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Marking its cadence rise and fail,
As from the field, beneath her pail,
She trips it down the uneven dale:
Meeter for me, by yonder cairn,
The ancient shepherd's tale to learn,
Though oft he stop in rustic fear,
Lest his old legends tire the ear
Of one, who, in his simple mind,
May boast of book-learned taste refined.

But thou, my friend, canst fitly tell,
(For few have read romance so well)
How still the legendary lay
O'er poet's bosom holds its sway;
How on the ancient minstrel strain
Time lays his palsied hand in vain ;
And how our hearts at doughty deeds.
By warriors wrought in steely weeds,
Still throb for fear and pity's sake;
As when the Champion of the Lake
Enters Morgana's fated house,
Or in the Chapel Perilous,
Despising spells and demons' force,
Holds converse with the unburied corse;
Or when, Dame Ganore's grace to move,
(Alas ! that lawless was their love)
He sought proud Tarquin in his den,
And freed full sixty knights; or when,
A sinful man, and unconfessed,
He took the Sangreal's holy quest,
And, slumbering, saw the vision high,
He might not view with waking eye.

The mightiest chiefs of British song
Scorned not such legends to prolong:
They gleam through Spenser's elfin dream,
And mix in Milton's heavenly theme;
And Dryden, in immortal strain,
Had raised the Table Round again,
But that a ribald king and court
Bade him toil on, to make them sport;
Demanded for their niggard pay,
Fit for their souls, a looser lay,
Licentious satire, song, and play:
The world defrauded of the high design,
Profaned the God-given strength, and marred

the lofty line. Warmed by such names, well may we then, Though dwindled sons of little men, Essay to break a feeble lance In the fair fields of old romance; Or seek the moated castle's cell, Where long through talisman and spell, While tyrants ruled, and damsels wept, Thy Genius, Chivalry, hath slept:

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There sound the barpings of the North,
Till he awake and sally forth,
On venturous quest to prick again,
In all his arms, with all his train,
Shield, lance, and brand, and plume, and scarf,
Fay, giant, dragon, squire, and dwarf,
And wizard with his wand of might,
And errant maid on palfrey white.
Around the Genius weave their spells,
Pure Love, who scarce his passion tells;
Mystery, half-veiled and half-revealed
And Honour, with his spotless shield;
Attention, with fixed eye; and Fear,
That loves the tale she shrinks to hear ;
And gentle Courtesy; and Faith,
Unchanged by sufferings, time, or death;
And Valour, lion-mettled lord,
Leaning upon his own good sword.

Well has thy fair achievement shown,
A worthy meed may thus be won;
Ytene's * oaks-beneath whose shade
Their theme the merry minstrels made,
Of A scapart, and Bevis bold,
And that Red King, + who, while of old,
Through Boldrewood the chase he led,
By his loved huntsman's arrow bled-
Ytene's oaks have heard again
Renewed such legendary strain;
For thou hast sung, how he of Gaul,
That Amadis so famed in hall,
For Oriana, foiled in fight
The Necromancer's felon might;
And well in modern verse hast wove
Partenopex's mystic love:
Hear then, attentive to my lay,
A knightly tale of Albion's elder day.

CANTO FIRST.

THE CASTLE.

Day set on Norham's castled steep,
And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,

And Cheviot's mountains lone!
The battled towers, the Donjon Keep,
The loop-hole grates where captives weep,
The flanking walls that round it sweep,

In yellow lustre shone.

* The New Forest in Hampshire, anciently so called. William Rufus.

The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky,

Seemed forms of giant height:
Their arınour, as it caught the rays,
Flushed back again the western blaze,

In lines of dazzling light.

II.

St. George's banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray

Less bright, and less, was fiung;
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the Donjon tower,

So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,

The castle gates were barred;
A bove the gloomy portal arch,
Timing his footsteps to a march,

The warder kept his guard ;
Low humming as he paced along,
Some ancient Border gathering-song.

III.
A distant trampling sound he hears ;
He looks abroad, and soon appears,
O'er Horncliff-hill, a plump* of spears,

Beneath a pennon gay;
A horseman darting from the crowd,
Like lightning from a summer cloud,
Spurs on his mettled courser proud,

Before the dark array.
Beneath the sable palisade,
That closed the castle barricade,

His bugle-horn he blew;
The warder hasted from the wall,
And warned the Captain in the hall,

For well the blast he knew;
And joyfully that Knight did call,
To sewer, squire, and seneschal.

iv.
“Now broach ye a pipe of Malvoisie,

Bring pasties of the doe,
And quickly make the entrance free,
And bid my heralds ready be,
And every minstrel sound his glee,

And all our trumpets blow;
And, from the platform, spare ye not
To fire a noble salvo-shot:

Lord Marmion waits below.”.

• This word properly applies to a flight of water-fowl; but is applied, by analogy, to a body of horse.

101 SC.

There is a Knight of the North Country,
Which leads a lusty plump of spears.-Flodien Field.

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