John Campbell

King Arthur And The Captive Maiden.

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. …

(Translated From The Gaelic. Taken down in Gaelic by Dewar.)
King Arthur on a journey went,
His men and he on hunting bent.
Came to the hill for victories known;
He, and Sir Balva, armed alone.
The King of Britain dreamed at night
Of fairest maid 'neath Heaven's light.
Her face's beauteous hues so clear
More than all gold to him were dear.
Yet all unknown where dwelt the maid,
His doubt and awe the search delayed.
For better were a battle stern
Than, blindly wandering, still to yearn.
Then spoke Sir Balva, kindly, meek,
"It is my wish this maid to seek.
Let me now take my Squire and hound,
And search until the maid be found."
Then seven weeks, with toil and pain,
We travelled wearily the main.
No harbour gave our ship a home,
No land kept off the drifting foam.
But high above the rough sea wave,
We saw a smooth-walled castle brave.
Its gables shone with glass. We laughed,
"Ah many a drink-horn there is quaffed."
Then sailing to its base there fell
A chain that lashed the ocean swell.
I seized it, fearless, hand o'er hand
I climbed upon the frowning land,
And seated on a golden chair,
I found a maiden wondrous fair,
Holding a mirror on her knee,
Her vesture beautiful to see.
I blest her, whose sad voice replied,
"Grief here thy blessing doth betide.
O comer from the sea, thou'lt feel
The heart of stone, the blade of steel"
Though merciless he be, yet know,
His sword can deal my heart no blow.
His love or hatred I despise
If gained the favour of thine eyes.
"The giant's star-white sword alone,"
Said she, "can wring from him a groan.
O hide thee in some place secure,
Or, gallant knight, thy death is sure."
Sir Balva heard the giant roar,
"What wave-thrown stranger climbed our shore?"
Her voice replied, "Now come, nor wait,
My soul, for thee my love is great.
Put thou thy head upon my knee,
I'll sweetly play the harp to thee."
He rested, and a laugh displayed
The white teeth of the blue-eyed maid.
The wild harp-music sweetly rung,
And sweeter still her tuneful tongue.
And on his eyes, by sea winds fanned,
Sleep laid full soon his tranquil hand.
Then took they off his star-white sword
And slew the Castle's Giant Lord.
Thus how the captive maid was found,
Oft heard they of The Table Round.