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Then in a gayer, lighter strain,
And, as they flow'd along,
They melted into song.
1. DENMARK's sage courtier to her princely youth,
Granting his cloud an ouzel or a whale, Spoke, though unwittingly, a partial truth;
For phantasy embroiders nature's veil. The tints of ruddy eve, or dawning pale,
Of the swart thunder-cloud, or silver haze, Are but the ground-work of the rich detail
Which phantasy with pencil wild portrays, Blending what seems and is, in the rapt muser's
gaze. Nor are the stubborn forms of earth and stone
Less to the sorceress's empire given: For not with unsubstantial hues alone,
Caught from the varying surge, or vacant heaven, From bursting sunbeam, or from flashing levin,
She limns her pictures-on the earth, as air, Arise her castles, and her car is driven;
And never gazed the eye on scene so fair, But of its boasted charms fancy gave half the share.
When slum field, or lea.'
Up a wild pass went Harold, bent to prove,
Hugh Meneville, the adventure of thy lay; Gunnar pursued his steps in faith and love,
Ever companion of his master's way. Midward their path, a rock of granite gray
From the adjoining cliff had made descent, A barren mass-yet with her drooping spray,
Had a young birch-tree crowned its battlement, Twisting her fibrous roots through craony, flaw,
and rent. This rock and tree could Gunnar's thought engage,
Till fancy brought the tear-drop to his eye, And at his master asked the timid page,
“ What is the emblem that a bard should spy In that rude rock and its green canopy?”
And Harold said, “Like to the helmet brave Of warrior slain in fight it seems to lie,
And these same drooping boughs do o'er it wave Not all unlike the plume his lady's favour gave.” “Ah, no!" replied the page; "the ill-starr'd love
Of some poor maid is in the emblem shown, Whose fates are with some hero's interwove,
And rooted on a heart to love unknown: And as the gentle dews of hearen alone
Nourish those drooping boughs, and as the scathe Of the red lightning rends both tree and stone, So fares it with her unrequited faith
Her sole relief is tears-her only refuge death.”
“ What though through fields of carnage wide
Lord Harold's feats can see?
With some slight touch of fear,
My monitor is near.
I first beheld his form,
Before the fearful storm
And there is pought to see,
And then resolvedly said,
Count Harold turu'd dismayid:
Which vulgar minds call fear.
His arms, said, “Speak-I hear.”
“Thou art a fond fantastic boy,"
Yet prating still of love:
With one like me to rove,
IV. The grateful page made no reply, But turn'd to heaven his gentle eye, And clasp'd his hands, as one who said, “My toils my wanderings are o'erpaid!”
The deep voice said, “ ( wild of will,
The wolf for ravaging the flock,
XII. Or with its hardness taunt the rock,
Harold might see from his high stance, I am as they--my Danish strain
Himself unseen, that train advance Sends streams of fire through every vein.
With mirth and melody; Amid thy realms of goule and ghost,
On horse and foot a mingled throng, Say, is the fame of Erick lost?
Measuring their steps to bridal song Or Witikind's the Waster, known
And bridal minstrelsy; Where fame or spoil was to be won;
And ever when the blithsome rout Whose galleys ne'er bore off a shore
Lent to the song their choral shout, They left not black with flame!
Redoubling echoes roll'd about, He was my sire,--and sprung oflum,
While echoing cave and cliff sent out That rover merciless, and grim,
The answering symphony, Can I be soft and tame?
Of all those mimic notes which dwell Part hence, and with my crimes no more upbraid Io hollow rock and sounding dell. me,
By many a various passion fann'd;
As elemental sparks can feed
Lightsome and pure, but unrepress'd,
More feebly strove with maiden fear, That he, like thee, with unrelenting pace,
Yet still joy glimmer'd through the tear From grave to cradle ran the evil race:
On the bride's blushing cheek, that shows Relentless in his avarice and ire
Like dew-drop on the budding rose; Churches and towns he gave to sword and fire; While Wulfstane's gloomy smile declared Shed blood like water, wasted every land,
The joy that selfish avarice shared, Like the destroying angel's burning brand;
And pleased revenge and malice high Fulfill'd whate'er of ill might be invented:
Its semblance took in Jutta's eye. Yes-all these things he did-he did, but he RE On dangerous adventure sped, PENTED!
The witch deem'd Harold with the dead, Perchance it is part of his punishment still,
For thus that morn her demon said: That his offspring pursues his example of ill. “ If, ere the set of sun, be tied But thou, when thy tempest of wrath shall next The knot 'twixt bridegroom and his bride, shake thee,
The Dane shall have no power of ill Gird thy loins for resistance, my son, and awake O'er William and o'er Metelill.”
And the pleased witch made answer, " Then If thou yield'st to thy fury, how tempted soever, Must Harold have
from the paths of men! The gate of repentance shall ope for thee NEVER!” Evil repose may his spirit have XI.
May hemlock and mandrake find root in his grave, “ He is gone,” said lord Harold, and gazed as he May his death-sleep be dogg'd by dreams of dismay, spoke;
And his waking be worse at the answering day!” “There is nought on the path but the shade of the
Such was their various mode of glee He is gone, whose strange presence my feelings Blent in one shout of ecstasy. oppress'd,
But still when joy is brimming highest, Like the night-hag that sits on the slumberer's Of sorrow and misfortune nighest, breast.
Of terror with her ague cheek,
Their snares beside the primrose way. He said that three drops would recal from the Thus found that bridal band their path grave.
Beset by Harold in his wrath. For the first time count Harold owns leech-craft Trembling beneath his maddening mood, has power,
High on a rock the giant stood; Or, his courage to aid, lacks the juice of a flower!"| His shout was like the doom of death The page gave the Gasket, which Walwayn had Spoke o'er their heads that pass'd beneath. fill'd
His destined victims might not spy With the juice of wild roots that his art had dis 'The reddening terrors of his eyetillid
The frown of rage that writhed his face
Backward they bore;-yet are there twe There was song, there was pipe, there was timbrel, For battle who prepare: and still
No pause of dread lord William knew The burden was, “ Joy to the fair Metelill!” Ere his good blade was bare;
And Wulfstane bent his fatal yew,
Lord William on the plain is lying, But ere the silken cord he drew,
Beside bim Metelill scems dying! As hurl'd from Hecla's thunder, ftew
Bring odoursessences in hasteThat ruin through the air;
And lo! a flasket richly chased, Full on the outlaw's front it came,
But Jutta the elixir proves And all that late had human name,
Ere pouring it for those she loves And human face, and human frame,
Then Walwayn's potion was not wasted, That lived, and moved, and had free will
For when three drops the hag had tasted, To choose the path of good or ill,
So dismal was her yell, Is to its reckoning gone;
Each bird of evil omen woke, And nought of Wulfstane rests behind,
The raven gave his fatal croak, Save that beneath that stone,
And shriek'd the night-crow from the oak, Half buried in the dinted clay,
The screech-owl from the thicket broke, A red and shapeless mass there lay,
And flutter'd down the dell!
So fearful was the sound and stern,
The slumbers of the full-gorged erne
Were startled, and from farze and fern, The eagle darts amain,
Of forest and of fell, Three bounds from yonder summit high
The fox and famish'd wolf replied, Placed Harold on the plain.
(For wolves then prow!'d the Cheviot side, ) As the scared wild-fowl scream and fly,
From mountain bead to mountain head So fled the bridal train;
The unhallow'd sounds around were sped;
But when their latest echo fled,
The sorceress on the ground lay dead.
XIX. So fought the bridegroom; from his hand
Such was the scene of blood and woes, The Dane's rude mace has struck his brand,
With which the bridal morn arose Its glittering fragments strew the sand,
Of William and of Metelill; lis lord lies on the plain.
But oft, when dawning 'gins to spread, Now, heaven! take noble William's part,
The summer-morn peeps dim and red And 'melt that yet unmelted heart,
Above the eastern bill, Or, ere his bridal hour depart,
Ere, bright and fair, upon his road The hapless bridegroom's slain!
The king of splendour walks abroad;
So, when this cloud bad pass'd away,
Bright was the noon-tide of their day,
And all serene its setting ray.
WELL do I hope that this my mirstrel tale
Will tempt no traveller from southern fie But, as the mace aloft he swung,
Whether in tilbury, barouche, or mail, To stop the blow young Gunnar sprung.
To view the castle of these seven proud shields Around his master's knees he clung,
Small confirmation its condition yields And cried, “In mercy spare!
To Meneville's high lay-Do towers are seen 0, think upon the words of fear
On the wild heath, but those that faney builds, Spoke by that visionary seer,
And, save a fosse which tracks the moor with The crisis he foretold is here
green, Grant mercy-or despair!"
ls nought remains to tell of what may there have This word suspended Harold's mood,
been. Yet still with arm upraised he stood,
And yet grave authors, with the no small waste And visage like the headsman's rude
of their grave time, have dignified the spot That pauses for the sign.
By theories, to prove the fortress placed “O mark thee with the blessed rood,"
'By Roman bands, to curb the invading Scot. The page implored: “ Speak word of good,
Hutchinson, Horsley, Camden, 1 might quote, Resist the fiend, or be subdued!”
But rather choose the theory less civil He signed the cross divine
Of boors, who, origin of things forgot, Instant his eye hath human light,
Refer still to the origin of evil, Less red, less keen, less fiercely bright;
And for their master-mason choose that master His brow relax'd the obdurate frown,
fend the devil. The fatal mace sinks gently down, He turns and strides away;
Therefore, I say, it was on fiend-built towers Yet oft, like revellers who leave
That stout count Harold bent his wond'ring gaze, Unfinish'd feast, looks back to grieve,
When evening dew was on the heather flowers, As if repenting the reprieve
And the last sunbeams bade the mountain blaze. He granted to his prey.
And tinged the battlements of other days Yet still of forbearance one sign hath he given, With a bright level light ere sinking down. And fierce Witikind's son made one step towards Humined thus, the dauntless Dane surveys heaven.
