I heeded not the eddying surge,
Mine eye but saw the Trosachs’ gorge,
Mine ear but heard that sullen sound,
Which like an earthquake shook the ground,
And spoke the stern and desperate strife
That parts not but with parting life,
Seeming, to minstrel ear, to toll
The dirge of many a passing soul.
Nearer it comes—the dim-wood glen
The martial flood disgorged again,
But not in mingled tide;
The plaided warriors of the North
High on the mountain thunder forth
And overhang its side,
While by the lake below appears
The darkening cloud of Saxon spears.
At weary bay each shattered band,
Eying their foemen, sternly stand;
Their banners stream like tattered sail,
That flings its fragments to the gale,
And broken arms and disarray
Marked the fell havoc of the day.
’Viewing the mountain’s ridge askance,
The Saxons stood in sullen trance,
Till Moray pointed with his lance,
And cried: “Behold yon isle!—
See! none are left to guard its strand
But women weak, that wring the hand:
’Tis there of yore the robber band
Their booty wont to pile;—
My purse, with bonnet-pieces store,
To him will swim a bow-shot o’er,
And loose a shallop from the shore.
Lightly we’ll tame the war-wolf then,
Lords of his mate, and brood, and den.”
Forth from the ranks a spearman sprung,
On earth his casque and corselet rung,
He plunged him in the wave:—
All saw the deed,—the purpose knew,
And to their clamors Benvenue
A mingled echo gave;
The Saxons shout, their mate to cheer,
The helpless females scream for fear
And yells for rage the mountaineer.
’T was then, as by the outcry riven,
Poured down at once the lowering heaven:
A whirlwind swept Loch Katrine’s breast,
Her billows reared their snowy crest.
Well for the swimmer swelled they high,
To mar the Highland marksman’s eye;
For round him showered, mid rain and hail,
The vengeful arrows of the Gael.
In vain.—He nears the isle—and lo!
His hand is on a shallop’s bow.
Just then a flash of lightning came,
It tinged the waves and strand with flame;
I marked Duncraggan’s widowed dame,
Behind an oak I saw her stand,
A naked dirk gleamed in her hand:—
It darkened,—but amid the moan
Of waves I heard a dying groan;—
Another flash!—the spearman floats
A weltering corse beside the boats,
And the stern matron o’er him stood,
Her hand and dagger streaming blood.