Слике страница

themselves in spite of a terrible fire; but at the moment when the day seemed won the French guns, rapidly concentrated in their front, tore the column in pieces and drove it back in a slow and orderly retreat" (J. R. Green). Defeat abroad was followed by defeat in Scotland, where the Young Pretender won the battle of Falkirk in January, 1746. It may have been the news of this fresh reverse that occasioned this Ode. In any case we may assume it to have been written before the victory of Culloden on April 16 of this year relieved the anxiety of England.

6. Than Fancy's feet, etc., than any ground that men have even pictured to themselves in imagination.

7. Cp. the Sea Dirge in Shakespeare's Tempest (G. T., LXV.). So Campbell, but not very happily, introduced the mermaid's song' into his Battle of the Baltic (G. T., CCLI.).

9. Honour. Collins' personifications are more real than some of Gray's. Fancy, perhaps, is scarcely distinct, but each of the other three-Spring, Honour, Freedom - though so lightly touched on, is a figure for a sculptor. The epithet 'gray,' given to Honour, though it may be only a conventional epithet, appropriate to a pilgrim's dress, seems to recall Virgil's cana Fides (Aeneid, I. 292) the 'hoary Honour' of the Roman people, worshipped by them from remote antiquity. Cp. also Horace, Carmen Saeculare 57, Fides et Pax et Honos Pudorque Priscus.

10. The lovely lass o' Inverness

ACCORDING to Cromek, Burns took the idea from the first half verse, which is all that remains' of an old song; but nothing is known of this half verse. At Culloden Prince Charlie,' the Young Pretender, was defeated by the Duke of Cumberland. "On the 16th of April [1746] the two armies faced one another on Culloden Moor, a few miles eastward of Inverness. The Highlanders still numbered six thousand men, but they were starving and dispirited. Cumberland's force was nearly double that of the Prince. Torn by the Duke's guns, the clansmen flung themselves in their old fashion on the English front; but they were received with a terrible fire of musketry, and the few that broke through the first line found themselves fronted by a second. In a few moments all was over, and the Highlanders a mass of hunted fugitives. Charles himself after strange adventures escaped to France" (J. R. Green).

4. And ever the salt tear blinds her eye.

5. Drumossie, the Highland name for Culloden. Observe the pathetic effect of the repetition.

13. thou, the Duke of Cumberland.

11. I've heard them lilting at our ewe-milking

JANE ELLIOTT, 1727-1805, third daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliott, second baronet of Minto. Her father and her brother, like herself, had literary tastes. It was her brother who suggested to her the subject of this ballad, the only poem she is known to have written. "The story goes that, as they were driving home in the family coach one evening in 1756, they talked of Flodden, and Gilbert wagered a pair of gloves or a set of ribbons against his sister's chances as a writer of a successful ballad on the subject. After this there was silence, and by the time the journey was ended the rough draft of the song was ready. When presently it was published anonymously, and with the most sacred silence on the part of the writer herself and of her friends as to authorship, it won instant success. Readers were at first inclined to believe that Miss Elliott's Flowers of the Forest was a genuine relic of the past suddenly and in some miraculous way restored in its perfection. Nor is this to be wondered at, for no ballad in this language is more remarkable for its dramatic propriety and its exhaustive delineation of its theme. Burns was one of the first to insist that this ballad was a modern composition, and when Sir Walter Scott wrote his Border Minstrelsy he inserted it (in 1803) as ' by a lady of family in Roxburghshire'" (T. Bayne in Dictionary of National Biography).

At Flodden Field in Northumberland James IV., King of Scotland, was defeated by the Earl of Surrey, Sept. 9, 1513. An unhewn pillar of granite marks the spot where the King fell.

[ocr errors]

The refrain-"The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away -appears to be ancient, perhaps even contemporary with the battle of Flodden; but nothing more survives of the old lament.

Metre.-Dactylic. Three 'dactyls and a trochee in the first line of the couplet, three dactyls and an accented syllable in the second line. Variations are allowed, as is usual, with English dactylic metres: an extra unaccented syllable often begins the line -in 1. 17 there are even two extra syllables-and a dactyl is occasionally shortened to a trochee. There is a rhyme or assonance in the middle of the first line of the couplet, so that in this line there is always a caesura after the second syllable of the second dactyl. It is quite possible that this poem, especially if it is the only one its authoress wrote, was composed without any knowledge of metre. Such a possibility does not interfere with the correctness of this analysis.

3. loaning, S., an opening between fields of corn, for driving the cattle homewards or milking cows. It is connected with the English word lane.

4. Forest, Ettrick Forest. wede, S., weeded out. This line and the Scottish air associated with it are ancient.

5. bught, S., sheepfold, especially a pen for confining the ewes at milking time.

6. dowie, S., dreary. The word occurs in the title of a wellknown Scottish ballad, The Dowie Dens of Yarrow. It is connected with 'dull' and 'dully.'


wae, adjective as well as substantive in Scottish, 'woful,'

[ocr errors]

7. daffin', S., joking. R. L. Stevenson in Kidnapped uses 'to daff' for to play the fool.' Cp. Burns, Twa Dogs, "Until wi' daffin' weary grown, Upon a knowe they sat them down."

gabbin', jesting. "To gab' is common in O. E. in two senses, 'to scoff' and 'to tell lies.' It is uncertain whether the word is Teutonic or adopted from O.F.

10. lyart, S., grizzled, having grey hairs mixed with others.

11. preaching. For many generations the preaching or sermon has been the most conspicuous feature of a Scotch religious service, and such services have been the occasion of large gatherings in the country districts. This was doubtless the case before the Reformation as well as since.

fleeching, S., coaxing. Cp. Burns, Duncan Gray (XIII. 9), "Duncan fleech'd and Duncan pray'd."

