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THE

LAY

OF

THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO FIRST.

[graphic]

INTRODUCTION,

THE way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His withered cheek, and tresses gray,
Seemed to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the Bards was he,
Who sung of Border chivalry;

For, well-a-day! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them, and at rest.
No more, on prancing palfrey borne,

He carolled, light as lark at morn;

No longer, courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He poured, to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay;
Old times were changed, old manners gone,
A stranger filled the Stuarts' throne;
The bigots of the iron time
Had called his harmless art a crime.
A wandering harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door;
And tuned, to please a peasant's ear,

The harp, a King had loved to hear.

He passed where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower: The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye— No humbler resting place was migh. With hesitating step, at last, The embattled portal-arch he passed,

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