Page images
[ocr errors]

Since England gains the pass the while,

Headmost of all he stems the tide,
And struggles through the deep defile?

And stems it gallantly.
What checks the fiery soul of James ?

Eustace held Clare upon her horse,
Why sits that champion of the dames

Old Hubert led her rein,
Inactive on bis steed,

Stoutly they braved the current's course,
And sees, between him and his land,

And though far downward driven per force,
Between him and Tweed's southern strand,

The southern bank they gain;
His host Lord Surrey lead?

Behind them, straggling, came to shore,
What vails the vain knight-errant's brand?

As best they might, the train :
-0, Douglas, for thy leading wand!

Each o'er his head his yew-bow bore,
Fierce Randolph, for thy speed!

A caution not in vain;
O for one hour of Wallace wight,

Deep need that day that every string,
Or well-skill'd Bruce, to rule the fight,

By wet unharm’d, should sharply ring.
And cry—“ Saint Andrew and our right!"

A moment then Lord Marmion staid,
Another sight had seen that morn,

And breath'd his steed, his men array’d,
From fate's dark book a leaf been torn,

Then forward moved his band,
And Flodden had been Bannock-bourne!

Until, Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
The precious hour has pass'd in vain,

He halted by a cross of stone,
And England's host has gain’d the plain;

That, on a hillock standing lone,
Wheeling their march, and circling still,

Did all the field command.
Around the base of Flodden-hill.

Hence might they see the full array
Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye,

Of either host, for deadly fray;
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,

Their marshall'd lines stretch'd east and west
Hark! hark! my lord, an English drum!

And fronted north and south,
And see ascending squadrons come

And distant salutation past
Between Tweed's river and the hill,

From the loud cannon mouth;
Foot, horse, and cannon:-hap what hap,

Not in the close successive rattle,
My basnet to a prentice cap,

That breathes the voice of modern attle,
Lord Surrey's o'er the Till!-

But slow and far between.-
Yet more! yet more!-how fair array'd

The hillock gain'd, Lord Marmion staid:
They file from out the hawthorn shade,

“ Here, by this cross," he gently said,
And sweep so gallant by!

You well may view the scene.
With all their banners bravely spread,

Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare:
And all their armour flashing high,

0! think of Marmion in thy prayer! -
Saint George might waken from the dead,

Thou wilt not ?- well,-no less my care To see fair England's standards fly.”—

Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.-“Stint in thy prate," quoth Blount; “thou'dst best, You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard, And listen to our lord's behest."

With ten pick'd archers of my train;
With kindling brow Lord Marmion said,-

With England if the day go hard,
“ This instant be our band array’d;

To Berwick speed amain.
The river must be quickly crossid,

But, if we conquer, cruel maid !
That we may join Lord Surrey's host.

My spoil shall at your feet be laid,
If fight King James,—as well I trust,

When here we meet again.”-
That fight he will, and fight he must,-

He waited not for answer there,
The Lady Clare behind our lines

And would not mark the maid's despair,
Shall tarry, while the battle joins.”—

Nor heed the discontented look

From either squire; but spurr'd amain,
Himself he swift on horseback threw,

And, dashing through the battle-plain,
Scarce to the Abbot bade adieu,
Far less would listen to his prayer,

His way to Surrey took.
To leave behind the helpless Clare.

“The good Lord Marmion, by my life! Down to the Tweed his band he drew,

Welcome to danger's hour!-
And mutter'd as the flood they view,

Short greeting serves in time of strife;“ The pheasant in the falcon's claw,

Thus have I ranged my power:
He scarce will yield to please a daw :

Myself will rule this central host,
Lord Angus may the Abbot awe,

Stout Stanley fronts their right,
So Clare shall bide with me."

My sons command the vaward post,
Then on that dangerous ford, and deep,

With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight;
Where to the Tweed Leat's eddies creep,

Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,
He ventured desperately: .

