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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 V (Continued)
How WALLACE escaped out of St. Johnstoun past to Elchock Park, and killed Fawdoun. How he past to Lochmabane. How WALLACE wan the Castle of Crawford, and killed the Captain thereof

Read a synopsis of this book in modern American English.

But as a Torrent with impetous Pride
From some steep Mountain pours its rapid Tide,
Then swell'd by meeting Riv'lets rouls amain,
With Ten fold roar, and Swallows up the Plain,
So with successive Troops the Foe renew'd,
Condense apace, and thicken to a Crowd.
The Chief retires intrepid and serene,
While Twenty Foes, unsoul'd adorn the fatal Scene.
Fearless he inches back. His Sword on high
Refulgent, flaming adverse to the Sky,
Still ey'd his Enemies with greedy View,
And Parthian-like, still wounded as he flew.

And now the Foes no more Inflame the War,
But roar in fainter Sounds and menace from afar.
The panting Knight now eas'd from warlike Care,
Reclines supine, and breaths the cooling Air.
Now had the Night assum'd her still Command,
And spread her sable Conquests o'er the Land;
Darkness alone sat lowring all around,
And more than Midnight Horror cloath'd the Ground.

Our Heroe weak and faint pursues his Way,
Involv'd in Gloom, without one glimpse of Day.
The dreary Wilds with Fens and Mire o'erspread,
Retard his Passage and his Steps mislead.
His Horse grown restive and o'ercome with Pain,
Fell giddy to the Ground and press'd the Plain.
Wallace on Foot toils out his lonesome Path,
Now plung'd in Fens, now lost in rising Heath.

Reviv'd by Heaven, at length to Forth he came,
That thro' the Country Rouls its awful Stream.
Circling it runs and with Majestick Pride,
Into old Ocean dissembogues its Tide.
Upon the gloomy Margin Wallace stood,
Alone, and fearless plung'd into the Flood:
With Nervous Arms he stems the surging Waves,
Dashes the Tide, and all its Horrors braves.
His well-try'd Sword cuts out a liquid Path,
And guides his Course thro' watrie Scenes of Death.
Fainting he made the Land; his Veins all chill'd
With numbing Colds that thro' his Vitals thrill'd;
For Winter now had tempested the Air,
And with bleak Aspect Froze the aged Year.
While the far distant Sun with slanting Ray,
Obliquely Shone, and scarcely litt the Day.

The Knight from Towns and Cities keeps aloof,
Secure beneath a Widow's lowly Roof:
Who with a lib'ral Hand reliev'd his Wants.
Fonded his Breast, and sooth'd his bursting Plaints.
To needful Rest he now applys his Head.
But first the Maid dispatch'd with cautious Dread,
To view Gaskhall that burning seem'd of late,
To trace his Followers, and learn their Fate.

Now coming Sleep spreads all her balmy Charms,
And clasps the Heroe in her silken Arms,
Within a darksome Wood securely laid
The Shrubs his Pillow, and the Grass his Bed:
Attending, the kind Widow's Sons stood near,
And Guard his Slumbers with officious Care.

A Priest beheld the Chief compos'd to Rest,
Drew near, and thus his puny Fears exprest,
"Behold the Patriot now, whose puissant Hand,
Must rid us of the Foe, and free our Land!
Alas! good Ventrous Youth how weak he lies,
Expos'd to raging Storms and wintrey Skies,
Trembling he sleeps, and verging on Despair,
Obnoxious now to every Female Snare."

The Chief wak'd at the Sound, flung up enrag'd,
"I'm not," he cry'd, "so feebly equipag'd.
My Arm and Fortitude assert my Right,
And all my honest Actions dare the Light.
While Scotland's wrongs edge keen my well try'd Sword
I'll never poorly own a foreign Lord.
And thou Inglorious Priest untouch'd remain,
And owe thy Life alone to my Disdain."
He said. And with his Nephew turn'd aside
Recounting how he plough'd the foamy Tide
Dark and alone; while his poor ebb of Blood
That flow'd amain distain'd the Chrystal Flood
And how to finish all his other Woes
His Men had fallen a prey to cruel Foes.

The Priest o'erhearing cry'd, "Dear Son behold
How Heaven confirms what I but now foretold.
Thy Friends are lost, thy self aloof from Aid
To all th' Assaults of Fortune open laid.
Forbear to tempt thy Fate, give up thy Sword
And own great Edward for thy rightful Lord."

"No more," fierce Wallace stern'd his Brow and cry'd
"My Life alone shall the long Strife decide,
Thy tainted Words Venom the ambient Air;
Cut thro' my Soul and aggravate my Care.
My Countrys Wrongs cry for Revenge aloud
And this good Sword is keen. It thirsts, for Blood
And only can be sated with a Flood."

But while he spake, with hasty Strides drew near
Ireland and Kierly, still to Wallace Dear.
As Sorrow late a Sovereign Sway possest,
Smiles kindle in each Cheek and Joy in every Breast!
While the vast Pleasure that each Aspect wears
Too big for Words, now vents it self in Tears.
The Chief beheld the Scene of grateful Woe,
And now his kindly Show'rs with theirs united flow.
The wond'rous Friends their dubious Fate review,
And with amusing Talk prolong the Interview.
How they had mingled Heron with the Slain,
And unobserv'd escap'd the fatal Plain.
By this came back the Servant and reveal'd,
What Dismal Scenes she every where beheld.
How goary Corses strew'd the Purple Ground,
And Death in bloody Triumph stalk'd around.

Next page: Book V, 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.

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