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“Syrian virgins, wail and weep,
Blondel led the tuneful band,
(1) Ken—from the Anglo-Saxon cenn-an, to know by the senses, especially sight, to descry; to know generally. The word also means, to be able ; thus implying the affirmation that “knowledge is power." (2) War-put here for “forces," as in Milton's “Paradise Lost," xii. 213:
“ On their embattled ranks the waves return,
And overwhelm their war." (3) Paynim—from the Latin paganus, through the French payen. The word originally meant merely a countryman, then one who, as living remote from the civilizing influence of towns, clung to old superstitions and errors, hence an unbeliever. It was also applied as a term of contempt by the Crusaders to the Mahometans.
(4) Acco—The ancient Ptolemais and the modern Acre. (5) Silver moon—The Turkish crescent.
(6) Brazen drums—To increase the din, Saladin had brass kettle-drums beate during one of the battles.
(7) Smiling-i. e. sparkling in the sun. Æschylus, in the “Prometheus Vinctus," beautifully refers to “ the ocean-waves' unnumbered smiles."
Soon we kissed the sacred earth
gave the suffering Saviour birth :
“Lo, the toilsome voyage past,
Hail, Calvary, thou mountain5 hoar,
Blazing like the beacon's brand, (1) Holy-a very much abused word when employed with reference to the Crusades generally.
(2) Engaddi—an ancient city which stood on the western coast of the Dead Sea. We learn from Josephus that was once famous for palm-trees and balsams, or balm-shrubs, but “at present," says Dr. Robinson, who visited the spot in 1838, “not a palm-tree exists there."
(3) Date-empurpled- adorned with dates. A very artificial epithet. (See note 2, p. 71.)
(4) Immortal umbrage-in allusion to the remarkable longevity of the cedars of Lebanon. The natives-and some travellers-believe the most ancient of these trees to be the survivors of those cut down by Solomon for the building of the Temple.
(5) Mountain-It is difficult to understand how Calvary got the name of “ mountain." The word means a “skull," and seems to have been given to a small hillock of that shape. Nothing that deserves the name of mountain can be found, and there is no scriptural authority for the term.
(6) Sepulchre of God—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, originally built by Constantine. That referred to in the text was built by the first Crusaders.
O’er the far-affrighted fields,
TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY;
Thy slender stem;
Thou bonnie gem.
(1) Kaliburn-The sword of King Arthur, which, according to the monkish historians, came into the possession of Richard. See an account of the wonderful performances of Kaliburn in Geoffrey of Monmouth's “ British History," book ix.
(3) Giant-wheels—The word "giant " is used in some compounds in the sense of "very large." (See “giant-bound," p. 22.) “Horse" seems to bear the same interpretation, in horse-chestnut, horse-leech, horse-laugh, &c.
(4) Salem—the ancient name of Jerusalem. It signifies "peace."
(5) Badge of Constantine- This refers to the “labarum," as the magnificent banner was called, which Constantine, after his conversion, adopted as the imperial standard. It bore a cross woven in gold upon purple cloth ; not crimson, as implied in the text.
(6) “ The verses to the Mouse' and · Mountain Daisy' were composed," says the poet's brother, “on the occasions mentioned, and while the author was holding the plough."
(7) Wee-little. (8) Stoure-dust. (9) Bonnie-beautiful.
Alas! it's no thy neebor' sweet,
Wi' speckled breast,
The purpling east.
Amid the storm,
Thy tender form.
O'clod or stane,
In humble guise :
And low thou lies!
To misery's brink,
He, ruined, sink !
(2) Lark—“I have seldom," says Mackenzie, “ met with an image more truly pastoral, than that of the lark in the second stanza." (3) Weet-rain, wetness.
(4) Glinted-peeped. (5) Wa's-walls. It is a characteristic of the lowland Scotch to elide the l in many words, thus, wa' for wall, a' for all, &c.
(6) Random bield-casual shelter.
(7) Thou adorns-In the northern dialect of the English language, to which the lowland Scotch is akin, all the persons, both singular and plural, of the present tense, are alike, and all end in s; thus I adorns, thou adorns, he adorns, we adorns, &c. So in the second line, “thou's met," for, thou hast met.
(8) Histie stibble-field-dry stubble-field.
Even thou who mourn'st the daisy's fate,
Full on thy bloom,
Shall be thy doom !
TO A MOUSE,
ON TURNING HER UP IN HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH.3
WEE, sleekit,4 cowerin', timorous beastie,
Wi' bickering brattle !6
Wi' murdering pattle!
Which maks thee startle
An' fellow mortal !
'S a sma' request :
And never miss't!
(1) Ruin's ploughshare-a bold figure and strikingly in keeping with the subject. It is borrowed from Young's “ Night Thoughts ” (see p. 408).
(3) “ The charm," says Lord Jeffrey,“ of these fine lines will be found to consist in the simple tenderness of the delineation;" and also, it may be added, in the hearty human sympathies which are interwoven with it. The words “ fellow mortal," touch this chord with powerful effect.
(4) Sleekit-sleek, sly.
(7) Laith-loth; as baith, both. (8) Pattle-a small spade to clean the plough. (9) Whyles—sometimes. (10) Daimen-icker-an ear of corn met with occasionally. (11) Thrave-shock of corn.
(12) Lave-leaving, the rest.