Shall be in rearward of the fight,
And not a moment will he bide,

And succour those that need it most.
Till squire, or groom, before him ride;

Now, gallant Marmion, well I know,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Would gladly to the vanguard go;

Wide raged the battle on the plain; Edmund, the admiral, Tunstall there,

Spears shook, and faulchions flash'd amain; With thee their charge will blithely share;

Fell England's arrow-flight like rain; There fight thine own retainers too,

Crest rose, and stoop'd, and rose again, Beneath De Burg, thy steward true.”.

Wild and disorderly. “ Thanks, noble Surrey!” Marmion said,

Amid the scene of tumult, high Nor further greeting there he paid;

They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly: But, parting like a thunderbolt,

And stainless Tunstall's banner white, First in the vanguard made a halt,

And Edmund Howard's lion bright, Where such a shout there rose

Still bear them bravely in the fight: Of “ Marmion! Marmion !” that the cry

Although against them come, Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,

Of gallant Gordons many a one, Startled the Scottish foes.

And many a stubborn Highlandman, Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still

And many a rugged border clan, With Lady Clare upon the hill;

With Huntley, and with Home. On which, (for far the day was spent,)

т T The western sunbeams now were bent. The cry they heard, its meaning knew,

THE DEATH OF RODERICK DHLCould plain their distant comrades view;

THE CONCLUSION. Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,

Thus, motionless, and moanless, drew “ Unworthy office here to stay! No hope of gilded spurs to-day.

His parting breath, stout Rhoderick Dha!–

Old Allan-bane look'd on aghast,
But, see! look up-on Flodden bent
The Scottish foe has fired his tent."-

While grim and still his spirit pase'd;

But when he saw that life was fled,
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,

He pour'd his wailing o'er the dead.
All downward to the banks of Till,

Was wreath'd in sable smoke; Volumed and vast, and rolling far,

“ And art thou cold and lowly laid, The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,

Thy foeman's dread, thy people’s aid

, As down the hill they broke;

Breadalbane's boast, Clan-Alpine's shade! Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,

For thee shall none a requiem say? Announced their march; their tread alone,

-For thee,—who loved the minstrel's las, At times one warning trumpet blown,

For thee, of Bothwell's house the stay, At times a stifled hum,

The shelter of her exiled line, Told England, from his mountain-throne

E'en in this prison-house of thine, King James did rushing come.

I'll wail for Alpine's honour'd pine! Scarce could they hear, or see their foes,

“What groans shall yonder vallies fill! Until at weapon-point they close.

What shrieks of grief shall send yon bill

! They close, in clouds of smoke and dust,

What tears of burning rage shall thrill, With sword-sway, and with lances thrust;

When mourns thy tribe thy battles done, And such a yell was there,

Thy fall before the race was won, Of sudden and portentous birth,

Thy sword ungirt ere set of sun ! As if men fought upon the earth,

There breathes not clansman of thy line, And fiends in upper air;

But would have given his life for thineO life and death were in the shout,

O woe for Alpine's honour'd pine!

1E Recoil and rally, charge and rout, And triumph and despair.

“ Sad was thy lot on mortal stage:Long look'd the anxious squires; their eye

The captive thrush may brook the cage, Could in the darkness nought descry.

The prison'd eagle dies for rage. At length the freshening western blast

Brave spirit, do not scorn my strain!

T Aside the shroud of battle cast;

And, when its notes awake again, And, first, the ridge of mingled spears

Even she, so long beloved in vain, Above the brightening cloud appears;

Shall with my harp her voice combine, And in the smoke the pennons flew,

And mix her woe and tears with mine,
As in the storm the white sea-mew.

To wail Clan-Alpine's honoured pine."-
Then mark'd they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war,

Ellen, the while, with bursting heart,

Remain'd in lordly bower apart,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave,

Where play'd, with many-colour'd gleams,
Floating like foam upon the wave;
But nought distinct they see:

Through storied pane the rising beams.
In vain on gilded roof they fall,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


And lighten'd up a tapestried wall,

Pay the deep debt"- - O say not so! And for her use a menial train

To me no gratitude you owe. A rich collation spread in vain.

