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These broken words the menials move
XVI. His conscience slept-he deem'd hier well, And safe secured in distant cell; But, waken'd by her favourite lay, And that strange Palmer's boding say,' That fell so ominous and drear, Full on the object of his fear, To aid remorse's venom'd throes, Dark tales of convent vengeance rose; And Constance, late betray'd and scorn'd, All lovely on his soul returu'd ; Lovely as when, at treacherous call, She left her conveni's peaceful wall, Crimson'd with shame, with terror mute, Dreading alike escape, pursuit, Till love, victorious o'er alarms, Hid fears and blushes in his arms.
THE HOST'S TALE. « A clerk could tell what years have flowo Since Alexander filld our throne (Third monarch of that warlike name), And eke the time when here he came To seek Sir Hugo, then our lord : A braver never drew a sword; A wiser never at the hour Of midnight, spoke the word of power ;, The saine, whom ancient records call The founder of the goblin-hall. (3) I would, Sir Knight, your longer stay Gave you that cavern to survey. Of lofty roof, and ample size, Beneath the castle deep it lies: To hew the living rock profound, The floor to pave, the arch to round, There never toild a mortal arm, It all was wrought by word and charm; And I have heard my grandsire say, That the wild clamour and affray Of those dread artisans of hell, Who labour'd under Hugo's spell Sounded as loud as ocean's war, Among the caverns of Dunbar.
XVII. « Alas !» he thought, « how changed that mien! How changed these timid looks have been, Since years of guilt and of disguise, Have steeld her brow, and arm'd her eyes! No more of virgin terror speaks The blood that mantles in her cheeks ; Fierce, and unfeminine, are there, Frenzy for joy, for grief despair; And I the cause--for whom were given Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaverr! « Would,» thought he, as the picture grows, « I on its stalk had left the rose ! O why should man's success remove The very charms that wake his love! Her convent's peaceful solitude Is now a prison harsh and rude; And, pent within the narrow cell, How will her spirit chafe and swell! How brook the stern monastic laws! The penance how-and I the cause! Vigil and scourge-perchance even worse !»--And iwicc le rose to cry « to borse!» And twice his sovereigo's mandate came, Like damp upon a kindling flame; And twice he thought, « Gave I not charge She should be safe, though not at large ? Tliey durst not, for their island, shred One golden ringlet from her head.»
,-a quaint and fearful sight!
XVIII. While thus in Marmion's bosom strove Repentance and reviving love, Like whirlwinds, whose conteuding sway I've seen Loch-Vennachar obey, 'Their host the Palmer's speech had heard, And, talkative, took up the word :
Ay, reverend pilgrim, you, who stray From Scotland's simple land away,
To visit realms afar,
By word, or sign, or star.
XXI. « Dire dealings with the fiendish race Had mark'd strange lives upon his face;
The moor around is brown and bare,
Vigil and fast had worn him grim;
I know,' he said, his voice was hoarse,
I know the cause, although untold,
Gramercy,' quotin our monarch free,
XXIII. « Soon as the midnight bell did ring, Alone, and arm'd, forth rode the king To that old camp's deserted round: Sir Knight, you well might mark the mound, Left hand the town,--the Pictish race, The trench, long since, in blood did trace ;
Memorial of the Danish war;
And strike proud Haco from his car;
XXV. « The joyful king turn'd home again, Headed his host, and quell'd the Dane; But yearly, when return d the night Of his strange combat with the sprite,
His wound must bleed and smart; Lord Gifford then would gibing say, * Bold as ye were, my liege, ye pay
The penance of your start.' Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave, King Alexander fills his grave,
Edward I., suraamed Longsbanks.
Our Lady give him rest!
Upon the Brown hill's breast;(8)
But all have foully sped;
Gentles, my tale is said.»
Saint George, who graced my sire's chapelle, Down from his steed of marble fell,
A weary wight forlorn ? The flattering chaplains all agree, The champion left his steed to me. I would, the omen's truth to slow, That I could meet this elfin foe! Blithe would I battle, for the right To ask one question at the sprite:Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be, An empty race, by fount or sea, To dasling waters dance and sing, Or round the green oak wlieel their ring.»Thus speaking, be his steed bestrode, And from the hostel slowly rode.
But Marmion gave a sign ;
Their drowsy limbs recline;
XXVII. A part, and nestling in the hay Of a waste loft, Fitz-Eustace lay; Scarce, by the pale moon-light, were seen The foldings of his mantle green: Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream, Of sport by thicket, or by stream, Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove, Or, lighter yet, of lady's love. A cautious tread his slumber broke, And close beside him, when he woke, In moon-beam half, and half in gloom, Stood a tall form, with nodding plume; But, ere his dagger Eustace drew, His master Marmion's voice he knew.
Till, by the lessening sound,
Lord Marmion sought the round.
Should, stirr'd by idle tale,
Array'd in plate and mail.
