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O wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand
That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray ; O wake once more! though scarce my skill com
mand Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay: Though harsh and faint, and soon to die away,
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain; Yet, if one heart throb higher at its sway,
The wizard note has not been touch'd in vain. Then silent be no more! Enchantress, wake again!
L'ENVOY TO THE READER. Why, then, a final note prolong Or lengthen out a closing song, Unless to bid the gentles speed, Who long have listed to my rede ?*To statesman grave, if such may deign To read the minstrel's idle strain, Sound head, clean hand, and piercing wit, And patriotic heart-as Pitt! A garland for the hero's crest, And twined by her he loves the best; To every lovely lady bright, What can I wish but faithful knight? To every faithful lover too, What can I wish but lady true? And knowledge to the studious sage, And pillow to the head of age. To thee, dear schoolboy, whom my lay Has cheated of thy hour of play, Light task and merry holiday ! To all, to each, a fair good night, And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light!
I. The stag at eve had drunk his fill, Where danced the moon on Monan's rill, And deep his midnight lair had made In lone Glenartney's hazel shade; But when the sun his beacon red Had kindled on Ben voirlich's head, The deep-mouth'd bloodhound's heavy bay Resounded up the rocky way, And faint, from farther distance borne, Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
TO THE MOST NOBLE JOHN JAMES, MARQUIS
OF ABERCORN, &c.
THIS POEM IS INSCRIBED, BY THE AUTHOR.
II. As chief, who hears his warder call, “ To arms! the foemen storm the wall,”— The antler'd monarch of the waste Sprung from his heathery couch in haste. But, e'er his fleet career he took, The dewdrops from his flanks he shook ; Like crested leader proud and high, Toss'd his beam'd frontlet to the sky; A moment gazed adown the dale, A moment snuff?d the tainted gale, A moment listen’d to the cry, That thickend as the chase drew nigh; Then, as the headmost foes appear'd, With one brave bound the copse be clear'd, And, stretching forward free and far, Sought the wild heaths of Vam-Var.
ADVERTISEMENT. The scene of the following poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity of Loch-Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The time of action includes six days, and the transactions of each day occupy a canto.
THE CHASE. HARP of the North! that mouldering long hast
hung On the witch-elm that shades St. Fillan's spring, And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till en vious ivy did around thee cling, Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,
O minstrel harp, still must thine accents sleep? 'Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep, Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep? Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,
Was thy voice mute amid the sestal crowd, When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,
Aroused the fearful or subdued the proud. At each according pause was heard aloud
Thine ardent symphony sublime and high ! Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bow'd;
For still the burthen of thy minstrelsy Was knighthood's dauntless deed and beauty's
III. Yell'd on the view the opening pack, Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back; To many a mingled sound at once Th’awaken'd mountain gave response. An hundred dogs bay'd deep and strong, Clatter'd a hundred steeds along, Their peal the merry horns rung out, An hundred voices join'd the shout: With hark and whoop, and wild halloo, No rest Ben voirlich's echoes knew. Far from the tumult fled the roe, Close in her covert cower'd the doe, The falcon, from her cairn on high, Cast on the rout a wondering eye, Till far beyond her piercing ken The hurricane had swept the glen. Faint, and more faint, its failing din Return’d from cavern, cliff, and linn, And silence settled, wide and still, On the lone wood and mighty hill.
IV. Less loud the sounds of sylvan war Disturb'd the heights of Uam-Var,
Used generally for tale, or discourse.
And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told
Already glorying in the prize, A giant made his den of old :
Measures his antlers with his eyes ; For ere that steep ascent was won,
For the death-wound, and death-balloo, High in his pathway hung the sun,
Muster'd his breath, his whinyard drew ;And many a gallant, stay'd perforce,
But thundering as he came prepared, Was fain to breathe his faltering horse ;
With ready arm and weapon bared, And of the trackers of a deer
The wily quarry shunn'd the shock, Scarce ball the lessening pack was near ;
And turn’d him from the opposing rock; So shrewdly, on the mountain side,
Then, dashing down a darksome glen, Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
Soon lost to hound and hunter's ken,
In the deep Trosach's wildest nook v.
