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Yet trust I well, his duty done,
The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
Wails manhood in glory ;
Waft the leaves that are searest,
When blighting was nearest.
Sage counsel in cumber,
How sound is thy slumber!
Like the foam on the river,
XIX. Benledi saw the cross of fire, It glanced like lightning up Strath-Ire. O’er dale and hill the summons flew, Nor rest nor pause young Angus knew; The tear that gather'd in his eye, He left the mountain breeze to dry; Until, where Teith's young waters roll, Betwixt him and a wooded knoll, That graced the sable strath with green, The chapel of Saint Bride was seen. Swoln was the stream, remote the bridge, But Angus paused not on the edge ; Though the dark waves danced dizzily, Though reeld his sympathetic eye, He dash'd amid the torrent's roar; His right hand high the crosslet bore, His left the pole-axe grasp'd, to guide And stay his footing in the tide. He stumbled twice—the foam splash'd high, With hoarser swell the stream raced by; And had he fallen-for ever there, Farewell Duncraggan's orphan heir ! But still, as if in parting life, Firmer he grasp'd the cross of strife, Until th' opposing bank he gain'd, And up the chapel pathway strain'd.
XX. A blithesome rout, that morning tide, Had sought the chapel of Saint Bride. Her troth Tombea's Mary gave To Norman, heir of Armandave, And, issuing from the Gothic arch, The bridal now resumed their march. In rude, but glad procession, came Bonnetted sire and coif-clad dame; And plaided youth, with jest and jeer, Which snooded maiden would not hear; And children, that, unwitting why, Lent the gay shout their shrilly cry ; And minstrels, that in measures vied Before the young and bonny bride, Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose The tear and blush of morning rose. With virgin step, and bashful hand, She held the kerchief's snowy band; The gallant bridegroom, by her side, Beheld his prize with victor's pride,
* Or corri-The hollow side of the hill, where game 1141ally lies.
'?hful-The name of a dog.
And the glad mother in her ear
XXI. Who meets them at the churchyard gate ? The messenger of fear and fate! Haste in his hurried accent lies, And grief is swimming in his eyes. All dripping from the recent food, Panting and travel-soil'd he stood, The fata) sign of fire and sword Held forth, and spoke th' appointed word; “ The muster place is Lanric mead; Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed !"And must he change so soon the hand Just link'd to his by holy band, For the fell cross of blood and brand ? And must the day, so blithe that rose, And promised rapture in the close, Before its setting hour, divide The bridegroom from the plighted bride ? O fatal doom !-it must! it must! Clan-Alpine's cause, her chieftain's trust, Her summons dread, brooks no delay; Stretch to the race-away! away!
I may not, dare not, fancy now
And all it promised me, Mary!
His foot like arrow free, Mary!
Shall be a thought on thce, Mary!
XXII. Yet slow he laid his plaid aside, And, lingering, eyed his lovely bride, Until he saw the starting tear Speak wo he might not stop to cheer; Then, trusting not a second look, In haste he sped him up the brook, Nor backward glanced till on the heath, Where Lubnaig's lake supplies the Teith.What in the racer's bosom stirrid ? The sicken’d pang of hope deferr’d, And memory, with a torturing train Of all his morning visions vain. Mingled with love's impatience, came The manly thirst for martial fame : The stormy joy of mountaineers, Ere yet they rush upon the spears ; And zeal for clan and chieftain burning, And hope, from well-fought field returning, With war's red honours on his crest, To clasp bis Mary to his breast. Stung by his thoughts, o'er bank and brae, Like fire from flint he glanced away, While high resolve, and feeling strong, Burst into voluntary song.
The heath this night must be my bed, The bracken* curtain for my head, My lullaby the warder's tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary! To-morrow eve, more stilly laid, My couch may be my bloody plaid, My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid !
It will not waken me, Mary!
XXV. That summer morn had Roderick Dhu Survey'd the skirts of Ben-venue, And sent his scouts o'er hill and heath, To view the frontiers of Menteith. All backward came with news of truce ; Still lay each martial Græme and Bruce, In Rednock courts no horsemen wait, No banner waved on Cardross gate, On Duchray's towers no beacon shone, Nor scared the herons from Loch-Con; All seem'd at peace.-Now, wot ye why The chieftain, with such anxious eye, Ere to the muster he repair, This western frontier scann'd with care !
