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Blind Harry's Wallace

The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace,
General and Governour of Scotland
by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield

Book VI, Chapter I
Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Now had cold February spent its Store,
And Boreas rushing Blasts offend no more;
No more the Hurricane embroils the Deep,
And driving Winds on its smooth Surface sleep:
No more the Plains in standing Lakes appear,
And March had spent the Winter of the Year

Now April joyous Mouth; its Course begun,
And hoary Snows now melted to the Sun,
A springing Verdure crowns the happy Land,
And smiling Nature own'd the Summer's Hand.
While thus the Earth smiles in its Gayity,
And Summer Weeds adorn each springing Tree:
The busy Nymphs renew their annual Toil,
And build their Grott's perfum'd with Balm and Oil,
Each blythsome Hour, in Ranks they dance along,
And the pleas'd Hunter listens to their Song.

In this blest June when all conspir'd to move,
His manly Soul with the soft Flame of Love,
Our Knight to Lanerk went of new again,
Seiz'd with the Pangs of his returning Pain,
He runs with Joy to meet his lovely Fair,
Nor reck'd he of his English Foes since she was there:
The subtile Flame feirce roll'd within his Breast,
Hot in his Pain he thought ne'er one so blest.
Sometimes the Thought of Conquest wou'd return,
And fierce Ambition in his Bosom burn;
His Country's Glory rise before his sight,
And Love's soft Joys yield to the Toils of Fight;
At other Times, Love wou'd usurp again,
Fair Glory's Charms decay, and War subside again.

Shall I no more hear the fierce Battles rage,
No more in bloody Fields my Foes engage,
Shall Love's imperious Powers thus control
My easy Heart, and move my pliant Soul:
What Plague is this? This Bane of Mortals Love?
That me from Arms of Glory wou'd remove.
My Honour calls, and nothing e're shall make,
Me lose my Honour for my Pleasure's sake;
To War I will, and shine in Arms again,
And Love shall spread its Silken Chains in Vain."

While thus the Heroe spent his anxious Life,
And Love and Honour held the doubtful Strife,
Alternate Passions rul'd his wav'ring Mind,
And now to this, and now that inclin'd.
At last resolv'd to finish all his Grief,
And give his mourning Soul a sure Relief:
To wed with holy Love the beauteous Dame,
Give loose to his Desire, and quench the sacred Flame.
And dow the Morning its fair Beams display'd,
And Musick wakened into bliss the Maid.
Conubial Hymen wav'd his Torch on high,
And bad their future Life, compleatest Joy;
Now live in strictest Unity of Love,
And for all jarring Dissonance remove.

Let wing'd with Pleasure the soft Minutes flow,
And lasting Bliss no Interruption know.
A rising Joy now dawns within his Breast,
Of all that Heaven cou'd bestow possest:
With Pleasure, now he runs his Dangers o'er,
And Fortune's various Face offends no more;
In her alone he places his Delight,
And Joy arises from her only Sight:
While with like Heat, her faithful Bosom warms,
For in his Time he was the Flow'r of Arms;
Thus blooming Love extends his soft Command,
And joyful Hymen reigns with equal Hand.

While now the Heroe far from Wars alarms,
Enjoys all Pleasure in his Consort's Arms;
His former Love of Glory fires again
His Martial Soul, and prompts him to the Plain;
To bear aloft again the Patriot Shield,
And vindicate his Country in the Field:
His burning Breast glows yet with Fields unfought,
And future Triumphs rise upon his Thought.
Now leave thy Mirth, and seek thy Country's Foes,
Tho' round thy Head the gath'ring Battle glows
Go leave thy Love or glorious Freedom lose.
Which ne'er on Earth shall be Redeem'd again,
Go live in War, go live in cruel Pain:
And then just GOD, who does this World sustain,
Let not this Thrist of Vengeance be in vain.
Let Heav'n with due Success still crown the Just,
And lay the proud Oppressor in the Dust.

But now his faithful Wife, employs his Care,
Expos'd to all the common Ills of War;
Shou'd he by adverse Fate be forc'd to yield,
And to the Foe give up the vanquish'd Field:
A Thousand sad corroding Cares infest,
And Fate hangs gloomy on his anxious Breast.
Far from the hoarse Noise of the thund'ring War,
He wou'd remove the Object of his Care;
But sad with Grief relents his bleeding Heart,
And his Thoughts shrink, at the dread Word to part.

'Twas now the Time when all to Rest repair,
And weary Wretches laid aside each Care;
When with fond Arms the fair Fidelia prest,
Her panting Heroe to her snowy Breast;
With Grief she found the rising Tears bedew
His manly Face, and heard the Sighs he drew:
With frequent Sobs her heaving Bosom rose,
And catch'd the dear Infection of his Woes;
On her pale Cheeks does livid Paleness rise,
And Sorrow speaks in Silence from her Eyes.

Then with a Groan thus he, "Long I've supprest,
The struggling Passion in my labouring Breast;
But now all sad Restraints at once give way,
Fierce Sorrow bids me speak, and I obey;
Behold our Native Country drown'd in Tears,
Around one general Face of Woe appears.
In vain we're blest with kind indulgent Skies,
And Suns in vain, with genial Ardor rise,
In vain a yellow Harvest crowns the Plain,
And nodding Boughs their golden Load sustain:
The Peasant comfortless repining stands,
And sees his Harvest reap'd by others Hands;
See the fierce Soldier rages o'er the Land,
The Flames wide spreading from the Hostile Hand:
Those shining Spires who lately pierc'd the Sky,
Now equal with the Ground in Ruins lye,
O dire and curst Effects of Slavery.
Yet once I nobly durst assert her Right,
Bold in her Cause, and dauntless in each Fight;
But now the useless Sword is laid aside,
And my once faithful Helm long been untry'd,
But now the Tyrants Pow'r we dare restrain,
And Liberty shall rear her Head again:
With fell Revenge another War prepare,
Bend the long unstrung Bow,
And launch the rusty Spear."

Next page: Book VI, Chapter I, Continued

The ballad, The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace, General and Governour of Scotland, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, 1722, is in the public domain.