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Nearer it comes the dim-wood glen
The martial flood disgorged agen,
But not in mingled tide:
The plaided warriors of the North
High on the mountain thunder forth
And overhang its side;
While by the lake below appears
The dark’ning cloud of Saxon spears.
At weary bay each shatter'd band,
Eyeing their foemen, sternly stand;.
Their banners stream like tatter'd sail,
That flings its fragments to the gale,
And broken arms and disarray
Mark'd the fell havoc of the day.
“ Viewing the mountain's ridge askance,
The Saxon stood in sullen trance,
Till Moray pointed with his lance,
And cried — “Behold yon isle! -
See! none are left to guard its strand,
But women weak, that wring the hand;
'Tis there of yore the robber band
Their booty wont to pile;
My purse, with bonnet-pieces store,
To him will swim a bow-shot o'er,
And loose a shallop from the shore.
Lightly we'll tame the war-wolf then,
Lords of his mate, and brood, and den.'
Forth from the ranks a spearman sprung,
On earth his casque and corslet rung,
He plunged bim in the wave:
All saw the deed — the purpose knew,
And to their clamours Benvenue
A mingled echo gave;
The Saxons shout, their mate to cheer,
The helpless females scream for fear,
And yells for rage the mountaineer.
'Twas then, as by the outcry riven,
Pour'd down at once the lowering heaven;
A whirlwind swept Loch Katrine's breast,
Her billows rear'd their snowy crest.
Well for the swimmer swell’d they high,
To mar the Highland marksman's eye;
For round him shower'd,'mid rain and hail,
The vengeful arrows of the Gael.
In vain He nears the isle - and lo!
His hand is on a shallop's bow.
- Just then a flash of lightning came,
It tinged the waves and strand with flame;
I mark'd Duncraggan's widow'd dame -
Behind an oak I saw her stand,
A naked dirk gleam'd in her hand:
It darken'd, but, amid the moan
Of waves, I heard a dying groan;
Another flash! the spearman floats
A weltering corse beside the boats,
And the stern matron o'er him stood,
Her hand and dagger streaming blood.
"Revenge! revenge!' the Saxons cried -
The Gael's exulting shout replied.
Despite the elemental rage,
Again they hurried to engage;
But, ere they closed in desperate fight,
Bloody with spurring came a knight,
Sprung from his horse, and, from a crag,
Waved 'twixt the hosts a milk-white flag.
Clarion and trumpet by his side
Rung forth a truce-note high and wide,
While, in the Monarch's name, afar
An herald's voice forbade the war,
For Bothwell's lord, and Roderick bold,
Were both, he said, in captive hold.”.
But here the lay made sudden stand!
The harp escaped the Minstrel's hand!
Oft had he stolen a glance, to spy,
How Roderick brook'd his minstrelsy:
At first, the Chieftain, to the chime,
With lifted hand, kept feeble time;
That motion ceased, yet feeling strong
Varied his look as changed the song;
At length, no more his deafen'd ear
The minstrel melody can hear;.
His face grows sharp,
his hands are clench'd, As if some pang his heart-strings wrench'd; Set are his teeth, his fading eye Is sternly fix'd on vacancy; Thus, motionless, and moanless, drew His parting breath, stout Roderick Dhu! Old Allan-Bane look'd on aghast, While grim and still his spirit pass’d: But when he saw that life was fled, He pour’d his wailing o'er the dead.
“And art thou cold and lowly laid,
Thy foemen's dread, thy people's aid,
Breadalbane's boast, Clan-Alpine's shade,
For thee shall none a requiem say?
For thee, who loved the minstrel's lay,
For thee, of Bothwell's house the stay,
The shelter of her exiled line,
E'en in this prison-house of thine,
I'll wail for Alpine's honour'd Pine!
“What groans shall yonder valleys fill!
What shrieks of grief shall rend yon hill,
What tears of burning rage shall thrill,
When mourns thy tribe thy battles done,
Thy fall before the race was won,
Thy sword ungirt ere set of sun!
There breathes not clansman of thy line,
But would have given his life for thine.
O woe for Alpine's honour'd Pine! “Sad was thy lot on mortal stage!
The captive thrush may brook the cage,
The prison'd eagle dies for rage.
Brave spirit, do not scorn my strain!
And, when its notes awake again,
Even she, so long beloved in vain,
Shall with my harp her voice combine,
And mix her woe and tears with mine,
To wail Clan-Alpine's honour'd Pine,
Ellen, the while, with bursting heart,
Remain'd in lordly bower apart,
Where play'd, with many-coloured gleams,
Through storied pane the rising beams.
In vain on gilded
roof they fall,
And lighten'd up a tapestried wall,
And for her use a menial train
A rich collation spread in vain.
The banquet proud, the chamber gay,
Scarce drew one curious glance astray;
Or if she look'd 'twas but to
With better omen dawn'd the day
In that lone isle, where waved on high
The dun-deer's hide for canopy;
Where oft her noble father shared
The simple meal her care prepared,
While Lufra, crouching by her side,
Her station claim'd with jealous pride,
And Douglas, bent on woodland game,
Spoke of the chase to Malcolm Græme,
Whose answer, oft at random made,
The wandering of his thoughts betray'd.
Those who such simple joys have known,
Are taught to prize them when they're gone.
But sudden, see, she lifts her head !
The window seeks with cautious tread.
What distant music has the power
To win her in this woful hour!
'Twas from a turret that o'erhung
Her latticed bower, the strain was sung.
LAY OF THE IMPRISONED HUNTSMAN.
“My hawk is tired of perch and hood,
My idle greyhound loathes his food,
My horse is weary of his stall,
And I am sick of captive thrall
I wish I were, as I have been,
Hunting the hart in forest green,
With bended bow and bloodhound free,
For that's the life is meet for me.
I hate to learn the ebb of time,
From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime,
Or mark it as the sunbeams crawl,
Inch after inch, along the wall.
The lark was wont my matins ring,
The sable rook my véspers sing;
These towers, although a king's they be,
Have not a hall of joy for me.
No more at dawning morn I rise,
And sun myself in Ellen's eyes,
Drive the feet deer the forest through,
And homeward wend with evening dew;
A blithesome welcome blithely meet,
And lay my trophies at her feet,
While fled the eve on wing of glee,
That life is lost to love and me!"
The heart-sick lay was hardly said, The list'ner had not turn'd her head, It trickled still, the starting tear, When light a footstep struck her ear, And Snowdoun's graceful Knight was near. She turn'd the bastier, lest again The prisoner should renew his strain. “O welcome, brave Fitz-James !” she said, “How may an almost orphan maid “Pay the deep debt" - “O say not so!
To me no gratitude you owe.
alas! the boon to give,
And bid thy noble father live;
I can but be thy guide, sweet maid,
With Scotland's King thy suit to aid.
No tyrant he, though ire and pride
May lay his better mood aside.
Come, Ellen, come! 'tis more than time
He holds his court at morning prime.”
With beating heart, and bosom wrung,
As to a brother's arm she clung:
Gently he dried the falling tear,
And gently whisper'd hope and cheer;