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Crichtoun ! though now thy miry court
pens the lazy steer and sheep,
Thy turrets rude and tottered keep
Have been the minstrel's loved resort.
Oft have I traced, within thy fort,
Of mouldering shields the mystic sense,
Scutcheons of honor or pretence, Quartered in old armorial sort,
Remains of rude magnificence.
Nor wholly yet hath time defaced
Thy lordly gallery fair,
Nor yet the stony cord unbraced
Whose twisted knots, with roses laced,
Adorn thy ruined stair.
Still rises unimpaired below
The court-yard's graceful portico;
Above its cornice, row and row
Of fair hewn facets richly show
Their pointed diamond form,
Though there but houseless cattle go,
To shield them from the storm.
And, shuddering, still may we explore,
Where oft whilom were captives pent,
The darkness of thy Massy More,
Or, from thy grass-grown battlement,
May trace in undulating line
The sluggish mazes of the Tyne.
Another aspect Crichtoun showed
As through its portal Marmion rode ;
But yet 't was melancholy state
Received him at the outer gate,
For none were in the castle then
But women, boys, or aged men.
With eyes scarce dried, the sorro
To welcome noble Marmion came;
Her son, a stripling twelve years old,
Proffered the baron's rein to hold ;
For each man that could draw a sword
Had marched that morning with their lord,
Earl Adam Hepburn, he who died
On Flodden by his sovereign's side.
Long may his lady look in vain !
She ne'er shall see his gallant train
Come sweeping back through Crichtoun-Dean.
'Twas a brave race before the name
Of hated Bothwell stained their fame.
And here two days did Marmion rest,
With every right that honor claims, Attended as the king's own guest ;
Such the command of Royal James,
Who marshalled then his land's array,
Upon the Borough-moor that lay.
Perchance he would not foeman's eye
Upon his gathering host should pry,
Till full prepared was every
To march against the English land.
Here while they dwelt, did Lindesay's wit
Oft cheer the baron's moodier fit;
And, in his turn, he knew to prize
Lord Marmion's powerful mind and wise,
Trained in the lore of Rome and Greece,
And policies of war and peace.
It chanced, as fell the second night,
That on the battlements they walked, And by the slowly fading light
of varying topics talked ;
And, unaware, the herald-bard
Said Marmion might his toil have spared
In travelling so far,
For that a messenger from heaven
In vain to James had counsel given
Against the English war ;
And, closer questioned, thus he told
A tale which chronicles of old
In Scottish story have enrolled :
SIR DAVID LINDESAY'S TALE,
• Of all the palaces so fair,
Built for the royal dwelling
In Scotland, far beyond compare
Linlithgow is excelling;
And in its park, in jovial June,
How sweet the merry linnet's tune,
How blithe the blackbird's lay!
The wild buck bells from ferny brake,
The coot dives merry on the lake,
The saddest heart might pleasure take
To see all nature gay.
But June is to our sovereign dear
The heaviest month in all the year;
Too well his cause of grief you know,
June saw his father's overthrow.
Woe to the traitors who could bring
The princely boy against his king!
Still in his conscience burns the sting.
In offices as strict as Lent
King James's June is ever spent.
• When last this ruthful month was come,
And in Linlithgow's holy dome
The king, as wont, was praying ;
While for his royal father's soul
The chanters sung, the bells did toll,
The bishop mass was saying -
For now the year brought round again
The day the luckless king was slain
In Catherine's aisle the monarch knelt,
With sackcloth shirt and iron belt,
And eyes with sorrow streaming ;
Around him in their stalls of state
The Thistle's Knight-Companions sate,
Their banners o’er them beaming.
I too was there, and, sooth to tell,
Bedeafened with the jangling knell,
Was watching where the sunbeams fell,
Through the stained casement gleaming ;
But while I marked what next befell
It seemed as I were dreaming.
Stepped from the crowd a ghostly wight,
In azure gown, with cincture white;
His forehead bald, his head was bare,
Down hung at length his yellow hair. -
Now, mock me not when, good my lord,
I pledge to you my knightly word
That when I saw his placid grace,
His simple majesty of face,
His solemn bearing, and his pace
So stately gliding on, —
Seemed to me ne'er did limner paint
So just an image of the saint
Who propped the Virgin in her faint,
The loved Apostle John !
He stepped before the monarch's chair,
And stood with rustic plainness there,