The seven proud shields that o'er the portal XVIII.
frown, But though his dreaded footsteps part,
And on their blazons traced high marks of old rem Death is behind and shakes his dart:
A wolf North Wales had on his armour-coat, For whom the bride's shy footstep, slow and light,
And Rhys of Powis-land a couchant stag; I Was changed ere morning to the murderer Strath-Clwyde's strange emblem was a stranded
For human bliss and wo in the frail thread Donald of Galloway a trotting nag;
Of human life are all so closely lwined, A corn-sheaf gilt was fertile Lodon's lyrag; That till the shears of fate the texture shred, A dudgeon-clagger was by Dunmail worn;
The close succession cannot be disjoin'd, Northumbrian Adolf gave a sea-beat crag
Nor dare we from one hour 'udge that which comm Surmounted by a cross-such signs were borne behind. Opon these antique shields, all wasted now and
But where the work of vengeance had been done, III.
In that seventh chamber was a sterner sight; These scann'd, count Harold sought the castle door, There of the witch-brides lay each skeleton,
Whose ponderous bolts were rusted to decay; Still in the posture as to death when dight. Yet till that hour adventurous knight forbore For this lay prone, by one blow slain outright; The unobstructed passage to essay.
And that, as one who striggled long in dying; More strong than armed warders in array, One bony hand held knife as if to smite; And obstacle more sure than holt or bar,
One bent on fleshless knees as mercy crying; Sate in the portal Terror and Dismay,
One lay across the door, as kill'd in act of Aying. While Superstition, who forbade to war The stern Dane smiled this charnel-house to see With foes of other mould than mortal clay, For his chafed thought returp'd to Metelill; Cast spells across the gate, and barr'd the onward and, “Well," he said, “hath woman's perfidy, way.
Empty as air, as water volatile,
I Thro'woman rose, the christian doctrine saith; And, as it oped, through that emblazon'd rank
Nor deem I, Gunnar, that thy minstrel skill Of antique shields the wind of evening rush'd
Can show example where a woman's breath With sound most like a groan, and then was hush'd.
Hath made a true-love vow, and tempted, kept her Is none who on such spot such sounds could hear
The minstrel boy half smiled, half sigh'd, It spoke of danger nigh, but had no touch of fear.
And his half filling eyes be dried,
Unless it were my dying song,
The northern harp has treble power,)
As through their preciocts the adventurers strode. Defying danger, scorn, and death.
Pure and unflaw'd-her love unknown,
And unrequited; firm and pure, And fast beside, garnishd both proud and high, Her stainless faith could all endure: Was placed a power for rest in which a king might From clime to elime-from place to placelie.
Through want, and danger, and disgrace,
A wanderer's wayward steps could trace. As if a bridal there of late had been
All this she did, and guerdon none Deck'd stood the table in each gorgeous hall;
Required, save that her burial-stone And yet it was two hundred years, I ween,
Should make at length her secret know: Since date of that unhallow'd festival.
Thus hath a faithful woman done. Flagons, and ewers, and standing cups, were all
Not in each breast such truth is laid, Of tarnish'd gold, or silver nothing clear,
But Eivir was a Danish maid.” With throne begilt, and canopy of pall,
VIII. And tapestry clothed the walls with fragments sear,
“ Thou art a wild enthusiast,” said Frail as the spider's mesh did that rich woof ap Count Harold, “ for thy Danish maid; pear.
And yet, young Gunnar, I will own
Her's were a faith to rest upon.
And all resembling her are gone.
In plighted faith, like thine to me?
But couch thee, boy: the darksome shade
Because the dead are by.
Yet near me, Gunnar, be thou laid, The wearer's fleshless scull, alike with dust be Thy couch upon my mantle made, strown.
That thou may'st think, should fear in nado,
Thy master slumbers nigh.”
There's trouble in his eyes,
“My page,” he said, "arise; Leave we this place, my page.” Nor more He utter'd till the castle door They cross'd-but there he paused and said, “My wildness hath awaked the dead
Disturb'd the sacred tomb!
The central place of doom!
Bore to that evil den!
Those who had late been men.
“ With haggard eyes and streaming hair,
As captives know the knell,
Commands them quit their cell.
When to my rescue sped
The demons yelld and fled!
Gunnar, he must not haunt in vain
So late his resting place?
Adored by all his race!
So flow'd his hoary beard;
But when his voice he rear'd,
XIV. " Harold,” he said, “ What rage is thorne To quit the worship of thy line, To leave thy warrior god? With me is glory or disgrace, Mine is the onset and the chase, Embattled hosts before my face Are withered by a nod. Wilt thou then forfeit that high seat, Deserved by many a dauntless feat Among the heroes of thy live, Erio and fiery Thorarine? Thou wilt not. Only I can give The joys for which the valiant live, Victory and vengeance--only I Can give the joys for which they die, The immortal ült-the banquet full, The brimming draught from foeman's skull Mine art thou, witness this thy glove, The faithful pledge of vassal's love."