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Anathema of power so dread,
It blends the living with the dead,
Bids each good angel soar away,
ill one claim his prey;
Expels thee from the church's care,
And deafens Heaven against thy prayer ;
Arms every hand against thy life,
Bans all who aid thee in the strife,
Nay, each whose succour, cold and scant,
With meanest alms relieves thy want;
Haunts thee while living,—and, when dead,
Dwells on thy yet devoted head,
Rends Honour's scutcheon from thy hearse,
Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse,
And spurns thy corpse from hallow'd ground,
Flung like vile carrion to the hound !
Such is the dire and desperate doom,
For sacrilege decreed by Rome;
And such the well-deserved meed
Of thine unhallow'd, ruthless deed."
66 Abbot !" The Bruce replied, “thy charge
It boots not to dispute at large.
This much, howe'er, I bid thee know,
No selfish vengeance dealt the blow,
For Comyn died his country's foe.
Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed
Fulfill'd my soon-repented deed,
Nor censure those from whose stern tongue
The dire anathema has rung.
I only blame mine own wild ire,
By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,
Far as I may, the evil done,
And hears a penitent's appeal
From papal curse and prelate's zeal.
My first and dearest task achieved,
Fair Scotland from her thrall relieved,
Shall many a priest in cope and stole
Say requiem for Red Comyn's soul,
While I the blessed cross advance,
And expiate this unhappy chance,
In Palestine, with sword and lance.
But, while content the church should know
My conscience owns the debt I owe,
Unto De Argentine and Lorn
The name of traitor I return,
Bid them defiance stern and high,
And give them in their throats the lie !
These brief words spoke, I speak no more.
Do what thou wilt ; my shrift is o'er.”_
Like man by prodigy amazed,
Upon the King the Abbot gazed ;
Then o'er his pallid features.glance
Convulsions of extatic trance.
His breathing came more thick and fast,
And from his pale blue eyes were cast
Strange rays of wild and wandering light;
Uprise his locks of silver white,
Flush'd is his brow, through every vein
In azuré tide the currents strain,
And undistinguish'd accents broke
The awful silence ere he spoke.
“ De Bruce! I rose with purpose dread
To speak my curse upon thy head,
And give thee as an outcast o'er
To him who burns to shed thy gore ;
But, like the Midianite of old,
Who stood on Zophim, heaven-contrould,
I feel within mine aged breast
A power that will not be repress’d.
It prompts my voice, it swells my veins,
It burns, it maddens, it constrains !-
De Bruce, thy sacrilegious blow
Hath at God’s altar slain thy foe:
O'er-master'd yet by high behest,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd !”-
He spoke, and o'er the astonish'd throng Was silence, awful, deep, and long.
Again that light has fired his
eye, Again his form swells bold and high, The broken voice of
gone, 'Tis vigorous manhood's lofty tone :66 Thrice vanquish'd on the battle-plain, Thy followers slaughter'd, fled, or ta’en, A hunted wanderer on the wild, On foreign shores a man exiled, Disown'd, deserted, and distress'd, I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Bless'd in the hall and in the field,
Under the mantle as the shield.