Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

“ An 'twere not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared

To cleave the Douglas' head,
And, first, I tell thee, haughty Peer,
He, who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate :
And Douglas, more I tell thee here,

Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here, in thy hold, thy vassals near,
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hand upon your sword,)

I tell thee, thour't defied !
And if thou said'st I am not Peer,
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or highland, far or near,

Lord Angus, thou hast lied !”
On the Earl's cheek the flush of rage
O’ercame the asken hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth : “ And dar'st thou then,
To beard the lion in his den,

The Douglas in his hall ?
And hop'st thou hence unscathed to go?
No, by Saint Bryde of Bothwell, no!
Up drawbridge grooms-what, Warder, ho!

Let the portcullis fall.”
Lord Marmion turn'd; well was his need,
And dash'd the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the arch-way sprung,
The pond'rous grate behind him rung:
To pass, there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.

III.
The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim.
And when lord Marmion reached his band,
He halts, and turns with clenched hand,
And shouts of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.

Horse ! horse! the Douglas cried, and chase,
But soon he reign'd his fury's pace :
“ A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.
A letter forged! Saint Jude to speed !
Did ever knight so foul a deed !
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the king prais'd his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Botham, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line :
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.
Saint Mary mend my fiery mood !
Old age ne'er cools the Douglas blood,
I thought to slay him where he stood.
“ 'Tis pity of him too,” he cried ;
" Bold can he speak, and fairly ride :
I warrant him, a warrior tri'd.”
With this his mandate he recalls,
And slowly seeks his castle halls.

The dying circumstances of Lord Marmion, by WALTER

SCOTT, Esq.
ASK me not what the maiden feels,

Left in that dreadful hour alone :
Perchance her reason stoops, or reels;

Perchance a courage, not her own,

Braces her mind to desperate tone.
The scattered van of England wheels ;-

She only said, as loud in air
The tumult roared, “ Is Wilton there?"--
They fly, or, maddened by despair,
Fight but to die." Is Wilton there?”
With that, straight up the hill there rode

Two horsemen drench'd with gore,
And in their arms, a helpless load,

A wounded knight they bore.
His hand still strained the broken brand ;
His arms were smeared with blood and sand,

1

CC

Dragged from among the horses' feet,
With dinted shield, and helmet beat,
The falcon-crest and plumage gone;
Can that be haughty Marmion-
Young Blount his armour did unlace,
And, gazing on his ghastly face,

Said—“ By Saint George, he's gone!
That spear-wound has our master sped :
And see the deep cut on his head!

Good night to Marmion !" “ Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease : He opes his eyes,” said Eustace,“ peace!"

II. When, doffed his casque, he felt free air, Around 'gan Marmion wildly stare : “ Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace, where? Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare ! Redeem my pennon,-charge again! Cry—Marmion to the rescue ! -vain ! Last of my race, on battle-plain That shout shall ne'er be heard again! Yet my last thought is England's :-fly,

To Dacre bear my signet-ring;

Tell him his squadrons up to bring.--
Fitz-Eustace to Lord Surry hie :
Tunstall lies dead upon the field ;
His life-blood stains the spotless shield :
Edmund is down,-my life is reft;-
The Admiral alone is left.
Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Full upon Scotland's central host,
Or victory and England's lost.
Must I bid twice -Hence, valets ! Aly!
Leave Marmion here alone to-die.”
They parted, and alone he lay ;
Clare drew her from the sight away,
Till pain wrung forth a lowly moan,
And half he murmured," Is there none,

Of all my halls have nurst,
Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring

Of blessed water, from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst !

III.
O, Woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made ;
When pain and auguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!
Scarce were the piteous accents said,
When with the Baron's casque, the maid

To the nigh streamlet ran :
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears ;
The plaintive voice alone she hears,

Sees but the dying man.
She stooped her by the runnel's side,

But in abhorrence backward drew,
For oozing from the mountain's side,
Where raged the war, a dark red tide

Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
Where shall she turn !-behold her mark

A little fountain cell,
Where water, clear as diamond spark,

In a stone bason fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
Drink, weary. pilgrim. drink. and. pray.
For the kind. soul. of. Spbil. Grey.
aho. built. this. cross. and. well.
She filled the helm, and back she hied,
And with surprise and joy espied

A Monk supporting Marmion's head;
A pious man, whom duty brought
To dubious verge of battle fought,
To shrieve the dying, bless the dead.

IV.
Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
And as she stooped his brow to lave
• Is it the hand of Clare,” he said,
" Or injured Constance, bathes my head ???

Then, as remembrace rose,-
Speak not to me of shrift or prayer!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I must redress her woes.
Short space, few words, are mine to spare ;
Forgive and listen gentle Clare?”

“Alas !" she said, “ the while,-
O think of your immortal weal!
In vain for Constance is your zeal ;

She died at Holy Isle."
Lord Marmion started from the ground,
As light as if he felt no wound;
Though in the action burst the tide,
In torrents from his wounded side.
" Then it was truth,"-he said, "I knew
That the dark presage must be true.
I would the fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,

Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,

Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be !-this dizzy trance
Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand !
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.”
Then fainting, down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling Monk.

V.
With fruitless labour, Clara bound,
And strove to staunch, the gushing wound:
The Monk, with unavailing cares,
Exhausted all the Church's prayers ;
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear

For that she ever sung, In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle with the groans of the

dying ! So the notes rung. “ Avoid the fiend !_with cruel hand, Shake not the dying sinner's sand !O look, my son, upon yon sign

« ПредишнаНапред »