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Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
XXX. Died on the harp the closing hymnUnmoved in attitude and limb, As listening still, Clan-Alpine's lord Stood leaning on his he ord, 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 bear!” 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.
All while he stripp'd the wild-rose spray,
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 tre 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 Roat at large,' But all beside the islet moor, That such dear pledge may rest secure?”
Not spoke in word, nor blazed in scroll, But borne and branded on my soul ;Which spills the foremost foeman's life That party conquers in the strife.”
So fierce, so tameless, and so fleet,
VII. “ Thanks, Brian, for thy zeal and care ! Good is thine augury, and fair. Clan-Alpine ne'er in battle stood, But first our broadswords tasted blood. A surer victim still I know, Self-offer'd to th'auspicious blow: A spy has sought my land this morn, No eve shall witness his return! My followers guard each pass's mouth, To east, to westward, and to south; Red Murdoch, bribed to be his guide, Has charge to lead his steps aside, Till, in deep path or dingle brown, He light on those shall bring him down.But see who comes his news to show! Malise ! what tidings of the foe?”
NORMAN. “ That bull was slain: his reeking hide They stretch'd the cataract beside, Whose waters their wild tumult toss Adown the black and craggy boss Of that huge cliff, whose ample verge Tradition calls the Hero's Targe. Couch'd on a shelve beneath its brink, Close where the thundering torrents sink, Rocking beneath their headlong sway, And drizzled by the ceaseless spray, Midst groan of rock, and roar of stream, The wizard waits prophetic dream. Nor distant rests the chief;—but, hush ! See, gliding slow through mist and bush, The hermit gains yon rock, and stands To gaze upon our slumbering bands. Seems he not, Malise, like a ghost, That hovers o'er a slaughter'd host? Or raven on the blasted oak, That, watching while the deer is broke,* His morsel claims with sullen croak ?” _" Peace ! peace! to other than to me, Thy words were evil augury ; But still I hold Sir Roderick's blade Clan-Alpine's omen and her aid, Not aught that, glean'd from heaven or hell, Yon fiend-begotten monk can tell. The chieftain joins him, see—and now, Together they descend the brow.”—
VIII. “At Doune, o’er many a spear and glaive Two barons proud their banners wave, I saw the Moray's silver star, And mark'd the sable pale of Mar.”— “ By Alpine's soul, high tidings those ! I love to hear of worthy foes. When move they on?"_“ To-morrow's noon Will see them here for battle boune.” “ Then shall it see a meeting stern! But, for the place—say, couldst thou learn Naught of the friendly clans of Earn ? Strengthen’d by them, we well might bide The battle on Benledi's side. Thou couldst not ?-well! Clan-Alpine's men Shall man the Trosach's shaggy glen; Within Loch-Katrine's gorge we'll fight, All in our maids' and matrons' sight, Each for his hearth and household fire, Father for child, and son for sire, Lover for maid beloved !-but whyIs it the breeze affects mine eye? Or dost thou come, ill-omen's tear, A messenger of doubt and fear? No ! sooner may the Saxon lance Unfix Benledi from his stance, Than doubt or terror can pierce through Th' unyielding heart of Roderick Dhu! 'Tis stubborn as his trusty targe.Each to his post all know their charge."The pibroch sounds, the bands advance, The broadswords gleam, the banners dance, Obedient to the chieftain's glance. I turn me from the martial roar, And seek Coir-Uriskin once more.
VI. And, as they came, with Alpine's lord The hermit monk held solemn word: “ Roderick ! it is a fcarful strife, For man endow'd with mortal life, Whose shroud of sentient clay can still Feel feverish pang and fainting chill, Whose eye can stare in stony trance, Whose hair can rouse like warrior's lance, 'Tis hard for such to view, unfurl’d, The curtain of the future world. Yet, witness every quaking limb, My sunken pulse, mine eyeballs dim, My soul with harrowing anguish torn, This for my chieftain have I borne The shapes that sought my fearful couch, A human tongue may ne'er avouch; No mortal man-save he, who, bred Between the living and the dead, Is gifted beyond nature's law,Had e'er survived to say he saw. At length the fateful answer came, In characters of living flame !
IX. Where is the Douglas ?-he is gone; And Ellen sits on the gray stone Fast by the cave, and makes her moan; While vainly Allan's words of cheer Are pour'd on her unheeding ear.
“ He will return-dear lady, trust! With joy return ;-he will
he must. Well was it time to seek, afar, Some refuge from impending war, When e'en Clan-Alpine's rugged swarm Are cow'd by the approaching storm. I saw their boats, with many a light, Floating the livelong yesternight, Shifting like flashes darted forth By the red streamers of the north ; I mark'd at morn how close they ride, Thick moor'd by the lone islet's side. Like wild ducks couching in the fen, When stoops the hawk upon the glen. Since this rude race dare not abide The peril on the mainland side, Shall not thy noble father's care Some safe retreat for thee prepare ?”
And think upon the harpings slow,
Merry it is in the good green wood,
When the mavis* and merlet are singing, When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are
« No, Allan, no! pretext so kind
And the hunter's horn is ringing. “O Alice Brand, my native land
Is lost for love of you ;
As outlaws wont to do.
And 'twas all for thine eyes so blue, That on the night of our luckless flight,
Thy brother bold I slew. “Now must I teach to hew the beach,
The hand that held the glaive, For leaves to spread our lowly bed,
And stakes to fence our cave. “ And, for vest of pall, thy fingers small,
That wont on harp to stray, A cloak must shear from the slaughter'd deer,
To keep the cold away.” “ O Richard ! if my brother died,
'Twas but a fatal chance ; For darkling was the battle tried,
And fortune sped the lance. “ If pall and vair no more I wear, Nor thou the crimson sheen,
we'll say, is the russet gray,
And lost thy native land,
And he his Alice Brand.”
ALLAN. « Nay, lovely Ellen-dearest, nay! If aught should his return delay, He only named yon holy fane As fitting place to meet again. Be sure he's safe; and for the Græme, Heaven's blessing on his gallant name! My vision'd sight may yet prove true, Nor bode of ill to him or you. When did my gifted dream beguile? Think of the stranger at the isle,
Up spoke the moody elfin king,
Who won'd within the hill,
His voice was ghostly shrill.
Our moonlight circle's screen ?
Beloved of our elfin queen ?
The fairies' fatal green?
For thou wert christen'd man; For cross or sign thou wilt not fly,
For mutter'd word or ban. “ Lay on him the curse of the wither'd heart,
The curse of the sleepless eye; Till he wish and pray that his life would part,
Nor yet find leave to die.”
“ It was between the night and day,
When the fairy king has power, That I sunk down in a sinful fray, And, 'twixt life and death, was spatch'd away
To the joyless elfin bower. « But wist I of a woman bold,
Who thrice my brow durst sign,
As fair a form as thine.”-
That lady was so brave;
The darker grew the cave.
He rose beneath her hand
Her brother, Ethert Brand !
When the mavis and merle are singing; But merrier were they in Dunsermline gray,
When all the bells were ringing.
BALLAD CONTINUED. 'Tis merry, 'tis merry in good green wood,
Though the birds have still’d their singing; The evening blaze doth Alice raise,
And Richard is fagots bringing.
Before Lord Richard stands,
“ That is made with bloody hands."But out then spoke she, Alice Brand,
That woman void of fear,“ And if there's blood upon his hand,
'Tis but the blood of deer.”
“ Now loud thou liest, thou bold of mood !
It cleaves unto his hand,
The blood of Ethert Brand.”
XVI. Just as the minstrel sounds were stay'd, A stranger climb'd the steepy glade ; His martial step, his stately mien, His hunting suit of Lincoln green, His eagle glance, remembrance claims'Tis Snowdoun's knight, 'tis James Fitz-James. Ellen beheld as in a dream, Then, starting, scarce suppress'd a scream: “O stranger! in such hour of fear, What evil hap has brought thee here?” “ An evil hap! how can it be, That bids me look again on thee? By promise bound, my former guide Met me betimes this morning tide, And marshallid, over bank and bourne, The happy path of my return.”“ The happy path !-what! said he naught Of war, of battle to be fought, Of guarded pass ?”—“No, by my faith! Nor saw I aught could augur scathe.” “0! haste thee, Allan, to the kern, Yonder his tartans I discern; Learn thou his purpose, and conjure That he will guide the stranger sure ! What prompted thee, unhappy man? The meanest serf in Roderick's clan Had not been bribed by love or fear, Unknown to him, to guide thee here.”—
Then forward stepp'd she, Alice Brand,
And made the holy sign,“And if there's blood on Richard's hand,
A spotless hand is mine.