Unfix the strongest mind;
Guide confident, though blinds
XXVIII. -« Fitz-Eustace! rise, I cannot rest; Yon churl's wild legend haunts my breast, And graver thoughts have chafed my mood : The air must cool my feverish blood; And fain would. I ride forth, to see The scene of elfin chivalry. Arise, and saddle me my steed: And, gentle Eustacé, take good heed Thou dost not rouse these drowsy slaves; I would not that the prating knaves Had cause for saying, o'er their ale, That I could credit such a tale.»— Then softly down the steps they slid, Eustace the stable-door undid, And, darkling, Marmion's steed array'd, While, whispering, thus the baron said:
Come town-ward rushing on :
Return'd Lord Marmion.
upon the charger's knee,
The first notes of the morning lark. " Used by old poels for went.
XXIX. « Did'st never, good my youth, hear tell
That on the hour when I was born,
"A wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IV.
JAMES SKENE, ESQ.
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. An ancient minstrel sagely said, « Where is the life which late we led!» That motley clown in Ardea wood, Whom humorous Jaques with envy view'd, Not even that clown could amplify, On this trite text, so long as I. Eleven years, we now may tell, Since we have known each other well; Since, riding side by side, our hand First drew the voluntary brand; And sure, through many a varied scene, Unkindness never came between. Away these winged years have flown, To join the mass of ages gone; And though deep mark'd, like all below, With chequer'd shades of joy and woe; Though thou o'er realms and seas hast ranged, Mark'd cities lost, and empires changed, While here, at home, my narrower ken Somewhat of manners saw, Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears, Feverd the progress of these years, Yet now days, weeks, and months, but seem The recollection of a dream; So still we glide down to the sea, Of fathomless eternity.
When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, Hears, half-asleep, the rising storm Hurling the hail and sleeted rain Against the casement's tinkling pane; The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox, To shelter in the brake and rocks, Are warnings which the shepherd ask To dismal, and to dangerous task. Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain, The blast may sink in mellowing rain ; Till, dark above and white below, Decided drives the flaky snow, And forth the hardy swain must go. Long, with dejected look and whine, To leave the hearth his dogs repine ; Whistling and cheering them to aid, Around his back he wreathes the plaid: His flock he gathers, and be guides To open downs and mountain-sides, Where fiercest though the tempest blow, Least deeply lies the drift below. The blast, that whistles o'er the fells, Stiffens his locks to icicles ; Oft he looks back, while, streaming far, llis cottage window seems a star,Loses its feeble gleam,--and then Turns patient to the blast again, And, facing to the tempest's sweep, Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep. If fails his heart, if his limbs fails Benumbing death is in the gale ; His patlis, his landmarks, all unknown, Close to the hut, no more his own, Close to the aid he sought in vain, The morn may find the stiffen'd-swain : (1) The widow sees, at dawning pale, His orphans raise their feeble wail ; And, close beside him, in the snow, Poor Yarrow, partner of their woe, Couches upon his master's breast, And licks his cheek, to break his rest.
Even now it scarcely seems a day, Since first I tuned this idle lay; A task so often thrown aside, When leisure graver cares denied, That now, November's dreary gale, Whose voice inspired my opening tale, That same November gale once more Whicls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore. Their vex'd boughs streaming to the sky, Once more our naked birches sigh, And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen, Have donn'd their wintry shrouds again; and mountain dark, and flooded mead, Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed. Earlier than wont along the sky, Mix'd with the rack, the snow-mists fly; The shepherd, who, in summer sun, Has something of our envy won, As thou with pencil, I with pen; The features traced of bill and glen; He who, outstretch'd the livelong day, At ease among the heath-flowers lay, View'd the light clouds with vacant look, Or slumber'd o'er his tatter'd book, Or idly busied him to guide His angle o'er the lessen d tide ;At midnight now, the snowy plain Finds sterner labour for the swain.
Who envies now the shepherd's lot, His healthy fare, his rural cot, His summer couch by green-wood tree, His rustic kirn's' loud revelry, His native hill-notes, tuned on high, To Marion of the blithesome eye; His crook, his scrip, his oaten reed, And all Arcadia's golden creed?
Changes not so with us, my Skene,
the winter of our age :
To whom the miogled cup is given; 1 The Scottish Harvest-boma.
When red hath set the beamless sun, Through heavy vapours dank and dun;
Careless we heard, what now. I hear,
Whose lenient sorrows find relief,
Thy father's friend forget thou not :»
To thee, perchance, this rambling strain
And blithesome nights, too, bave been ours, When winter stript the summer's bowers.
first notes of the merry lark.
But soon their mood was changed ;
of something disarranged. Some clamour'd loud for armour lost; Some brawld and wrangled with the host;
By Becket's bones, cried one, « I fear That some false Scht has stol'n my spear!» Young Blount, Lord Marmion's second squire, Found his sleed wet with sweat and mire; Although the rated horse-boy sware, Last night he dress'd him sleek and fair. While chafed the impatient squire like thunder, Old Hubert shouts, in fear and wonder, « Help, gentle Blount! help, comrades all! Bevis lies dying in his stall: To Marmion who the plight dare tell, Of the good steed he loves so well ?»—
See King Lear.