Mysterious, secret, incomprehensible.

Scourge, to punish with a whip made of leather thongs.

Unfaltering, fearless.

Drapery, curtains, hangings.

To that mysterious* realm, where each shall


His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave, at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and

By an unfaltering * trust, approach thy grave, 80
Like one that draws the drapery * of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

DAVID'S * LAMENT FOR ABSALOM.-N. P. Willis. NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS (1817-1867) was born at Portland, Maine, U. S. He was a poet and essayist: best known works are, Pencillings by the Way, an account of his travels in Europe, and Inklings of Adventure. His poems are graceful and pleasing, and replete with happy fancies couched in wellchosen language.

Pall, shroud, cover

ing of a dead body.

Matchless symmetry,
most perfect form,
Absalom, was the son
of David. He rebelled
against his father,
Absalom pursued;
but was defeated and
killed by Joab, one of
David's generals.
Clad in the garb of
battle, armed like sol-
Bier, a carriage or
frame of wood for
bearing the dead to
the grave.

who fled from him.

diers for the fight.

Sackcloth, a coarse cloth garment, worn

THE pall* was settled. He who slept beneath
Was straightened for the grave; and, as the



Sank to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry* of Absalom.*
His helm was at his feet: his banner, soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid
Reversed, beside him and the jewelled hilt,
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,
Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow.
The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle; * and their chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier,'
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he feared the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his 15


As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command,
In a low tone, to his few followers,

And left him with his dead. The king stood

Till the last echo died; then, throwing off



by the Israelites in time of mourning.

The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back

* David, the son of Isai, was a young shepherd boy, who slew with a sling and a stone the great Philistine giant Goliath, He was afterwards anointed king by Samuel, and became very powerful. He wrote the Book of Psalms, &c.



The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth
In the resistless eloquence of woe :

"Alas! my noble boy! that thou shouldst die!
Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair!
That Death should settle in thy glorious eye,
And leave his stillness in this clustering

How could he mark thee for the silent tomb,
My proud boy, Absalom!

"Cold is thy brow, my son! and I am chill,
As to my bosom I have tried to press thee!
How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill,
Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress

35 And hear thy sweet 'My father!' from those


And cold lips, Absalom!

"The grave hath won thee! I shall hear the

Of music, and the voices of the young;
And life will pass me in the mantling blush,
And the dark tresses to the soft winds
flung ;-

But thou no more with thy sweet voice shalt


To meet me, Absalom!

"And oh ! when I am stricken,* and my heart, Like a bruised reed,* is waiting to be broken, 45 How will its love for thee, as I depart, Yearn* for thine ear to drink its last deep token!

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so sweet, amid death's gathering


To see thee, Absalom!

And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up,
With death so like a gentle slumber on
thee !-

Eloquence of woe, ut. terance of sorrow in

beautiful language.

Clustering hair. Absalom had very long beautiful hair, of which he was very vain. He was punished for his vanity, how

ever, for we are told

that when flying from before his father in

battle, he was caught

by his hair in the branches of an oak.

tree, and hung there till Joab came up and killed him,

I am stricken, I am

struck with age. Reed, a piece of grass with a jointed stem. Fearn, to long for.

It were, it would be.

Death's gathering gloom, the mist that comes over the eyes of the dying.

And thy dark sin!*-oh! I could drink the


If from this woe its bitterness had won thee. May God have called thee, like a wanderer, home,

My lost boy, Absalom!"

Thy dark sin. Ab

salom's rebellion against his father.



He covered up his face, and bowed himself
A moment on his child ; then, giving him

A look of melting tenderness, he clasped
Convulsively, with His hands convulsively,* as if in prayer.
violent trembling or

And, as if strength were given him of God, Composed the pall, ar. He rose up calmly, and composed the pall ranged the covering Firmly and decently,—and left him there, of the dead body.

As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.




a made



THE SAXON AND THE GAEL.* - Scott. The Chief, Roderick THE Chief * in silence strode before, Dhu.

And reached that torrent's sounding shore, Three mighty lakes, Which, daughter of three mighty lakes,* Katrine, Achray, and

From Vennachar in silver breaks, Vennachar; from the last of which the And here his course the chieftain stayed, 5 stream in question Threw down his target * and his plaid, flows. Target,

And to the Lowland * warrior said :

shield usually

6 Bold Saxon ! to his promise just, strong leather, and

Vich-Alpine * has discharged his trust. studded with brass or iron.

This murderous Chief, this ruthless man, 10 Lowland, the part of This head of a rebellious clan, * Scotland south of

Hath led thee safe through watch and ward, * the Grampian hills. Vich-Alpine, the des- Far past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard. cendant of Alpine,

Now, man to man, and steel to steel, the family name of Roderick Dhu.

A Chieftain's vengeance thou shalt feel ! 15 Clan, a Scottish

See here, all vantageless * I stand, family or tribe. Watch and ward,

Armed, like thyself, with single brand : soldiers on guard.

For this is Coilantogle ford, * Vantageless, without

And thou must keep thee with thy sword.” advantage. Brand, a sword. Coilantogle ford, on

The Saxon paused :-"I ne'er delayed, 20 the river

When foeman bade me draw my blade ; eastern extremity of Loch Vennachar.

