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Then all by bonnie Coldingknow, (2)
Pitch'd palliouns took their room, And crested helms, and spears a rowe,
Glanced gaily through the broom.
The Leader, rolling to the Twced,
Resounds the enseozie;? They roused the deer from Caddenhead,
To distant Torwoodlee. (3)
The feast was spread in Ercildoune,
In Learmont's high and ancient hall; And there were knights of great renown,
And ladies laced in pall.
Nor lack'd they, while they sat at dine,
The music nor the tale,
Nor mantling quaighs ? of ale.
TRONAS TIE RHYMER was renowned among his contemporaries, as the author of the celebrated romance of Sir Tristrem. Of this once admired poem only one copy is known to exist, which is in the Advocates' Library. The author, in 1804, published a small edition of this curious work, which, if it does not revive the reputation of the bard of Ercildoun, is at least the - earliest specimen of Scottish poetry hitherto published. Some account of this romance has already been given
to the world in Mr Ellis's Specimens of Ancient Poetry, | vol. I, p. 165, III, p. 410; a work, to which our prede
cessors and our posterity are alike obliged; the former, for the preservation of the best selected exainples of their poetical taste ; and the latter, for a history of the Eaglish language, which will only cease to be interesting with the existence of our mother tongue, and all that genius and learning have recorded in it. It is sufficient here to mention, that, so great was the reputation of the romance of Sir Tristrem, that few were thought capable of reciting it after the manner of the author ;-a circumstance alluded to by Robert de Brune, the annalist :
I see in song, in sedgeyng tale,
If mes it said as made Thomas, etc. It appears, from a very curious MS. of the thirteenth century, penes Mr Douce of London, containing a French metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, that the work of our Thomas the Rhymer was known, and referred to, by the minstrels of Normandy and Bretagne. Having arrived at a part of the romance, where reciters were wont to differ in the mode of telling the story, the French bard expressly cites the authority of the poet of Ercildoun:
True Thomas rose, with harp in hand,
When as the feast was done; (In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land,
The ellin harp he won.)
Hush'd were the throng, both limb and tongue,
And harpers for envy pale;
And bearken'd to the tale.
In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet pour'd along; No after bard miglit e'er avail3
Those numbers to prolong.
Yet fragments of the lofty strain
Float down the tide of years, As, buoyant on the stormy main,
A parted wreck appears.
He sung King Arthur's Table Round :
The warrior of the lake; How courteous Gawaine met the wound, (4)
And bled for ladies' sake.
Plasors de nos granter ne volent,
But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,
The notes melodious swell; Was none excell'd, in Arthur's days,
The knight of Lionelle.
The tale of Sir Tristrem, as narrated in the Edinburgh XS., is totally different from the voluminous romance
"Ensensie-War-cry, or gathering-word.
Ouaighs-Wooden cups, composed of staves hooped together. See introduction to tbis Ballad.
For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,
A venom'd wound he bore; When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,
Upon the Irish shore.
No art the poison might withstand;
No med'cine could be found, Till lovely Isolde's lily hand
Had probed the rankling wound,
With gentle hand and soothing tongue,
She bore the leech's part; And, while she o'er his sick-bed hung,
He paid her with his heart.
O fatal was the gift, I ween!
For, doom'd in evil tide, The maid must be rude Cornwall's queen,
His cowardly uncle's bride.
On Leader's stream, and Learmont's tower,
The mists of evening close;
Each warrior sought repose.
Dream'd o'er the woful tale;
The warrior's ears assail.
Arise, my page, arise!
Dare step where Douglas lies!»
A selcouth' sight they see-
As white as snow on Fairnalie. (5)
They stately move and slow;
Who marvel as they go.
As fast as page might run;
And soon his clothes did on.
Never a word he spake but three;« My sand is run ; my thread is spun;
This sign regardeth me.»
Their loves, their woes, the gifted bard
In fairy tissue wove; Where lords, and knights, and ladies bright,
In gay confusion strove.
The Garde Joyeuse, amid the tale,
High rear'd its glittering head; And Avalon's enchanted vale
In all its wonders spread.
Brengwain was there, and Segramore,
And fiend-born Merlin's gramarye; Of that famed wizard's mighty lore,
O who could sing but he?
Through many a maze the winning song
Jo changeful passion led, Till bent at length the listening throng
O'er Tristrem's dying bed.
The elfin harp his neck around,
In minstrel guise, he hung;
Its dying accents rung.
To view his ancient hall;
The autumn moon-beams fall.
His ancient wounds their scars expand;
With agony his heart is wrung; O where is Isolde's lily hand,
And where her soothing tongue?
She comes, she comes! like flash of flame
Can lovers' footsteps fly: She comes, she comes!-she only came
To see her Tristrem die.'
She saw him die; her latest sigh
Join'd in a kiss his parting breath : The gentlest pair, that Britain bare,
United are in death.
And Leader's waves, like silver sheen,
Danced shimmering in the ray:
Broad Soltra's mountains lay.
A long farewell,» said he : « The scene of pleasure, pomp, or power,
Thou never more shalt be. « To Learmont's name no foot of earth
Shall here again belong, And on thy hospitable hearth
The hare shall leave her young. « Adieu! adieu!» again he cried,
All as he turned him roun« Farewell to Leader's silver tide!
Farewell to Ercildoune !»
As lingering yet he stood ;
With them he cross'd the flood.
There paused the harp; its lingering sound
Died slowly on the ear;
For still they seem'd to hear.
Then woe broke forth in murmurs weak,
Nor ladies heaved alone the sigh: But, half ashamed, the rugged cheek
Did many a gauntlet dry.
