An excerpt from Marmion

by Sir Walter Scott
(Born August 15, 1771;

died September 21, 1832)


The train from out the castle drew but Marmion stopped to bid adieu:-
“Though something I might plain,” he said “Of cold respect to stranger guest
Sent hither by your king’s behest while in Tantallon’s towers I stayed
Part we in friendship from your land and noble Earl receive my hand.”-

But Douglas round him drew his cloak, folded his arms, and thus he spoke:-
“My manors, halls and bowers shall still be open at my Sovereign’s will
To each one whom he lists howe’er unmeet to be the owner’s peer.
My castles are my king’s alone from turret to foundation stone,-
The hand of Douglas is his own and never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.”

Burned Marmion’s swarthy cheek like fire and shook his very frame for ire.
And- “This to me!” he said, “An’t were not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion’s had not spared to cleave the Douglas head
And first I tell thee, haughty peer he who does England’s message here,
Although the meanest in her state may well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here, even in thy pitch of pride
Here in thy hold, thy vassals near ( Nay ! Never look upon your Lord
And lay your hands upon your sword ! )
I tell thee thou’rt defied !
And if thou said’st I am not peer to any Lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near, Lord Angus thou hast lied.”
On the Earl’s cheek the flush of rage o’ercame the ashen hue of age
Fierce he broke forth ,- “And dar’st thou then to beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall?
And hop’st thou hence unscathed to go ? No, by St. Bridge of Bothwell, no !
Up drawbridge, grooms,- what, Warder, ho! Let the portcullis fall.”

Lord Marmion turned,- well was his need!- and dashed the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung the ponderous gate behind him rung:
To pass there was such scanty room, the bars, descending, razed his plume.

The steed along the drawbridge flies, just as it trembled on the rise;
Not lighter does the swallow skim along the smooth lake’s level brim:
And when Lord Marmion reached his band, he halts and turns with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours and shook his gauntlet at the towers.

with swift kisses and no gauntlet shook,

The Castle Lady


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