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Their’s was the glee of martial breast,
And laughter their's at little jest ;
And oft Lord Marmion deigned to aid,
And mingle in the mirth they made :
For though, with men of high degree,
The proudest of the proud was he,
Yet, trained in camps, he knew the art
To win the soldier's hardy heart.
They love a captain to obey,
Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May;
With open hand, and brow as free,
Lover of wine, and minstrelsy;
Ever the first to scale a tower,
As venturous in a lady's bower :
Such buxom chief shall lead his host
From India's fires to Zembla's frost.
Resting upon his pilgrim staff,
Right opposite the Palmer stood;
His thin dark visage seen but half,
Half hidden by his hood.
Still fixed on Marmion was his look,
Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,
Strove by a frown to quell;
But not for that, though more than once
Full met their stern encountering glance,
The Palmer's visage fell.
By fits less frequent from the crowd
Was heard the burst of laughter loud;
For still, as squire and archer stared
On that dark face and matted beard,
Their glee and game declined.
All gazed at length in silence drear,
Unbroke, save when in comrade's ear
Some yeoman, wondering in his fear,
Thus whispered forth his mind :-
“ Saint Mary! saw'st thou e'er such sight?
How pale his cheek, his eye how bright,
Whene'er the fire-brand's fickle light
Glances beneath his cowl !
Full on our Lord he sets his eye ;
For his best palfrey would not I
Endure that sullen scowl.”—
But Marmion, as to chase the awe:
Which thus had quelled their hearts, who saw
The ever-varying fire-light shew
That figure stern, and face of woe,
Now called upon a squire :
“ Fitz-Eustace, know'st thou not some lay, To speed the lingering night away?
We slumber by the fire.”—
“ So please you,” thus the youth rejoined, “ Our choicest minstrel's left behind.
Ill may we hope to please your ear, Accustomed Constant's strains to hear. The harp full deftly can he strike, And wake the lover's lute alike; To dear Saint Valentine, no thrush Sings livelier from a spring-tide bush; No nightingale her love-lorn tune More sweetly warbles to the moon. Woe to the cause, whate'er it be, Detains from us his melody, Lavished on rocks, and billows stern, Or duller monks of Lindisfarn. Now must I venture, as I may, To sing his favourite roundelay.”—
A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had,
The air he chose was wild and sad;
Such have I heard, in Scottish land, Rise from the busy harvest band,
When falls before the mountaineer,
On lowland plains, the ripened ear.
Now one shrill voice the notes prolong,
Now a wild chorus swells the song :
Oft have I listened, and stood still,
As it came softened up the hill,
And deemed it the lament of men
Who languished for their native glen;
And thought how sad would be such sound,
On Susquehana's swampy ground,
Kentucky's wood-encumbered brake,
Or wild Ontario's boundless lake,
Where heart-sick exiles; in the strain,
Recalled fair Scotland's hills again!
Where shall the lover rest,
Whom the Fates sever,
From his true maiden's breast
Parted for ever?