« PreviousContinue »
Of all my halls have nurst, Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring Of blessed water, from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst ? ”
O, woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou !
Scarce were the piteous accents said,
When, with the Baron's casque, the maid
To the nigh streamlet ran:
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears;
The plaintive voice alone she hears,
Sees but the dying man.
She stoop'd her by the runnel's side,
But in abhorrence backward drew,
For oozing from the mountain wide,
Where raged the war, a dark red tide
Was curdling in the streamlet blue. Where shall she turn ? Behold her mark
A little fountain cell,
Where, water clear as diamond spark,
In a stone basin fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
“ Brink. weary. pilgrim. drink. and. pray.
For. the. kind. soul. of. Sybil. Brey.
Who. built. this. cross. and. well.”
She fill'd the helm, and back she hied,
And with surprise and joy espied
A Monk supporting Marmion's head;
A pious man whom duty brought
To dubious verge of battle fought,
To shrieve the dying, bless the dead.
Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave, And as she stoop'd his brow to lave“Is it the hand of Clare," he said, “Or injured Constance, bathes my head ? ”
Then, as remembrance rose, “Speak not to me of shrift or prayer!
I must redress her woes.
Short space, few words, are mine to spare ;
Forgive and listen, gentle Clare !
“Alas!” she said, "the while,
O think of your immortal weal!
In vain for Constance is your zeal;
She died at Holy Isle.”-
”— Lord Marmion started from the ground, As light as if he felt no wound; Though in the action burst the tide In torrents from his wounded side. “ Then it was truth!”-he said "I knew That the dark presage must be true.
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,
Might bribe him for delay.
not be !—this dizzy tranceCurse on yon base marauder's lance, And doubly cursed my failing brand ! A sinful heart makes feeble hand.”Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk, Supported by the trembling Monk. With fruitless labour, Clara bound, And strove to staunch the gushing wound; The Monk, with unavailing cares, Exhausted all the church's prayers; Ever he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear,
For that she ever sung, “In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the dying !”
So the notes rung.
“Avoid thee, Fiend—with cruel hand,
Shake not the dying sinner's sand!
O look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer's grace divine !
O think on faith and bliss !
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen;
But never aught like this."
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swell’d the gale,
And-STANLEY! was the cry.
A light on Marmion's visage spread,
And fired his glazing eye;
With dying hand above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,
And shouted “Victory!
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on !”
Were the last words of Marmion.
THE stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,
The deep-mouth'd bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
As Chief, who hears his warder call,
“ To arms! the foemen storm the wall,”
The antler'd monarch of the waste
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,
The dew-drops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high,
Toss'd his beam'd frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuff’d the tainted gale,
A moment listen’d to the cry,
That thicken’d as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appear'd,
With one brave bound the copse he clear'd,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.
Yell'd on the view the opening pack;
Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awaken'd mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bay'd deep and strong,
Clatter'd a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
A hundred voices join'd the shout;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cower'd the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wandering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Return’d from cavern, cliff and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.
Less loud the sounds of sylvan war
Disturb'd the heights of Uam-Var,
And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told,
A giant made his den of old;
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in his pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stay'd perforce,
Was fain to breathe his faltering horse,
And of the trackers of the deer,
Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
So shrewdly, on the mountain side,
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
The noble stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.