RONALD AND ELLEN
In a land of moor and heather
Where the blue-bell gaily blows,
'Mong the northern hills of Ayrshire
Where the rough-knolled river flows;
In the days when English Edward,
With a strong and heavy hand,
Left a track of desolation
Thro' our rugged northern land;
When our fathers 'mid the mountains,
For their freedom trial bore,
And a purple dyed their tartan
Deeper than the heather wore,
Lived a maiden where the river
Thro' the valley tumbles down,
Far beneath where yonder mountain
Buries in the clouds its crown.
Far above the foaming river,
Founded on a mighty crag,
Stood the castle where her father,
Tossed aloft his baron flag;
And the Lady's gentle beauty
With our foemen made a truce,
Far and near they came and sought her,
Peers of Edward, Knights of Bruce.
But her heart was with an outlaw
Hiding in her father's glen:
He had drawn the sword for Scotland
With her dauntless Highlandmen.
With her Lion, William Wallace,
He had stood on Falkirk field;
Where the gallant Graeme had breasted -
And his life did nobly yield.
Now the brackens were his pillow
And his plaid his coverlet;
While the blood of Scotland's foemen
On his claymore still were wet.
It is now the hour of midnight:
All is still within the hall,
But a few faint embers flick'ring
Casting shadows on the wall.
Safely now the guests may slumber,
England's doughty Peer and knight,
Edward on the field at Falkirk
Broke the power of 'Wallace wight.'
Screams the Eagle in his eyrie
On the crest of Misty Law;
Sleeps the warder at the wicket
Soundly on his bed of straw.
Silently a crouching figure
Steals across the earthen floor,
Noiselessly the cloaked intruder
Draws the bar of castle door.
As the heavy door swung open,
Inward rushed the nightly air,
Tossing back the flowing mantle,
Blowing loose a woman's hair.
Swift across the courtyard gliding
To the postern gate she bore;
Lay the warder soundly sleeping,
Safe she passes thro' the door;
With a prayer to heaven the maiden
Speeds adown the deepening glen,
Where the river Garnock thunders
Onward thro' a flowery den.
In a hollow, 'mid the bracken
With the night dew on his plaid,
Lay a kilted warrior sleeping
Close beside his naked blade;
And the Murray tartan o'er him
Lightly flung an ample fold;
In his bonnet eagle feathers
Bounded by a clasp of gold.
When a whisper thro' the stillness
Of the night air gently break;
'Are you sleeping, Ronald, darling,
Or is Murray's chief awake?'
To his feet the warrior bounded,
For a soldier lightly slept;
Soon the lovely Ayrshire maiden
On her lover's bosom wept.
For the chieftain tender-hearted
Caught her to his manly breast;
Underneath his heart was throbbing
With a lover's aching zest.
'Oh! my darling,' fond he murmured,
'Would that Scotland she were free,
For the hour of her rejoicing
Would our bridal bedding be.
Would the Northern Lion ramping,
Bore the Southern Leopard down;
And the ancient race of Albin
Wore once more the laurel crown.
Had our chieftains by their country,
Stood at bay with Wallace bold;
On the fatal field at Falkirk
Had a different tale been told.
But the traitors to their nation
Held by Norman feudal law,
In the cause of truth and manhood
Freedom's sword they feared to draw.
But a day will dawn for Scotland
Bright as ever rose of yore,
Where the line of great MacAlpine
Into fight her banners bore.
For her sons are yet unconquered,
Unsubdued their iron will;
From the lowlands they will gather,
They will come from highland hill.
Strong to stay the proud usurper,
And to tear the tyrant down;
On our throne to plant a scion
Of the ancient Celtic crown.'
'Dearest Ronald, pray forgive me
For this weakness; God, He knows,
That I love you and the northland,
Where the waving heather grows;
I would give my life for Scotland,
Tho' a woman weak am I,
Once again the Rampant Lion
Bear aloft or nobly die.
Go, and for your country perish,
Or victorious come to me;
If you fall in Scotia's battle
I will ne'er wed man for thee.
But my Ronald, I detain you,
On the Garnock turn your back;
For a sound rings thro' the valley
Surrey's hounds are on your track.
You must leave me now, my dearest,
Kiss me, Ronald, ere you go,
If you're doomed to die for Scotland
Let your face be to her foe.'
'Fare thee well! my darling Ellen,'
Said the chief, and seized his glaive;
'Where the English foe is thickest
There will Murray's tartan wave.'
For an instant to his bosom
Pressed her in a fond embrace;
Then, amid the woodland shadows,
Sped away with swinging pace;
Left her in her pensive beauty
All alone amid the trees,
Playing with her feet the brackens
With her hair the northern breeze.
And the moon was slowly rising
O'er a crumbling bank of cloud;
While the Garnock flood was dashing
O'er the rocks in thunder loud;
And the moonlight thro' the branches
Of the 'lacing greenery,
Fell upon her hair rich gilded
Like a sunset on the sea.
Now the Scottish lion's ramping
Highland eagles flap their wings,
And a mighty shout o'er Scotland
Thro' the welkin loudly rings;
For at last the clans are marshalling,
Gathering to the welcome strain;
Brawny Celt comes from the mountain
Springs the Saxon from the plain.
From the moss-hags pour the Kymry
On each cheek the battle glow,
With the Briton's blazing valour
Eager all to meet the foe.
From the border, from the highlands,
Aberdeen and wild Argyle,
Side by side with great Macdonald,
Lord of every western Isle.
To their foemen they have granted
But a single year of truce;
For the death-grip they are ready,
With the cry: 'The Bruce! the Bruce!'
On they come the southern cohorts,
Like a river foaming free,
With their shields and lances glitt'ring
Sweeping in a crystal sea;
Onward swept the inundation,
Wave on wave its billows rolled;
Every cuirass flashing sunlight,
Every helmet burning gold.
On! that living ocean flowing,
Desolation every turn;
Crashed at last on rocky headland,
Broke on spears of Bannockburn.
Where the billows surge the wildest,
And the spears in crimson start,
Rides a knight in sable armour,
Douglas of the bleeding heart.
Broken now the bows of England
Shivered the Plantagenet's lance;
O'er her ranks fierce Edward gallops,
And stout Randolph's horsemen prance.
In the forefront of the conflict,
'Mid the noblest of the land;
Where the Englishmen were thickest
Fell the Murray's highland brand;
And the gallant sons of Scotland
Dyed with blood her heather red,
And the day of her rejoicing
Saw brave Ronald's bridal bed.