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Sir Walter Scott
The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border
Scottish Music - An Ode


By J. Leyden.
To Ianthe

Again, sweet siren! breathe again
That deep, pathetic, powerful strain,
Whose melting tones, of tender woe,
Fall soft as evening's summer dew,
That bathes the pinks and harebells blue,
Which in the vales of Teviot blow.

Such was the song that soothed to rest,
Far in the green isle of the west,*
The Celtic warrior's parted shade;
Such are the lonely sounds that sweep
O'er the blue bosom of the deep,
Where shipwreck'd mariners are laid.

Ah! sure as Hindu legends ** tell,
When music's tones the bosom swell,
The scenes of former life return;
Ere, sunk beneath the morning star,
We left our parent climes afar,
Immured in mortal forms to mourn.

Or if, as ancient sages ween,
Departed spirits, half unseen,
Can mingle with the mortal throng;
"Tis when from heart to heart we roll
The deep-toned music of the soul,
That warbles in our Scottish song.

I hear, I hear, with awful dread,
The plaintive music of the dead!
They leave the amber fields of day;
Soft as the cadence of the wave,
That murmurs round the mermaid's grave,
They mingle in the magic lay.

Sweet siren, breathe the powerful strain!
Lochroyan's Damsel sails the main;
The crystal tower enchanted see!
"Now break," she cries, "Ye fairy charms!" -
As round she sails with fond alarms,
"Now break, and set my true love free!"

Lord Barnard is to greenwood gone,
Where fair Gil Morrice sits alone,
And careless combs his yellow hair;
Ah! mourn the youth , untimely slain!
The meanest of Lord Barnard's train
The hunter's mangled head must bear.

Or, change these notes of deep despair,
For love's more soothing tender air;
Sing, how, beneath the greenwood tree,
Brown Adam's love maintain'd her truth,
Nor would resign the exiled youth
For any knight the fair could see.

And sing the Hawk of pinion grey,
To southern climes who wing'd his way,
For he could speak as well as fly;
Her brethren how the fair beguiled,
And on her Scottish lover smiled,
As slow she raised her languid eye.

Fair was her cheek's carnation glow,
Like red blood on a wreath of snow;
Like evening's dewy star her eye;
White as the sea-mew's downy breast,
Borne on the surge's foamy crest,
Her graceful bosom heaved the sigh.

In youth's first morn, alert and gay,
Ere rolling years had pass'd away,
Remember'd like a morning dream,
I heard these dulcet measures float,
In many a liquid winding note,
Along the banks of Teviot's stream.

Sweet sounds! that oft have soothed to rest,
The sorrows of my guileless breast,
And charm'd away mine infant tears;
Fond memory shall your strains repeat,
Like distant echoes, doubly sweet,
That in the wild the traveller hears.

And thus, the exiled Scotian maid,
By fond alluring love betray'd
To visit Syria's date-crown'd shore,
In plaintive strains, that soothed despair,
Did "Bothwell's banks that bloom so fair,"+
And scenes of early youth deplore.

Soft siren, whose enchanting strain
Floats wildly round my raptured brain,
I bid your pleasing haunts adieu!
Yet, fabling fancy oft shall lead
My footsteps to the silver Tweed,
Through scenes that I no more must view.++

*The Flathinnis, or Celtic paradise.
** The effect of music is explained by the Hindus, as recalling to our memory the airs of paradise, heard in a state of pre-existence. - Vide Sacontala.
+ "So fell it out of late years that an English gentleman, traveling in Palestine, not far from Jerusalem, as he passed through a country town, he heard, by chance, a woman sitting at her door, dandling her child, to sing, "Bothwell bank, thou bloomest fair." The gentleman hereat wondered, and forthwith, in English, saluted the woman, who joyfully answered him; and said she was right glad there to see a gentleman of our isle; and told him that she was a Scottish woman, and came first from Scotland to Venice, and from Venice thither, where her fortune was to be the wife of an officer under the Turk; who, being at that instant absent, and very soon to return, she entreated the gentleman to stay there until his return. The which he did; and she, for country sake, to show herself the more kind and bountiful unto him, told her husband at his home-coming, that the gentleman was her kinsman; whereupon her husband entertained him very kindly; and, at his departure, gave him divers things of good value." - Verstigan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence. Chapter of the Sirname of our Ancient Families. Antwerp, 1605.
++ Dr. Leyden was, when he wrote these verses, on the eve of departing for India, where he died. - ED.

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