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The Lay of the Last Minstrel: Canto IV.

Sir Walter Scott 1771 (College Wynd, Edinburgh) – 1832 (Abbotsford, Roxburghshire)



I
Sweet Teviot! on thy silver tide
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more;
No longer steel-clad warrior ride
Along thy wild and willow'd shore
Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill
All, all is peaceful, all is still,
As if thy waves, since Time was born
Since first they roll'd upon the Tweed,
Had only heard the shepherd's reed,
Nor started at the bugle-horn.

II
Unlike the tide of human time,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow
Retains each grief, retains each crime
Its earliest course was doom'd to know;
And, darker as it downward bears,
Is stain'd with past and present tears
Low as that tide has ebb'd with me,
It still reflects to Memory's eye
The hour my brave, my only boy
Fell by the side of great Dundee.
Why, when the volleying musket play'd
Against the bloody Highland blade,
Why was not I beside him laid!
Enough, he died the death of fame;
Enough, he died with conquering Graeme.

III
Now over Border dale and fell
Full wide and far was terror spread;
For pathless marsh, and mountain cell,
The peasant left his lowly shed.
The frighten'd flocks and herds were pent
Beneath the peel's rude battlement;
And maids and matrons dropp'd the tear,
While ready warriors seiz'd the spear.
From Branksome's towers, the watchman's eye
Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy,
Which, curling in the rising sun,
Show'd southern ravage was begun.

IV
Now loud the heedful gate-ward cried-
'Prepare ye all for blows and blood!
Watt Tinlinn, from the Liddel-side
Comes wading through the flood.
Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock
At his lone gate, and prove the lock;
It was but last St. Barnabright
They sieg'd him a whole summer night,
But fled at morning; well they knew
In vain he never twang'd the yew.
Right sharp has been the evening shower
That drove him from his Liddel tower;
And, by my faith,' the gate-ward said,
'I think 'twill prove a Warden-Raid.'

V
While thus he spoke, the bold yeoman
Enter'd the echoing barbican.
He led a small and shaggy nag,
That through a bog, from hag to hag,
Could bound like any Billhope stag.
It bore his wife and children twain;
A half-clothed serf was all their train;
His wife, stout, ruddy, and dark-brow'd,
Of silver brooch and bracelet proud,
Laugh'd to her friends among the crowd.
He was of stature passing tall,
But sparely form'd, and lean withal
A batter'd morion on his brow;
A leather jack, as fence enow
On his broad shoulders loosely hung;
A border axe behind was slung;
His spear, six Scottish ells in length,
Seem'd newly dyed with gore
His shafts and bow, of wondrous strength,
His hardy partner bore.

VI
Thus to the Ladye did Tinlinn show
The tidings of the English foe:
'Belted Will Howard is marching here,
And hot Lord Dacre, with many a spear,
And all the German hackbut men,
Who have long lain at Askerten:
They cross'd the Liddel at curfew hour,
And burn'd my little lonely tower:
The fiend receive their souls therefore!
It had not been burnt this year and more.
Barn-yard and dwelling, blazing bright,
Serv'd to guide me on my flight;
But I was chas'd the livelong night.
Black John of Akeshaw and Fergus Graeme
Fast upon my traces came,
Until I turn'd at Priesthaugh Scrogg,
And shot their horses in the bog,
Slew Fergus with my lance outright
I had him long at high despite-
He drove my cows last Fastern's night.'

VII
Now weary scouts from Liddesdale,
Fast hurrying in, confirm'd the tale;
As far as they could judge by ken,
Three hours would bring to Teviot's strand
Three thousand armed Englishmen;
Meanwhile, full many a warlike band,
From Teviot, Aill, and Ettrick shade,
Came in, their Chief's defence to aid.
There was saddling and mounting in haste,
There was pricking o'er moor and lea;
He that was last at the trysting-place
Was but lightly held of his gay ladye.

VIII
From fair St. Mary's silver wave,
From dreary Gamescleugh's dusky height,
His ready lances Thirlestane brave
Array'd beneath a banner bright.
The treasured fleur-de-luce he claims
To wreathe his shield, since royal James,
Encamp'd by Fala's mossy wave,
The proud distinction grateful gave,
For faith 'mid feudal jars;
What time, save Thirlestane alone,
Of Scotland's stubborn barons none
Would march to southern wars;
And hence, in fair remembrance worn,
Yon s
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian. more…

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