The Lady of the Lake, by Walter Scott

Canto Third.

The Gathering.


Time rolls his ceaseless course. The race of yore,

Who danced our infancy upon their knee,

And told our marvelling boyhood legends store

Of their strange ventures happed by land or sea,

How are they blotted from the things that be!

How few, all weak and withered of their force,

Wait on the verge of dark eternity,

Like stranded wrecks, the tide returning hoarse,

To sweep them from out sight! Time rolls his ceaseless course.

Yet live there still who can remember well,10

How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew,

Both field and forest, dingle, cliff; and dell,

And solitary heath, the signal knew;

And fast the faithful clan around him drew.

What time the warning note was keenly wound,

What time aloft their kindred banner flew,

While clamorous war-pipes yelled the gathering sound,

And while the Fiery Cross glanced like a meteor, round.


The Summer dawn’s reflected hue

To purple changed Loch Katrine blue;20

Mildly and soft the western breeze

Just kissed the lake, just stirred the trees,

And the pleased lake, like maiden coy,

Trembled but dimpled not for joy

The mountain-shadows on her breast

Were neither broken nor at rest;

In bright uncertainty they lie,

Like future joys to Fancy’s eye.

The water-lily to the light

Her chalice reared of silver bright;30

The doe awoke, and to the lawn,

Begemmed with dew-drops, led her fawn;

The gray mist left the mountain-side,

The torrent showed its glistening pride;

Invisible in flecked sky

The lark sent down her revelry:

The blackbird and the speckled thrush

Good-morrow gave from brake and bush;

In answer cooed the cushat dove

Her notes of peace and rest and love.40


No thought of peace, no thought of rest,

Assuaged the storm in Roderick’s breast.

With sheathed broadsword in his hand,

Abrupt he paced the islet strand,

And eyed the rising sun, and laid

His hand on his impatient blade.

Beneath a rock, his vassals’ care

Was prompt the ritual to prepare,

With deep and deathful meaning fraught;

For such Antiquity had taught50

Was preface meet, ere yet abroad

The Cross of Fire should take its road.

The shrinking band stood oft aghast

At the impatient glance he cast —

Such glance the mountain eagle threw,

As, from the cliffs of Benvenue,

She spread her dark sails on the wind,

And, high in middle heaven reclined,

With her broad shadow on the lake,

Silenced the warblers of the brake.60


A heap of withered boughs was piled,

Of juniper and rowan wild,

Mingled with shivers from the oak,

Rent by the lightning’s recent stroke.

Brian the Hermit by it stood,

Barefooted, in his frock and hood.

His grizzled beard and matted hair

Obscured a visage of despair;

His naked arms and legs, seamed o’er,

The scars of frantic penance bore.70

That monk, of savage form and face

The impending danger of his race

Had drawn from deepest solitude

Far in Benharrow’s bosom rude.

Not his the mien of Christian priest,

But Druid’s, from the grave released

Whose hardened heart and eye might brook

On human sacrifice to look;

And much, ’t was said, of heathen lore

Mixed in the charms he muttered o’er.80

The hallowed creed gave only worse

And deadlier emphasis of curse.

No peasant sought that Hermit’s prayer

His cave the pilgrim shunned with care,

The eager huntsman knew his bound

And in mid chase called off his hound;’

Or if, in lonely glen or strath,

The desert-dweller met his path

He prayed, and signed the cross between,

While terror took devotion’s mien.90


Of Brian’s birth strange tales were told.

His mother watched a midnight fold,

Built deep within a dreary glen,

Where scattered lay the bones of men

In some forgotten battle slain,

And bleached by drifting wind and rain.

It might have tamed a warrior’s heart

To view such mockery of his art!

