As the tall ship, whose lofty prore
Shall never stem the billows more,
Deserted by her gallant band,
Amid the breakers lies astrand,—
So on his couch lay Roderick Dhu!
And oft his fevered limbs he threw
In toss abrupt, as when her sides
Lie rocking in the advancing tides,
That shake her frame with ceaseless beat,
Yet cannot heave her from her seat;—
O, how unlike her course at sea!
Or his free step on hill and lea!—
Soon as the Minstrel he could scan,—
’What of thy lady?—of my clan?—
My mother?—Douglas?—tell me all!
Have they been ruined in my fall?
Ah, yes! or wherefore art thou here?
Yet speak,—speak boldly,—do not fear.’—
For Allan, who his mood well knew,
Was choked with grief and terror too.—
’Who fought?—who fled?—Old man, be brief;—
Some might,—for they had lost their Chief.
Who basely live?—who bravely died?’
‘O, calm thee, Chief!’ the Minstrel cried,
‘Ellen is safe!’ ‘For that thank Heaven!’
’And hopes are for the Douglas given;—
The Lady Margaret, too, is well;
And, for thy clan,—on field or fell,
Has never harp of minstrel told
Of combat fought so true and bold.
Thy stately Pine is yet unbent,
Though many a goodly bough is rent.’
The Chieftain reared his form on high,
And fever’s fire was in his eye;
But ghastly, pale, and livid streaks
Checkered his swarthy brow and cheeks.
’Hark, Minstrel! I have heard thee play,
With measure bold on festal day,
In yon lone isle,—again where ne’er
Shall harper play or warrior hear!—
That stirring air that peals on high,
O’er Dermid’s race our victory.—
Strike it!—and then,—for well thou canst,—
Free from thy minstrel-spirit glanced,
Fling me the picture of the fight,
When met my clan the Saxon might.
I’ll listen, till my fancy hears
The clang of swords’ the crash of spears!
These grates, these walls, shall vanish then
For the fair field of fighting men,
And my free spirit burst away,
As if it soared from battle fray.’
The trembling Bard with awe obeyed,—
Slow on the harp his hand he laid;
But soon remembrance of the sight
He witnessed from the mountain’s height,
With what old Bertram told at night,
Awakened the full power of song,
And bore him in career along;—
As shallop launched on river’s tide,
’That slow and fearful leaves the side,
But, when it feels the middle stream,
Drives downward swift as lightning’s beam.
Battle of Beal’ An Duine.