Графични страници
PDF файл


At length they came where, stern and steep,
The hills sink down upon the deep.
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
There, ridge on ridge Benledi rose.
Ever the hollow path twined on,
Beneath the steep bank and threatening stone;
A hundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host.
The rugged mountain's scanty cloak
Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
And heather black, that waved so high,
It held the copse in rivalry.
But where the lake slept deep and still,
Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill;
And oft both path and hill were torn,
Where wintry torrent down had borne,
And heaped upon the cumbered land
Its wreck of gravel, rock and sand.
So toilsome was the road to trace,
The guide, abating of his pace,
Led slowly through the pass's jaws,
And asked Fitz-James, by what strange cause
He sought these wilds? traversed by few,
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.

“No, by my word ;-of bands prepared
To guard King James's sports I heard;
Nor doubt I aught, but, when they hear
This muster of the mountaineer,
Their pennons will abroad be fung,
Which else in Doune had peaceful hung."-
“Free be they flung!—for we were loth
Their silken folds should feed the moth.
Free be they flung!-as free shall wave
Clan-Alpine's pine in banner brave.
But Stranger, peaceful since you came,
Bewildered in the mountain game,
Whence the bold boast by which you snow
Vich-Alpine's vowed and mortal foe?”
“Warrior, but yester-morn I knew
Nought of thy Chiettain, Roderick Dhu,
Save as an outlawed desperate man,
The chief of a rebellious clan,
Who, in the Regent's court and sight,
With ruffian dagger stabbed a knight;
Yet this alone might from his part
Sever each true and loyal heart.”.



“ Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried,
Hangs in my belt, and by my side;
Yet sooth to tell," the Saxon said,
“I dreamed not now to claim its aid.
When here, but three days since, I came,
Bewildered in pursuit of game,
All seemed as peaceful and as still,
As the mist slumbering on yon hill;
Thy dangerous chief was then afar,
Nor soon expected back from war.
Thus said, at least, my mountain guide,
Though deep perchance the villain lied." -
“ Yet why a second venture try?”—
" A warrior thou, and ask me why?-
Moves our free course by such fixed cause,
As gives the poor mechanic laws?
Enough, I sought to drive away
The lazy hours of peaceful day;
Slight cause will then suffice to guide
A knight's free footsteps far and wide,-
A falcon flown, a grayhound strayed,
The merry glance of mountain maid;
Or, if a path be dangerous known,
The danger's self is lure alone.”-

Wrothful at such arraignment foul,
Dark lowered the clansman's sable scowl,
A space he paused, then sternly said, -
“ And heardst thou how he drew his blade?
Heardst thou that shameful word and blow
Brought Roderick’s vengeance on his foe?
What recked the Chieftain, if he stood
On Highland Heath or Holy-Rood?
He rights such wrong where it is given,
If it were in the court of Heaven."-
“ Still was it outrage ;-yet, 'tis true,
Not then claimed sovereignity his due;
While Albany, with feeble hand,
Held borrowed truncheon of command.
The young King, mewed in Stirling tower,
Was stranger to respect and power.
But then, thy Chieftain's robber life!--
Winning mean prey by causeless strife,
Wrenching from ruined Lowland swain
His herds and harvest reared in vain,-
Methinks a soul like thine should scorn
The spoils from such foul forav borne.”.


The Gael beheld him grim tne while,
And answered with disdainful smile,
“ Saxon, from yonder mountain high,
I marked thưe send delighted eye,
Far to the south and east, where lay,
Extended in succession gay,
Deep waving fields and pastures greei ,
With gentle slopes and groves between :-
These fertile plains, that softened vale,
Were once the birthright of the Gael;
The stranger came with iron hand,
And from our fathers reft the land.


“ Thy secret keep, I urge thee not;-
Yet, ere again ye sought this spot,
Say, heard ye naught of Lowland war,
Against Clan.Alpine raised by Mar?"-

Where dwell we now! See, rudely swell
Crag over crag, and fell o'er fell.
Ask we this savage hill we tread,
For fattened steer, or household bread;
Ask we for flocks these shingles dry,
And well the mountain might reply:-
• To you, as to your sires of yore,
Belong the target and claymore!
I give you shelter in my breast,
Your own good blades must win the rest.'-
Pent in this fortress of the North,
Think'st thou we will not sally forth,
To spoil the spoiler as we may,
And from the robber rend the prey?
Ay! by my soul! While on yon plain
The Saxon rears one shock of grain;
While, of ten thousand herds, there strays
But one along yon river's maze,-
The Gael of plain and river heir,
Shall, with strong hand, redeem his share.
Where live the mountain chiefs who hold
That plundering Lowland field and sold
Is aught but retribution true?
Seek other cause 'gainst Roderick Dhu."-

