Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

While, with set teeth and clenched hand,
And eyes that glow'd like fiery brand,
He meditated curse more dread,
And deadlier, on the clansman's head,
Who, summon'd to his chieftain's aid,
The signal saw and disobey'd.
The crosslet's points of sparkling wood
He quench'd among the bubbling blood,
And, as again the sign he rear'd,
Hollow and hoarse his voice was heard :
“When flits this cross from man to man,
Vich-Alpine's summons to his clan,
Burst be the ear that fails to heed !
Palsied the foot that shuns to speed !
May ravens tear the careless eyes,
Wolves make the coward heart their prize!
As sinks that blood stream in the earth,
So may his heart's blood drench his hearth!
As dies in hissing gore the spark,
Quench thou his light, destruction dark !
And be the grace to him denied,
Bought by this sign to all beside !"-
He ceased: no echo gave agen
The murmur of the deep amen.

XII. Then Roderick, with impatient look, From Brian's hand the symbol took : “ Speed, Malise, speed !” he said, and gave The crosslet to his henchman brave. The muster-place be Lanric meadInstant the time-speed, Malise, speed !” Like heath bird, when the hawks pursue, A barge across Loch-Katrine flew : High stood the henchman on the prow; So rapidly the bargemen row, The bubbles, where they launch'd the boat, Were all unbroken and afloat, Dancing in foam and ripple still, When it had near'd the mainland hill; And from the silver beach's side Still was the prow three fathom wide, When lightly bounded to the land The messenger of blood and brand.

But danger, death, and warrior deed,
Are in thy course. Speed, Malise, speed !

XIV.
Fast as the fatal symbol flies,
In arms the huts and hamlets rise ;
From winding glen, from upland brown,
They pour'd each hardy tenant down.
Nor slack'd the messenger bis pace ;
He show'd the sign, he named the place,
And, pressing forward like the wind,
Left clamour and surprise behind.
The fisherman forsook the strand,
The swarthy smith took dirk and brand;
With changed cheer, the mower blithe
Left in the half-cut swathe his sithe;
The herds without a keeper stray'd,
The plough was in mid furrow stay'd,
The falc'ner toss'd his hawk away,
The hunter left the stag at bay ;
Prompt at the signal of alarms,
Each son of Alpine rush'd to arms;
So swept the tumult and affray
Along the margin of Achray.
Alas! thou lovely lake! that e'er
Thy banks should echo sounds of fear !
The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep
So stilly on thy bosom deep,
The lark's blithe carol, from the cloud,
Seems for the scene too gayly loud.

XV.
Speed, Malise, speed! the lake is past,
Duncraggan's huts appear at last,
And peep, like moss-grown rocks, half seen,
Half hidden in the copse so green ;
There mayst thou rest, thy labour done,
Their lord shall speed the signal on.-
As stoops the hawk upon his prey,
The henchman shot him down the way.
What woful accents load the gale?
The funeral yell, the female wail !-
A gallant hunter's sport is o'er,
A valiant warrior fights no more.
Who, in the battle or the chase,
At Roderick's side shall fill his place ?
Within the hall, where torches' ray
Supplied th' excluded beams of day,
Lies Duncan on his lowly bier,
And o'er him streams his widow's tear,
His stripling son stands mournful by,
His youngest weeps, but knows not why ;
The village maids and matrons round
The dismal coronach* resound.

[ocr errors]

XIII. Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer's hide On fleeter foot was never tied. Speed, Malise, speed! such cause of haste Thine active sinews never braced. Bend 'gainst the steepy hill thy breast, Burst down like torrent from its crest; With short and springing footstep pass The trembling bog and false morass; Across the brook like roebuck bound, And thread the brake like questing hound; The crag is high, the scaur is deep, Yet shrink not from the desperate leap; Parch'd are thy burning lips and brow, Yet by the fountain pause not now; Herald of battle, fate, and fear, Stretch onward in thy fleet career! The wounded hind thou track'st not now Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough, Nor pliest thou now thy fiying pace, With rivals in the mountain race;

XVI.

