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< Who ventures the deed, and fails to succeed,
Perforce must join the crew.'— • Then brief declare,' said the brave St. Clair,
• A deed that a Knight may do.' Mid the sleet and the rain thou must here remain
By the haunted greensward ring,
Till the dance wax slow, and the song faintand low,
Which the crew unearthly sing.
Then right at the time of the matin chime,
Thou must tread the’unhallow'd ground,
And with mystic pace the circles trace
That enclose it nine times round. 6 And next must thou pass the rank green grass
To the tables of ezlar red;
And the goblet clear away must thou bear,
Nor behind thee turn thy head.
• And ever anon as thou tread'st upon
The sward of the green charm'd ring,
Be no word express’d in that space unbless'd
That ʼlongeth of holy thing.
• For the charmed ground is all unsound,
And the lake spreads wide below, And the water fiend, there, with the fiend of air,
Is leagued for mortals' woe.'-
Mid the sleet and the rain did St. Clair remain
Till the evening star did rise ;
And the rout so gay did dwindle away
To the elritch dwarfy size.
When the moon beams pale fell through the white
With a wan and a watery ray,
[hail Sad notes of woe seem'd round him to grow,
The dirge of the Elfins gray,
And right at the time of the matin chime
His mystic pace began,
And murmurs deep around him did creep,
Like the moans of a murder'd man.
The matin bell was tolling farewell-
When he reach'd the central ring,
And there he beheld, to ice congealed,
That crew with the Elfin King.
For aye, at the knell of the matin bell,
When the black monks wend to pray,
The spirits unbless'd have a glimpse of rest
Before the dawn of day.
The sigh of the trees and the rush of the breeze
Then pause on the lonely hill; And the frost of the dead clings round their head,
And they slumber cold and still. The Knight took up the emerald cup,
And the ravens hoarse did scream, And the shuddering Elfins half rose up,
And murmur'd in their dream:
They inwardly mourn'd, and the thin blood return'd
To every icy limb;
And each frozen eye, so cold and so dry,
'Gan roll with lustre dim.
Then brave St. Clair did turn him there,
To retrace the mystic track,
He heard the sigh of his lady fair,
Who sobbed behind his back.
He started quick and his heart beat thick,
And he listen'd in wild amaze;
But the parting bell on his ear it fell,
And he did not turn to gaze.
With panting breast, as he forward press’d,
He strode on a mangled head; And the scull did scream, and the voice did seem
The voice of his mother dead. He shuddering trod :-On the great name of God
He thought-but he nought did say ; And the greensward did shrink, as about to sink,
And loud laugh'd the Elfins gray.
And loud did resound, o'er the unbless'd ground,
The wings of the blue Elf-King;
And the ghostly crew to reach him flew,
But he crossed the charmed ring.
The morning was gray, and dying away
Was the sound of the matin bell;
And far to the west the fays that ne'er rest
Fled where the moonbeams fell.
And Sir Geoffry the Bold, on the unhallow'd mould,
Arose from the green witch-grass; And he felt bis limbs, like a dead man's, cold,
And he wist not where he was. And that cup so rare, which the brave St. Clair
Did bear from the ghostly crew,
Was suddenly changed, from the emerald fair,
To the ragged whinstone blue;
And instead of the ale that mantled there
Was the murky midnight dew.
No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The ship was still as she might be ;
Her sails from heaven received no motion-
Her keel was steady in the ocean.
Without either sign, or sound of their shock,
The waves flow'd over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
The abbot of Aberbrothok
Had floated that bell on the Inchcape Rock ;
On the waves of the storm it floated and swung,
And louder and louder it warning rung.
When the rock was hid by the tempest's swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And bless'd the priest of Aberbrothok.
The sun in heaven shone so gay-
All things were joyful on that day :
The seabirds scream'd as they sported round,
And there was pleasure in their sound.
The float of the Inchcape Bell was seen,
A darker speck, on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk'd his deck,
And he fix'd his eye on the darker speck.
He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing :
His heart was mirthful to excess-
But the Rover's mirth was wickedness.
His eye was on the bell and float-
Quoth he, my men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I'll plague the priest of Aberbrothok.
The boat is lower'd, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And cut the warning bell from the float.
Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound;
The bubbles rose, and burst around.
Quoth Sir Ralph, the next who comes to the Rock
Will not bless the priest of Aberbrothok.
Sir Ralph the Rover sail'd away ;
He scour'd the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder'd store,
He steers his course to Scotland's shore.
So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky,
They could not see the sun on high ;
The wind hath blown a gale all day;
At evening it hath died away.
On the deck the Rover takes his stand ;
So dark it is they see no land;
Quoth Sir Ralph, it will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising moon.
Canst hear, said one, the breakers roar?
For yonder, methinks, should be the shore.
Now where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.
They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
'Though the wind hath fallen they drift along,
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock-
Oh Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock!