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THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO SECOND.

THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO SECOND.

I.

Ir thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;

For the gay beams of lightsome day

Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin'd central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,

And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;1
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,

1 The buttresses, ranged along the sides of the ruins of Melrose Abbey, are, according to the Gothic style, richly carved and fretted, containing niches for the statues of saints, and labelled with scrolls, bearing appropriate texts of Scripture. Most of these statues have been demolished.

Vol. I.

-6

Then go but go alone the while-
Then view St. David's ruin'd pile;'
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!

II.

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Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Little reck'd he of the scene so fair :
With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate-
"Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?".
"From Branksome I," the warrior cried;
And straight the wicket open'd wide:
For Branksome's Chiefs had in battle stood,
To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,

Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose."

III.

Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod,
And noiseless step, the path he trod:

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'David I. of Scotland, purchased the reputation of sanctity, by founding, and liberally endowing, not only the monastery of Melrose, but those of Kelso, Jedburgh, and many others; which led to the well-known observation of his successor, that he was a sore saint for the crown.

'The Buccleuch family were great benefactors to the Abbey of Melrose. As early as the reign of Robert II., Robert Scott, Baron of Murdieston and Rankleburn, (now Buccleuch,) gave to the monks the lands of Hinkery, in Ettrick Forest, pro salute animæ suæ. - Chartulary of Melrose, 28th May, 1415.

The arched cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,'

To hail the monk of St. Mary's aisle.

IV.

"The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says, that the fated hour is come,
And that to-night I shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb."
From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,
With toil his stiffen'd limbs he rear'd;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.

V.

And strangely on the Knight looked he, And his blue eyes gleam'd wild and wide; "And, darest thou, Warrior! seek to see

What heaven and hell alike would hide? My breast, in belt of iron pent,

With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn; For threescore years, in penance spent,

My knees those flinty stones have worn;
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne'er be known.
Would'st thou thy every future year

In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
Yet wait thy latter end with fear-
Then, daring Warrior, follow me!"—

1Aventayle, visor of the helmet.

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