Thomas Aird

Flowers of The Old Scottish Thistle: Flower The First: Maid Marion

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Look in and fear not, yet with reverence look;
Silent and dark, but holy is the place:
Enter the cave: Here lies Maid Marion's dust.
An orphan only child, whose sire, the friend
Of Wallace, fell, what time our Champion led
The Fatherland unconquered to the stress
Of that long wrestle for our future peace,
She drew romantic daring from the time,
And loved Sir William with a patriot love.

Dark days fell on our Man: his hunted head,
A price thereon, lay in the caves of earth;
But he had pressed her dying father's hand,
In wordless answer to his murmured prayer,
That he would be a guardian to his child.
And was he not? In all his darkest days,
Betide what might, he to young Marion came,
And cheered the orphan in her lonely home.
Then drew he to this cave, not distant far,
For foes were round about him, and the maid
Brought food to him by night, and every morn,
A young-eyed sentinel o'er his going forth,
Hovering she guarded him from danger near.

But Treachery took him; and that stately head
Of golden locks redundant, that so oft
O'er War's wild surf, the day-star of our hope,
Fulgent for us had risen, was trailed in dust
Dishonoured to the death: Through all the throng
Of that vast city, and through all those guards,
Young Marion burst—she burst: low bowing down,
She took and she held up that sacred head,
To keep it from the dust, and kissed him oft;
And no man had the power to trouble her.
She saw him die: she bore his latest breath
Shaped in a message to the Bruce; though brief,
The seed and pregnant germ of Bannockburn,
And all the issues of that mighty day.

But sorrow now had touched the damsel's brain
To wildness, wandering o'er the Scottish hills.
And ever, when the annual eve came round
On which the Chieftain was betrayed, in calm
Or tempest, round the dwelling of Monteith,
Was heard the voice of her prophetic doom,
All through the night; and oft his way she crossed;
And oft she hung and hovered o'er his path,
Giving his blasted name to infamy,
The avenging spirit of all future time.
And round the land she went, with many a song
Of old heroic days rousing the youth
To arms; nor vainly, for, where'er she went,
The people loved her reverently, for all
She did for Wallace, for her beauty rare,
Her ancient lineage and her lot forlorn:
The ploughman left his plough, the smith his forge,
Down came the plaided shepherd at her call,
Grave from the sabbath of the mountain-top,
All to work out the great deliverance.

Bruce rose triumphant: Round his camps and fields
Hung the wild lass, a Spirit of the war;
And aye when victory came, she clapped her hands,
And cried aloud, “Wallace has done it all!”
Then sought the wounded; and, by day and night,
Who like Maid Marion was their minister?
The beauteous maniac flitted through the field
Of Bannockburn; but, as the battle ceased,
A random arrow pierced her virgin breast.
They told the Bruce: down from his charger sprung
The good King Robert, and his bloody brow
Wiping, he bowed him o'er the dying maid,
And pressed her hand, in token he would do
Her last request—for now her soul was clear.
“The work is finished!” with a smile she said,
Then told her wish; and, faithful to her wish,
King Robert buried her within this cave,
Where Wallace oft had laid his patriot head.

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Thomas Aird