Sir Walter Scott

(1771-1832 / Edinburgh / Scotland)

Rosabelle - Poem by Sir Walter Scott

O listen, listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
Soft is the note, and sad the lay
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.

‘Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!
And, gentle lady, deign to stay!
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

‘The blackening wave is edged with white;
To inch and rock the sea-mews fly;
The fishers have heard the Water-Sprite,
Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.

‘Last night the gifted Seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round lady gay;
Then stay thee, Fair, in Ravensheuch;
Why cross the gloomy firth to-day?’

’Tis not because Lord Lindesay’s heir
Tonight at Roslin leads the ball,
But that my lady-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

’Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well,
But that my sire the wine will chide
If ’tis not fill’d by Rosabelle.’

—O’er Roslin all that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
’Twas broader than the watch-fire’s light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.

It glared on Roslin’s castled rock,
It ruddied all the copse-wood glen;
’Twas seen from Dryden’s groves of oak,
And seen from cavern’d Hawthornden.

Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud
Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffin’d lie,
Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheathed in his iron panoply.

Seem’d all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar’s pale;
Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
And glimmer’d all the dead men’s mail.

Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair—
So still they blaze, when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high Saint Clair.

There are twenty of Roslin’s barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle;
Each one the holy vault doth hold
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle!

And each Saint Clair was buried there
With candle, with book, and with knell;
But the sea-caves rung, and the wild winds sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.


Comments about Rosabelle by Sir Walter Scott

  • (1/15/2009 8:51:00 AM)


    I read this at school for the first time over 50 years ago and was entranced by Scott's border ballad style and the story told. Subsequently I visited the 14th century chapel and learnt its legends referred to in the poem.I still love the poem's lyrical beauty_ one of the poet's best. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: fire, sea, lonely, fate, sad, rose, mother, water, night, light, wind



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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