BETA

1.

Lady Morison rode by hill and dale,1
Till she came where sweet Nith flows2
From her mountains free, and there she
clamb
3
A hill through herds of roes.4
She heard the alarm horns sounding loud,5
The clang of full drawn bows,6
With the rush of mailed men, and saw7
The conflict in the close.8

2.

She marked the battle’s gory press,9
Where, all disorderlie,10
The plumed helms waved to and fro,11
Like the heavings of the sea ;12
And the startled fawns their soft hoofs weet 13
In life’s blood flowing free.14

3.

Kirkpatrick’s helm, Lord Maxwell’s plume,15
Her hurrying glance could know ;16
And the gleaming of Lord Johnstone’s blade,17
That gives no second blow.18
She saw Lord Herries hurrying where19
The arrows drove like snow,20
And every time his broad blade fell,21
An armed head sink low.22

4.

Again she gazed, and her golden lace23
She slacked for room to breathe ;24
Lord Allan she saw, and helmed heads25
His courser’s feet beneath,26
And his brandished war-axe smiting low27
The objects of his wrath.28

5.

I’d walk the world’s remotest nook,29
Where the ocean sweeps the land,30
And give the green yale of Glenae31
For a foot of rock and sand,32
To have thee in a wilderness,33
With bill, or bow, or brand ;34
And seek from heaven to airt no blow,35
But leav’t to mortal hand.’36

6.

Have then thy wish, Lord Johnstone said,37
And count this river clear38
Earth’s farthest bourne—these ranks of
men—
39
A desart dark and drear,40
And that buglet’s note, thy raven’s croak,41
Our deadly strife to cheer ; ’42
He said, and shook his battle blade,43
And spurred to full career44

7.

I have seen two whirlwinds meet, and sweep45
To heaven the golden grain ;46
The levin flash i’ the clouds, ere fell47
The thunder drops of rain ;48
Yet nought so fiery, dread, and fierce,49
As the meeting of those twain.50

8.

I saw their agitated plumes—51
Their brands aloft in air52
The gleam of their mail-coats carved with gold—53
Their mantles flaunting fair54
Their rushing steeds, whose fiery eyes,55
In the conflict seemed to share ;56
But ere I got another glance,57
Lord Jonstone’s saddle was bare.58

9.

Small was his harm, though his bosom mail59
Did a braind’s deep dinting show ;60
The burning steel, and the gleaming gold,61
Had caught a crimson hue ;62
And the yellow broom, whereon they stood,63
Had a red blood drop or two.64

10.

Ralph Jardine, from sweet Annan’s bank,65
Red o’er with anger grew ;66
A burnished bow of the tempered steel,67
To the silver tips he drew,68
And the broad shaft kindled i’ the point,69
So fast and fierce it flew.70

11.

Lord Johnstone stood like the stricken pine,71
Neath the tempest’s fiery sweep ;72
And doomed like a ripened ear of corn,73
The sickles whet to reap,74
When through Lord Morison’s bosom mail75
With fierce and speed,76
The arrow sank, and the red blood sprang,77
And stained his bright steel weed ;78

12.

And down he sank on the gory sward,79
Like a tree of the green wood,80
That’s poisoned by the wind of Heaven,81
I’ the breaking o’ the bud.82

13.

Sore toiled with the shock of war, and bathed83
In sweat, and smeared with blood,84
Lord Johnstone came from the battle-press,85
To taste Nith’s silver flood. 86
His bow and his brand he has laid on the
grass,
87
And has bared his brow so brave ;88
And his plumed helmit he held to his lips,89
Full of the clear cold wave.90

14.

Lady Morison leapt from her palfrey light,91
All crimson was her hue ;92
She bent her bow, and a cloth yard shaft, 93
To her neck of snow she drew.94
Lord Johnstone thought of his lady’s arm,95
As he home rejoicing drew,96
When the chord clanged shrill, as the
swallow’s song,
97
And swift the arrow flew ;98
And where the gold gorget clasped his neck,99
The bright point started through.100

15.

Through a press of lances, crashing round101
And the clank of bill and brand,102
Lord Allan they bore, and they laid him
down
103
On the grass by sweet Nith sand ;104
And there were gallant heads hung low,105
And many a mournful eye106
Came and dropt a tear, then flew to the press107
Of battle thickening nigh.108

16.

They turned his face to the tread of men,109
That shook the river shore ;110
His face was bright with a gloomy smile,111
For a moment and no more ;112
On high he saw his raven grim,113
Through ranks resistless bore,114
And his galland squires of Glenae ride115
To the saddle laps in gore.116

17.

Lady Morison came like a fair-haired page,117
With bow and broad sword bright ;118
Scarce stained was her foot with the gory
grass,
119
For she came like the falcon’s flight ;120
She put an arm round Lord Allan’s neck,121
Like a wreath of Criffel snow ;122
O ! I have a soft and a cunning hand,123
Can cure thee of thy woe.”124

18.

