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

Loch Vennachar

Loch Vennachar

By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

(From The Lady of the Lake)

THAT early beam, so fair and sheen,

Was twinkling through the hazel screen,

When, rousing at its glimmer red,

The warriors left their lowly bed,

Looked out upon the dappled sky,

Muttered their soldier matins by,

And then awaked their fire, to steal,

As short and rude, their soldier meal.

That o’er, the Gael around him threw

His graceful plaid of varied hue,

And, true to promise, led the way,

By thicket green and mountain gray.

A wildering path!—they winded now

Along the precipice’s brow,

Commanding the rich scenes beneath,

The windings of the Forth and Teith,

And all the vales between that lie,

Till Stirling’s turrets melt in sky;

Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance

Gained not the length of horseman’s lance.

’T was oft so steep, the foot was fain

Assistance from the hand to gain;

So tangled oft, that, bursting through,

Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,—

That diamond dew, so pure and clear,

It rivals all but Beauty’s tear!

At length they came where, stern and steep,

The hill sinks down upon the deep.

Here Vennachar in silver flows,

There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose;

Ever the hollow path twined on,

Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;

An hundred men might hold the post

With hardihood against a host.

The rugged mountain’s scanty cloak

Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,

With shingles bare, and cliffs between,

And patches bright of bracken green,

And heather black, that waved so high,

It held the copse in rivalry.

But where the lake slept deep and still,

Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill;

And oft both path and hill were torn,

Where wintry torrents down had borne,

And heaped upon the cumbered land

Its wreck of gravel, rocks, and sand.