In Ben-venue's most darksome cleft
It was a fair and gallant sight, A fair, though cruel, pledge was left;
To view them from the neighbouring height, For Douglas, to his promise true,
By the low levell’d sunbeam's light; That morning from the isle withdrew,
For strength and stature, from the clan And in a deep sequester'd dell
Each warrior was a chosen man, Had sought a low and lonely cell.
As e’en afar might well be seen, By many a bard, in Celtic tongue,
By their proud step and martial mien. Has Coir-nan-Uriskin been sung;
Their feathers dance, their tartans float, A softer name the Saxons gave,
Their targets gleam, as by the boat And call’d the grot the Goblin-cave.
A wild and warlike group they stand,
That well became such mountain strand XXVI. It was as wild and strange retreat
XXVIII. As e'er was trod by outlaw's feet.
Their chief, with step reluctant, still The dell, upon the mountain's crest,
Was lingering on the craggy hill, Yawn'd like a gash on warrior's breast;
Hard by where turn'd apart the road Its trench had stay'd full many a rock,
To Douglas's obscure abode. Hurl'd by primeval earthquake shock
It was but with that dawning mom From Ben-venue's gray summit wild;
That Roderick Dhu had proudly sworn And here, in random ruin piled,
To drown his love in war's wild roar, They frown'd incumbent o'er the spot,
Nor think of Ellen Douglas more ; And form’d the rugged sylvan grot.
But he who stems a stream with sand, The oak and birch, with mingled shade
And fetters flame with flaxen band, At noontide there a twilight made,
Has yet a harder task to proveUnless when short and sudden shone
By firm resolve to conquer love ! Some straggling beam on cliff or stone,
Eve finds the chief, like restless ghost, With such a glimpse as prophet's eye
Still hovering near his treasure lost; Gains on thy depth, futurity.
For though his haughty heart deny No murmur waked the solemn still,
A parting meeting to his eye, Save tinkling of a fountain rill;
Still fondly strains his anxious ear But when the wind chafed with the lake,
The accents of her voice to hear, A sullen sound would upward break,
And inly did he curse the breeze With dashing hollow voice, that spoke
That waked to sound the rustling trees. Th’incessant war of wave and rock.
But hark! what mingles in the strain ? Suspended cliffs, with hideous sway,
It is the harp of Allan-bane, Seemed nodding o'er the cavern gray.
That wakes its measure slow and high, From such a den the wolf had sprung,
Attuned to sacred minstrelsy. In such the wild cat leaves ber young:
What melting voice attends the strings ! Yet Douglas and his daughter fair,
'Tis Ellen, or an angel, sings. Sought, for a space, their safety there. Gray superstition's whisper dread
XXIX. Debarr'd the spot to vulgar tread :
HYMN TO THE VIRGIN. For there, she said, did fays resort,
Ave Maria! maiden mild ! And satyrs* hold their sylvan court,
Listen to a maiden's prayer ; By moonlight tread their mystic maze,
Thou canst hear though from the wild, And blast the rash beholder's gaze.
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'l, outcast, and reviledNow eve with western shadows long,
Maiden ! hear a maiden's prayer; Floated on Katrine bright and strong,
Mother, hear a suppliant child ! When Roderick, with a chosen few,
Ave Maria! Repass'd the heights of Ben-venue.
Ave Maria! undefiled! Above the goblin-cave they go,
The flinty couch we now must share Through the wild pass of Beal-nam-bo;
Shall seem with down of eider piled, The prompt retainers speed before,
If thy protection hover there. To launch the shallop from the shore,
The murky cavern's heavy air For 'cross Loch-Katrine lies his way,
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled; To view the passes of Achray,
Then, maiden, hear a maiden's prayer, And place his clansmen in array.
Mother, list a suppliant child! Yet lags the chief in musing mind,
Ave Maria! Unwonted sight, his men behind.
Ave Maria! Stainless styled ! A single page, to bear his sword,
Foul demons of the earth and air, Alone attended on his lord ;
From this their wonted haunt exiled, The rest their way through thickets break,
Shall flee before thy presence fair. And soon await him by the lake.
We bow us to thy lot of care, * The Urisk, or highland satyr.
