treasure to gain. Unshorn was their hair, and unpruned were their nails; From Strath Clwyde came Ewain, and Ewaia was lamc, The waste ridge of Cheviot shall wave with the rye, And the red-bearded Donald from Galloway came.
Before the rude Scots shall Northumberland fly,
And the flipt cliffs of Bambro'shall melt in the sun, Lot, King of Lodon, was hunch-back'd from youth;
Before that adventure be peril'd and won.
XV. Was gay and was gallant, was young and was fair. « And is this my probation ?» wild Harold he said,
« Within a lone castle to press a lone bed?There was strife 'mongst the sisters, for each one would Good even, my Lord Bishop, -St Cuthbert to borrow, have
The Castle of Seven Shields receives me tomorrow.»
1. « Now hearken my spell,» said the outcast of heaven.
Denmark's sage courtier to her princely youth, « Ye shall ply these spindles at midnight hour,
Granting his cloud an ouzel or a whale,
Spoke, though unwittingly, a partial truth ;
For Phantasy embroiders Nature's veil.
The tints of ruddy eve, or dawning pale, power,
Of the swart thunder-cloud, or silver haze, And there shall ye dwell with your paramour.»
Are but the ground-work of the rich detail Beneath the pale moon-light they sate on the wold,
Which Phantasy with pencil wild portrays, And the rhymes which they chaunted must never be Blending what seems and is, in the rapt muser's gaze.
told; And as the black wool from the distaff they sped,
Nor are the stubborn forms of earth and stone With blood from their bosom they moisten'd the thread.
Less to the sorceress's empire given :
For not with unsubstantial hues alone, As light danced the spindles beneath the cold gleam,
Caught from the varying surge, or vacant heaven, 'The castle arose like the birth of a dream
From bursting sun-bcam, or from flashing levin, The seven lowers ascended like mist from the ground,
She limas her pictures-on the earth, as air, Seven portals defend them, seven ditches surround.
Arise her casiles, and her car is driven;
And never gazed the eye on scene so fair, Within that dread castle seven monarchs were wed, But of its boasted charins fancy gave half the share. But six of the seven ere the morning lay dead; With their eyes all on fire, and their daggers all red,
JI. Seven damsels surround the Northumbrian's bed.
Up a wild pass went Harold, bent to prove,
Hugh Meneville, the adventure of thy lay; « Six kingly bridegrooms to death we have done, Gunnar pursued his steps in faith and love, Six gallant kingdoms King Adolf bath won,
Ever companion of his master's way.
Midward their path, a rock of granite gray
A barren mass--yet with her drooping spray
Had a young birch-tree crownd its battlement, Twisting her fibrous roots through cranny, flaw, and
rent. This rock and tree could Gunnar's thought engage,
Till Fancy brought the tear-drop to his eye, And at his master ask'd the timid page,
« What is the emblem that a bard should spy In that rude rock and its green canopy?»
And Harold said, « Like to the helmet brave Of warrior slain in fight it seems to lie,
And these same drooping boughs do o'er it wave Not all unlike the plume his lady's favour gave.» « 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,-
« Break off, we are not here alone;
My monitor is near.
I first beheld his form,
Before the fearful storm,-
And there is nought to see,
And then resolvedly said, -
Count Harold turu'd dismay'd :
Which vulgar minds call fear.
His arms, said, Speak- I hear.»
Yet prating still of love;
With one like me to rove,
Yet, foolish trembler as thou art, Thou hast a nook of my rude heart, And thou and I will never part;Harold would wrap the world in flame Ere injury on Gunnar came.»
IV. The grateful page made no reply, But turu'd to heaven his gentle eye, And ciasp'd his hands, as one who said,
My toils—my wanderings arc o'erpaid !»
And, as they flow'd along,
They melted into song.
chide The wolf for ravaging the tlock, 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 tlame!He was my sire,-and sprung
of him, That rover merciless and grim,
Can I be soft and tame?
Lord Harold's feats can see?
In forest, field, or lea.»
VI. « Break off!» said Harold, in a tone Where hurry and surprise were shown,
With some slight touch of fear,
He is gone,
By many a various passion fannd;
As elemental sparks can feed
On essence pure and coarsest weed,
Joy takes the colours of the mind.
Lightsome and pure, but unrepressid, 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 sınile 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.
On dangerous adventure sped,
For thus that morn her demon said :-
« If, ere the set of sun, be tied But thou, when thy tempest of wrath shall next shake The knot 'iwixt bridegroom and his bride, thee,
The Dane shall have no power of ill
Evil repose may his spirit have,-
May hemlock and mandrake find root in his grave,« He is gone,» said Lord Harold, and gazed as he spoke ; May his death-sleep be doggʻd by dreams of dismay, « There is nought on the path but the shade of the oak, And his waking be worse at the answering day!»--" whose strange presence my feeling oppress'd,
XIV. Like the night-hag that sits on the slumberer's breast.
Such was their various mood of glee My heart beats as thick as a fugitive's tread,
Blent in one shout of ecstasy. And cold dews drop from my brow and my head,
But still when joy is brimming highest,
Of sorrow and misfortune nighest,
And lurking danger, sages speak :-
These haunt each path, but chief they lay Or, his courage to aid, lacks the juice of a flower!»—
Their snares beside the primrose way.The page gave the flasket, which Walwayn had fill'd
Thus found that bridal band their path With the juice of wild roots that his art had distillid –
Beset by Harold in his wrath. So baneful their influence on all that had breath,
Trembling beneath his inaddening mood, One drop had been frenzy, and two had been death.