The knot-grass fettered there the hand

Which once could burst an iron band;100

Beneath the broad and ample bone,

That bucklered heart to fear unknown,

A feeble and a timorous guest,

The fieldfare framed her lowly nest;

There the slow blindworm left his slime

On the fleet limbs that mocked at time;

And there, too, lay the leader’s skull

Still wreathed with chaplet, flushed and full,

For heath-bell with her purple bloom

Supplied the bonnet and the plume.110

All night, in this sad glen the maid

Sat shrouded in her mantle’s shade:

She said no shepherd sought her side,

No hunter’s hand her snood untied.

Yet ne’er again to braid her hair

The virgin snood did Alive wear;

Gone was her maiden glee and sport,

Her maiden girdle all too short,

Nor sought she, from that fatal night,

Or holy church or blessed rite120

But locked her secret in her breast,

And died in travail, unconfessed.


Alone, among his young compeers,

Was Brian from his infant years;

A moody and heart-broken boy,

Estranged from sympathy and joy

Bearing each taunt which careless tongue

On his mysterious lineage flung.

Whole nights he spent by moonlight pale

To wood and stream his teal, to wail,130

Till, frantic, he as truth received

What of his birth the crowd believed,

And sought, in mist and meteor fire,

To meet and know his Phantom Sire!

In vain, to soothe his wayward fate,

The cloister oped her pitying gate;

In vain the learning of the age

Unclasped the sable-lettered page;

Even in its treasures he could find

Food for the fever of his mind.140

Eager he read whatever tells

Of magic, cabala, and spells,

And every dark pursuit allied

To curious and presumptuous pride;

Till with fired brain and nerves o’erstrung,

And heart with mystic horrors wrung,

Desperate he sought Benharrow’s den,

And hid him from the haunts of men.


The desert gave him visions wild,

Such as might suit the spectre’s child.150

Where with black cliffs the torrents toil,

He watched the wheeling eddies boil,

Jill from their foam his dazzled eyes

Beheld the River Demon rise:

The mountain mist took form and limb

Of noontide hag or goblin grim;

The midnight wind came wild and dread,

Swelled with the voices of the dead;

Far on the future battle-heath

His eye beheld the ranks of death:160

Thus the lone Seer, from mankind hurled,

Shaped forth a disembodied world.

One lingering sympathy of mind

Still bound him to the mortal kind;

The only parent he could claim

Of ancient Alpine’s lineage came.

Late had he heard, in prophet’s dream,

The fatal Ben-Shie’s boding scream;

Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast

Of charging steeds, careering fast170

Along Benharrow’s shingly side,

Where mortal horseman ne’er might ride;

The thunderbolt had split the pine —

All augured ill to Alpine’s line.

He girt his loins, and came to show

The signals of impending woe,

And now stood prompt to bless or ban,

As bade the Chieftain of his clan.


’T was all prepared — and from the rock

A goat, the patriarch of the flock,180

Before the kindling pile was laid,

And pierced by Roderick’s ready blade.

Patient the sickening victim eyed

The life-blood ebb in crimson tide

Down his clogged beard and shaggy limb,

Till darkness glazed his eyeballs dim.

The grisly priest, with murmuring prayer,

A slender crosslet framed with care,

A cubit’s length in measure due;

The shaft and limbs were rods of yew,190

Whose parents in Inch-Cailliach wave

Their shadows o’er Clan-Alpine’s grave,

And, answering Lomond’s breezes deep,

Soothe many a chieftain’s endless sleep.

The Cross thus formed he held on high,

With wasted hand and haggard eye,

And strange and mingled feelings woke,

While his anathema he spoke:—


‘Woe to the clansman who shall view

This symbol of sepulchral yew,200

Forgetful that its branches grew

Where weep the heavens their holiest dew

On Alpine’s dwelling low!

Deserter of his Chieftain’s trust,

He ne’er shall mingle with their dust,

But, from his sires and kindred thrust,

Each clansman’s execration just

Shall doom him wrath and woe.’

He paused; — the word the vassals took,

With forward step and fiery look,210

On high their naked brands they shook,

Their clattering targets wildly strook;

And first in murmur low,

Then like the billow in his course,

That far to seaward finds his source,

And flings to shore his mustered force,

Burst with loud roar their answer hoarse,

‘Woe to the traitor, woe!’

