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THOUGH SOMETIMES MORE CLOSELY COPIED. 229
equally easy; and many of the pictures which have been
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
When the broken arches are black in night,
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave;
Then go !
Then view St. David's ruined pile!
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!"— p. 35, 36.
In the following passage he is less ambitious; and confines himself, as an ancient minstrel would have done on the occasion, to a minute and picturesque representation of the visible object before him :—
"When for the lists they sought the plain,
Did noble Howard hold;
And much, in courteous phrase, they talk'd
Costly his garb - his Flemish ruff
SCOTT'S LAY ITS DIRECT DESCRIPTIONS.
His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt,
Hence, in rude phrase, the Bord 'rers still
Call'd noble Howard, Belted Will.”—p. 141.
The same scrupulous adherence to the style of the old romance, though greatly improved in point of brevity and selection, is discernible in the following animated description of the feast, which terminates the poem:
The spousal rites were ended soon;
Was spread the gorgeous festival:
Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery!
Their clanging bowls old warriors quaff'd,
The hooded hawks, high perch'd on beam,
And all is mirth and revelry."- p. 166, 167.
The following picture is sufficiently antique in its conception, though the execution is evidently modern:—
"Ten of them were sheath'd in steel,
They lay down to rest
THE JUDICIAL COMBAT.
Pillow'd on buckler cold and hard;
They carv'd at the meal
With gloves of steel,
And they drank the red wine through the helmet barr'd.”
The whole scene of the duel, or judicial combat, is conducted according to the strict ordinances of chivalry, and delineated with all the minuteness of an ancient romancer. The modern reader will probably find it rather tedious; all but the concluding stanzas, which are in a loftier measure.
""Tis done, 'tis done! that fatal blow
Has stretch'd him on the bloody plain;
Unfix the gorget's iron clasp,
And give him room for life to gasp! --
And smooth his path from earth to heaven!
"In haste the holy friar sped;
As through the lists he ran;
Loose wav'd his silver beard and hair,
He holds before his dark'ning eye,
Still props him from the bloody sod,
Richard of Musgrave breathes no more."--p. 145–147.
We have already made so many extracts from this poem, that we can now only afford to present our readers with one specimen of the songs which Mr. Scott has introduced in the mouths of the minstrels in the concluding canto.
It is his object, in those pieces, to exemplify
232 SCOTT'S LAY
SONG OF THE NORTHERN BARD.
the different styles of ballad narrative which prevailed in this island at different periods, or in different conditions of society. The first is constructed upon the rude and simple model of the old Border ditties, and produces its effect by the direct and concise narrative of a tragical occurrence. The second, sung by Fitztraver, the bard of the accomplished Surrey, has more of the richness and polish of the Italian poetry, and is very beautifully written, in a stanza resembling that of Spenser. The third is intended to represent that wild style of composition which prevailed among the bards of the northern continent, somewhat softened and adorned by the minstrel's residence in the south. We prefer it, upon the whole, to either of the two former, and shall give it entire to our readers; who will probably be struck with the poetical effect of the dramatic form into which it is thrown, and of the indirect description by which every thing is most expressively told, without one word of distinct narrative.
O listen, listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feats of arms I tell ;
Nor tempt the stormy frith to-day.
The black'ning wave is edg'd with white;
A wet shroud roll'd round Ladye gay :
"Tis not because Lord Lind'say's heir
Sits lonely in her castle hall.
And Lind'say at the ring rides well!
O'er Roslin all that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
And brighter than the bright moonbeam.
It redden'd all the copse-wood glen;
Sheath'd in his iron panoply.
And glimmer'd all the dead-men's mail.
Blaz'd every rose-carv'd buttress fair
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle!
And each St. Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell;
But the Kelpy rung, and the Mermaid sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle!"— p. 181-184.
From the various extracts we have now given, our readers will be enabled to form a tolerably correct judgment of this poem; and if they are pleased with these portions of it which have now been exhibited, we may venture to assure them that they will not be disappointed by the perusal of the whole. The whole night-journey of Deloraine- the opening of the wizard's tomb-the march of the English battle — and the parley before the walls of the castle, are all executed with the same spirit and poetical energy, which we think is conspicuous in the specimens we have already extracted; and a great variety of short passages occur in every part of the poem, which are still more striking and meritorious, though it is impossible to detach them, without injury, in the form of a quotation. It is but fair to apprise the reader, on the other hand, that he will meet with very heavy pas