On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles gray their lances start,
The bracken-bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrier armed for strife.
That whistle garrisoned the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to Heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leader's beck and will,
All silent there they stood and still;
Like the loose crags whose threatening mass
Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass,
As if an infant's touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge,
With sưep and weapon forward Aung,
Upon the mountain-side they hung.
The mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi's living side,
Then fixed his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-James-"How say'st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon,-I am Roderick Dhu!"-

[ocr errors]



Answered Fitz-James, " And if I sought,
Think'st thou no other could be brought?
What deem ye of my path waylaid,
My life given o'er to ambuscade?”
“ As of a meed to rashness due:
Hadst sent thou warning fair and true,
I seek my hound, or falcon strayed,
I seek, good faith, a Highland maid, -
Free hadst thou been to come and go;
But secret path marks secret foe.
Nor yet, for this, even as a spy,
Hadst thou, unheard, been doomed to die,
Save to fulfill an augury."-
“Well, let it pass; nor will I now
Fresh cause of enmity avow,
To chafe thy mood and cloud thy brow.
Enough, I am by promise tied
To match me with this man of pride,
Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine's glen
In peace; but when I come agen,
I come with banner, brand and bow,
As leader seeks his mortal foe.
For love-lorn swain in lady's bower,
Ne'er panted for the appointed hour,
As I, until before me stand
This rebel Chieftain and his band."-

Fitz-James was brave:—though to his heart
The life-blood thrilled with sudden start,
He manned himself with dauntless air,
Returned the Chief his haughty stare,
His back against a rock he bore,
And firmly placed his foot before:-
Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
“ From its firm base as soon as I!"-
Sir Roderick marked—and in his eyes
Respect was mingled with surprise,
And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel.
Short space he stood—then waved his hand
Down sunk the disappearing band;
Each warrior vanished where he stood,
In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
Sunk brand and spear and bended bow,
In osiers pale and copses low;
It seemed as if their mother Earth
Had swallowed up her warlike birth.
The wind's last breath had tossed in air
Pennon, and plaid, and plumage fair,-
The next but swept a lone hill-side,
Where heath and fern were waving wide;
The sun's last glance was glinted back,
From spear and glaive, from targe and jack,-
The next, all unreflected, shone
On bracken green and cold gray stone.

Fitz-James looked round—yet scarce believed
The witness that his sight received;


“Have then thy wish!”—He whistled shrill,
And he was answered from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets, and spears, and bended bows;


Such apparition well might seem
Delusion of a dreadful dream.
Sir Roderick in suspense he eyed,
And to his jook the Chief replied,
“ Fear nought-nay, that I need not say-
But-doubt not aught from mine array.
Thou art my guest;—I pledged my word
As far as Coilantogle Ford:
Nor would I call a clansman's brand
For aid against one valiant hand,
Though on our strife lay every vale
Reni by the Saxon from the Gael.
So move we on;-I only meant
To show the reed on which you leant,
Deeming this path you might pursue
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu."-
They moved :—I said Fitz-James was brave,
As ever knight that belted glaive;
Yet dare not say, that now his blood
Kept on its wont and tempered flood,
As, following Roderick's stride, he drew
That seeming lonesome pathway through,
Which yet, by fearful proof, was rife
With lances, that to take his life
Waited but signal from a guide,
So late dishonoured and defied.
Ever, by stealth, his eye sought round
The vanished guardians of the ground,
And still from copse and heather deep,
Fancy saw spear and broad-sword peep,
And in the plover's shrilly strain,
The signal whistle heard again.
Nor breathed he free till far behind
The pass was left; for then they wind
Along a wide and level
Where neither tree nor tuft was seen,
Nor rush, nor brush of brooms was near
To hide a bonnet or a spear.

Armed, like thyself, with single brand;
For this is Coilantogle Ford,
And thou must keep thee with thy sword.”-

The Saxon paused: "I ne'er delayed,
When foeman bade me draw my blade;
Nay more, brave Chief, I vowed thy death:
Yet sure thy fair and generous faith,
And my deep debt for life preserved,
A better meed have well deserved :-
Can nought but blood our feud atone?
Are there no means?”—“No, Stranger, none!
And hear,-to fire thy flagging zeal,-
The Saxon cause rests on thy steel;
For thus spoke Fate by prophet bred
Between the living and the dead;
•Who spills the foremost foeman's life
His party conquers in the strife.'”.
“Then, by my word,” the Saxon said,
“The riddle is already read.
Seek yonder brake beneath the cliff-
There lies Red Murdoch, stark and stiff.
Thus Fate hath solved her prophecy,
Then yield to Fate, and not to me.
To James, at Stirling, let us go,
When, if thou wilt, be still his foe,
Or if the King shall not agree
To grant thee grace and favour free,
I plight mine honour, oath and word,
That to thy native strengths restored,
With each advantage shalt though stand,
That aids thee now to guard thy land".




