Thomas Campbell

(1777-1844 / Glasgow / Scotland)

The Dirge Of Wallace - Poem by Thomas Campbell

When Scotland's great Regent, our warrior most dear,
The debt of his nature did pay,
T' was Edward, the cruel, had reason to fear,
And cause to be struck with dismay.

At the window of Edward the raven did croak,
Though Scotland a widow became;
Each tie of true honor to Wallace he broke-
The raven croaked "Sorrow and shame!"

At Eldersie Castle no raven was heard,
But soothings of honor and truth;
His spirit inspired the soul of the bard
To comfort the Love of his youth!

They lighted the tapers at dead of night,
And chanted their holiest hymn;
But her brow and her bosom were all damp with affright,
Her eye was all sleepless and dim!

And the lady of Eldersie wept for her lord,
With a death-watch beat in her lonely room,
When her curtain shook of its own accord,
And the raven flapped at her window board
To tell of her warrior's doom.

Now sing ye the death-song, and loudly pray
For the soul of my knight so dear!
And call me a widow, this wretched day,
Since the warning of God is here.

For a nightmare rests on my strangled sleep;
The lord of my bosom is doomed to die!
His valorous heart they have wounded deep,
And the blood-red tears his country shall weep
For Wallace of Elderslie.

Yet knew not his country, that ominous hour,
Ere the loud matin-bell was rung,
That the trumpet of death on an English tower,
The dirge of her champion sung.

When his dungeon light looked dim and red
On the high-born blood of a martyr slain,
No anthem was sung at his lowly death-bed,-
No weeping was there when his bosom bled,
And his heart was rent in twain.

When he strode o'er the wreck of each well-fought field,
With the yellow-haired chiefs of his native land;
For his lace was not shivered on helmet or shield,
And the sword that was fit for archangel to wield
Was light in his terrible hand.

Yet, bleeding and bound, though the "Wallacewight"
For his long-loved country die,,
The bugle ne'er sung to a braver night
Than William of Elderslie.

But the day of his triumphs shall never depart;
His head, unemtombed, shall with glory be palmed:
From its blood streaming altar his spirit shall start;
Though the raven has fed on his mouldering heart,
A nobler was never embalmed!


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Read poems about / on: raven, warning, death, red, lonely, sorrow, nature, light, truth, song, sleep, fear, night, heart



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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