13. gloaming, evening twilight. This substantive-like the verb 'to gloam,' to grow dark-is chiefly found in Scotch writers, but is apparently of English origin and connected with 'glow' and gloom. The word gloaming is still used in the Yorkshire dialect.

younkers, young men. The word is used by Shakespeare, as in the passage quoted in note to No. 8. 71-76.

14. bogle, ghost, goblin, common in Scottish literature since 1500. Bogey' and 'boggard' are kindred words. Tennyson, Northern Farmer, uses boggle' as the Lincolnshire form.

17. Dool or dole, mourning'; an old word revived in modern literary English. It came through the French from the Latin root of doleo, to grieve; the modern French deuil is the same word. For the omission of the relative in this line cp. Sir W. Scott's Outlaw (G. T., CCXIII. 3, 4), " And you may gather garlands there Would grace a summer queen.'

[ocr errors]

Border, between Scotland and England.

19. Forest, foremost. In this line, as in 'l. 1 and 21, we have an assonance instead of a rhyme.

12. Thy braes were bonny, Yarrow stream

JOHN LOGAN (1748-1788) was a Scottish minister and man of letters. He was probably the author of the Ode to the Cuckoo often attributed to his friend Michael Bruce.


In this poem, as in the two that immediately precede it in this collection, we may see the romantic movement that marks the closing years of the eighteenth century already beginning. There is the sense of a sweet, strange pathos in "Old, unhappy, far-off things"; and there is that "subtle aroma of place-names" which Sir Walter Scott was to reveal to so many. Yarrow," says Principal Shairp in his Aspects of Poetry (Lecture on The Three Yarrowe) is "the inner sanctuary of the whole Scottish border." "Ballad after ballad comes down loaded with a dirge-like wail for some sad event, made still sadder for that it befell in Yarrow." One of the most familiar traditions was of some comely youth either drowned by accident in Yarrow or murdered by a jealous rival and flung into the stream. This latter legend was commemorated in another eighteenth century ballad "in the ancient Scots manner," the "Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny bride" of William Hamilton of Bangour. The other legend, of accidental death, was followed by Logan and the unknown author of the poem that follows (No. 13). Wordsworth had read both Hamilton and Logan: he quotes Hamilton in "Fair hangs the apple frae the rock" (G. T., cccv.) and Logan in "The water-wraith ascended thrice, And gave his doleful warning” (G. T., cccvI.).

Metre. -Observe the trochaic or feminine ending of the second line of each couplet. The Yarrow ballads generally have this rhythm, and obtain a powerfully pathetic as well as musical effect by the use of the name "Yarrow" as a rhyme word.

1. bonny, handsome, fair, blithe. A corruption of the French bonne, fem. of bon, 'good.'

8. The real Flower of Yarrow' was Mary Scott of Dryhope, wife of Wat of Harden. Logan has borrowed the title for his unfortunate lover, and Wordsworth follows him (G. T., cccvI. 25-6) "Where was it that the famous Flower Of Yarrow Vale lay bleeding?"

12. squire, attend as a squire or knight. The verb is used by Chaucer. Squire, or Esquire comes through the French from the Latin scutiger, shield-bearer.

15. The metaphor in this line is a favourite one with the great tragedians. Cp. Sophocles, Antigone, 804 Tayroiтηv áλaμov"the bridal bed where all must sleep,” and 816 ’Axépovтɩ vvμpeúow “I shall be the bride of Death."

23. water-wraith. A wraith (Scandinavian word) was an apparition in the likeness of a person supposed to be seen just before or just after his death. See the wonderful description of the wraith of King James I. of Scotland in Rossetti's King's Tragedy. Compare also Scott in Rosabelle (G. T., CCLXXXI. 11, 12), Campbell in Lord Ullin's Daughter (G. T., ccxxv. 26), Wordsworth in Yarrow Visited (G.T., CCCVI. 31, 32).

30. thorough, the old form of the preposition, now retained only for the adjective.

[ocr errors]

42. marrow, old and provincial English and Scottish, possibly a corruption of French mari, from Lat. maritus, a husband; generally a husband,' but sometimes in the wider sense of companion' which Wordsworth adopts in Yarrow Unvisited (G. T., cccv. 6).

13. Down in yon garden sweet and


"THE Editor has found no authoritative text of this poem, to his mind superior to any other of its class in melody and pathos. Part is probably not later than the seventeenth century: in other stanzas a more modern hand, much resembling Scott's, is traceable. Logan's poem [No. 12] exhibits a knowledge rather of the old legend than of the old verses " (F. T. P.).

Metre. See note to preceding poem. Observe the irregular scansion of 1. 5: the first foot is monosyllabic instead of dissyllabic: in other words, there is a pathetic lingering on the first syllable of the line. The rhyme in the middle of lines 5 and 25 is another pathetic touch, the recurring sound having the same plaintive effect as the repetition of the lover's name.

7. hecht, S., promised. It also means 'called,' as in Douglas' Virgil, "There was an ancient cieté hecht Cartage." It is the same word as the old English hight, which likewise has these two meanings. Cp. Chaucer, Wife of Bath's Tale, "He had held his way as he had hight."

17. lav'rock, S., lark. Cp. Burns, Lament of Mary Queen of Scots, "Now lav'rocks wake the merry morn Aloft on dewy wing."

20. Leader haughs, the valley meadows by the side of the river Leader. Cp. Wordsworth in Yarrow Unvisited (G.T., cccv. 17).

32. twined o', S., parted from. Cp. the old ballad, Fine flowers in the valley:

"She's ta'en out her little penknife,

(Fine flowers in the valley):

And twin'd the sweet babe o' its life,

(And the green leaves they grow rarely)."

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »