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To think what woe mischance may bring,
And how these merry bells may ring
The death-dirge of our gallant King ;
Or, with their larum, call
The burghers forth to watch and ward,
'Gainst Southern sack and fires to guard
Dun-Edin's leaguered wall.—
But not for my presaging thought,
Dream conquest sure, or cheaply bought!
Lord Marmion, I say nay :-
God is the guider of the field,
He breaks the champion's spear and shield,
But thou thyself shalt say,
When joins yon host in deadly stowre,
That England's dames must weep in bower,
Her monks the death-mass sing;
For never saw'st thou such a power
Led on by such a King.”—
And now, down winding to the plain,
The barriers of the camp they gain,
And there they made a stay.—
There stays the Minstrel, till he fling
His hand o'er every Border string,
And fit his harp the pomp to sing,
Of Scotland's ancient Court and King,
In the succeeding lay.
THE train has left the hills of Braid ;
The barrier guard have open made,
(So Lindesay bade), the palisade,
That closed the tented ground;
Their men the warders backward drew,
And carried pikes as they rode through,
Into its ample bound. Fast ran the Scottish warriors there, Upon the Southern band to stare ; And envy with their wonder rose, To see such well-appointed foes ; Such length of shafts, such mighty bows, So huge, that many simply thought, But for a vaunt such weapons wrought; And little deemed their force to feel, Through links of mail, and plates of steel, When, rattling upon Flodden vale, The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.
Nor less did Marmion's skilful view Glance every line and squadron through; And much he marvelled one small land Could marshal forth such various band :
For men-at-arms were bere, Heavily sheathed in mail and plate, Like iron towers for strength and weight, On Flemish steeds of bone and height,
With battleaxe and spear.
Young knights and squires, a lighter train,
Practised their chargers on the plain,
By aid of leg, of hand, and rein,
Each warlike feat to show ;
To pass, to wheel, the croupe to gain,
And high curvet, that not in vain
The sword-sway might descend amain
On foeman's casque below.
He saw the hardy burghers there
March armed, on foot, with faces bare,
For visor they wore none,
Nor waving plume, nor crest of knight;
But burnished were their corslets bright,
Their brigandines, and gorgets light,
Like very silver shone.
Long pikes they had for standing fight.
Two-handed swords they wore,
And many wielded mace of weight,
And bucklers bright they bore.
On foot the yeoman too, but dressed
In his steel jack, a swarthy vest,
With iron quilted well;
Each at his back (a slender store),
His forty days' provision bore,
As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halberd, axe, or spear,
A crossbow there, a hagbut here,
A dagger-knife, and brand.-
Sober he seemed, and sad of cheer,
As loth to leave his cottage dear,
And march to foreign strand;
Or musing, who would guide his steer,
To till the fallow land.
Yet deem not in his thoughtful eye
Did aught of dastard terror lie;
More dreadful far his ire,
Than theirs, who, scorning danger's name,
In eager mood to battle came,
Their valour, like light straw on flame,
A fierce but fading fire.
Not so the Borderer :-bred to war,
He knew the battle's din afar,
And joyed to hear it swell.
His peaceful day was slothful ease;
Nor harp nor pipe his ear could please
Like the loud slogan yell.
On active steed, with lance and blade,
The light-armed pricker plied his trade,-
Let nobles fight for fame;
Let vassals follow where they lead,
Burghers, to guard their townships, bleed,
But war's the Borderer's game.
Their gain, their glory, their delight,
To sleep the day, maraud the night,
O'er mountain, moss, and moor;
Joyful to fight they took their way,
Scarce caring who might win the day,
Their booty was secure..
These, as Lord Marmion's train passed by,
Looked on at first with careless eye,
Nor marvelled aught, well taught to know
The form and force of English bow.
But when they saw the Lord arrayed
In splendid arms and rich brocade,
Each Borderer to his kinsman said,-
“ Hist, Ringan! seest thou there!
Canst guess which road they'll homeward ride ?-
Oh! could we but on Border side,
By Eusedale glen, or Liddell’s tide,
Beset a prize so fair!
That fangless Lion, too, their guide,
Might chance to lose his glistering hide ;
Brown Maudlin, of that doublet pied,
Could make a kirtle rare.”
NEXT, Marmion marked the Celtic race,
Of different language, form, and face,
A various race of man;
Just then the chiefs their tribes arrayed,
And wild and garish semblance made,
The chequered trews, and belted plaid,
And varying notes the war-pipes brayed,
To every varying clan;
Wild through their red or sable hair
Looked out their eyes, with savage stare,
On Marmion as he past ;
Their legs above the knee were bare:
Their frame was sinewy, short, and spare,
And hardened to the blast;
Of taller race, the chiefs they own.
Were by the eagle's plumage known.
The hunted red-deer's undressed hide
Their hairy buskins well supplied ;
The graceful bonnet decked their head;
Back from their shoulders hung the plaid ;
A broadsword of unwieldy length,
A dagger proved for edge and strength,
A studded targe they wore,
And quivers, bows, and shafts,—but, oh!
Short was the shaft, and weak the bow,
To that which England bore.
The Isles-men carried at their backs
The ancient Danish battleaxe.
They raised a wild and wondering cry,
As with his guide rode Marmion by.
Loud were their clamouring tongues, as when
The clanging sea-fowl leave the fen,