1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Bernard Barton, "To Walter Scott, Esq. on reading his Lady of the Lake" Barton, Metrical Effusions (1812) 206-08.



Minstrel! why hangs on yonder elm unstrung
That harp whose strains' to listening thousands dear,
Could, when thy hand across its strings was flung,
Both touch the heart, and captivate the ear?
If valour's partial smile, or beauty's tear
Repaid in earlier time its magic strain,
Small cause hast thou, enchanting bard! to fear
That thou the lay shalt ever tune in vain,
Rejoice without applause, without redress complain.

'Tis thine with fairy pencil to pourtray
The striking beauties of the highland scene;
The lonely glen, where scarce the solar ray
Can penetrate the spreading boughs between;
The towering crags, bedeck'd with foliage green,
The lake which laves the foot of Benvenue,
Now dark with clouds, now bright with summer sheen;
The landscape's varied charms delight the view,
Glittering in morning's beams, or evening's richer hue.

Whether thy song commemorate the Graeme,
Or prompt for Douglas the relenting sigh;
Or royal James, disguis'd in humble name,
Or savage Roderick, Alpine's chief be nigh;
Or whether pearly drop from Ellen's eye
Awake the gentler feelings of the heart;
'Tis thine, bewitching bard! each theme to try
Which joy, or grief, or wonder can impart;
Can cause the breast to throb or pitying tear to start.

Oh! strike once more the Caledonian Lyre,
Which silent hangs on Fillan's wizard tree;
The flowing numbers fancy shall inspire,
And breathe a Lay romantic, rich, and free.
From barren Caithness to the southern sea,
Shall every clan unite to spread thy fame;
Each scotish maid shall weave a wreath for thee,
Each rocky cliff reverberate thy name,
And every tongue combine thy glory to proclaim.