The Chief in silence strode before,
And reached that torrent's sounding shore,
Which, daughter of three mighty lakes,
From Vennachar in silver breaks,
Sweeps through the plain, and ceaseless mines
On Bochastle the mouldering lines,
Where Rome, the Empress of the world,
Of yore her eagle wings unfurled.
And here his course the Chieftain stayed,
Threw down his target and his plaid,
And to the Lowland warrior said :-
“ Bold Saxon! to his promise just,
Vich-Alpine has discharged his trust.
This murderous chief, this ruthless man,
This head of a rebellious clan,
Had led thee safe, through watch and ward,
Far past Clan Alpine's outmost guard.
Now, man to man, and steel to steel,
A chieftain's vengeance thou shalt feel.
See, here, all vantageless I stand,

Dark lightning flashed from Roderick's eye.-
“Soars thy presumption, then, so high,
Because a wretched kerne ye slew,
Homage to name to Roderick Dhu?
He yields not, he, to man nor Fate!
Thou add'st but fuel to my hate:-
My clansman's blood demands revenge.-
Not yet prepared ?-By Heaven, I change
My thought, and hold thy valour light
As that of some vain carpet-knight,
Who ill deserved my courteous care,
And whose best boast is but to wear
A braid of his fair lady's hair.”—
“I thank thee, Roderick, for the word!
It nerves my heart, it steels my sword;
For I have sworn this braid to stain
In the best blood that warms thy vein.
Now, truce, farewell! and ruth begone!--
Yet think not that by thee alone,
Proud Chief! can courtesy be shown;
Though not from copse, or heath, or cairn,
Start at my whistle clansmen stern,
Of this small horn one feeble blast
Would fearful odds against thee cast.
But fear not-doubt not-which thou wilt-

We try this quarrel hilt to hilt.”—
Then each at once his falchion drew,
Each on the ground his scabbard threw,
Each looked to sun, and stream, and plain
As what they ne'er might see again;
Then foot, and point, and eye opposed,
In dubious strife they darkly closed.

To turn the odds of deadly game;
For while the dagger gleamed on high.
Reeied soul and sense, reeled brain and eye.
Down came the blow! but in the heath
The erring blade found bloodless sheath.
The struggling foe may now unclasp
The fainting Chief's relaxing grasp;
Unwounded from the dreadful close,
But breathless all, Fitz-James arose.


[merged small][ocr errors]

Ill fared it then with Roderick Dhu,
That on the field his targe he threw,
Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide
Had death so often dashed aside;
For, trained abroad his arms to wield,
Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield;
He practiced every pass and ward.
To thrust, to strike, to feint, to guard;
While, less expert, through stronger far,
The Gael maintained unequal war.
Three times in closing strife they stood,
And thrice the Saxon sword drank blood;
No stinted draught, no scanty tide,
The gushing flood the tartans dyed.
Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain,
And showered his blows like wintry rain;
And, as firm rock, or castle-roof,
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, in vulnerable still,
Foiled his wild rage by steady skill;
Till, at advantage ta'en, his brand
Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,
And, backwards borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud Chieftain to his knee.

He faltered thanks to Heaven for life,
Redeemed, unhoped, from desperate strife;
Next on his foe his look he cast,
Whose every gasp appeared his last;
In Roderick's gore he dipped the braid. -
“Poor Blanche! thy wrongs are dearly will
Yet with thy foe, must die, or live.
The praise that Faith and Valour give--
With that he blew a bugle note,
Undid the collar from his throat,
Unbonneted, and by the wave
Sat down his brow and hands to lave




To be, or not to be, that is the question-
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die—to sleep
No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shoche
That flesh is heir to!—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die-to sleep-
To sleep!-perchance to dream!—ay, there's the red I
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal cuil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death-
That undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns-puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to other that we know not of ?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And entefprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

« Now, yield thee, or, by Him who made
The world, thy heart's blood dyes my blade!”-
“Threats, thy mercy, I defy!
Let recreant yield, who fears to die.”-
Like adder darting from his coil,
Like wolf that dashes through the toil,
Like mountain-cat who guards her young,
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung,
Received, but recked not of a wound,
And locked his arms his foeman round.-
Now, gallant Saxon, hold thine own!
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown!
That desperate grasp thy frame might feel.
Through bars of brass and triple steel!
They tug, they strain!—down, down, they go,
The Gael above, Fitz-James below.
The Chieftain's gripe his throat compressed,
His knee was planted on his breast;
Across his brow his hand he drew,
His clotted locks he backward threw,
From blood and mist to clear his sight,
Then gleamed aloft his dagger bright!
But hate and fury ill supplied
The stream of life's exhausted tide,
And all too late the advantage came,







[ocr errors]

Bonny Kilmeny gaed up the glen;
But it wasna to meet Duneira's men,
Nor the rosy inonk of the ilse to see,
For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
It was only to hear the Yorlin sing,
And pu' the cress-flower round the spring;
The scarlet hypp and the hindberrye,
And the nut that hung frae the hazel-tree;
For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
But lang may her minny look o'er the wa',
And lang may she seek i' the greenwood shaw;
Lang the laird of Duneira blame,
And lang, lang greet or Kilmeny come hame!

When many a day had come and fled,
When grief grew calm, and hope was dead,
When mass for Kilmeny's soul had been sung,
When the beadsman had prayed, and the dead-bell

Late, late in a gloamin, when all was still,
When the fringe was red on the westlin' hill,
The wood was sere, the moon i' the wane,
The reek o' the cot hung over the plain
Like a little wee cloud in the world its lane;
When the ingle lowed with an eiry leme,
Late, late in the gloamin, Kilmeny came hame!

•Kilmeny, Kilmeny, where have you been?
Lang hae we sought baith holt and dean;
By linn, by ford, and greenwood tree,
Yet you are halesome and fair to see.
Wnere gat ye that joup o' the lily sheen?
Tnat bonny snood of the birk sae green?
And these roses, the fairest that ever were seen?
Kıtmeny, Kilmeny, where have you been?'

Kilmeny looked up with a lovely grace,
But nae smile was seen on Kilmeny's face;
As still was her look, and as still was her ee,
As the stillness that lay on the emerant lea,
Or the mist that sleeps on a waveless sea.
for Kilmeny had been she knew not where,
And Kilmeny had seen what she could not declare;
Kilineny had been where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew,
But 11 seemed as the harp of the sky had rung,
Ana une airs of heaven played round her tongue,
When she spake of the lovely forms she had seen,
And a land where sin had never been.

In yon greenwood there is a walk,
And in that walk there is a wene,

And in that wene there is a maike
That neither hath flesh, blood, nor bane;
And down in yon greenwood he walks his lane!
In that green wene Kilmeny lay,
Her bosom happed wi' the flowrets gay;
But the air was soft, and the silence deep,
And bonny Kilmeny fell sound asleep;
She kend nae mair, nor opened her ee,
Till waked by the hymns of a far countrye,

She wakened on a couch of the silk sae slim,
All striped wi' the bars of the rainbow's rim;
And lovely beings round were rife,
Who erst had traveled mortal life.
They clasped her waist and her hands sae fair,
They kissed her cheek, and they kamed her hair,
And round came many a blooming fere,
Saying. 'Bonny Kilmeny, ye're welcome here!'

They lifted Kilmeny, they led her away,
And she walked in the light of a sunless day;
The sky was a dome of crystal bright,
The fountain of vision, and fountain of light;
The emerald fields were of dazzling glow,
And the flowers of everlasting blow.
Then deep in the stream her body they laid,
That her youth and beauty never might fade;
And they smiled on heaven when they saw her lie
In the stream of life that wandered by;
And she heard a song, she heard it sung,
She kend not where, but sae sweetly it rung,
It fell on her ear like a dream of the morn.

Oh, blest be the day Kilmeny was born! Now shall the land of the spirits see, Now shall it ken what a woman may be! The sun that shines on the world sae bright, A borrowed gleid frae the fountain of light; And the moon that sleeks the sky sae dun, Like a gowden bow, or a beamless sun, Shall wear away, and be seen nae mair, And the angels shall miss them traveling the air, But lang, lang after baith night and day, When the sun and the world have elyed away; When the sinner has gane to his waesome doom, Kilmeny shall smile in eternal bloom!'

Then Kilmeny begged again to see The friend she had left in her own countrye, To tell of the place where she had been, And ti e glories that lay in the land unseen. With distant music, soft and deep, They lulled Kilmeny sound asleep; And when she awakened, she lay her lane, All happed with flowers in the greenwood wene. When seven lang years had come and fled, When grief was calm, and hope was dead, When scarce was remembered Kilmeny's rame, Late, late in a gloamin Kilmeny came haine! And oh, her beauty was fair to see, But still and steadfast was her ee; Such beauty bard may never declare, For there was no pride nor passion there; And the soft desire of maiden's een, In that mild face could never be seen. Her seymar was the lily flower, And her cheek the moss-rose in the shower; And her voice like the distant melodye, That floats along the twilight sca. But she loved to raike the lanely glen, And keeped afar frae the haunts of men, Her holy hymns unheard to sing, To suck the flowers and drink the spring,

« ПредишнаНапред »