Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

THE Poem, now offered to the Public, is intended to illustrate the customs and manners, which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. The inhabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes, highly susceptible of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery and manners was more the object of the author, than a combined and regular narrative, the plan of the ancient Me. trical Romance was adopted, which allows greater latitude in this respect, than would be consistent with the dignity of a regular Poem. The same model offered other facilities, as it. permits an occasional alteration of measure, which, in some degree, authorizes the change of rhythm in the text. The machinery also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed puerile in a poem, which did not partake of the rudeness of the old Ballad, or Metrical Romance.

For these reasons, the Poem was put into the mouth of an ancient Minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original model. The date of the Tale itself is about the middle of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages actually flourished. The time occupied by the action is three Nights and three Days.

1*

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

INTRODUCTION.

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The minstrel was infirm and old;
His withered cheek, and tresses gray,
Seemed to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the bards was he,
Who
sung

of Border chivalry.
For, well-a-day! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them and at rest.
No more, on prancing palfry borne,
He carolled, light as lark at morn;
No longer courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He poured, to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay:
Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A stranger filled the Stuart's throne;
The bigots of the iron time
Had called his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And tuned, to please a peasant's ear,
The harp, a king had loved to hear.

He passed where Newark's stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower:
The minstrel gazed with wishful eye-
No humbler resting-place was nigh.
With hesitating step, at last,
The embattled portal-arch he passed,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bár
Had oft rolled back the tide of war,
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The Dutchess* marked his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell,
That they should tend the old man well:
For she had known adversity,
Though born in such a high degree;
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb!

When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride :
And he began to talk anon,
Of good Earl Francis,t dead and gone,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

* Anne, Dutchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded 1685.

† Francis Scott, Earl of Buccleuch, father of the Dutchess.

[ocr errors]

E

And of Earl Walter,' rest him God!
A braver ne'er to battle rode;
And how full many tale he knew,
of the old warriors of Buccleuch;
And, would the noble Dutchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought, even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.

The humble boon was soon chtained;
The Aged Minstrel audience gained.
But, when he reached the room f state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate,
Perchance he wished his boon denied:
For; when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please;
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his harp in vain.
The pitying Dutchess praised its chime,
And

gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string's according glee
Was blended into harmony.

[ocr errors]

Walter, Earl of Buccleuch, grandfather of the Dutchess, and a celebrated warrior.

« AnteriorContinuar »