Ben-an’s gray scalp the accents knew,

The joyous wolf from covert drew,220

The exulting eagle screamed afar —

They knew the voice of Alpine’s war.


The shout was hushed on lake and fell,

The Monk resumed his muttered spell:

Dismal and low its accents came,

The while he scathed the Cross with flame;

And the few words that reached the air,

Although the holiest name was there,

Had more of blasphemy than prayer.

But when he shook above the crowd230

Its kindled points, he spoke aloud:—

‘Woe to the wretch who fails to rear

At this dread sign the ready spear!

For, as the flames this symbol sear,

His home, the refuge of his fear,

A kindred fate shall know;

Far o’er its roof the volumed flame

Clan-Alpine’s vengeance shall proclaim,

While maids and matrons on his name

Shall call down wretchedness and shame,240

And infamy and woe.’

Then rose the cry of females, shrill

As goshawk’s whistle on the hill,

Denouncing misery and ill,

Mingled with childhood’s babbling trill

Of curses stammered slow;

Answering with imprecation dread,

‘Sunk be his home in embers red!

And cursed be the meanest shed

That o’er shall hide the houseless head250

We doom to want and woe!’

A sharp and shrieking echo gave,

Coir-Uriskin, thy goblin cave!

And the gray pass where birches wave

On Beala-nam-bo.


Then deeper paused the priest anew,

And hard his laboring breath he drew,

While, with set teeth and clenched hand,

And eyes that glowed like fiery brand,

He meditated curse more dread,260

And deadlier, on the clansman’s head

Who, summoned to his chieftain’s aid,

The signal saw and disobeyed.

The crosslet’s points of sparkling wood

He quenched among the bubbling blood.

And, as again the sign he reared,

Hollow and hoarse his voice was heard:

‘When flits this Cross from man to man,

Vich-Alpine’s summons to his clan,

Burst be the ear that fails to heed!270

Palsied the foot that shuns to speed!

May ravens tear the careless eyes,

Wolves make the coward heart their prize!

As sinks that blood-stream in the earth,

So may his heart’s-blood drench his hearth!

As dies in hissing gore the spark,

Quench thou his light, Destruction dark!

And be the grace to him denied,

Bought by this sign to all beside!

He ceased; no echo gave again280

The murmur of the deep Amen.


Then Roderick with impatient look

From Brian’s hand the symbol took:

‘Speed, Malise, speed’ he said, and gave

The crosslet to his henchman brave.

‘The muster-place be Lanrick mead —

Instant the time —— speed, Malise, speed!’

Like heath-bird, when the hawks pursue,

A barge across Loch Katrine flew:

High stood the henchman on the prow;290

So rapidly the barge-mall row,

The bubbles, where they launched the boat,

Were all unbroken and afloat,

Dancing in foam and ripple still,

When it had neared the mainland hill;

And from the silver beach’s side

Still was the prow three fathom wide,

When lightly bounded to the land

The messenger of blood and brand.


Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer’s hide300

On fleeter foot was never tied.

Speed, Malise, speed! such cause of haste

Thine active sinews never braced.

Bend ’gainst the steepy hill thy breast,

Burst down like torrent from its crest;

With short and springing footstep pass

The trembling bog and false morass;

Across the brook like roebuck bound,

And thread the brake like questing hound;

The crag is high, the scaur is deep,310

Yet shrink not from the desperate leap:

Parched are thy burning lips and brow,

Yet by the fountain pause not now;

Herald of battle, fate, and fear,

Stretch onward in thy fleet career!

The wounded hind thou track’st not now,

Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough,

Nor priest thou now thy flying pace

With rivals in the mountain race;

But danger, death, and warrior deed320

Are in thy course — speed, Malise, speed!


Fast as the fatal symbol flies,

In arms the huts and hamlets rise;

From winding glen, from upland brown,

They poured each hardy tenant down.

Nor slacked the messenger his pace;

He showed the sign, he named the place,

And, pressing forward like the wind,

Left clamor and surprise behind.

The fisherman forsook the strand,330

The swarthy smith took dirk and brand;

With changed cheer, the mower blithe

Left in the half-cut swath his scythe;

The herds without a keeper strayed,

The plough was in mid-furrow staved,

The falconer tossed his hawk away,

The hunter left the stag at hay;

Prompt at the signal of alarms,

Each son of Alpine rushed to arms;

So swept the tumult and affray340

Along the margin of Achray.

Alas, thou lovely lake! that e’er

Thy banks should echo sounds of fear!

The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep

So stilly on thy bosom deep,

The lark’s blithe carol from the cloud

Seems for the scene too gayly loud.


Speed, Malise, speed! The lake is past,

Duncraggan’s huts appear at last,

And peep, like moss-grown rocks, half seen350

Half hidden in the copse so green;

There mayst thou rest, thy labor done,

Their lord shall speed the signal on. —

As stoops the hawk upon his prey,

The henchman shot him down the way.

What woful accents load the gale?

The funeral yell, the female wail!

A gallant hunter’s sport is o’er,

A valiant warrior fights no more.

Who, in the battle or the chase,360

At Roderick’s side shall fill his place! —

Within the hall, where torch’s ray

Supplies the excluded beams of day,

Lies Duncan on his lowly bier,

And o’er him streams his widow’s tear.

His stripling son stands mournful by,

His youngest weeps, but knows not why;

The village maids and matrons round

The dismal coronach resound.



He is gone on the mountain,370

He is lost to the forest,

Like a summer-dried fountain,

When our need was the sorest.

The font, reappearing,

From the rain-drops shall borrow,

But to us comes no cheering,

To Duncan no morrow!

The hand of the reaper

Takes the ears that are hoary,

But the voice of the weeper380

Wails manhood in glory.

The autumn winds rushing

Waft the leaves that are searest,

But our flower was in flushing,

When blighting was nearest.

Fleet foot on the correi,

Sage counsel in cumber,

Red hand in the foray,

How sound is thy slumber!

Like the dew on the mountain,390

Like the foam on the river,

Like the bubble on the fountain,

Thou art gone, and forever!


See Stumah, who, the bier beside

His master’s corpse with wonder eyed,

Poor Stumah! whom his least halloo

Could send like lightning o’er the dew,

Bristles his crest, and points his ears,

As if some stranger step he hears.

’T is not a mourner’s muffled tread,400

Who comes to sorrow o’er the dead,

But headlong haste or deadly fear

Urge the precipitate career.

All stand aghast:— unheeding all,

The henchman bursts into the hall;

Before the dead man’s bier he stood,

Held forth the Cross besmeared with blood;

‘The muster-place is Lanrick mead;

Speed forth the signal! clansmen, speed!’


Angus, the heir of Duncan’s line,410

Sprung forth and seized the fatal sign.

In haste the stripling to his side

His father’s dirk and broadsword tied;

But when he saw his mother’s eye

Watch him in speechless agony,

Back to her opened arms he flew

Pressed on her lips a fond adieu —

‘Alas’ she sobbed — ‘and yet be gone,

And speed thee forth, like Duncan’s son!’

One look he cast upon the bier,420

Dashed from his eye the gathering tear,

Breathed deep to clear his laboring breast,

And tossed aloft his bonnet crest,

Then, like the high-bred colt when, freed,

First he essays his fire and speed,

He vanished, and o’er moor and moss

Sped forward with the Fiery Cross.

Suspended was the widow’s tear

While yet his footsteps she could hear;

And when she marked the henchman’s eye430

Wet with unwonted sympathy,

‘Kinsman,’ she said, ‘his race is run

That should have sped thine errand on.

The oak teas fallen? — the sapling bough Is all

Duncraggan’s shelter now

Yet trust I well, his duty done,

The orphan’s God will guard my son. —

And you, in many a danger true

At Duncan’s hest your blades that drew,

To arms, and guard that orphan’s head!440

Let babes and women wail the dead.’

