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THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO FIFTH.

THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO FIFTH.

I.

Call it not vain :—they do not err,
Who
say,

that when the Poet dies, Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,

And celebrates his obsequies :
Who say, tall cliff, and cavern lone,
For the departed Bard make moan ;
That mountains weep in crystal rill ;
That flowers in tears of balm distil ;
Through his loved groves that breezes sigh,
And oaks, in deeper groan, reply;
And rivers teach their rushing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave.

II.

Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn ;

1

But that the stream, the wood, the gale,
Is vocal with the plaintive wail
Of those, who, else forgotten long,
Lived in the poet's faithful song,
And, with the poet's parting breath,
Whose memory feels a second death.
The Maid's pale shade, who wails her lot,
That love, true love, should be forgot,
From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear
Upon the gentle Minstrel's bier :
The phantom Knight, his glory fled,
Mourns o’er the field he heap'd with dead;
Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain,
And shrieks along the battle-plain :
The Chief, whose antique crownlet long
Still sparkled in the feudal song,
Now, from the mountain's misty throne,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguish'd lie,
His place, his

memory His

groans the lonely caverns fill,
His tears of rage impel the rill:
All mourn the Minstrels harp unstrung,
Their name unknown, their praise unsung.

power, his

die :

III.

Scarcely the hot assault was stayed,
The terms of truce were scarcely made,
When they could spy,

from Branksome's towers, The advancing march of martial powers.

1

Thick clouds of dust afar appear'd,
And trampling steeds were faintly heard;
Bright spears,' above the columns dun,
Glanced momentary to the sun ;
And feudal banners fair display'd
The bands that moved to Branksome's aid.

IV.

Vails not to tell each hardy clan,

From the fair Middle Marches came; The Bloody Heart blazed in the van,

Announcing Douglas, dreaded name ! 2 Vails not to tell what steeds did spurn, Where the Seven Spears of Wedderburne *

2

3

4

66

[ Orig. Spear-heads above the columns dun.”—ED.] 2 The chief of this potent race of heroes, about the date of the poem, was Archibald Douglas, seventh Earl of Angus, a man of great courage and activity. The Bloody Heart was the well-known cognizance of the house of Douglas, assumed from the time of good Lord James, to whose care Robert Bruce committed his heart, to be carried to the Holy Land. 8 [In the first edition we read

« Vails not to tell what hundreds more

From the rich Merse and Lammermore," &c. The lines on Wedderburne and Swinton were inserted in the second edition.-ED.)

4 Sir David Home of Wedderburne, who was slain in the fatal battle of Flodden, left seven sons by his wife, Isabel, daughter of Hoppringle of Galashiels, (now Pringle, of Whitebank.) They were called the Seven Spears of Wedderburne.

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