Not mine, alas! the boon to give, The banquet proud, the chamber gay,

And bid thy noble father live; Scarce drew one curious glance' astray;

I can but be thy guide, sweet maid, Or, if she look'd, 'twas but to say,

With Scotland's King thy suit to aid. With better omen dawn'd the day

No tyrant he, though ire and pride In that lone isle, where waved on high

May lead his better mood aside. The dun deer's hide for canopy;

Come, Ellen, come !-'tis more than time, Where oft her noble father shared

He holds his court at morning prime.”The simple meal her care prepared,

With beating heart, and bosom wrung, While Lufra, crouching by her side,

As to a brother's arm she clung. Her station claim'd with jealous pride,

Gently he dried the falling tear, And Douglas, bent on woodland game,

And gently whisper'd hope and cheer; Spoke of the chase to Malcolm Græme,

Her faultering steps half led, half staid, Whose answer, oft at random made,

Through gallery fair and high arcade, The wandering of his thoughts betray'd.

Till, at bis touch, its wings of pride
Those, who such simple joys have known,

A portal arch unfolded wide.
Are taught to prize them when they're gone.
But sudden, see, she lifts her head!

Within 'twas brilliant all and light,
The window seeks with cautious tread.

A thronging scene of figures bright; What distant music has the power

It glow'd on Ellen's dazzled sight, To win her in this woeful hour!

As when the setting sun has given 'Twas from a turret that o'erhung

Ten thousand hues to summer even,
Her latticed bower, the strain was sung.

And, from their tissue, fancy frames
Aerial knight and fairy dames.

Still by Fitz-James her footing staid; “ My hawk is tired of perch and hood,

A few faint steps she forward made, My idle greyhound loathes his food,

Then slow her drooping head she raised, My horse is weary of his stall,

And fearful round the presence gazed ; And I am sick of captive thrall.

For him she sought, who own'd this state, I wish I were as I have been,

The dreaded prince whose will was fate! Hunting the hart in forest green,

She gazed on many a princely port, With bended bow and blood-hound free,

Might well have ruled a royal court; For that's the life is meet for me.

On many a splendid garb she gazed,

Then turn'd bewilder'd and amazed, “I hate to learn the ebb of time,

For all stood bare; and, in the room, From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime,

Fitz-James alone wore cap and plume. Or mark it as the sunbeams crawl,

To him each lady's look was lent; Inch after inch, along the wall.

On him each courtier's eye was bent; The lark was wont my matins ring,

Midst furs and silks and jewels sheen, The sable rook my vespers sing ;

He stood, in simple Lincoln green, These towers, although a king's they be,

The centre of the glittering ring,Have not a hall of joy for me.

And Snowdoun's knight is Scotland's king! “ No more at dawning morn I rise,

As wreath of snow, on mountain-breast, And sun myself in Ellen's eyes,

Slides from the rock that gave it rest, Drive the feet deer the forest through,

Poor Ellen glided from her stay, And homeward wend with evening dew;

And at the monarch's feet she lay; A blithesome welcome blithely meet,

No word her choaking voice commands, And lay my trophies at her feet,

She show'd the ring—she clasp'd her hands. While Aed the eve on wing of glee,

0! not a moment could he brook, That life is lost to love and me!".

The generous prince, that suppliant look! The heart-sick lay was hardly said,

Gently he raised her,-and, the while, The list’ner had not turn'd her head,

Check'd with a glance the circle's smile ; It trickled still, the starting tear,

Graceful, but grave, her brow he kiss'd,

And bade her terrors be dismiss'd:
When light a footstep struck her ear,
And Snowdoun's graceful knight was near.

“ Yes, Fair; the wandering poor Fitz-James She turn’d the hastier, lest again

The fealty of Scotland claims,

To him thy woes, thy wishes, bring; The prisoner should renew his strain.

He will redeem his signet ring. “ O welcome, brave Fitz-James !” she said;

Ask nought for Douglas;---yester even, “ How may an almost orphan maid

[ocr errors]

His prince and he have much forgiven:

My fairest earldom would I give
Wrong hath he had from slanderous tongue, To bid Clan-Alpine's Chieftain live!
I, from his rebel kinsmen, wrong.