Then weapon-clang and martial call

Resounded through the funeral hall,

While from the walls the attendant band

Snatched sword and targe with hurried hand;

And short and flitting energy

Glanced from the mourner’s sunken eye,

As if the sounds to warrior dear

Might rouse her Duncan from his bier.

But faded soon that borrowed force;450

Grief claimed his right, and tears their course.


Benledi saw the Cross of Fire,

It glanced like lightning up Strath-Ire.

O’er dale and hill the summons flew,

Nor rest nor pause young Angus knew;

The tear that gathered in his eye

He deft the mountain-breeze to dry;

Until, where Teith’s young waters roll

Betwixt him and a wooded knoll

That graced the sable strath with green,460

The chapel of Saint Bride was seen.

Swoln was the stream, remote the bridge,

But Angus paused not on the edge;

Though the clerk waves danced dizzily,

Though reeled his sympathetic eye,

He dashed amid the torrent’s roar:

His right hand high the crosslet bore,

His left the pole-axe grasped, to guide

And stay his footing in the tide.

He stumbled twice — the foam splashed high,470

With hoarser swell the stream raced by;

And had he fallen — forever there,

Farewell Duncraggan’s orphan heir!

But still, as if in parting life,

Firmer he grasped the Cross of strife,

Until the opposing bank he gained,

And up the chapel pathway strained.


A blithesome rout that morning-tide

Had sought the chapel of Saint Bride.

Her troth Tombea’s Mary gave480

To Norman, heir of Armandave,

And, issuing from the Gothic arch,

The bridal now resumed their march.

In rude but glad procession came

Bonneted sire and coif-clad dame;

And plaided youth, with jest and jeer

Which snooded maiden would not hear:

And children, that, unwitting why,

Lent the gay shout their shrilly cry;

And minstrels, that in measures vied490

Before the young and bonny bride,

Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose

The tear and blush of morning rose.

With virgin step and bashful hand

She held the kerchief’s snowy band.

The gallant bridegroom by her side

Beheld his prize with victor’s pride.

And the glad mother in her ear

Was closely whispering word of cheer.


Who meets them at the churchyard gate?500

The messenger of fear and fate!

Haste in his hurried accent lies,

And grief is swimming in his eyes.

All dripping from the recent flood,

Panting and travel-soiled he stood,

The fatal sign of fire and sword

Held forth, and spoke the appointed word:

‘The muster-place is Lanrick mead;

Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed!’

And must he change so soon the hand510

Just linked to his by holy band,

For the fell Cross of blood and brand?

And must the day so blithe that rose,

And promised rapture in the close,

Before its setting hour, divide

The bridegroom from the plighted bride?

O fatal doom’— it must! it must!

Clan-Alpine’s cause, her Chieftain’s trust,

Her summons dread, brook no delay;

Stretch to the race — away! away!520


Yet slow he laid his plaid aside,

And lingering eyed his lovely bride,

Until he saw the starting tear

Speak woe he might not stop to cheer:

Then, trusting not a second look,

In haste he sped hind up the brook,

Nor backward glanced till on the heath

Where Lubnaig’s lake supplies the Teith —

What in the racer’s bosom stirred?

The sickening pang of hope deferred,530

And memory with a torturing train

Of all his morning visions vain.

Mingled with love’s impatience, came

The manly thirst for martial fame;

The stormy joy of mountaineers

Ere yet they rush upon the spears;

And zeal for Clan and Chieftain burning,

And hope, from well-fought field returning,

With war’s red honors on his crest,

To clasp his Mary to his breast.540

Stung by such thoughts, o’er bank and brae,

Like fire from flint he glanced away,

While high resolve and feeling strong

Burst into voluntary song.



The heath this night must be my bed,

The bracken curtain for my head,

My lullaby the warder’s tread,

Far, far, from love and thee, Mary;

To-morrow eve, more stilly laid,

My couch may be my bloody plaid,550

My vesper song thy wail, sweet maid!