CORONACH.
He is gone on the mountain,

He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,

When our need was the sorest. The font, reappearing,

From the raindrops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering,

To Duncan no morrow !

[ocr errors]

* Funeral song.

The hand of the reaper

Takes the ears that are hoary, But the voice of the weeper

Wails manhood in glory ; The autumn winds rushing

Waft the leaves that are searest, But our flower was in flushing,

When blighting was nearest. Fleet foot on the correi,*

Sage counsel in cumber, Red hand in the foray,

How sound is thy slumber! Like the dew on the mountain,

Like the foam on the river, Like the bubble on the fountain,

Thou art gone, and for ever!

Yet trust I well, his duty done,
The orphan's God will guard my son.-
And you, in many a danger true,
At Duncan's hest your blades that drew,
To

arms, and guard that orphan's head!
Let babes and women wail the dead."
Then weapon-clang, and martial call,
Resounded through the funeral hall,
While from the walls th' attendant band
Snatch'd sword and targe, with hurried hand;
And short and flitting energy
Glanced from the mourner's sunken eye,
As if the sounds, to warrior dear,
Might rouse her Duncan from his bier.
But faded soon that borrow'd force;
Grief claim'd his right, and tears their course.

XVII.
See Stumah,t who, the bier beside,
His master's corpse with wonder eyed,
Poor Stumah! whom his least halloo
Could send like lightning o'er the dew,
Bristles his crest, and points his ears,
As if some stranger step he hears.
'Tis not a mourner's muffled tread,
Who comes to sorrow o'er the dead.
But headlong haste, or deadly fear
Urge the precipitate career.
All stand aghast:—unheeding all,
The henchman bursts into the hall:
Before the dead man's bier he stood,
Held forth the cross besmear'd with blood;
“ The muster place is Lanric mead;
Speed forth the signal! clansmen, speed !"

XVIII.
Angus, the heir of Duncan's line,
Sprung forth and seized the fatal sign.
In haste the stripling to his side
His father's dirk and broadsword tied ;
But when he saw his mother's eye
Watch him in speechless agony,
Back to her open arms he flew,
Press'd on her lips a fond adieu-
“ Alas !” she sobb’d" and yet be gone,
And speed thee forth like Duncan's son!”
One look he cast upon the bier,
Dash'd from his eye the gathering tear,
Breathed deep, to clear his labouring breast,
And toss'd a loft his bonnet crest,
Then, like the high-bred colt, when, freed,
First he essays his fire and speed,
He vanish’d, and o'er moor and moss
Sped forward with the fiery cross.
Suspended was the widow's tear,
While yet his footsteps she could hear:
And when she mark'd the henchman's eye
Wet with unwonted sympathy,
“ Kinsman,” she said, “ his race is run,
That should have sped thine errand on;
The oak has fallen-the sapling bough
Is all Duncraggan's shelter now.

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 bigh, With hoarser swell the stream raced by; And had he fallen-for ever there, Farewell Duncraggan's orphan beir! 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 usually lies.

+ Faithful-The name of a dog.

And the glad mother in her ear
Was closely whispering word of cheer.

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 fatal 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 bis 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
The grief that clouds thy lovely brow,
I dare not think upon thy vow,

And all it promised me, Mary!
No fond regret must Norman know;
When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,
His heart must be like bended bow,

His foot like arrow free, Mary!
A time will come with feeling fraught;
For, if I fall in battle fought,
Thy hapless lover's dying thought

Shall be a thought on thee, Mary!
And if return'd from conquer'd foes,
How blithely will the evening close,
How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!