Hast thou no other boon to crave?
We would not to the vulgar crowd

No other captive friend to save?"-
Yield what they craved with clamour loud ; Blushing, she turn'd her from the King,
Calmly we heard and judged his cause,

And to the Douglas gave the ring,
Our council aided, and our laws.

As if she wish'd her sire to speak I stanch'd thy father's death-feud stern,

The suit that stain's her glowing cheek.With stout De Vaux and grey Glencairn;

Nay, then, my pledge has lost its force, And Bothwell's Lord henceforth we own

And stubborn justice holds her course. The friend and bulwark of our throne.

Malcolm, come forth!"-And, at the word, But, lovely infidel, how now?

Down kneel'd the Græme to Scotland's lord. What clouds thy misbelieving brow?

“ For thee, rash youth, no suppliant sues, Lord James of Douglas, lend thine aid ;

From thee may vengeance claim her dues, Thou must confirm this doubting maid."

Who, nurtured underneath our smile,

Hast paid our care by treacherous wile, Then forth the noble Douglas sprung,

And sought, amid thy faithful clan, And on his neck his daughter hung.

A refuge for an outlaw'd man, The monarch drank, that happy hour,

Dishonouring thus thy loyal name.The sweetest, holiest draught of power,

Fetters and warder for the Græme!When it can say with godlike voice,

His chain of gold the King unstrung, Arise, sad virtue, and rejoice!

The links o'er Malcolm's neck he flung, Yet would not James the general eye

Then gently drew the glittering band,
On nature's raptures long should pry;

And laid the clasp on Ellen's hand.
He stepp'd between—“ Nay, Douglas, nay,
Steal not my proselyte away!

Harp of the north, farewell! the hills grow dart. The riddle 'tis my right to read,

On purple peaks a deeper shade descending; That brought this happy chance to speed.

In twilight copse the glow-worm lights her spark. Yes, Ellen, when disguised I stray

The deer, half-seen, are to the covert weatieg. In life's more low but happier way,

Resume thy wizard elm! the fountain lending, 'Tis under name which veils my power,

And the wild breeze, thy wilder miastrelsy; Nor falsely veils—for Stirling's tower

Thy numbers sweet with nature's vespers bleadies, Of yore the name of Snowdon claims,

With distant echo from the fold and lea, [bee. And Normans call me James Fitz-James.

And herd-boy's evening pipe, and hum of honing Thus watch I o'er insulted laws, Thus learn to right the injured cause."

Yet, once again, farewell, thou minstrel barp! Then, in a tone apart and low,

Yet, once again, forgive my feeble sway, -“ Ah, little trait'ress! none must know

And little reck I of the censure sharp What idle dream, what lighter thought,

May idly cavil at an idle lay. What vanity full dearly bought,

Much have I owed thy strains on life's long was, Join'd to thine eye's dark witchcraft, drew

Through secret woes the world has never know My spell-bound steps to Benvenue,

When on the weary night dawn'd wearier day, In dangerous hour, and all but gave

And bitterer was the grief devour'd alone. Thy monarch's life to mountain glaive!"

That lo'er live such woes, Enchantress! is thine om Aloud he spoke—“Thou still dost hold That little talisman of gold,

Hark! as my lingering footsteps slow retire,

Some spirit of the air has waked thy string!
Pledge of my faith, Fitz-James's ring-
What seeks fair Ellen of the king :"-

'Tis now a seraph bold, with touch of fre,

'Tis now the brush of fairy's frolic wing. Full well the conscious maiden guess'd,

Receding now, the dying numbers ring

Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell,
He probed the weakness of her breast;

And now the mountain breezes scarcely bring
But, with that consciousness, there came
A lightning of her fears for Græme,

A wandering witch-note of the distant spell

And now,'tis silent all!- Enchantress, fare the well:
And more she deem'd the monarch's ire
Kindled 'gainst him, who, for her sire,
Rebellious broad-sword boldly drew;

And, to her generous feeling true,
She craved the grace of Roderick Dhu.-

The blood left Wilfrid's ashen cheek; “ Forbear thy suit:the King of kings

Matilda sees, and hastes to speak.Alone can stay life's parting wings.