Lord Douglas leap'id on his berry-brown steed,
And spurr'd him the Leader o'er ;
He never saw them more.
Some said to hill, and some to glen,
Their wondrous course had been; But ne'er in haunts of living men
Again was Thomas seen.
Note 1. Verse xvii.
- she pa'd an apple frae a tree, ete. The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of Koowledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect.
The reader is here presented, from an old, and unfortunately an imperfect MS., with the undoubted origical of Thomas the Rhymer's intrigue with the Queen of Faery. It will afford great amusement to those who would study the nature of traditional poetry, and the changes effected by oral tradition, to compare this ancient romance with the foregoing ballad. The same incidents are narrated, even the expression is often the same, yet the poems are as different in appearance, as if the older tale had been regularly and systematically modernized by a poet of the present day.
Incipit Prophesia Thome de Erseldoux.
And her croper of the arase,
I sal ye bryog to Eldyo Tre.
[The elfin queen, after restoring Thomas to earth, pours forth a string of prophecies, in which we distinguish references to the events and personages of the Scottish wars of Edward III. The battles of Duppla and Halidon are mentioned, and also Black Agus, Countess cf Dunbar. There is a copy of this poem ia the Museum in the Cathedral of Lincoln, another in the collection of Peterborough, but unfortunately they are all in an imperfect state. Mr Jamieson, in his curious collection of Scottish ballads and Songs, has an entre copy of this ancient poem, with all the collations. The lacune of the former edition have been supplied from his copy.]
Sbe rode farth with all her myzt,
Note 1. Verse i.
And Ruberslaw show'd high Denyon. Ruberslaw and Dunyon are two high hills abort Jedburgh.
Note 2. Verse ii.
Then all by bonnie Coldingknow. An ancient tower near Ercildoun, belonging to family of the name of Home. One of Thomas's pro phecies is said to have run thus:
Vengence, vengeance! when and where!
On the house of Coldingknow, now and ever mair.
Note 3. Verse iii.
To distant Torwoodlee. Torwoodlee and Caddenhead are places in Selkirkshire.
Note 4. Verse x. How courteous Gawalne met the woand. See in the Fabliaux of Monsieur le Grand, elegantly translated by the late Gregory Way, Esq., the tale et the Knight and the Sword.
Note 5. Verse xxviii.
As white as souw op Fairnalie. An ancient seat upon the Tweed, in Selkirkshire. La a popular edition of the first part of Thomas the Rhr. mer, the fairy qucen thus addresses him :
Gin ye wad meet wi' me again.
Harold the Dauntless :
| Tis thus my malady I well may bear,
Albeit outstretch'd, like Pope's own Paridel,
Upon the rack of a tooeasy chair; Teere is a mood of mind we all have known,
i And find, to cheat the time, a powerful spell On drowsy eve, or dark and louring day,
In old romaunts of errantry that tell, When the tired spirits lose their sprightly tone,
| Or later legends of the Fairy.folk, And nought can chase the lingering hours away.
Or oriental tale of Afrite fell, Dall on our soul falls Fancy's dazzling ray,
Of Genii, Talisman, and broad-wing'd Roc, And Wisdom holds his steadier torch in vain,'
Though taste may blush and frown, and sober reason Obscured the painting seems, mistuned the lay,
mock. Nor dare we of our listless load complain, For who for sympathy may seek that cannot tell of l Oft at such season, too, will rhymes unsought,
1 Arrange themselves in some romantic lay;
The which, as things unfitting graver thought, The jolly sportsman knows such drearihood,
Are burnt or blotted on some wiser day.When bursts in deluge the autumnal rain,
These few survive-and proudly let me say, Clouding that morn which threats the heath-cock's Court not the critic's smile, nor dread his frown; brood;
They well may serve to while an hour away, Of such, in summer's drought, the anglers plain,
Nor does the volume ask for more renown, Who hope the soft mild southern shower in vain; Than Ennui's yawning smile, what time she drops it But, more than all, the discontented fair,
down. Whom father stern, and sterner aunt, restrain
From county-ball, or race occurring rare, While all her friends around their vestments gay pre-IHAROLD THE DAUNTLESS.
pare. Ennui!-or, as our mothers call'd thee, Spleen! To thee we owe full many a rare device;
CANTO I. Thine is the sheaf of painted cards, I ween,
The rolling billiard-ball, the rattling dice,
List to the valorous deeds that were done
Count Witikind came of a regal strain,
Woe to the realms which he coasted! for there Thea of the books, to catch thy drowsy glance
Was shedding of blood, and rending of hair,
Gathering of ravens and wolves to the feast:
Before him was battle, behind him wrack,
and he burn'd the churches, that heathen Dape, Delicious dreams inspiring by his note,
To light bis band to their barks again..
On Erin's shores was his outrage known, Each bath his refuge whom thy cares assail.
The winds of France had his banners blown; For me, I love my study-fire to trim,
Little was there to plunder, yet still And con right vacantly some idle tale,
llis pirates had foray'd on Scottish hill; Displaying on the couch each listless limb,
But upon merry England's coast Till on the drowsy page the lights grow dim,
More frequent be sail'd, for he won the most. And doubtful slumber balt supplies the theme; So wide and so far his ravage they knew, While antique shapes of knight and giant grim, If a sail but gleam'd white 'gainst the welkin blue,
Damsel and dwarf, in long procession gleam, Trumpet and bugle to arms did call, And the romancer's tale becomes the reader's dream. Burghers hasten'd to man the wall,