XXIV.
Not faster o'er thy heathery braes,
Balquidder, speeds the midnight blaze,
Rushing, in conflagration strong,
Thy deep ravines and dells along,
Wrapping thy cliffs in purple glow,
And reddening the dark lakes below;
Nor faster speeds it, nor so far,
As o'er thy heaths the voice of war.
The signal roused to martial coil
The sullen margin of Loch-Voil,
Waked still Loch-Doine, and to the source
Alarm’d, Balvaig, thy swampy course ;
Thence, southward turn'd its rapid road
Adown Strath-Gartney's valley broad,
Till rose in arms each man might claim
A portion in Clan-Alpine's name;
From the gray sire, whose trembling hand
Could hardly buckle on his brand,
To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow
Were yet scarce terror to the crow.
Each valley, each sequester'd glen,
Muster'd its little horde of men,
That met as torrents from the height
In highland dales their streams unite,
Still gathering as they pour along,
A voice more loud, a tide more strong,
Till at the rendezvous they stood
By hundreds, prompt for blows and blood;
Each train'd to arms since life began,
Owning no tie but to his clan,
No oath, but by his chieftain's hand,
No law, but Roderick Dhu's command.

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 stirr'd ? The sicken'd pang of hope deferr'd, And memory, with a torturing train Of all his morning visions vain. Mingle) 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 his Mary to his breast. Stung by his thoughts, o'er bank and brae, Like fire from fint he glanced away, While high resolve, and feeling strong, Burst into voluntary song.

XXIII.

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 beath, 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 !

* Bracken-Fern.

It was a fair and gallant sight,
To view them from the neighbouring height,
By the low levellid sunbeam's light;
For strength and stature, from the clan
Each warrior was a chosen man,
As e'en afar might well be seen,
By their proud step and martial mien.
Their feathers dance, their tartans float,
Their targets gleam, as by the boat
A wild and warlike group they stand,
That well became such mountain strand.

In Ben-venue's most darksome cleft
A fair, though cruel, pledge was left;
For Douglas, to his promise true,
That morning from the isle withdrew,
And in a deep sequester'd dell
Had sought a low and lonely cell.
By many a bard, in Celtic tongue,
Has Coir-nan-Uriskin been sung;
A softer name the Saxons gave,
And call'd the grot the Goblin-cave.

XXVI.
It was as wild and strange retreat
As e'er was trod by outlaw's feet.
The dell, upon the mountain's crest,
Yawn'd like a gash on warrior's breast;
Its trench had stay'd full many a rock,
Hurld by primeval earthquake shock
From Ben-venue's gray summit wild;
And here, in random ruin piled,
They frown's incumbent o’er the spot,
And form’d the rugged sylvan grot.
The oak and birch, with mingled shade
At noontide there a twilight made,
Unless when short and sudden shone
Some straggling beam on cliff or stone,
With such a glimpse as prophet's eye
Gains on thy depth, futurity.
No murmur waked the solemn still,
Save tinkling of a fountain rill;
But when the wind chafed with the lake,
A sullen sound would upward break,
With dashing hollow voice, that spoke
Th’incessant war of wave and rock.
Suspended cliffs, with hideous sway,
Seemed nodding o'er the cavern gray.
From such a den the wolf had sprung,
In such the wild cat leaves her young:
Yet Douglas and his daughter fair,
Sought, for a space, their safety there.
Gray superstition's whisper dread
Debarr'd the spot to vulgar tread:
For there, she said, did fays resort,
Apd satyrs* hold their sylvan court,
By moonlight tread their mystic maze,
And blast the rash beholder's gaze.

XXVII. Now eve with western shadows long, Floated on Katrine bright and strong, When Roderick, with a chosen few, Repass'd the heights of Ben-venue. Above the goblin-cave they go, Through the wild pass of Beal-nam-bo; The prompt retainers speed before, To launch the shallop from the shore, For 'cross Loch-Katrine lies his way, To view the passes of Achray, And place his clansmen in array. Yet lags the chief in musing mind, Unwonted sight, his men behind. A single page, to bear his sword, Alone attended on his lord ; The rest their way through thickets break, And soon await him by the lake.