Happy in friendship’s ready aid, I know his heart, I know his hand,

Let all my murmurs here be staid! Have shared his cheer, and proved his brand :

And Rokeby's maiden will not part

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


From Rokeby's hall with moody heart.

But when you hear the passing bell, This night at least, for Rokeby's fame

Then, Lady, twine a wreath for me,
The hospitable hearth shall flame,

And twine it of the cypress tree.
And, ere its native heir retire,
Find for the wanderer rest and fire,

Yes! twine for me thc cypress bough; While this poor harper, by the blaze,

But, O Matilda, twine not now! Recounts the tale of other days.

Stay till a few brief months are past, Bid Harpool ope the door with speed,

And I have look'd and loved my last! Admit him, and relieve each need.

When villagers my shroud bestrew Meantime, kind Wycliffe, wilt thou try

With pansies, rosemary, and rue, Thy minstrel skill!—nay, no reply

Then, Lady, weave a wreath for me, And look not sad! I giless thy thought,

And weave it of the


Thy verse with laurels would be bought;
And poor Matilda, landless now,

Has not a garland for thy brow.
True, I must leave sweet Rokeby's glades,

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
Nor wander more in Greta shades;

On the mountain dawns the day, But sure, no rigid jailor, thou

All the jolly chace is here, Wilt a short prison-walk allow,

With hawk, and horse, and hunting spear; Where summer flowers grow wild at will,

Hounds are in their couples yelling, On Marwood-chace and Toller-hill;

Hawks are wbistling, horns are knelling, Then holly green and lily gay

Merrily, merrily, mingle they, Shall twine in guerdon of thy lay.”—

“ Waken, lords and ladies gay." The mournful youth, a space aside, To tune Matilda's harp applied;

Waken, lords and ladies gay, And then a low sad descant rung,

The mist bas left the mountain gray,
As prelude to the lay he sung.

Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been,

To track the buck in thicket green;
O Lady, twine no wreath for me,

Now we come to chaunt our lay, Or twine it of the cypress tree!

“ Waken, lords and ladies gay." Too lively glow the lilies light, The varnish'd holly's all too bright,

Waken, lords and ladies gay, The May-flower and the eglantine

To the green-wood haste away; May shade a brow less sad than mine:

We can shew you where he lies, But, Lady, weave no wreath for me,

Fleet of foot, and tall of size; Or weave it of the cypress tree!

We can shew the marks he made,

When 'gainst the oak his antlers fray'd; Let dimpled mirth his temples twine

You shall see him brought to bay, With tendrils of the laughing vine;

" Waken, lords and ladies gay.” The manly oak, the pensive yew, To patriot and to sage be due;

Louder, louder chaunt the lay,

Waken, lords and ladies gay! The myrtle bough bids lovers live,

Tell them youth, and mirth, and glee, But that Matilda will not give;

Run a course as well as we. Then, Lady, twine no wreath for me,

Time, stern huntsman! who can baulk, Or twine it of the cypress tree!

Staunch as hound, and fleet as hawk?

Think of this, and rise with day,
Let merry England proudly rear
Her blended roses, bought so dear;

Gentle lords and ladies gay.
Let Albin bind her bonnet blue
With heath and hare-bell dipped in dew;

On favour'd Erin's crest be seen
The flower she loves of emerald green-

Tbe violet in her green-wood bower,
But, Lady, twine no wreath for me,

Where birchen boughs with hazles mingle, Ortwine it of the cypress tree!

May boast itself the fairest flower

In glen, or copse, or forest dingle.
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair;

Though fair her gems of azure bue,
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves

Beneath the dew-drop's weight reclining, With bloody hand the victor weaves,

I've seen an eye of lovelier blue, Let the loud trump his triumph tell;

More sweet through wat'ry lustre shining.

4 I

« PreviousContinue »