Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

century, though probably not in the form we possess them. It was not, however, till much later that any collection of ballads was made ; and few, as we possess them, can be dated farther back than the reign of Elizabeth."

From Chevy Chase. rof. Child's edition.)
The Persè owt off Northombarlande,

And a vowe to God mayd he,
That he wold hunte in the mountayns

Off Chyviat, within days thre,
In the maugerl of doughtè Dogles,

And all that ever with him be.
The fattiste hartes in all Cheviat

He sayd he wold kill, and cary them away:
Be

my feth” sayd the dougheti’ Doglas agayn,
“I wyll let3 that hontyng yf that I may.”
Then the Persè owt of Banborowe cam,

With him a myghteè meany;4
With fifteen hondrith archares bold off blood and bone,

The wear chosen owt of shyars thre.
He sayd, “It was the Duglas promys

This day to met me hear;
But I wyste5 he wold faylle, verament:"6

A great oth the Persè swear.
At the laste a squyar of Northombelonde

Lokyde at his hand full ny;
He was war a' the doughetie Doglas comynge,

With him a myghttè meany.
The dougheti Dogglas on a stede

He rode att his men beforne;
His armor glytteryde as dyd a glede ;8

A bolder barne' was never born.
“Tell me whos men ye ar,” he

says,
“Or whos men that ye be:
Who gave youe leave to hunte in this Chyviat chays,

In the spyt of me?"

1 Spite.

5 Knew,

2 Doughty, brave. 3 Hinder. 4 Company.
Aware of. 8 Live coal.

9 Man.

6 Truly.

The first mane that ever him an answear mayd,

Yt was the good lord Persè: “We wyll not tell the whoys men we ar,” he says,

“Nor whos men thet we be; But we wyll hount hear in this chays,

In the spyt of thyne and of the.1

The fattiste hartes in all Chyviat

We have kyld, and cast? to carry them a-way:” “Be my troth,” sayd the doughtè Dogglas agayn,

“Ther-for the tons of us shall det this day.”

[blocks in formation]

Then bespayke a squyar off Northombarlonde,

Richard Wytharyngton was him nam; “It shall never be told in Sothe-Ynglonde,” he says,

To kyng Herry the fourth for sham.

[blocks in formation]

1 Thee.

2 Propose.

3 One. 8 They smote.

7 Know.

4 Die.
9 Sweat,

5 Earl. 6 Apart.

10 Milan steel.

With that ther cam an arrowe hastely,

Forthe off a myghttè wane;
Hit? hathe strekene the yerle Duglas

In at the brest bane.

3

The Persè leanyde on his brande,

And sawe the Duglas de;
He tooke the dede mane be the hande,

And sayd, “Wo ys me for the!”
Off all that se a Skottishe knyght,

Was callyd Sir Hewe the Monggonbyrry;» He sawe the Duglas to the deth was dyght,*

He spendyd 5 a spear, a trusti tre.6 He set uppone the lord Persè

A dynte? that was full soare; With a suar: spear of a myghttè tre

Clean thorow the body he the Persè ber,"

5

[blocks in formation]

It. 1 One, man. 7 Blow.

8 Sure.

8 Montgomery.

4 Done. 9 Bare.

10 The other.

5 Grasped. 6 Spear-shaft. 11 Christendom. 12 Hour.

LESSON 15.

SCOTTISH POETRY.—“ This is poetry written in the English tongue by men living in Scotland. These men, though calling themselves Scotchmen, are of good English blood. But the blood, as I think, was mixed with an infusion of Celtic blood.

Old Northumbria extended from the Humber to the Firth of Forth, leaving, however, on its western border a line of unconquered land which took in Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmoreland in England, and over the border most of the western country between the Clyde and Solway Firth. This unconquered country was the Welsh kingdom of Strathclyde, and it was dwelt in by the Celtic race. The present English part of it was soon conquered, and the Celts were driven out. But in the part to the north of the Solway Firth, the Celts were not driven out. They remained, lived with the Englishmen who were settled over the old Northumbria, intermarried with them, and became under Scot kings one mixed people. Literature in the Lowlands, then, would have Celtic elements in it; literature in England was purely Teutonic. The one sprang from a mixed, the other from an unmixed

I draw attention to this, because it seems to me to account for certain peculiarities in Scottish poetry which color the whole of it, which rule over it, and are specially Celtic.

CELTIC ELEMENTS OF SCOTTISH POETRY.—The first of these is the love of wild nature for its own sake.

There is a passionate, close, and poetical observation and description of natural scenery in Scotland, from the earliest times of its poetry, such as is not seen in English poetry till the time of Wordsworth. The second is the love of color. All early Scottish poetry differs from English in the extraordinary way in which color is insisted on, and at times in the lavish exag

race.

geration of it. The third is the wittier, more rollicking humor in the Scottish poetry, which is distinctly Celtic in contrast with that humor which has its root in sadness, and which belongs to the Teutonic races. Few things are really more different than the humor of Chaucer and the humor of Dunbar, than the humor of Cowper and that of Burns. These are the special Celtic elements in the Lowland poetry.

Its National Elements came into it from the circumstances under which Scotland rose into a separate kingdom. The first of these is the strong, almost fierce, assertion of national life. The English were as national as the Scots, and felt the emotion of patriotism as strongly. But they had no need to assert it; they were not oppressed. But for nearly forty years the Scotch resisted for their very life the efforts of England to conquer them.

And the war of freedom left its traces on their poetry from Barbour to Burns and Walter Scott in the almost obtrusive way in which Scotland and Scottish liberty and Scottish heroes are thrust forward in their verse.

Their passionate nationality appears in another form in their descriptive poetry. The natural description of Chaucer, Shakespeare, or even Milton is not distinctively English. But in Scotland it is always the scenery of their own land that the poets describe. Even when they are imitating Chaucer, they do not imitate his conventional landscape. They put in a Scotch landscape, and, in the work of such men as Gawin Douglas, the love of Scotland and the love of nature mingle their influences together to make him sit down, as it were, to paint, with his eye on everything he paints, a series of Scotch landscapes. It is done without any artistic composition; it reads like a catalogue, but it is work which stands quite alone at the time he wrote. There is nothing even resembling it in England for centuries after.

ITS INDIVIDUAL ELEMENT.-- There is one more special element in early Scottish poetry which arose, I think, out of its political circumstances. All through the struggle for free

a

« PredošláPokračovať »