The Staggit Eve*

I.
The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,
The deep-mouth'd bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
II.
As Chief, who hears his warder call,
"To arms! the foemen storm the wall,"
The antler'd monarch of the waste
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,
The dewdrops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high,
Toss'd his beam'd frontlet to the sky;
A moment listen'd to the cry,
That thicken's as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appear'd,
With one brave bound the copse he clear'd,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.
III.
Yell'd on the view the opening pack;
Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awaken'd mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered in hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
A hundred voices join'd the shout;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cower'd the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint and more faint, its failing din
Return'd from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.
IV.
Less loud the sounds of sylvan war
Disturb'd the heights of Uam-Var
And roused the cavern, where 'tis told,
A giant made his den of old;
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in his pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stay'd perforce,
Was fain to breathe his faltering horse,
And of the trackers of the deer,
Scarce half the lessening pack was near,
So shrewdly on the mountain side
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
V.
The noble stag was pausing now,
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wander'd o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And ponder'd refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copsewood grey,
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pinetrees blue
On the bold cliffs of Benvenue.
Fresh vigour with the hope return'd
With flying foot the heath he spurn'd,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.
.
:~: Sir Walter Scott :~:
excerpt from: The Lady of the Lake, Canto First


*See Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Comments

Kat said…
Beautiful!! This is going in my little brown pocket-notebook for poetry. The Staggit Eve, indeed.
MKK said…
My Dad will quote that opening line from time to time
he had to memorize a chapter of it in Ireland...when he was 6 or 7
(now of course you must read it in his brogue...)