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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Branksome Hall

Branksome Hall

By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

(From The Lay of the Last Minstrel)

THE FEAST was over in Branksome tower,

And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower;

Her bower that was guarded by word and by spell,

Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell,—

Jesu Maria, shield us well!

No living wight, save the Ladye alone,

Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;

Knight and page and household squire,

Loitered through the lofty hall,

Or crowded round the ample fire;

The stag-hounds, weary with the chase,

Lay stretched upon the rushy floor,

And urged, in dreams, the forest race,

From Teviot stone to Eskdale moor.

Nine-and-twenty knights of fame

Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;

Nine-and-twenty squires of name

Brought them their steeds to bower from stall;

Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall

Waited, duteous, on them all:

They were all knights of metal true,

Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.

Ten of them were sheathed in steel,

With belted sword and spur on heel:

They quitted not their harness bright,

Neither by day, nor yet by night;

They lay down to rest,

With corselet laced,

Pillowed on buckler cold and hard;

They carved at the meal

With gloves of steel,

And they drank the red wine through the helmet barred.

Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,

Waited the beck of the warders ten;

Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,

Stood saddled in stable day and night,

Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,

And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow:

A hundred more fed free in stall;—

Such was the custom of Branksome Hall.

Why do these steeds stand ready dight?

Why watch these warriors, armed, by night?

They watch to hear the bloodhound baying;

They watch to hear the war-horn braying,

To see St. George’s red cross streaming,

To see the midnight beacon gleaming;

They watch, against Southern force and guile,

Lest Scroop, or Howard, or Percy’s powers,

Threaten Branksome’s lordly towers,

From Warkworth, or Naworth, or merry Carlisle.