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
All while he stripp'd the wild-rose spray,
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
III. Together up the pass they sped : “ What of the foeman ?” Norman said. “ Varying reports from near and far: This certain—that a band of war Has for two days been ready boune, At prompt command, to march from Doune; King James, the while, with princely powers, Holds revelry in Stirling towers. Soon will this dark and gathering cloud Speak on our glens in thunder loud. Inured to bide such bitter bout, The warrior's plaid may bear it out: But, Norman, how wilt thou provide A shelter for thy bonny bride ?"“What! know ye not that Roderick's care To the lone isle hath caused repair Each maid and matron of the clan, And every child and aged man Unfit for arms; and given his charge, Nor skiff nor shallop, boat nor barge, Upon these lakes shall float at large,' But all beside the islet moor, That such dear pledge may rest secure ?"
And hope is brightest when it dawns from fears; The rose is sweetest wash'd with morning dew,
And love is loveliest when embalm'd in tears. O wilding rose, whom fancy thus endears,
I bid your blossoms in my bonnet wave, Emblem of hope and love through future years !”
Thus spoke young Norman, heir of Armandave, What time the sun arose on Vennachar's broad wave.
IV. “ 'Tis well advised—the chieftain's plan Bespeaks the father of his clan. But wherefore sleeps Sir Roderick Dhu Apart from all his followers true ?” “ It is because last evening tide Brian an augury hath tried, Of that dread kind which must not be Unless in dread extremity. The taghairm call’d; by which, afar, Our sires foresaw th' events of war. Duncraggan's milk-white bull they slew.”
MALISE. “ Ah! well the gallant brute I knew! The choicest of the prey we had, When swept our merry men Gallangad. His hide was snow, his horns were dark, His red eye glow'd like fiery spark ;
Not spoke in word, nor blazed in scroll, But borne and branded on my soul ;Which spills the foremost foeman's life That party conquers in the strise."
So fierce, so tameless, and so fleet,
VII. “ Thanks, Brian, for thy zeal and care! Good is thine augury, and fair. Clan-Alpine ne'er in battle stood, But first our broadswords tasted blood. A surer victim still I know, Self-offer'd to th'auspicious blow: A spy has sought my land this morn, No eve shall witness his return! My followers guard each pass's mouth, To east, to westward, and to south; Red Murdoch, bribed to be his guide, Has charge to lead his steps aside, Till, in deep path or dingle brown, He light on those shall bring him down.But see who comes his news to show! Malise! what tidings of the foe ?"
" That bull was slain : his reeking hide
VIII. “ At Doune, o'er many a spear and glaive Two barons proud their banners wave, I saw the Moray's silver star, And mark'd the sable pale of Mar.”“ By Alpine's soul, high tidings those ! I love to hear of worthy foes. When move they on ?"_" To-morrow's noon Will see them here for battle boune." “ Then shall it see a meeting stern! But, for the place—say, couldst thou learn Naught of the friendly clans of Earn? Strengthen’d by them, we well might bide The battle on Benledi's side.Thou couldst not ?-well! Clan-Alpine's men Shall man the Trosach's shaggy glen; Within Loch-Katrine's gorge we'll fight, All in our maids' and matrons' sight, Each for his hearth and household fire, Father for child, and son for sire, Lover for maid beloved !-but whyIs it the breeze affects mine eye? Or dost thou come, ill-omen's tear, A messenger of doubt and fear? No! sooner may the Saxon lance Unfix Benledi from his stance, Than doubt or terror can pierce through Th' unyielding heart of Roderick Dhu! 'Tis stubborn as his trusty targe. Each to his post all know their charge."The pibroch sounds, the bands advance, The broadswords gleam, the banners dance, Obedient to the chieftain's glance. I turn me from the martial roar, And seek Coir-Uriskin once more.
VI. And, as they came, with Alpine's lord The hermit monk held solemn word: “ Roderick! it is a fearful strife, For man endow'd with mortal life, Whose shroud of sentient clay can still Feel feverish pang and fainting chill, Whose eye can stare in stony trance, Whose hair can rouse like warrior's lance, 'Tis hard for such to view, unfurl'd, The curtain of the future world. Yet, witness every quaking limb, My sunken pulse, mine eyeballs dim, My soul with harrowing anguish torn, This for my chieftain have I borne The shapes that sought my fearful couch, A human tongue may ne'er avouch; No mortal man-save he, who, bred Between the living and the dead, Is gifted beyond nature's law,Had e'er survived to say he saw. At length the fateful answer came, In characters of living flame !
IX. Where is the Douglas ?-he is gone; And Ellen sits on the gray stone Fast by the cave, and makes her moan; While vainly Allan's words of cheer Are pour'd on her upheeding ear.