Sir Walter Scott was a contemporary of the early Romantic writers Wordsworth and Coleridge; but doesn’t really fit into their school–he certainly doesn’t share their ideas about poetry and poets in particular. And unfortunately, he is not much regarded today–despite being one of the most popular poets during his time, if not the single most popular. Of course, he was better known then for his great narrative poems (I recommend The Lord of the Isles to anyone with an appetite for narrative poetry), an entire genre virtually unread today. But here you may enjoy a sampling of some of his lyrics (one of which, Lochinvar, in a jaunty anapestic meter):
Oh, say not, my love, with that mortified air,
That your spring-time of pleasure has flown,
Nor bid me to maids that are younger repair,
For those raptures that still are thine own.
Though April his temples may wreathe with the vine,
Its tendrils in infancy curl’d,
‘Tis the ardour of August matures us the wine,
Whose life-blood enlivens the world.
Though thy form, that was fashion’d as light as a fay’s,
Has assumed a proportion more round,
And thy glance, that was bright as a falcon’s at gaze,
Looks soberly now on the ground—
Enough, after absence to meet me again,
Thy steps still with ecstasy move;
Enough, that those dear sober glances retain
For me the kind language of love.
The Truth of a Woman
Woman’s faith, and woman’s trust –
Write the characters in the dust;
Stamp them on the running stream,
Print them on the moon’s pale beam,
And each evanescent letter
Shall be clearer, firmer, better,
And more permanent, I ween,
Than the thing those letters mean.
I have strain’d the spider’s thread
‘Gainst the promise of a maid;
I have weigh’d a grain of sand
‘Gainst her plight of heart and hand;
I told my true love of the token,
How her faith proved light, and her word was broken:
Again her word and truth she plight,
And I believed them again ere night.
“Youth! thou wear’st to manhood now”
Youth! thou wear’st to manhood now
Darker lip and darker brow;
Statelier step, more pensive mien,
In thy face and gait are seen;
Thou must now brook midnight watches,
Take thy food and sport by snatches!
For the gambol and the jest
Thou wert wont to love the best,
Graver follies must thou follow,
But as senseless, false, and hollow.
O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And, save his good broadsword, he weapon had none,
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
But, ere he alighted at the Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late;
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of Brave Lochinvar.
So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,
Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all.
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word),
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”
“I long wooed your daughter, my suit you denied—
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide—
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine,
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”
The bride kissed the goblet; the knight took it up,
He quaffed off the wine, and threw down the cup.
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar—
“Now tread we a measure,” said young Lochinvar.
So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume…
One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reached the hall door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung;
“She is won! We are gone! Over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.
There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran;
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?