The Book of Scottish Song/Dirge of Wallace

Dirge of Wallace.

[Thomas Campbell.]

They lighted a taper at the dead of night,
And chaunted their holiest hymn;
But her brow and her bosom were damp with affright,
Her eye was all sleepless and dim,—
And the lady of Elderslie wept for her lord,
When a death-watch beat in her lonely room,
When her curtain had shook of its own accord,
And the raven had flapp'd at her window board,
To tell her of her warrior's doom.

Now sing ye the Song, and loudly pray
For the soul of my knight so dear;
And call me a widow this wretched day,
Since the warning of God is here.
For a night-mare rides on my strangled sleep;
The lord of my bosom is doom'd to die;
His valorous heart they have wounded deep,
And the blood-red tears shall his country weep
For Wallace of Elderslie.

Yet knew not his country that ominous hour,
Ere the loud matin bell was rung,
That a trumpet of death on an English tower
Had the dirge of her champion sung.
When his dungeon light look'd dim and red.
On the high born blood of a martyr slain,
No anthem was sung at his holy deathbed,
No weeping there was when his bosom bled,
And his heart was rent in twain.

Oh! it was not thus when his oaken spear
Was true to the knight forlorn,
And hosts of a thousand were scatter'd, like deer
At the sound of the huntsman's horn
When he strode o'er the wreck of each well fought field,
With the yellow-hair'd chiefs of his native land;
For his lance was not shiver'd, or helmet, or shield,
And the sword that seem'd fit for Archangel to wield,
Was light in his terrible hand.

But, bleeding and bound, though the Wallace wight
For his much lov'd country die,
The bugle ne'er sung to a braver Knight
Than Wallace of Elderslie.
But the day of his glory shall never depart,
His head unintomb'd shall with glory be palm'd,
From his blood-streaming altar his spirit shall start,
Tho' the raven has fed on his mouldering heart,
A nobler was never embalm'd.