Nay, more, brave Chief, I vowed thy death ; Life preserved, Ro- Yet sure thy fair and generous faith, derick had had

And my deep debt for life preserved,"
chance taking
Fitz-James's life.
A better meed * have well deserved :

25 Meed, reward.

Can nought but blood our feud * atone ? Feud, quarrel

Are there no means ?”—“No, Stranger,

none ! Flagging, growing And hear,—to fire thy flagging * zeal,spiritless.

The Saxon cause rests on thy steel ;






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* The Saxon and the Gael, James V., King of Scotland (Fitz-James), and Roderick Dhu, a Highland chief, who was a robber and murderer.

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Fate, destiny. Prophet, one who foretells future events.

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Brake, a place over.
grown with ferns or
briars, a thicket.
Red Murdoch, one of
the chief's clansmen,
who was slain by
Fitz-James for at-
tempting to take his
Stirling, a very an-
cient town, on the
south bank of the
Forth, the favourite
residence of the later
Scottish kings.
Plight, to pledge.

30 For thus spoke Fate, * by prophet * bred

Between the living and the dead :
'Who spills the foremost foeman's life,
His party conquers in the strife.'

Then, by my word,” the Saxon said, 35 “The riddle is already read.

Seek yonder brake * beneath the cliff,—
There lies Red Murdoch,* stark and stiff.
Thus Fate hath solved her prophecy ;

Then yield to Fate, and not to me. 40 To James, at Stirling,* let us go ;

When, if thou wilt be still his foe,
Or if the King shall not agree
To grant thee grace and favour free,

I plight * mine honour, oath, and word, 45 That, to thy native strengths restored,

With each advantage shalt thou stand
That aids thee now to guard thy land.”–
Dark lightning flashed from Roderick's eye-

“Soars thy presumption,* then, so high, 50 Because a wretched kern * ye slew,

Homage * to name to Roderick Dhu?
He yields not, he, to man nor Fate !
Thou add'st but fuel to my hate :-

My clansman's blood demands revenge.55 Not yet prepared! Nay, then, I change

My thought, and hold thy valour light
- Aš that of some vain carpet knight,*
Who ill deserved my courteous care,

And whose best boast is but to wear 60 A braid of his fair lady's hair.”

“I thank thee, Roderick, for the word !
It nerves my heart, it steels my sword;
For I have sworn this braid * to stain

In the best blood that warms thy vein.
65 Now, truce farewell ! and ruth begone !-

Yet think not that by thee alone,
Proud Chief! can courtesy be shown;
Though not from copse, or heath,* or cairn, *

Start at my whistle clansmen stern, 70 Of this small horn one feeble blast

Would fearful odds against thee cast.
But fear not-doubt not-which thou wilt-
We try this quarrel hilt to hilt.”

Then each at once his falchion * drew;
75 Each on the ground his scabbard * threw;

Presumption, pride. Kern, a Highland foot soldier armed with a sword


shield. The word is generally used as a term of contempt. Homage, submission.

Carpet knight, one who professes to be a soldier, but who shuns going to battle.


This braid, the lock
of hair belonging to
Blanche of Devan, a
half - crazed young
widow, who was killed
by Murdoch, with an
arrow intended for
Heath, a place over-
grown with short
Cairn,a heap of stones
to mark a grave.

Falchion, a sword. Scabbard, sheath, sword.case,


Dubious, doubtful, not sure.



Targe, a target or buckler, a shield.


Feint, to pretend to
strike one part, whilst
really intending to
hit another.
Gael, a native of the
Highlands of Scot-
Maintained, kept up.
Tartans, the plaids
worn by Scotchmen.



Invulnerable, not to
be overcome.
Foiled, disappointed.
Ta'en, taken,

Each looked to sun, and stream, and plain,
As what he ne'er might see again ;-
Then foot, and point, and eye opposed,
In dubious * strife they darkly closed.
Ill fared it then with Roderick Dhu
That on the field his targe * he threw,
Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide
Had death so often dashed aside ;
For, trained abroad his arms to wield,
Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield.

He practised every pass and ward,
To thrust, to strike, to feint,* to guard ;
While, less expert, though stronger far,
The Gael * maintained * unequal war.
Three times in closing strife they stood, 90
And thrice the Saxon blade drank blood :
No stinted draught, no scanty tide-
The gushing flood the tartans * dyed.
Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain,
And showered his blows like wintry rain: 95
And as firm rock, or castle-roof,
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, invulnerable * still,
Foiled * his wild


by steady skill;
Till, at advantage ta’en,* his brand
Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,
And backward borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud Chieftain * to his knee ! -
“Now yield thee, or by Him who made
The world, thy heart's blood dies my ics

“Thy threats, thy mercy, I defy !
Let recreant * yield, who fears to die.”-
Like adder * darting from his coil,
Like wolf that dashes through the toil,
Like mountain-cat who guards her young, 110
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung;
Received, but recked * not of a wound,
And locked his arms bis foeman round!
Now, gallant Saxon,* hold thine own!
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown ! 115
That desperate grasp thy frame might feel
Through bars of brass and triple steel !-
They tug, they strain !_down, down they

The Gael above, Fitz-James below!


Chieftain, the head of a clan.



Recreant, mean.
spirited person, a
Adder, a poisonous

Recked, cared.


Saxon here means a native of Lowlands of Scotland.

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