Before the young and bonny bride,
Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose
The tear and blush of morning rose.
With virgin step and bashful hand
She held the kerchief’s snowy band.
The gallant bridegroom by her side
Beheld his prize with victor’s pride.
And the glad mother in her ear
Was closely whispering word of cheer.
Who meets them at the churchyard gate?
The messenger of fear and fate!
Haste in his hurried accent lies,
And grief is swimming in his eyes.
All dripping from the recent flood,
Panting and travel-soiled he stood,
The fatal sign of fire and sword
Held forth, and spoke the appointed word:
’The muster-place is Lanrick mead;
Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed!’
And must he change so soon the hand
Just linked to his by holy band,
For the fell Cross of blood and brand?
And must the day so blithe that rose,
And promised rapture in the close,
Before its setting hour, divide
The bridegroom from the plighted bride?
O fatal doom’—it must! it must!
Clan-Alpine’s cause, her Chieftain’s trust,
Her summons dread, brook no delay;
Stretch to the race,—away! away!
Yet slow he laid his plaid aside,
And lingering eyed his lovely bride,
Until he saw the starting tear
Speak woe he might not stop to cheer:
Then, trusting not a second look,
In haste he sped hind up the brook,
Nor backward glanced till on the heath
Where Lubnaig’s lake supplies the Teith,—
What in the racer’s bosom stirred?
The sickening pang of hope deferred,
And memory with a torturing train
Of all his morning visions vain.
Mingled with love’s impatience, came
The manly thirst for martial fame;
The stormy joy of mountaineers
Ere yet they rush upon the spears;
And zeal for Clan and Chieftain burning,
And hope, from well-fought field returning,
With war’s red honors on his crest,
To clasp his Mary to his breast.
Stung by such thoughts, o’er bank and brae,
Like fire from flint he glanced away,
While high resolve and feeling strong
Burst into voluntary song.
The heath this night must be my bed,
The bracken curtain for my head,
My lullaby the warder’s tread,
Far, far, from love and thee, Mary;
To-morrow eve, more stilly laid,
My couch may be my bloody plaid,
My vesper song thy wail, sweet maid!
It will not waken me, Mary!
I may not, dare not, fancy now
The grief that clouds thy lovely brow,
I dare not think upon thy vow,
And all it promised me, Mary.
No fond regret must Norman know;
When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,
His heart must be like bended bow,
His foot like arrow free, Mary.