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Couch then thy lance, and spur thy steed-
Upon him! and Saint George to speed !
If he go down, thou soon shalt know,
Whate'er these airy sprites can shew;-
If thy heart fail thee in the strife,
I am no warrant for thy life.” .
XXIII. “ Soon as the midnight bell did ring, Alone, and armed, rode forth the king To that old camp's deserted round:Sir Knight, you well might mark the mound, Left hand the town,—the Pictish race The trench, long since, in blood did trace; The moor around is brown and bare, The space within is green and fair. The spot our village children know, For there the earliest wild flowers grow; But woe betide the wandering wight, That treads its circle in the night!
The breadth across, a bowshot clear,
Gives ample space for full career;
Opposed to the four points of heaven,
By four deep gaps are entrance given.
The southernmost our monarch past,
Halted, and blew a gallant blast ; .
And on the north, within the ring,
Appeared the form of England's king;
Who then, a thousand leagues afar,
In Palestine waged holy war:
Yet arms like England's did he wield,
Alike the leopards in the shield,
Alike his Syrian courser's frame,
The rider's length of limb the same :
Long afterwards did Scotland know,
Fell Edward * was her daedliest foe..
XXIV. “ The vision made our monarch start, But soon he mann'd his noble heart,
And in the first career they ran,
The Elfin Knight fell horse and man ;
Yet did a splinter of his lance
Through Alexander's visor glance,
And razed the skin-a puny wound.
The king, light leaping to the ground,
With naked blade his phantom foe
Compelled the future war to show.
Of Largs he saw the glorious plain,
Where still gigantic bones remain,
Memorial of the Danish war; . .
Himself he saw, amid the field,
On high his brandished war-axe wield,
And strike proud Haco from his car,
While, all around the shadowy, kings,
Denmark's grim ravens cower'd their wings.
'Tis said, that, in that awful night,
Remoter visions met his sight,
Fore-shewing future conquests far,
When our sons' sons wage northern war;
A royal city, tower and spire,
· Reddened the midnight sky with fire:
And shouting crews her navy bore,
Triumphant, to the victor shore.
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain,
“ The joyful king turned home again,
Headed his host, and quelled the Dane;
But yearly, when returned the night
Of bis strange combat with the sprite,
His wound must bleed and smart;
Lord Gifford then would gibing say,
“ Bold as ye were, my liege, ye payi
The penance of your start.” Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave, King Alexander fills his grave,
Our Lady give him rest!
Yet still the nightly spear and shield
The elfin warrior doth wield,
Upon the brown hill's breast;
And many a knight hath proved his chance,
In the charmed ring to break a lance,
But all have foully sped;
Save two, as legends tell, and they
Were Wallace wight, and Gilbert Hay.-
Gentles, my tale is said.”—
The quaighs* were deep, the liquors strong,
And on the tale the yeoman throng
Had made a comment sage and long,
But Marmion gave a sign;
And, with their lord, the squires retire;
The rest, around the hostel fire,
Their drowsy limbs recline;
* A wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.