1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Robert Surtees, "Verses" Edinburgh Annual Register for 1810 (1812) 2:lxxxviii-ix.



And shall the minstrel harp in silence rest
By silver Tweed, or Yarrow hung with flowers;
Or where, reflected on Loch Katrine's breast,
High o'er the pine-clad hills Benledi towers;
Save when the blast that sweeps the mountain crest,
Wakes the wild chorus of Aeolian song;
Save when at twilight grey the dewy west
Strays with soft touch the trembling chords among;
Whilst as the notes with wayward cadence rise,
Some love-lorn maniac's plaint seems swelling to the skies?

Thrice has she flung her witch-notes on the gale,
Swept by the master of the mighty mood,
And thrice has raptured echo caught the tale
From hill, from dell, from tower, and haunted wood:
And if for aye the magic numbers fail,
With them shall fancy quit the woodlands sear;
And every genius, wreathed with primrose pale,
From his wan brow the withered chaplet tear.
Hark! fairy shrieks are heard in every glade,
And Scotland's wild-rose bowers and glens of hawthorn fade.

Yet once again the magic lyre shall ring,
An exil'd prince demands the lofty strain,
And Scotland's falchion drawn to fence her king,
And clans embattled on their native plain;
The Stuarts' heir demands his father's reign,
And Highland loyalty, with dauntless truth,
Welcomes the wanderer from the lonely main,
And to her bleeding bosom clasps the youth.
The warning sprite was heard on lake and hill,
And thrice the bittern shriek'd, and echo clamour'd shrill.

Lives there the man to party-rage a prey,
Can blame the noble, blame the generous part;
Can bid cold interest o'er the passions sway,
And freeze the life-blood streaming from the heart?
Far be from such my hand, my heart away:
Though all mistaken be the clansman's creed,
Yet sure where kindred fealty led the way,
Bright was the path, and gallant was the deed!
The chieftain calls, with shouts the clan reply,
Nor heed the low'ring storm that veils the southern sky.

Wild music peals, the clansman grasps his glaive,
And Gladesmuir owns that falchion's deadly sway;
Hide, hapless Albyn, hide fair honour's grave,
And deepest horrors shroud Drummossie's day!
And bid thy broadest darkest forest's wave
Conceal his mountain path, his lowly bed;
And bid each mist-clad hill, each dropping cave,
Shed "dews and wild flowers" on the wanderer's head.
Ah! bathe in drops of balm his fever'd brain;
Ah! hide the murder'd friend, — the ghastly spectre train.