With many a soft and a gentle touch,125
And prayer and word of cheer,126
She wooed the bitter shaft from the wound127
Then turned to Heaven her clear :128
And snowy brow—and to her there came129
A grave and a holy seer.130

19.

As he came, the gory grass to his feet131
Has given a crimson dye ;132
He knelt o’er good Lord Allan there,133
And his withered hands held high ;134
And, silent and sad, he looked to heaven135
With a meek and steady eye.136

20.

Beside him knelt that fair-haired Page,137
Whose heavenward hands did show138
All spotted with blood, as the lilies be139
Where has passed the wounded roe.140

21.

The strife had sunk on Lord Morison’s sight141
When the gun forsook our clime ; 142
But ere it was given again to his glance,143
Death had held revel time144
I’ the ranks o’ war, and among the crests145
Of Annan’s pith and prime.146

22.

The warlike Jardines all had fallen,147
And they lay on sweet Nith sands148
As mowers asleep in the noon-day sun,149
With their broad blades in their hands.150
No warlike Bells knit their dark brows151
On Nithsdale’s charging bands ;152
Nor Johnstones tried, on a crested helm,153
The temper of their brands.154

23.

All these had sunk ; but O what chiefs155
Had Nithsdale to bemoan !156
Strong Glencairn dying waved his helm,157
And cheered his merrymen on.158
Lord Herries lay in a gory swathe159
Of men his blade had mown ;160
And Lord Maxwell’s steed rode through the
ranks,
161
But his gallant rider was gone.162

24.

And Roger Kirkpatrick, hot with fight,163
Leaned ’ gainst an oak-tree hoar ;164
Lord Johnstone’s pennon, he won with his
brand,
165
Was drenched in his bosom gore, 166
His eye waxed dim, yet still his blade 167
With a soldier’s grasp he bore.168

25.

George Gordon’s steed runs fetlock deep169
Through gore ; and, as he goes, 170
His rider’s helmet-plume to the moon171
All pure and spotless shows.172
What stain can touch the noble plume173
That graces a Gordon’s brows ?174
o the bravest hand that ever bore brand175
That warlike crest ne’er bows.176

26.

And now the evening dew fell clear—177
The small birds sought their bowers178
The hare licked the honey-dew from her
foot,
179
As she sported on banks of flowers.180
The mower had left his scythe i’ the swaird,181
And ta’en the lily lea ;182
The shepherd had folded his lambs frae
the fox
183
And hameward whistled he.184

27.

But the hands that had buckled their ar-
mour on,
185
When the morning sky was grey,186
Thought death had gotten a scrimpit darke187
Of the lee-long summer day,188
And foot to foot, and hand to hand,189
With brands and axes keen,190
Fought fierce, as if in the bloody fray191
New-yoked they had been.192

28.

O sad and drear it was to hear,193
When the evening shades fell on,194
The bloody strife at the river side,195
And list the wounded moan.196
No mercy but what sharp glaives gave,197
On either side was sought ;198
And deeds that would made heroes once,199
By simple hands were wrought.200

29.

The flashing blood ’ mong shivered spears,201
And cloven steel-weeds ran ;202
And, plaunching through the lappering
gore,
203
Came rushing horse and man.204
For Lord Morison came again to the
fight,
205
And he whirled his faulchion then206
Like some martial spirit, returned to earth,207
To wither the might of men.208

30.

The moon rode radiant now, and high209
The stars gleamed brightly round :210
Twas silence all, from Drumlanrig-dell211
To Durisdeer’s misty, bound.212
Save where the gentle river sent213
A sweet and a slender sound,214
I could hear the breathing of the dun deer215
Asleep on the dewy ground.216

31.

’Twas sweet to stand on Lillycross hill,217
And mark where the moon-beam brave218
Spilt its liquid silver on cliff and scaur,219
And touched Ae’s fairy wave,220
Or a golden top to Glenae groves,221
And Lord Morison’s turrets gave.222

32.

There Fancy might delighted sit,223
And shape the fragrant air224
To forms of heaven, and people the groves225
With dames and damsels fair,226
Proud warlike shapes with eyes of fire,227
And hands to do and dare,228
And bid the spirits of earth and heaven229
To the revelry repair.230

33.

Lord Morison through the greenwood comes231
With his merry men all in a row ;232
Their helms and brands in blood and dust233
Have dimmed their morning glow.234
Their hands they wave, that a banquet’s
spread
235
To the raven and the crow ;236
All under the gleam of the round bright
moon
237
They sing as they merrily go.238

34.

Allan Morison loves to rule the bands239
All ranked, armed, and steady ;240
And loves to hear the shouts o’ weir, 241
When spears are levelled ready ;242
And measure a sword with a gallant
knight
243
By stream or woodland shady :244
But dearer than them a’ to his heart245
Is his sweet lovely lady.”246