« AnteriorContinuar »
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
And in the lofty archied hall Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Was spread the gorgeous festival. Think what is now, and what hath been,
Steward and squire, with heedful haste, Seems, as to me, of all bereft,
Marshalled the rank of every guest; Sole friends thy woods and streams were left; Pages, with ready blade, were there, And thus I love them better still,
The mighty meal to carve and share; Even in extremity of ill.
O'er capon, heron-shew, and crane, By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
And princely peacock's gilded train, Though none should guide my feeble way;
And o'er the boar-head, garnished brave, Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
And cygnet from St. Mary's wave, Although it chill my withered cheek;
O'er ptarmigan and venison, Still lay my head by Teviot stone,
The priest had spoke his benison. Though there, forgotten and alone,
Then rose the riot and the din, The Bard may draw his parting groan.
Above, beneath, without, within! Not scorned like me! to Branksome Hall
For, from the lofty balcony, The Minstrels came, at festive call;
Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery; Trooping they came, from near and far,
Their clanging bowls old warriors quaffed, The jovial priests of mirth and war:
Loudly they spoke, and loudly laughed; Alike for feast and fight prepared,
Whispered young knights, in tone more mild,
To ladies fair, and ladies smiled.
The hooded hawks, high perched on bean,
The clamour joined with whistling scream, for every merry mate,
And flapped their wings, and shook their bellis
, Rose the portcullis' iron grate;
In concert with the stag-hounds' yells. They sound the pipe, they strike the string,
Round go the flasks of ruddy wine,
From Bourdeaux, Orleans, or the Rhine;
Their tasks the busy sewers ply,
And all is mirth and revelry. Me lists not at this tide declare
The splendour of the spousal rite, How mustered in the chapel fair
THE TRIAL OF CONSTANCE. Both maid and matron, squire and knight;
In low dark rounds the arches hung, Me lists not tell of owches rare,
From the rude rock the side walls sprung: Of mantles green, and braided hair,
The grave-stones, rudely sculptured o'er, And kirtles furred with miniver;
Half sunk in earth, by time half wore, What plumage waved the altar round,
Were all the pavement of the floor; How spurs, and ringing chainlets, sound:
The mildew drops fell one by one, And hard it were for Bard to speak
With tinkling plash, upon the stone. The changeful hue of Margaret's cheek,
A cresset, in an iron chain, That lovely hue which comes and flies,
Which served to light this drear domain, As awe and sharne alternate rige.
With damp and darkness seemed to strive,
As if it scarce might keep alive; Some bards have sung, the Ladye high
And yet it dimly served to shew
The awful conclave met below.
There, met to doom in secrecy,
Were met the heads of convents three; She wrought not by forbidden spell:
All servants of Saint Benedict,
The statutes of whose order strict
On iron table lay;
In long black dress, on seats of stone,
Behind were these three judges shewn, But this for faithful truth I say,
By the pale cresset's ray:
The Abbess of Saint Hilda's, there,
Sate for a space with visage bare,
Until, to hide her bosom's swell, With pearls embroidered and entwined,
And tear-drops that for pity fell,
She closely drew her veil:
as I guess,
By her proud mien and flowing dress,
Is Tynemouth's haughty Prioress, The spousal rites were ended soon ;
And she with awe looks pale: 'Twas now the merry hour of noon,
And he, that Ancient Man, whose siçtain:
Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek, Has long been quenched by age's night,
Well might her paleness terror speak! Upon whose wrinkled brow alone,
For there were seen in that dark wall Nor ruth, nor mercy's trace is shewn, Whose look is hard and stern,
Two niches, narrow, deep, and tall;Saint Cuthbert's Abbot is his stile ;
Who enters at such griesly door,
Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
In each a slender meal was laid,
Of roots, of water, and of bread: Before them stood a guilty pair;
By each, in Benedictine dress, But, though an equal fate they share,
Two haggard monks stood motionless; Yet one alone deserves our care.
Who, holding high a blazing torch, Her sex a page's dress belied ;
Shew'd the grim entrance of the porch: The cloak and doublet, loosely tied,
Reflecting back the smoky beam, Obscured her charms, but could not hide.
The dark-red walls and arches gleam. Her cap down o'er her face she drew;
Hewn stones and cement were display'd,
And building tools in order laid.
These executioners were chose,
As men who were with mankind foes, A monk undid the silken band,
And, with despite and envy fired,
Into the cloister had retired;
Or who, in desperate doubt of grace, And down her slender form they spread,
Strove, by deep penance, to efface
Of some foul crime the stain;
For, as the vassals of her will, Sister profess’d of Fontevraud,
Such men the church selected still, Whom the church numbered with the dead,
As either joy'd in doing ill, For broken vows, and convent fled.