It will not waken me, Mary!

I may not, dare not, fancy now

The grief that clouds thy lovely brow,

I dare not think upon thy vow,

And all it promised me, Mary.

No fond regret must Norman know;

When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,

His heart must be like bended bow,

His foot like arrow free, Mary.560

A time will come with feeling fraught,

For, if I fall in battle fought,

Thy hapless lover’s dying thought

Shall be a thought on thee, Mary.

And if returned from conquered foes,

How blithely will the evening close,

How sweet the linnet sing repose,

To my young bride and me, Mary!


Not faster o’er thy heathery braes

Balquidder, speeds the midnight blaze,570

Rushing in conflagration strong

Thy deep ravines and dells along,

Wrapping thy cliffs in purple glow,

And reddening the dark lakes below;

Nor faster speeds it, nor so far,

As o’er thy heaths the voice of war.

The signal roused to martial coil

The sullen margin of Loch Voil,

Waked still Loch Doine, and to the source

Alarmed, Balvaig, thy swampy course;580

Thence southward turned its rapid road

Adown Strath-Gartney’s valley broad

Till rose in arms each man might claim

A portion in Clan-Alpine’s name,

From the gray sire, whose trembling hand

Could hardly buckle on his brand,

To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow

Were yet scarce terror to the crow.

Each valley, each sequestered glen,

Mustered its little horde of men590

That met as torrents from the height

In Highland dales their streams unite

Still gathering, as they pour along,

A voice more loud, a tide more strong,

Till at the rendezvous they stood

By hundreds prompt for blows and blood,

Each trained to arms since life began,

Owning no tie but to his clan,

No oath but by his chieftain’s hand,

No law but Roderick Dhu’s command.600


That summer morn had Roderick Dhu

Surveyed the skirts of Benvenue,

And sent his scouts o’er hill and heath,

To view the frontiers of Menteith.

All backward came with news of truce;

Still lay each martial Graeme and Bruce,

In Rednock courts no horsemen wait,

No banner waved on Cardross gate,

On Duchray’s towers no beacon shone,

Nor scared the herons from Loch Con;610

All seemed at peace. — Now wot ye wily

The Chieftain with such anxious eye,

Ere to the muster he repair,

This western frontier scanned with care? —

In Benvenue’s most darksome cleft,

A fair though cruel pledge was left;

For Douglas, to his promise true,

That morning from the isle withdrew,

And in a deep sequestered dell

Had sought a low and lonely cell.620

By many a bard in Celtic tongue

Has Coir-nan-Uriskin been sung

A softer name the Saxons gave,

And called the grot the Goblin Cave.


It was a wild and strange retreat,

As e’er was trod by outlaw’s feet.

The dell, upon the mountain’s crest,

Yawned like a gash on warrior’s breast;

Its trench had stayed full many a rock,

Hurled by primeval earthquake shock630

From Benvenue’s gray summit wild,

And here, in random ruin piled,

They frowned incumbent o’er the spot

And formed the rugged sylvan “rot.

The oak and birch with mingled shade

At noontide there a twilight made,

Unless when short and sudden shone

Some straggling beam on cliff or stone,

With such a glimpse as prophet’s eye

Gains on thy depth, Futurity.640

No murmur waked the solemn still,

Save tinkling of a fountain rill;

But when the wind chafed with the lake,

A sullen sound would upward break,

With dashing hollow voice, that spoke

The incessant war of wave and rock.

Suspended cliffs with hideous sway

Seemed nodding o’er the cavern gray.

From such a den the wolf had sprung,

In such the wild-cat leaves her young;650

Yet Douglas and his daughter fair

Sought for a space their safety there.

Gray Superstition’s whisper dread

Debarred the spot to vulgar tread;

For there, she said, did fays resort,

And satyrs hold their sylvan court,

By moonlight tread their mystic maze,

And blast the rash beholder’s gaze.