XXVIII. Their chief, with step reluctant, still Was lingering on the craggy hill, Hard by where turn'd apart the road To Douglas's obscure abode. It was but with that dawning mom That Roderick Dhu had proudly sworn To drown his love in war's wild roar, Nor think of Ellen Douglas more ; But he who stems a stream with sand, And fetters flame with flaxen band, Has yet a harder task to proveBy firm resolve to conquer love! Eve finds the chief, like restless ghost, Still hovering near his treasure lost; For though his haughty heart deny A parting meeting to his eye, Still fondly strains his anxious ear The accents of her voice to hear, And inly did he curse the breeze That waked to sound the rustling trees. But hark! what mingles in the strain? It is the harp of Allan-bane, That wakes its measure slow and high, Attuned to sacred minstrelsy. What melting voice attends the strings ! 'Tis Ellen, or an angel, sings.

XXIX.

HYMN TO THE VIRGIN.
Ave Maria! maiden mild !

Listen to a maiden's prayer;
Thou canst hear though from the wild,

Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,

Though banish’l, outcast, and reviledMaiden ! hear a maiden's prayer; Mother, hear a suppliant child!

Ave Maria! Ave Maria! undefiled!

The flinty couch we now must share Shall seem with down of eider piled,

If thy protection hover there. The murky cavern's heavy air

Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled; Then, maiden, hear a maiden's prayer,

Mother, list a suppliant child!

[ocr errors]

Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Stainless styled !

Foul demons of the earth and air, From this their wonted haunt exiled,

Shall flee before thy presence fair. We bow us to thy lot of care,

Beneath thy guidance reconciled ;

* The Urisk, or highland satyr.

All while he stripp'd the wild-rose spray,
His axe and bow beside him lay,
For on a pass 'twixt lake and wood,
A wakeful sentinel he stood.
Hark !-on the rock a footstep rung,
And instant to his arms he sprung.
“ Stand, or thou diest -What, Malise soon
Art thou return'd from braes of Doune.
By thy keen step and glance I know
Thou bring'st us tidings of the foe.”—
(For while the fiery cross hied on,
On distant scout had Malise gone.)
“ Where sleeps the chief ?" the henchman said.
“Apart, in yonder misty glade ;
To his lone couch I'll be your guide.”-
Then call'd a slumberer by his side,
And stirr'd him with his slacken'd bow-
“ Up, up, Glentarkin! rouse thee, ho !
We seek the chieftain ; on the track,
Keep eagle watch till I come back."

Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child !

Ave Maria!

XXX.
Died on the harp the closing hymn-
Unmoved in attitude and limb,
As listening still, Clan-Alpine's lord
Stood leaning on his heavy sword,
Until the page, with humble sign,
Twice pointed to the sun's decline.
Then, while his plaid he round him cast,
“ It is the last time —'tis the last,”-
He mutter'd thrice,—“ the last time e'er
That angel voice shall Roderick hear!"
It was a goading thought—his stride
Hied hastier down the mountain side ;
Sullen he flung him in the boat,
And instant 'cross the lake it shot.
They landed in that silvery bay,
And eastward held their hasty way.
Till, with the latest beams of light,
The band arrived on Lanric height,
Where muster'd, in the vale below,
Clan-Alpine's men in martial show.

XXXI.
A various scene the clansmen made,
Some sate, some stood, some slowly stray'd
But most, with mantles folded round,
Were couch'd to rest upon the ground,
Scarce to be known by curious eye,
From the deep heather where they lie,
So well was match'd the tartan screen
With heathbell dark and brackens green ;
Unless where, here and there, a blade,
Or lance's point, a glimmer made,
Like glowworm twinkling through the shade.
But when, advancing through the gloom,
They saw the chieftain's eagle plume,
Their shout of welcome, shrill and wide,
Shook the steep mountain's steady side.
Thrice it arose, and lake and fell
Three times return'd the martial yell;
It died upon Bochastle's plain,
And silence claim'd her evening reign.

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 ?"

CANTO IV.

THE PROPHECY.

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.”

1. « The rose is fairest when 'tis budding new,

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.

II.
Such fond conceit, half said, half sung,
Love prompted to the bridegroom's tongue.

88

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 ;

3N

« AnteriorContinuar »