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Lo, a castle, tall, lake-mirrored,
Ringed around by mountain forms,
Roofless, ruined, still defying
Summer's rains and winter's storms.
Every shattered lifeless window,
Every stone in every wall,
Keep and gable, broken stairway,
Woman's faithful love recall.
Colin, called "the Swarthy," famous
In the annals of Lochow,
When a child, was gently fostered
Near where Orchy's waters flow.
The Black Knight, his sire, could value
Vassal's love and hardy fare;
To a gudewife gave him, saying,
"Train him with the sons you bear."
Strong he grew, and brave, till armies
Praised in him a man of men.
Came a peace--then love;--a lady
Ruled with him the Orchy's glen.
But afar from over Ocean
Rose a cry for Christian aid:
Blessed of Pope, 'neath holy banners
Sailed he for the great crusade.
Leaving with his weeping lady
Half their marriage ring, whereon
Written stood his name, and taking
Half where hers, engraven, shone.
"If no tidings reach thee, darling,
Blame my death." But she through tears
Answered: "I'll believe thee living
Though I hear not seven years."
Lonely lived the lady, lonely:
Riches grew, and brought her all
Save the loving words whose echo
Seemed to linger in his hall.
Voiceless passed the years; and Rumour
Falsely slew him, whose steel mail
Flashed o'er white walls, azure sea girt,
Watched, and feared by Moslem sail.
Rhodes' fair island saw his valour;
'Mid her gardens he had bled;
Glowing as her sun, his love-words
Homeward to his lady sped.
Ah, they reached her not, to banish
Days of care, and nights of woe;
Their warm sunshine never parted
Clouds that darkened o'er Lochow,
Weary is her lot whose favour
For her wealth is held a prize;
Oft she finds no truthful homage,
Sees no love in pleading eyes.
Man gains strength from gold, but woman
Worse than dross her wealth may call;
Avarice is her haunting suitor,
Giving naught and seeking all.
Messages from the Crusader
Fell into a Baron's hands;
Who, with subtle treason working,
Coveted dark Colin's lands:
Spread the base and cruel rumours,
Preyed upon the aching heart,
Asked her year by year in marriage,
Falsely played the lover's part.
And the heartless seasons vanished,
Other twain were nearly sped;
Then at last his suit seemed answered,
Silently she bent her head.
Gaily, loudly, laughing o'er her,
Named the Baron hour and day.
But she said: "No, for this wedding
First I'll build a castle gay.
"When its halls are built, we'll tarry
Where our guests can praise our cheer;
When the feast-smoke from its chimneys
Rises, then the day is near."
So the building rose, and slowly
Walls and stairway, keep and tower
Stone by stone completed, sadly
Heralded the wedding hour.
Shall it come, and never mercy
Shown of God avert the doom?
Shall the longing for the absent
Turn to feasting o'er his tomb?
Yes. The Castle's new possessor
Soon shall follow thronging guests:
As the Lake reflects the turrets
Men shall second his behests.
Mournful, where they laughed so gladly,
A poor beggar, haggard, grey,
Trod with pain the stony roadside,
Often halting by the way.
He too reached the Castle's portal,
Stood within its archway grim,
Loitering in the path of others;
Who would step aside for him?
Pushed a henchman rudely, saying,
"Get you hence," but still he stood:
Then they gave him bread and water,
"Loiter not, you have your food."
Twice came others, in his wallet
Thrusting bread and meat, and said:
"Now away, why stand you troubling,
Here you cannot make your bed."
"Drink from her own hands imploring,
Tell your Lady here I wait!"
Wondering went she where the beggar
Shadowed stood within the gate.
Now she pours the crystal water,
Quickly he the cup returns;
Oh! what golden circlet broken
Sees she there that gleams and burns?
Eagerly she grasped the token,
Turning to the light away;
Came again, and crying "Colin!"
On the beggar's breast she lay.
Spoke he sadly: "Hast thou truly
Still the heart I loved? I know--
They have told me--that thou takest
To thy love my deadly foe.
"The gudewife, my foster mother,
Unto whom I made me known
When I reached the Orchy, told me
How the rumour base had grown:
"I was dead, or cared not for thee
Who received no word of mine;
'Twas thy lover's doing, woman,
Hungering for my wealth and thine!
"'Take,' the gudewife said, 'a beggar's
Old attire; and see the mist
Where the wedding smoke is ordered
By the lips which thou hast kissed.'
"Thou hast put our ring together
Can it be as one again?"
Then she raised her face, and proudly
Spoke unto her serving-men:
"See you where the Baron's people
Come with him along the road?
Go and tell them quickly, 'Colin
Rules again his own abode.'"
Fled the traitor, pulses beating,
Not with love, but craven fear;
And the beggar found the treasure
That to noble hearts is dear.
Found the love no time had altered,
Honoured lived, and honoured died;
And in Rhodes and in Glenorchy
Honoured shall his name abide.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

4:33 min read

John Campbell

John Campbell Shairp (30 July 1819 - 18 September 1885) was a Scottish poet, literary critic and academic. From his youth Shairp was a writer, but he did not publish early. In 1856 he issued a vigorous pamphlet on ‘The Wants of Scottish Universities and some of the Remedies.’ After settling at St. Andrews, he contributed frequently to periodicals. In 1864 he published Kilmahoe: A Highland pastoral, and other poems, in which he revealed his love of nature and of Scottish scenes and interests, and displayed a strong and original, if somewhat irregular, lyrical gift. Among the miscellaneous pieces in the volume, the tender and haunting "Bush aboon Traquair" easily won and retained popularity more…

All John Campbell poems | John Campbell Books

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    "Colhorn." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/55825/colhorn.>.

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