His solitary refuge took, The poble stag was pausing now,
There while, close couch'd, the thicket shed Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Cold dews and wild Aowers on his head, Where broad extended, far beneath,
He heard the baffled dogs in vain The varied realms of fair Menteith.
Rave through the hollow pass amain, With anxious eye he wander'd o’er
Chiding the rocks that yell’d again.
Close on the hounds the hunter came,
To cheer them on the vanish'd game; That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
But, stumbling in the rugged dell, And mingled with the pine trees blue
The gallant horse exhausted fell. On the bold cliffs of Ben-venue.
Th’impatient rider strove in vain Fresh vigour with the hope return'd,
To rouse him with the spur and rein, With Aying foot the heath he spurn'd,
For the good steed, his labours o'er, Held westward with unwearied race,
Stretch'd his stiff limbs to rise no more. And left behind the panting chase.
Then touch'd with pity and remorse,
He sorrow'd o'er the expiring horse :
“I little thought, when first thy rein
On thy feet limbs, my matchless steed; When rose Benledi's ridge in air ;
Wo worth the chase, wo worth the day, Who flagg'd upon Bochastle's heath,
That costs thy life, my gallant gray !" Who shunnid to stem the flooded Teith, For twice, that day, from shore to shore, The gallant stag swum stoutly o'er.
Then through the dell his horn resounds, Few were the stragglers, following far,
From vain pursuit to call the hounds. That reach'd the lake of Vennachar;
Back limp'd, with slow and crippled pace, And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The sulky leaders of the chase; The headmost horseman rode alone.
Close to their master's side they press'd,
With drooping tail and humbled crest; VII.
But still the dingle's hollow throat Alone, but with unbated zeal,
Prolong'd the swelling bugle-note. That horseman plied the scourge and steel; The owlets started from their dream, For jaded now, and spent with toil,
The eagles answer'd with their scream, Emboss'd with foam, and dark with soil,
Round and around the sounds were cast, While every gasp with sobs he drew,
Till echo seem'd an answering blast; The labouring stag strain'd fall in view.
And on the hunter hied his way, Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's breed,
To join some comrades of the day; Unmatch'd for courage, breath, and speed,
Yet often paused, so strange the road, Fast on his flying traces came,
So wondrous were the scenes it show'd. And all but won that desperate game;
The western waves of ebbing day
Rollid o'er the glen their level way; Nor farther might the quarry strain.
Each purple peak, each finty spire, Thus up the the margin of the lake,
Was bathed in floods of living fire, Between the precipice and brake,
But not a setting beam could glow O'er stock and rock their race they take.
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path in shadow hid, VIII.
Round many a rocky pyramid, The hunter mark'd that mountain high,
Shooting abruptly from the dell The lone lake's western boundary,
Its thunder-splinter'd pinnacle ; And deem'd the stag must turn to bay,
Round many an insulated mass, Where that huge rampart barr'd the way,
The native bulwarks of the past,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
XII. Boon nature scatter'd, free and wild, Each plant, or flower, the mountain's child. Here eglantine embalm’d the air, Hawthorn and hazel mingled there; The primrose pale, and violet flower, Found in each cliff a narrow bower; Fox-glove and night-shade, side by side, Emblems of punishment and pride, Group'd their dark hues with every stain The weather-beaten crags retain. With boughs that quaked at every breath, Gray birch and aspen wept beneath ; Aloft, the ash and warrior oak Cast anchor in the risted rock; And, higher yet, the pine tree hung His shatter'd trunk, and frequent flung, Where seem'd the cliffs to meet on high, His bows athwart the narrow'd sky. Highest of all, where white peaks glanced, Where glistening streamers waved and danced, The wanderer's eye could barely view The summer heaven's delicious blue; So wondrous wild, the whole might seem The scenery of a fairy dream.
Unless he climb, with sooting nice,
XIII. Onward, amid the copse 'gan peep A narrow inlet, still and deep, Affording scarce such breadth of brim, As served the wild duck's brood to swim. Lost for a space, through thickets veering, But broader when again appearing, Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face Could on the dark blue mirror trace; And farther as the hunter stray'd, Still broader sweep its channels made. The shaggy mounds no longer stood, Emerging from entangled wood, But, wave-encircled, seem'd to float, Like castle girdled with its moat; Yet broader foods extending still, Divide them from their parent hill, Till each, retiring, claims to be An inlet in an island sea.
And now, to issue from the glen,
Whether joy danced in her dark eye,
XVII. But scarce again his horn he wound, When lo ! forth starting at the sound, From underneath an aged oak, That slanted from the islet rock, A damsel guider of its way, A little skiff shot to the bay, That round the promontory steep, Led its deep line in graceful sweep, Eddying, in almost viewless wave, The weeping-willow twig to lave, And kiss with whispering sound and slow, The beach of pebbles bright as snow. The boat had touch'd this silver strand, Just as the hunter left his stand, And stood conceal'd amid the brake, To view this lady of the lake. The maiden paused, as if again She thought to catch the distant strain. With head up-raised, and look intent, And eye and ear attentive bent, And locks Aung back, and lips apart, Like monument of Grecian art, In listening mood, she seem'd to stand, The guardian naiad of the strand.
XX. Impatient of the silent horn, Now on the gale her voice was borne: “ Father," she cried ; the rocks around Loved to prolong the gentle sound.A while she paused, no answer came :“Malcolm, was thine the blast ?" the name Less resolutely utter'd fell : The echoes could not catch the swell. “ A stranger I,” the huntsman said, Advancing from the hazel shade. The maid, alarm’d, with hasty oar, Push'd her light shallop from the shore, And, when a space was gain'd between Closer she drew her bosom screen; (So forth the startled swan would swing, So turn to prune his ruffled wing ;) Then safe, though Mutter'd and amazed, She paused, and on the stranger gazed, Not his the form, nor his the eye, That youthful maidens wont to fly.
XVIII. And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace A nymph, a naiad, or a grace, Of finer form, or lovelier face! What though the sun, with ardent frown, Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown, The sportive toil, which, short and light, Had died her glowing hue so bright, Served too in hastier swell to show Short glimpses of a breast of snow; What though no rule of courtly grace To measured mood had train'd her pace, A foot more light, a step more true, Ne'er from the heath flower dash'd the dew; E’en the slight harebell raised its head, Elastic from her airy tread : What though upon her speech there hung The accents of the mountain tongue, Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear, The list'ner held his breath to hear.
XXI. On his bold visage middle age Had slightly press'd its signet sage, Yet had not quench'd the open truth And fiery vehemence of youth; Forward and frolic glee was there, The will to do, the soul to dare, The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire, Of hasty love, or headlong ire. His limbs were cast in manly mould, For hardy sports, or contest bold; And though in peaceful garb array'd, And weaponless except his blade, His stately mien as well implied A high-born heart, a martial pride, As if a baron's crest he wore, And sheath'd in armour trod the shore. Slighting the petty need he show'd, He told of his benighted road; His ready speech flow'd fair and free, In phrase of gentlest courtesy: Yet seem'd that tone, and gesture bland, Less used to sue than to command.
