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Onward they drive, in dreadful race,
Pursuers and pursued;
Before that tide of flight 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 tinchell cows 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 broadswords' deadly clang,
As if an hundred anvils rang !
But Moray wheel'd 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,
The horsemen dash'd among the route,
As deer break through the broom; Their steeds are stout, their swords are out,
They soon make lightsome room. Clan-Alpine's best are backward borne,
Where, where, was Roderick then ?
One blast upon his bugle-horn
Were worth a thousand men.
And refluent through the pass of fear
The battle's tide was pour’d;
Vanish'd the Saxon's struggling spear,
Vanish'd the mountain sword.
As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep,
Receives her roaring linn,
As the dark caverns of the deep
Suck the wild whirlpool in,
So did the deep and darksome pass
Devour the battle's mingled mass ;
None linger now upon the plain,
Save those who ne'er shall fight again.
The Eve of the Battle of Bannockburn.
From the Lord of the Isles, Canto VI. O GAY, yet fearful to behold, Flashing with steel and rough with gold,
And bristled o'er with bills and spears, With plumes and pennons waving fair, Was that bright battle-front; for there
Rode England's king and peers. And who that saw the monarch ride, His kingdom battled by his side, Could then his direful doom foretell ? Fair was his seat in knightly selle, And in his sprightly eye was set Some spark of the Plantagenet; Though light and wandering was his glance, It flash'd at sight of shield and lance. “Know'st thou," he said, “De Argentine, Yon knight who marshals thus their line ?”
EVE OF THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN.
" The tokens on his helmet tell
The Bruce, my liege! I know him well."
“ And shall the audacious traitor brave
presence where our banners wave ?”
“So please my liege,” said Argentine,
“ Were he but horsed on steed like mine,
To give him fair and knightly chance,
I would adventure forth my
lance.” “In battle-day," the king replied, “ Nice tourney rules are set aside. Still must the rebel dare our wrath? Set on him—sweep him from our path!” And at King Edward's signal, soon Dash'd from the ranks Sir Henry Boune.
Of Hereford's high blood he came,
A race renown'd for knightly fame
He burn'd before his monarch's eye
To do some deed of chivalry.
He spurr'd his steed, he couch'd his lance,
And darted on the Bruce at once.
As motionless as rocks that bide
The wrath of the advancing tide,
The Bruce stood fast, each breast beat high,
And dazzled was each gazing eye;
The heart had hardly time to think,
The eye-lid scarce had time to wink,
While on the king, like flash of flame,
Spurr'd to full speed the war-horse came !
The partridge may the falcon mock,
If that slight palfrey stand the shock;
But, swerving from the knight's career,
Just as they met, Bruce shunn’d the spear.
Onward the baffled warrior bore
His course- but soon his course was o'er!
High in his stirrups stood the king,
his battle-axe the swing,
Right on De Boune, the whiles he passid,
Fell that stern dint, the first, the last.
Such strength upon the blow was put,
The helmet crash'd like hazel-nut;
The axe-shaft, with its brazen clasp,
Was shiver'd to the gauntlet grasp.
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse ;
First of that fatal field, how soon,
How sudden, fell the fierce De Boune !
From Rokeby, Canto V.
O LADY, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree;
Too lovely glow the lilies light,
The varnish'd holly's all too bright,
The may-flower and the eglantine
May shade a brow less sad than mine;
But, lady, weave no wreath for me,
Or weave it of the cypress-tree !
Let dimpled Mirth his temples twine
With tendrils of the laughing vine;
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due ;
The myrtle-Doagh bids lovers live,
But that Matilda will not give;
Then, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!
Let merry England proudly rear
Her blended roses, bought so dear ;
Let Albion bind her bonnet blue
With heath and harebell dipp'd in dew;
On favour'd Erin's crest be seen
The flower she loves of emerald green;
But, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree.
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair;
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves
With bloody hand the victor weaves,
Let the loud trump his triumph tell ;
But when you hear the passing bell,
Then, lady, twine a wreath for me,
And twine it of the
Yes! twine for me the cypress-bough;
But, O Matilda, twine not now !
Stay till a few brief months are past,
And I have look'd and loved
When villagers my shroud bestrew
With pansies, rosemary, and rúe,
Then, lady, weave a wreath for me,
And weave it of the cypress-tree.
Melrose Abbey. From the Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto II. IF thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight; For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild but to flout the ruins grey. When the broken arches are black in night, And each shafted oriel glimmers white; When the cold light's uncertain shower Streams on the ruin'd central tower ; When buttress and buttress alternately Seem framed of ebon and ivory; When silver edges the imagery, And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die ; When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave;Then go—but go alone the whileThen view St. David's ruin'd pile ; And, home returning, soothly swear Was never scene so sad and fair!