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For, by St. George, were that host mine,
Not power infernal, nor divine,
Should once ta peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimm'd their armour's shine
In glorious battle fray!'
Answer'd the Bard, of milder mood, -
‘Fair is the sight,—and yet 'twere good,
That Kings would think withal, When peace and wealth their land has bless'd, 'Tis better to sit still at rest,
Than rise, perchance to fall.'
Still on the spot Lord Marmion stay'd,
For fairer scene he ne'er survey'd.
When sated with the martial show
That peopled all the plain below,
The wandering eye could o'er it go,
And mark the distant city glow
With gloomy splendour red ;
For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow,
That round her sable turrets flow,
The morning beams were shed,
And tinged them with a lustre proud,
Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud.
Such dusky grandeur clothed the height,
Where the huge Castle holds its state,
And all the deep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy, close and high,
Mine own romantic town !
But northward far, with purer blaze,
On Ochil mountains fell the rays,
And as each heathy top they kiss'd,
It gleam'd a purple amethyst.
Yonder the shores of Fife you saw ;
Here Preston-Bay and Berwick-Law;
And, broad between them rolled,
The gallant Frith the eye might note,
Whose islands on its bosom float,
Like emeralds chased in gold.
Fitz-Eustace heart felt closely pent;
As if to give his rapture vent,
The spur he to his charger lent,
And raised his bridle hand,
And making demi-volte in air,
Cried, 'Where's the coward that would not dare
To fight for such a land !'
The Lindesay smiled his joy to see ;
Nor Marmion's frown repress'd his glee.
Thus while they look'd, a flourish proud,
Where mingled trump, and clarion loud,
And fife, and kettle-drum,
And sacbut deep, and psaltery,
And war-pipe with discordant cry,
And cymbal clattering to the sky,
Making wild music bold and high,
Did up the mountain come ;
The whilst the bells, with distant chime,
Merrily tolld the hour of prime,
And thus the Lindesay spoke :
"Thus clamour still the war-notes when
The King to mass his way has ta’en,
Or to St. Katharine's of Sienne,
Or Chapel of Saint Rocque.
To you they speak of martial fame;
But me remind of peaceful game,
When blither was their cheer,
Thrilling in Falkland-woods the air,
In signal none his steed should spare,
But strive which foremost might repair
To the downfall of the deer.
[From The Lady of the Lake, Canto VI.]
[The Minstrel relates to the dying Roderick Dhu, Chief of Clan Alpine, the
story of the battle between the royal forces and those of the Clan.]
The Minstrel came once more to view
The eastern ridge of Benvenue,
For ere he parted, he would say
Farewell to lovely Loch Achray-
Where shall he find, in foreign land,
So lone a lake, so sweet a strand !
There is no breeze upon the fern,
Nor ripple on the lake,
Upon her eyry nods the erne,
The deer has sought the brake ;
The small birds will not sing aloud,
The springing trout lies still,
So darkly glooms yon thunder cloud,
That swathes, as with a purple shroud,
Benledi's distant hill.
Is it the thunder's solemn sound
That mutters deep and dread,
Or echoes from the groaning ground
The warrior's measured tread ?
Is it the lightning's quivering glance
That on the thicket streams,
Or do they flash on spear and lance-
The sun's retiring beams ? -
I see the dagger-crest of Mar,
I see the Moray's silver star,
Wave o'er the cloud of Saxon war,
That up the lake comes winding far!
To hero bound for battle-strife,
Or bard of martial lay,
'Twere worth ten years of peaceful life,
One glance at their array !
Their light-arm’d archers far and near
Survey'd the tangled ground,
Their centre ranks, with pike and spear,
A twilight forest frown’d,
Their barbed horsemen, in the rear,
The stern battalia crown'd.
No cymbal clash’d, no clarion rang,
Still were the pipe and drum ;
Save heavy tread, and armour's clang,
The sullen march was dumb.
There breathed no wind their crests to shake,
Or wave their flags abroad;
Scarce the frail aspen seem'd to quake,
That shadow'd o'er their road.
Their vaward scouts no tidings bring,
Can rouse no lurking foe,
Nor spy a trace of living thing,
Save when they stirr'd the roe;
The host moves like a deep-sea wave,
Where rise no rocks its power to brave,
High-swelling, dark, and slow.
The lake is pass’d, and now they gain
A narrow and a broken plain,
Before the Trosach's rugged jaws ;
And here the horse and spearmen pause,
While, to explore the dangerous glen,
Dive through the pass the archer-men.
At once there rose so wild a yell
Within that dark and narrow dell,
As all the fiends, from heaven that fell,
Had peald the banner-cry of hell !
Forth from the pass in tumult driven,
Like chaff before the wind of heaven,
The archery appear :
For life! for life! their plight they ply-
And shriek, and shout, and battle-cry,
And plaids and bonnets waving high,
And broad-swords flashing to the sky,
Are maddening in the rear.
Onward they drive, in dreadful race,
Pursuers and pursued;
Before that tide of Aight and chase,
How shall it keep its rooted place,
The spearmen's twilight wood ?-
‘Down, down,' cried Mar, 'your lances down !
Bear back both friend and foe!'
Like reeds before the tempest's frown,
That serried grove of lances brown
At once lay levell’d low ;
And closely shouldering side to side,
The bristling ranks the onset bide.-
“We'll quell the savage mountaineer,
As their Tinchelcows the game!
They come as fleet as forest deer,
We'll drive them back as tame.'
Bearing before them, in their course,
The relics of the archer force,
Like wave with crest of sparkling foam,
Right onward did Clan-Alpine come.
Above the tide, each broadsword bright
Was brandishing like beam of light,
Each targe was dark below;
And with the ocean's mighty swing,
When heaving to the tempest's wing,
They hurld them on the foe.
I heard the lance's shivering crash,
As when the whirlwind rends the ash;
I heard the broadsword's deadly clang,
As if an hundred anvils rang!
But Moray wheeld his rearward rank
Of horsemen on Clan Alpine's flank,-
My banner-man, advance !
I see,' he cried, 'their column shake.
Now, gallants ! for your ladies' sake,
Upon them with the lance !'-
"A graçlually narrowing circle of sportsmen closing in the game.