By him who demons fear,
And wbat thine errand here ?"
BALLAD CONTINUED. “ 'Tis merry, 'tis merry in fairy land,
When fairy birds are singing, When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,
With bit and bridle ringing:
But all is glistening show,
Can dart on ice and snow,
Is our inconstant shape,
And now like dwarf and ape.
XVII. “ Sweet Ellen, dear my life must be, Since it is worthy care from thee; Yet life I hold but idle breath, When love or honour's weigh'd with death, Then let me profit by my chance, And speak my purpose bold at once. I come to bear thee from a wild, Where ne'er before such blossom smiled; By this soft hand to lead thee far From frantic scenes of feud and war. Near Bochastle my horses wait, They bear us soon to Stirling gate:
I'll place thee in a lovely bower,
Ellen, thy hand-the ring is thine ;
XX. All in the Trosach's glen was still, Noontide was sleeping on the hill: Sudden his guide whoop'd loud and high“ Murdoch! was that a signal cry?” He stammer'd forth," I shout to scare Yon raven from his dainty fare." He look'd-he knew the raven's prey, His own brave steed :-"Ah! gallant gray ! For thee-for me, perchance—'were well We ne'er had left the Trosach's dell. Murdoch, move first—but silently; Whistle or whoop, and thou shalt die.” Jealous and sullen on they fared, Each silent, each upon his guard.
XVIII. Fitz-James knew every wily train A lady's fickle heart to gain, But here he knew and felt them vain. There shot no glance from Ellen's eye, To give her steadfast speech the lie; In maiden confidence she stood, Though mantled in her cheek the blood, And told her love with such a sigh Of deep and hopeless agony, As death had seal'd her Malcolm's doom, And she sat sorrowing on his tomb. Hope vanish'd from Fitz-James's eye, But not with hope fled sympathy. He proffer'd to attend her side, As brother would a sister guide.“0! little know'st thou Roderick's heart! Safer for both we go apart. O haste thee, and from Allan learn, If thou may'st trust yon wily kern."With hand upon his forehead laid, The conflict of his mind to shade, A parting step or two he made ; Then, as some thought had cross'd his brain He paused, and turn'd, and came again.
XXI. Now wound the path its dizzy ledge Around a precipice's edge. When lo! a wasted female form, Blighted by wrath of sun and storm, In tatter'd weeds and wild array, Stood on a cliff beside the way, And glancing round her restless eye, Upon the wood, the rock, the sky, Seemd naught to mark, yet all to spy. Her brow was wreath'd with gaudy broom ; With gesture wild she waved a plume Of feathers, which the eagles fling To crag and cliff from dusky wing; Such spoils her desperate step had sought, Where scarce was footing for the goat. The tartan plaid she first descried, And shriek'd till all the rocks replied; As loud she laugh'd when near they drew, For then the lowland garb she knew ; And then her hands she wildly wrung, And then she wept, and then she sung.-She sung :-the voice, in better time, Perchance to harp or lute might chime; And now, though strain’d and roughen'd, still Rung wildly sweet to dale and hill.
XIX. “ Hear, lady, yet, a parting word It chanced in fight that my poor sword Preserved the life of Scotland's lord. This ring the grateful monarch gave, And bade, when I had boon to crave, To bring it back, and boldly claim The recompense that I would name. Ellen, I am no courtly lord, But one who lives by lance and sword, Whose castle is his helm and shield, His lordship the embattled field. What from a prince can I demand, Who neither reck of state nor land?
“ They bid me sleep, they bid me pray,
They say my brain is warp'd and wrungI cannot sleep on highland brae,
I cannot pray in highland tongue. But were I now where Allan glides, Or heard my native Devan's tides,