1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Virginius, "After reading Scott's Lady of the Lake" The Enquirer [Richmond VA] (15 March 1811).



What tho' no knight of Snowdon's hill
Now drives the stage from Monan's rill,
Nor mounts on rough Benledi's side;
Nor shoots the bark on silver tide.
What tho' no monarch quit his pow'r
To seek for love in sylvan bow'r,
And fancy's rainbow's diamond hue
Strikes not with flame a Roderick Dhu—
Still glowing thoughts thro' fancy roll;
Still burns with love an ardent soul,
When rising manhood's hopes inspire
The bosom with etherial fire.—
Love's rapture-beaming eye and mien
Still shed on man the softest gleam,
And melting smiles, or specters grim
Arouse or lull the storm within.—
What tho' no bold chivalrous knight
With dauntless valour speeds the fight;
Yet fiercer toil on man devolves
To vanquish love by proud resolves.
What tho' no artless sylvan maid
Reclines beneath the hazel shade,
Nor paddles o'er Lock Katrine's blue,
Nor climbs the heights of Ben-Venue—
Yet woman's smile is sweet as ever,
And man is taught by smiles to lover her.
In beauty rob'd, as amber bright,
She blushes like aurora's light!
In her all heav'nly charms reside
Which warm the bosom's crimson tide.
Her coral lip, which blushing glows,
Seems feeling seated on a rose.
Her breast is yet the tenderest theme
That ever thrill'd a human dream,
And as from clouds of ebon hue
The moon's white edges heave in view,
Whene'er her bosom pants with woe
It shews its little globes of snow.
Her radiant eye yet beams a glance
Which wakes the soul to wild expanse,
And man's warm heart tho' proud, and high,
Still trembles at that conquering eye.
But ev'ry lady's not the same
So true as Ellen was to Graeme.
Love's emblem hare-bell droops its head,
When told that constancy has fled,
That pure-eyed faith is but a dream,
And conscience bathes in Lethe's stream;
Yet sweet are beds of violets blue,
And sweet the pink when wash'd in dew;
The rose still sheds its fragrant balm,
And tulips sleep beneath the calm;
The mist still curls on mountains' side,
And cascades dash in splendid pride.—

No longer love's sweet sympathy
"Is silver link, or silken tie
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body or in soul can bind."
No constant smile now soothes to rest
The fever of an anxious breast,
Yields hope for bliss to fancy's eye
Tho' still in trembling doubts it lie.
Like foam on silver Teviot's tide,
Like dew drops on the lilly's side,
Like flint and steel whence sparkles fly
And gleam a moment but to die,
Like aspens trembling in the wind,
Is — fickle — wavering — woman's mind.
Beneath her hectic kindling smile
Hope laughs and sparkles for a while
As billows dance upon the sea
Then melt into eternity.

At eve in rose-embroider'd vale
In silence sleeps the necatar'd gale,
The sun's last diamond rays of light
Sweetly warn of gathering night,
And darkness weeps in pearly dew
To part with beams of golden hue—
Thus pensive, — woman sheds a tear,
And frowns on him she vow'd was dear,
Bids hope in exile cease to gleam,
As if 'twere vision of a dream.
Lap'd in Elyseum for a while
How bitter 'tis to quit this smile,
Yet "death-pangs" of long cherish'd hope,
Must in man's bosom take their scope,
For who such truth now thinks to find
As Malcolm found in Ellen's mind?