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"But see! look up-on Flodden bent, The Scottish foe has fired his tent.'-
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,
Was wreathed in sable smoke;
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,
As down the hill they broke;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march ; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,
At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne
King James did rushing come. —
Scarce could they hear, or see their foes,
Until at weapon-point they close. -
They close, in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway, and with lances thrust;
And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth,
And fiends in upper air.
Long looked the anxious squires; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.
At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And, first, the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening cloud appears ;
And in the smoke the pennons flew,
As in the storm the white sea-mew.
Then marked they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war,
And plumèd crests of chieftains brave,
Floating like foam
the wave; But nought distinct they see: Wide raged the battle on the plain ; Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain ;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ;
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
But as they left the darkening heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed :
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep,
To break the Scottish circle deep,
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring ;
The stubborn spearmen still made good,
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood,
The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight;
Linked in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well;
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O’er their thin host and wounded king.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shattered bands;
And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves from wasted lands
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know;
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field as snow,
When streams are swoln, and south winds blow,
Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
While many a broken band,
Disordered, through her currents dash,
To gain the Scottish land;
* i.e. The Monk and Clara, who had witnessed the battle.
To town and tower, to town and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song,
Shall many an age that wail prolong:
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife and carnage drear
Of Flodden's fatal field,
Where shivered was fair Scotland's spear,
And broken was her shield !
THE PARTING OF DOUGLAS AND MARMION
AT TANTALLON CASTLE.
The train from out the castle drew;
But Marmion stopp'd to bid adieu ;-
• Though something I might plain,' he said,
• Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king's behest,
While in Tantallon's towers I stayed ;
Part we in friendship from your land,
And, noble earl, receive my
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke :-
My manors, halls, and towers, shall still
Be open, at my sovereign's will,
To each one whom he lists, howe'er
Unmeet to be the owner's peer.
My castles are my king's alone,
From turret to foundation-stone-
The hand of Douglas is his own;
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.'-
Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And—This to me!! he said,
An 'twere not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared
To cleave the Douglas' head !
THE PARTING OF DOUGLAS AND MARMION.
And, first, I tell thee, haughty peer,
He, who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,
Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here in thy Hold, thy vassals near,
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hand upon your sword,)
I tell thee, thou 'rt defied !
And if thou saidst, I am not peer
lord in Scotland here, Lowland or Highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied !'-
On the Earl's cheek the flush of rage
O'ercame the ashen hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth: And darest thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall ?
And hopest thou hence unscathed to go?-
No, by Saint Bryde of Bothwell, no !-
Up drawbridge, grooms—what, warder, ho!
Let the portcullis fall.”—
Lord Marmion turn’d, --well was his need,
And dash'd the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung,
The ponderous gate behind him rung:
there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.
The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
Nor lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim :
And when Lord Marniion reach'd his band,
He halts, and turns with clenchèd hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
'Horse ! horse!’ the Douglas cried, and chuse !'
But soon he rein'd his fury's pace: "A royal messenger
came, Though most unworthy of the name.
A letter forged! Saint Jude to speed !
Did ever knight so foul a deed !
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the king praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line:
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.
Saint Mary mend my fiery mood !
Old age ne'er cools the Douglas' blood,
I thought to slay him where he stood.
'Tis pity of him too,' he cried;
Bold can he speak, and fairly ride,
I warrant him a warrior tried.' —
With this his mandate he recalls,
And slowly seeks his castle halls.
Sir W. Scott,
I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn,
Lakes and mountains beneath me gleamed misty and wide; All was still, save, by fits, when the eagle was yelling,
And starting around me the echoes replied. On the right, Striden-edge round the Red-tarn was bending, And Catchedicam its left verge was defending, One huge nameless rock in the front was ascending,
When I mark'd the sad spot where the wanderer had died.
Dark-green was that spot ʼmid the brown mountain-heather,
Where the pilgrim of nature lay stretched in decay;
Like the corpse of an outcast abandoned to weather,
Till the mountain-winds wasted the tenantless clay.
Nor yet quite deserted, though lonely extended;
For, faithful in death, his mute favourite attended,
The much-loved remains of her master defended,
And chased the hill-fox and the raven away.