1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

W. M. T., "Stanzas written at Chester, after reading Scott's Marmion, and Lay of the Last Minstrel" The Cabinet 3 (May 1808) 347-48..



Thou ancient monument of days of yore!
Pleas'd, 'midst thy ruin'd heaps, I ever roam;
With melancholy transport, bending o'er
Each mould'ring turret, and each ivy'd dome.

And thro' yon cloisters' damp and dreary round,
(A spot in childhood I was wont to dread),
Whilst murmurs thro' its aisles the wind's hoarse sound,
Deep-rapt in thought, I now with pleasure tread.

But dearer, dearer still the bliss I feel,
Where points yon venerable ruin's spire,
To list the organ's animating peal
Loudly re-echoing to the white-rob'd choir.

Each abbey's antique walls my thoughts sublimes,
Now fall'n thro' length of years, or HENRY'S rage,
They wake the memory of former times,
Recall, O, SCOTT! thy fascinating page.

In such a spot, at midnight's lonely hour,
Open'd the Wizard's grave to DEL'RAINE'S sight,
When e'en the warrior lost his wonted pow'r,
And shiv'ring stood, and gaz'd with wild affright.

Or Superstition's slaves, in secret met,
Pronounc'd the lovely CONSTANCE' dreadful doom—
When Beauty's peerless sun for ever set,
Amidst the horrors of a living tomb.

'Mid scenes like these unearthly voices told,
From shadowy forms that throng'd the darken'd sky,
The name of each proud lord, or warrior bold,
Doom'd in the fatal battle-field to die.

Here too, might Mem'ry picture many a theme
For lyric verse, or legendary tale,
And, lost amidst Imagination's dream,
See forms, long perished, float across the gale.

But, Bard sublime! O who shall paint the deeds
That live again in thy enraptur'd strain?
Ill are they suited to MY humble reeds,
My trembling hand attempts the task in vain.
Liverpool.