Now eve, with western shadows long,

Floated on Katrine bright and strong,660

When Roderick with a chosen few

Repassed the heights of Benvenue.

Above the Goblin Cave they go,

Through the wild pass of Beal-nam-bo;

The prompt retainers speed before,

To launch the shallop from the shore,

For ‘cross Loch Katrine lies his way

To view the passes of Achray,

And place his clansmen in array.

Yet lags the Chief in musing mind,670

Unwonted sight, his men behind.

A single page, to bear his sword,

Alone attended on his lord;

The rest their way through thickets break,

And soon await him by the lake.

It was a fair and gallant sight

To view them from the neighboring height,

By the low-levelled sunbeam’s light!

For strength and stature, from the clan

Each warrior was a chosen man,680

As even afar might well be seen,

By their proud step and martial mien.

heir feathers dance, their tartars float,

Their targets gleam, as by the boat

A wild and warlike group they stand,

That well became such mountain-strand.


Their Chief with step reluctant still

Was lingering on the craggy hill,

Hard by where turned apart the road

To Douglas’s obscure abode.690

It was but with that dawning morn

That Roderick Dhu had proudly sworn

To drown his love in war’s wild roar,

Nor think of Ellen Douglas more;

But he who stems a stream with sand,

And fetters flame with flaxen band,

Has yet a harder task to prove —

By firm resolve to conquer love!

Eve finds the Chief, like restless ghost,

Still hovering near his treasure lost;700

For though his haughty heart deny

A parting meeting to his eye

Still fondly strains his anxious ear

The accents of her voice to hear,

And inly did he curse the breeze

That waked to sound the rustling trees.

But hark! what mingles in the strain?

It is the harp of Allan-bane,

That wakes its measure slow and high,

Attuned to sacred minstrelsy.710

What melting voice attends the strings?

’Tis Ellen, or an angel, sings.


Hymn to the Virgin.

Ave Maria! maiden mild!

Listen to a maiden’s prayer!

Thou canst hear though from the wild,

Thou canst save amid despair.

Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,

Though banished, outcast, and reviled —

Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;

Mother, hear a suppliant child!720

Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!

The flinty couch we now must share

Shall seem with down of eider piled,

If thy protection hover there.

The murky cavern’s heavy air

Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;

Then, Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer,

Mother, list a suppliant child!

Ave Maria!730

Ave Maria! stainless styled!

Foul demons of the earth and air,

From this their wonted haunt exiled,

Shall flee before thy presence fair.

We bow us to our lot of care,

Beneath thy guidance reconciled:

Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,

And for a father hear a child!

Ave Maria!


Died on the harp the closing hymn  —740

Unmoved in attitude and limb,

As listening still, Clan-Alpine’s lord

Stood leaning on his heavy sword,

Until the page with humble sign

Twice pointed to the sun’s decline.

Then while his plaid he round him cast,

‘It is the last time —’tis the last,’

He muttered thrice — ‘the last time e’er

That angel-voice shall Roderick hear’’

It was a goading thought — his stride750

Hied hastier down the mountain-side;

Sullen he flung him in the boat

An instant ‘cross the lake it shot.

They landed in that silvery bay,

And eastward held their hasty way

Till, with the latest beams of light,

The band arrived on Lanrick height’

Where mustered in the vale below

Clan-Alpine’s men in martial show.


A various scene the clansmen made:760

Some sat, some stood, some slowly strayer):

But most, with mantles folded round,

Were couched to rest upon the ground,

Scarce to be known by curious eye

From the deep heather where they lie,

So well was matched the tartan screen

With heath-bell dark and brackens green;

Unless where, here and there, a blade

Or lance’s point a glimmer made,

Like glow-worm twinkling through the shade.770

But when, advancing through the gloom,

They saw the Chieftain’s eagle plume,

Their shout of welcome, shrill and wide,

Shook the steep mountain’s steady side.

Thrice it arose, and lake and fell

Three times returned the martial yell;

It died upon Bochastle’s plain,

And Silence claimed her evening reign.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00