Or thought more grace to gain,
If, in her cause, they wrestled down When thus her face was given to view
Feelings their nature strove to own. (Although so pallid was her hue,
By strange device were they brought there, It did a ghastly contrast bear
They knew not how, and knew not where.
And now that blind old Abbot rose,
To speak the Chapter's doom,
On those the wall was to inclose, That, but her breathing did not fail,
Alive, within the tomb: And motion slight of eye and head,
But stopp'd, because that woeful maid, And of her bosom, warranted That neither sense nor pulse she lacks,
Gathering her powers, to speak essay'd. You might have thought a form of wax,
Twice she essay'd, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip: Her comrade was a sordid soul,
"Twixt each attempt all was so still, Such as does murder for a meed;
You seem'd to hear a distant rill Who, but of fear, knows no controul,
'Twas ocean's swells and falls; Because his conscience, sear’d and foul,
For though this vault of sin and fear Feels not the import of his deed;
Was to the sounding surge so near, One, whose brute feeling ne'er aspires
A tempest there you scarce could hear, Beyond his own more brute desires.
So massive were the walls.
At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled at her heart, Their nights no fancied spectres haunt;
And light came to her eye, One fear with them, of all most base,
And colour dawn'd upon her cheek, The fear of death,--alone finds place.
A hectic and a futter'd streak, This wretch was clad in frock and cowl,
Like that left on the Cheviot peak, And shamed not loud to moan and howl,
By Autumn's stormy sky; His body on the floor to dash,
And when her silence broke at length, And crouch, like hound beneath the lash;
Still as she spoke she gathered strength, While his mute partner, standing near,
And arm'd herself to bear; Waited her doom without a tear.
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,
And, by his drugs, my rival fair In form so soft and fair.
A saint in heaven should be.
But ill the dastard kept his oath, “ I speak not to implore your grace;
Whose cowardice has undone us both. Well know I for one minute's space Successless might I sue:
“ And now my tongue the secret tells, Nor do I speak your prayers to gain;
Not that remorse my bosom swells, For if a death of lingering pain
But to assure my soul that none To cleanse my sins be penance vain,
Shall ever wed with Marmion. Vain are your masses too.
Had fortune my last hope betray'd, I listened to a traitor's tale,
This packet, to the king convey'd, I left the convent and the veil;
Had given him to the headsman's stroke, For three long years I bow'd my pride,
Although my heart that instant brokeA horse-boy in his train to ride;
Now, men of death, work forth your will, And well my folly's meed he gave,
For I can suffer and be still; Who forfeited, to be his slave,
And come he slow, or come he fast, All here, and all beyond the grave.
It is but Death who comes at last.
“ Yet dread me, from my living tomb, Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome! And Constance was beloved no more.
If Marmion's late remorse should wake, 'Tis an old tale, and often told;
Full soon such vengeance will be take, But, did my fate and wish agree,
That you shall wish the fiery Dane Ne'er had been read, in story old,
Had rather been your guest again. Of maiden true betray'd for gold,
Behind, a darker hour ascends! That loved, or was avenged like me!
The altars quake, the crosier bends,
The ire of a despotic King “ The King approved his favourite's aim;
Rides forth upon destruction's wing. In vain a rival barr'd his claim,
Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep, Whose faith with Clare's was plight,
Burst open to the sea-winds' sweep: For he attaints that rival's fame
Some traveller then shall find my bones, With treason's charge—and on they came,
Whitening amid disjointed stones, In mortal lists to fight.
And, ignorant of priests' cruelty, Their oaths are said,
Marvel such relics here should be." Their prayers are pray'd, Their lances in the rest are laid,
Fix'd was her look, and stern her air; They meet in mortal shock;
Back from her shoulders stream'd her hair; And hark! the throng, with thundering cry, The locks that wont her brows to shade, Shout “ Marmion, Marmion!” to the sky,
Stared up erectly from her head; “ De Wilton to the block !"
Her figure seem'd to rise more high; Say ye, who preach heaven shall decide,
Her voice, despair's wild energy When in the lists two champions ride,
Had given a tone of prophecy. Say, was heaven's justice here?
Appallid the astonished conclave sate; When, loyal in his love and faith,
With stupid eyes, the men of fate Wilton found overthrow or death,
Gazed on the light inspired form, Beneath a traitor's spear.
And listen'd for the avenging storm; How false the charge, how true he fell,
The judges felt the victim's dread; This guilty packet best can tell"
No hand was moved, no word was said, Then drew a packet from her breast,
Till thus the Abbot's doom was given, Paused, gather's voice, and spoke the rest. Raising his sightless balls to heaven:
“ Sister, let thy sorrows cease; 6 Still was false Marmion's bridal staid;
Sinful brother, part in peace!"To Whitby's convent fled the maid,
From that dire dungeon, place of doom, The hated match to shun.
Of execution too, and tomb, Ho! shifts she thus?' king Henry cried,
Paced forth the judges three; • Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
Sorrow it were, aud shame, to tell If she were sworn a nun.'
The butcher-work that there befell, One way remained—the king's command
When they had glided from the cell
Of sin and misery.
An hundred winding steps convey
That conclave to the upper day; He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
But ere they breathed the fresher air
They heard the sbriekings of despair,
While, reverent, all made room.
An easy task it was, I trow,
King James's manly form to know, (Such speed as age and sear can make,)
Although, his courtesy to show,
He doff'd, to Marmion bending low,
His broider'd cap and plume.
For royal were his garb and mien, They seem'd to hear a dying groan,
His cloak of crimson velvet piled, And bade the passing knell to toll
Trimm'd with the fur of martin wild; For welfare of a parting soul.
His vest of changeful satin sheen Slow o'er the inidnight wave it swung,
The dazzled eye beguiled; Northumbrian rocks in answer rung;
His gorgeous collar hung adown, To Warkworth cell the echoes rollid,
Wrought with the badge of Scotland's crown, His beads the wakeful hermit told;
The thistle brave, of old renown; The Bamborough peasant raised his head,
His trusty blade, Toledo right, But slept ere half a prayer he said;
Descended from a baldric bright; So far was heard the mighty knell,
White were his buskins, on the heel The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell,
His spurs inlaid of gold and steel; Spread his broad nostril to the wind,
His bonnet, all of crimson fair, Listed before, aside, behind,
Was button'd with a ruby rare: Then couch'd him down beside the hind,
And Marmion deem'd he ne'er had seen And quaked among the mountain fern,
A prince of such a noble mien. To hear that sound, so dull and stern.
The Monarch's form was middle size;
For feat of strength, or exercise,
Shaped in proportion fair;
And hazle was his eagle eye,
And auburn of the darkest dye
His short curled beard and hair.
Light was his footstep in the dance,
And firm his stirrup in the lists;
And, oh! he had that merry glance
That seldom lady's heart resists.
And loved to plead, lament, and sue;-
Suit lightly won, and short-lived pain,
For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
I said he joy'd in banquet-bower;
But, mid his mirth, 'twas often strange,
How suddenly his cheer would change,
His look o'ercast and lower,
If, in a sudden turn he felt
The pressure of his iron belt,
That bound his breast in penance pain,
In memory of his father slain.
Even so 'twas strange how, evermore,
Soon as the passing pang was o'er,
Forward he rush'd, with double glee,
Into the stream of revelry:
Thus, dim-seen object of affright
Startles the courser in his flight,
And half he halts, half springs aside;
But feels the quickening spur applied, For often, in the parting hour,
And, straining on the tighten'd rein, Victorious love asserts his power
Scours doubly swift o'er hill and plain.
O'er James's heart, the courtiers say,
Sir Hugh the Heron's wife held
To Scotland's court she came,
To be a hostage for her lord,
Who Cessford's gallant heart had gored,
Had sent his lovely dame.
Nor to that lady free alone
So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall, (all:
Among bride's men, and kinsmen, and brothers, and
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword, And charged him, as her knight and love,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word) For her to break a lance;
O come ye in peace, or come ye in war,
Or to dance atour bridal, young Lord Lochiuvar?"-
“I long woo'd your daughter, my suit you denied :And bid the banners of his band
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide-
And now am I come, with tbis lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine. His manly limbs in mailed vest;
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far, And thus admitted English fair
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar." His inmost counsels still to share ;
The bride kiss'd the goblet; the knight took it
up, And thus, for both, he madly plann'd
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup
She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,-
“ Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.
So stately his form, and so lovely his face, His own Queen Margaret, who, in Lithgow's bower,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace; All lonely sat, and wept the weary hour.
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and
[by far The war against her native soil,
And the bride-maidens whisper, “ 'Twere better Her Monarch's risk in battle broil ;
To have match'd our fair cousin with young Loch
Onc touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger
stood near; The strings her fingers flew;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung, And as she touch'd and tuned them all,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung! Ever her bosom's rise and fall
“ She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and Was plainer given to view;
(Lochinvar. For all, for heat, was laid aside
They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young
There was mounting 'mong Græmes of the Netherby
Fosters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and And laugh’d, and blush'd, and oft did say
There was racing, and chasing, on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see,
Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar!
The Monarch o'er the syren hung, A soft yet lively air she rung,
And beat the measure as she sung; While thus the wily lady sung.
Ere yet Fu-Eu “На
Betwee Food, L. My has
Lore Yet me They
That Iftig That The Slial
T Dois Αης
And, pressing closer, and more near,
A glance, where seemd to reign
A real or feign'd disdain :
Lady Heron's Song.