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And heard the slogan's deadly yell,
Then the chief of Branksome fell.
Can piety the discord heal,
Or stanch the death-feud's enmity ? Can Christian lore, can patriot zeal,
Can love of blessed charity ? No! vainly to each holy shrine,
In mutual pilgrimage they drew; Implored, in vain, the grace divine
For chiefs their own red falchions slew : While Cessford owns the rule of Carr,
While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott, The slaughter'd chiefs, the mortal jar, The havoc of the feudal war,
Shall never, never be forgot
In sorrow o'er Lord Walter's bier
The warlike foresters had bent ;
And many a flower, and many a tear,
Old Teviot's maids and matrons lent:
But o'er her warrior's bloody bier
The ladye dropp'd nor flower nor tear!
Vengeance, deep brooding o'er the slain,
Had lock'd the source of softer wo; And burning pride, and high disdain,
Forbade the rising tear to flow; Until, amid his sorrowing clan,
Her son lisp'd from the nurse's knee, " And if I live to be a man,
My father's death revenged shall be !" Then fast the mother's tears did seek To dew the infant's kindling cheek.
All loose her negligent attire,
All loose her golden hair,
Hung Margaret o'er her slaughter'd sire,
And wept in wild despair.
But not alone the bitter tear
Had filial grief supplied ;
For hopeless love, and anxious fear,
Had lent their mingled tide:
Nor in her mother's alter'd eye
Dared she to look for sympathy.
Her lover, 'gainst her father's clan,
With Carr in arms had stood,
When Mathouse-burn to Melrose ran,
All purple with their blood;
And well she knew, her mother dread,
Before Lord Cranstoun she should wed,
Would see her on her dying bed.
Of noble race the ladye came :
Her father was a clerk of fame,
Of Bethune's line of Picardie :
He learn'd the art that none may name,
In Padua, far beyond the sea.
Men said he changed his mortal frame
By feat of magic mystery;
For when, in studious mood, he paced
St. Andrew's cloister'd hall,
His form no darkening shadow traced
Upon the sunny wall!
And of his skill, as bards avow,
He taught that ladye fair,
Till to her bidding she could bow
The viewless forms of air.
By a steel-clenched postern door,
They enter'd now the chancel tall; The darken'd roof rose high aloof
On pillars lofty, and light, and small : The keystone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle, Was a Heur-de-lys or a quartre-feuille ; The corbells were carved grotesque and grim; And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim,
With base and with capital flourish'd around,
Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had bound.
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
Around the screen'd altar's pale ;
And there the dying lamps did burn,
Before thy low and lonely urn,
Oh gallant chief of Otterburne!
And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale!
Oh fading honours of the dead!
Oh high ambition, lowly laid !
The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery combined;
Thou wouldst have thought some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand,
In many a freakish knot, had twined; Then framed a spell, when the work was done, And changed the willow-wreaths to stone. The silver light, so pale and faint, Show'd many a prophet and many a saint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Full in the midst, his cross of red
Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the apostate's pride.
The moonbeam kiss'd the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.
They sate them down on a marble stone
(A Scottish monarch slept below); Thus spoke the monk, in solemn tone:
“ I was not always a man of wo; For Paynim countries I have trod, And fought beneath the Cross of God: Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear, And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear. “ In these far climes it was my lot To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;
A wizard, of such dreaded fame,
That when, in Salamanca's cave,
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame!
Some of his skill he taught to me;
And, warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone :
But to speak them were a deadly sin;
And for having but thought them my heart within,
A treble penance must be done.
“When Michael lay on his dying bed,
His conscience was awakened :
He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed :
I was in Spain when the morning rose,
But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
The words may not again be said,
That he spoke to me on deathbed laid;
They would rend this abbaye's massy nave,
And pile it in heaps above his grave.
I swore to bury his mighty book,
That never mortal might therein look ;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his chief of Branksome's need:
And when that need was past and o'er,
Again the volume to restore.
I buried him on St. Michael's night,
When the bell tolld one and the moon was bright,
And I dug his chamber among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron's cross might over him wave,
And scare the fiends from the wizard's grave.
" It was a night of wo and dread,
When Michael in the tomb I laid!
Strange sounds along the chancel pass'd,
The banners waved without a blast :"
Still spoke the monk, when the bell tolld one!
I tell you that a braver man
Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed;
Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread,
And his hair did bristle upon his head.
" Lo, warrior! now the cross of red
Points to the grave of the mighty dead,
Within it burns a wondrous light,
To chase the spirits that love the night :
That lamp shall burn unquenchably,
Until the eternal doom shall be.”
Slow moved the monk to the broad flagstone,
Which the bloody cross was traced upon:
He pointed to a secret nook;
An iron bar the warrior took;
And the monk made a sign with his wither'd hand,
The grave's huge portal to expand.
With beating heart to the task he went;
His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent;
With bar of iron heaved amain,
Till the toildrops fell from his brows like rain.
It was by dint of passing strength
That he moved the massy stone at iength.
had been there, to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream'd upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof!
No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright:
It shone like heaven's own blessed light,
And, issuing from the tomb,
Show'd the monk's cowl and visage pale,
Danced on the dark-brow'd warrior's mail,
And kiss'd his waving plume.
Sweet Teviot! on thy silver tide
The glaring hale-fires blaze no more; No longer steel-clad warriors ride
Along thy wild and willow'd shore;