High on a rock the giant stood; Harold took it, but drank not; for jubilee shrill,
His shout was like the doom of death And music and clamour, were, heard on the hill,
Spoke o'er their heads that pass'd beneath. And down the steep pathway, o'er stock, and o'er stone,
His destined victims might not spy The train of a bridal came blithsomely on;
The reddening terrors of his eye,There was song, there was pipe, there was timbrel, and
The frown of rage that writhed his face, still
The lip that foam'd like boar's in chase; The burden was, « Joy to the fair Metelill!»
But all could see—and, secing, all
Bore back to shun the threaten'd fall,-
The fragment which their giant foe
Rent from the cliff and heaved to throw.
Backward they bore;-yet are there two
For battle who prepare :
No pause of dread Lord William knew,
Ere his good blade was bare;
And Wulfstane bent his fatal yew,
But ere the silken cord he drew,
As hurl'd from Hecla's thunder, flew
That ruin through the air;—
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 reckouing gone;
Save that beneath that stone,
Of mingled flesh and bone!
The eagle daris amain,
Placed Harold on the plain.
So fled the bridal train;
But dares the fight in vain,
Its lord lies on the plain. Now, Heaven ! take noble William's part, And melt that yet unmelted heart, Or, ere his bridal hour depart,
The haplsss bridegroom's slain !
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 Julta the elixir proves Ere pouring it for those she loves-Then Walwayn's potion was not wasted, For when three drops the hag had tasted,
So dismal was her yell,
And flutter'd down the dell!
Of forest and of fell,
XIX. Such was the scene of blood and woes, With which the bridal morn arose
OF William and of Metelill; But oft, wlien dawning 'gins to spread, The summer moro 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.
sprung Around his master's knees he clung,
And cried, « In mercy spare!
That pauses for the sign.
He signd the cross divine-
He turns and strides away;
He granted to his prey.
1. 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 coofirmation its condition yields
To Meneville's high lay,—No towers are seen On the wild heath, but those that Fancy builds,
And, save a fósse 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,
But rather chuse the theory less civil
Flacons, and ewers, and standing cups, were all Of boors, who, origin of things forgot,
Of tarnish'd gold, or silver nothing clear, Refer still to the origin of evil,
With throne begilt, and canopy of pall, And for their master-mason chuse that master-fiend And tapestry clothed the walls with fragments the Devil.
Frail as the spider's mesh did that rich woof appear.
In every bower, as round a hearse, was hung
A dusky crimson curtain o'er the bed, When evening dew was on the heather flowers,
And on each couch in ghastly wise were flung And the last sun-beams bade the mountain blaze,
The wasted reliques of a monarch dead;
Barbaric ornaments around were spread,
Vests twined with gold, and chains of precious stone,
And golden circlets, meel for monarch's head; The Seven proud Shields that o'er the portal frown,
While grinn'd, as if in scorn amongst them thrown, And on their blazons traced high marks of old renown.
The wearer's fleshless skull, alike with dust bestrown. A wolf North Wales had on his armour-coat, And Rhys of Powis-land a couchant stag;
For these were they who, drunken with delight, Strath-Clwyde's strange emblem was a stranded boat, On pleasure's opiate pillow laid their head, Donald of Galloway a trotting nag;
For whom the bride's shy footstep, slow and light, A coro-sheaf gilt was fertile Lodon's brag;
Was changed ere morning to the murderer's tread.
For human bliss and woe in the frail thread
Of human life are all so closely twined,
That till the shears of fate the texture shred,
The close succession cannot be disjoin'd,
Whose ponderous bolts were rusted to decay; But where the work of vengeance had been done, Yet till that hour adventurous knight forbore
In that seventh chamber was a sterner sight; The unobstructed passage to essay.
There of the witch-brides lay cach skeleton, More strong than armed warders in array,
Still in the posture as to death when dight. And obstacle more sure than bolt or bar,
For this lay prone, by one blow slain outright; Sate in the portal Terror and Dismay,
And that, as one who struggled long in dying; While Superstition, who forbade to war
One bony hand held knife as if to smite; With foes of other mould than mortal clay,
One bent on fleshless knees as mercy crying; Cast spells across the gate, and barr'd the onward way. One lay across the door, as kill'd in act of llying. Vain now those spells—for soon with heavy clank
The stern Dane smiled this charnel-house to see,The feebly-fasten'd gate was inward puslid,
For his chafed thought return'd to Metelill ;And, as it oped, through that emblazon'd rank
And, « Well,» he said, « liath woman's perfidy, Of antique shields the wind of evening rush'd
Empty as air, as water volatile, With sound most like a groan, and then was hush'd.
Been here avenged.—The origin of ill Is none who on such spot such sounds could hear
Through woman rose,
the christian doctrine saith; But to his heart the blood had faster rushd, Yet to bold Harold's breast that throb was dear
Nor deem I, Gunnar, that thy minstrel skill
Can show example where a woman's breath It spoke of danger nigh, but had no touch of fear.
Hath made a true-love vow, and, tempted, kept her
faith,» IV. Yet Harold and his page no signs have traced
VII. Within the castle that of danger show'd;
The minstrel boy half smiled, half sighd,
And his half-filling eyes be dried,
(Our scalds have said in dying hour A hall in which a king might make abode,
The Northern harp has treble power), And fast beside, garnislı'd both proud and high,
Else could I tell of woman's faith Was placed a bower for rest in which a king might lic. Defying danger, scorn, and death.
Firm was that faith, , -as diamond stone As if a bridal there of late had been,
Pure and uatlawed, -ber love unkuowa, Deck'd stood the table in cach gorgeous hall;
And unrequited ;- firm and pure, And yet it was two hundred years, I ween,
Her stainless faith could all endure;
From clime to clime, from place to placc,-