XIX. A chieftain's daughter seem'd the maid ; Her satin snood, her silken plaid, Her golden brooch, such birth betrayed. And seldom was a snood amid Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid, Whose glossy black to shame might bring The plumage of the raven's wing; And seldom o'er a breast so fair, Mantled a plaid with modest care, And never brooch the folds combined Above a heart more good and kind. Her kindness and her worth to spy, You need but gaze on Ellen's eye ; Not Katrine, in her mirror blue, Gives back the shaggy banks more true, Than every free-born glance confess'd The guileless movements of her breast;
XXII. A while the maid the stranger eyed, And, reassured, at length replied, That highland halls were open still To wilder'd wanderers of the hill. “ Nor think you unexpected come To yon lone isle, our desert home; Before the heath had lost the dew, This morn, a couch was pull'd for you;
On yonder mountain's purple head
Until the mountain maiden show'd
XXIII. “ I well believe,” the maid replied, As her light skiff approach'd the side, “ I well believe, that ne'er before Your foot bas trod Loch-Katrine's shore; But yet, as far as yesternight, Old Allan-bane foretold your plightA grayhair'd sire, whose eye intent Was on the vision'd future bent. He saw your steed, a dappled gray Lie dead beneath the birchen way; Painted exact your form and mien, Your hunting suit of Lincoln green, That tassled horn so gayly gilt, That falchion's crooked blade and hilt, That cap with heron's plumage trim, And yon two hounds so dark and grim. He bade that all should ready be To grace a guest of fair degree; But light I held his prophecy, And deem'd it was my father's horn, Whose echoes o’er the lake were borne.”
XXVI. It was a lodge of ample size, But strange of structure and device; Of such materials, as around The workman's hand had readiest found. Lopp'd of their boughs, their hoar trunks bared, And by the hatchet rudely squared, To give the walls their destined height, The sturdy oak and ash unite; While moss and clay and leaves combined To fence each crevice from the wind. The lighter pine trees, over head, Their slender length for rafters spread, And wither'd heath and rushes dry Supplied a russet canopy. Due westward, fronting to the green, A rural portico was seen, Aloft on native pillars borne, of mountain fir with bark unshorn, Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine The ivy and Idæan vine, The clematis, the favour'd flower Which boasts the name of virgin-bower, And every hardy plant could bear Loch-Katrine's keen and searching air. An instant in this porch she stay'd, And gayly to the stranger said, “On heaven and on thy lady call, And enter the enchanted hall !"
XXIV. The stranger smiled :-“Since to your home A destined errant-knight I come, Announced by prophet sooth and old, Doom'd, doubtless, for achievement bold, I'll lightly front each high emprize, For one kiud glance of those bright eyes. Permit me, first, the task to guide Your fairy frigate o'er the tide.” The maid, with smile suppress'd and sly, The toil unwonted saw him try; For seldom, sure, if e'er before, His noble band had grasp'd an oar: Yet with main strength his strokes he drew, And o'er the lake the shallop few: With heads erect, and whimpering cry, The hounds behind their passage ply. Nor frequent does the bright oar break The darkening mirror of the lake, Until the rocky isle they reach, And moor their shallop on the beach.
XXVII. “My hope, my heaven, my trust must be, My gentle guide, in following thee.” He cross'd the threshold-and a clang Of angry steel that instant rang. To his bold brow his spirit rush'd, But soon for vain alarm he blush'd, When on the floor he saw display'd, Cause of the din, a naked blade Dropp'd from the sheath that, careless flung, Upon a stag's huge antlers swung; For all around, the walls to grace, Hung trophies of the fight or chase : A target there, a bugle here, A battle-axe, a hunting spear, And broadswords, bows, and arrows, store, With the tusk'd trophies of the boar. Here grins the wolf as when he died, And there the wildcat's brindled hide The frontlet of the elk adorns, Or mantles o'er the bison's horns : Pennons and flags defaced and stain'd, That blackening streaks of blood retain'd, And deer skins, dappled, dun and white, With otter's fur and seal's unite, In rude and uncouth tapestry all, To garnish forth the sylvan hall.
XXV. The stranger view'd the shore around; 'Twas all so close with copse-wood bound, Nor track nor pathway might declare That human foot frequented there,