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THOMAS THE RHYMER.
When seven years more had come and gone,
Was war through Scotland spread, And Ruberslaw shew'd high Dunyon
His beacon blazing red.
Then all by bonny Coldingknow,
Pitch'd palliouns took their room, And crested helms, and spears a rowe,
Glanced gaily through the broom.
The Leader, rolling to the Tweed,
Resounds the ensenzie ;*
* Ensenzie. War-cry, or gathering word.
They roused the deer from Caddenhead,
To distant Torwoodlee.
The feast was spread in Ercildoune,
In Learmont's high and ancient hall ; And there were knights of great renown,
And ladies laced in pall.
Nor lack'd they, while they sat at dine,
The music nor the tale,
Nor mantling quaighs* of ale.
True Thomas rose, with harp in hand,
When as the feast was done ; (In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land,
The elfin harp he won.)
* Quaighs—Wooden cups, composed of staves hooped together..
Hush'd were the throng, both limb and tongue,
And harpers for envy pale ;
And hearken'd to the tale.
In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet pour'd along ; No after bard might e'er avail*
Those numbers to prolong.
Yet fragments of the lofty strain
years, As, buoyant on the stormy main,
A parted wreck appears.
He sung King Arthur's Table Round :
The Warrior of the Lake ;
And bled for ladies' sake.
* See introduction to this Ballad.
But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,
The notes melodious swell;
The Knight of Lionelle.
For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,
A venom'd wound he bore; When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,
Upon the Irish shore.
No art the poison might withstand;
No med’cine could be found, Till lovely Isolde's lily hand
Had probed the rankling wound.
With gentle hand and soothing tongue,
She bore the leech's part; And, while she o'er his sick-bed hung,
He paid her with his heart.
O fatal was the gift, I ween!
For, doom'd in evil tide,
His cowardly uncle's bride.
Their loves, their woes, the gifted bard
In fairy tissue wove ; Where lords, and knights, and ladies bright, In
gay confusion strove.
The Garde Joyeuse, amid the tale,
High rear'd its glittering head ; And Avalon's enchanted vale
In all its wonders spread.
Brengwain was there, and Segramore,
And fiend-born Merlin's gramarye ; Of that famed wizard's mighty lore,
O who could sing but he?