Saturday, August 15, 2009

In Loving Tribute to Sir Walter Scott on His Birthday, August 15th, 1771

He was Christian Europe’s greatest spokesman. A man incapable of lying, of meanness, or anything that was less than Christian. He took the chivalric code of the medieval ages, lying in disuse in the dustbin of history, and revived it for a whole generation of Europeans. But Scott’s chivalry was much deeper than the chivalry of the medieval knights and squires. Scott was a proponent of a chivalry of the heart that belongs to all Europeans who see Christ in the European mists. Braver than the bravest, the truest, most valiant heart in Christendom: that was and is Sir Walter Scott.
Hymn for the Dead

The day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner’s stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When, shriveling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead,

Oh! on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay
Be THOU the trembling sinner’s stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away.

Hush’d is the harp—the Minstrel gone,
And did he wander forth alone?
Alone, in indigence and age,
To linger out his pilgrimage?
No; close beneath proud Newark’s tower,
Arose the Minstrel’s lowly bower;
A simple hut; but there was seen
The little garden hedged with green,
The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean.
There shelter’d wanderers, by the blaze,
Oft heard the tale of other days;
For much he loved to ope his door,
And give the aid he begg’d before.
So pass’d the winter’s day; but still,
When summer smiled on sweet Bowhill,
And July’s eve, with balmy breath,
Waved the blue-bells on Newark heath;
When throstles sung in Hareheadshaw,
And corn was green on Carterhaugh,
And flourish’d, broad, Blackandro’s oak,
The aged Harper’s soul awoke!
Then would he sing achievements high,
And circumstance of chivalry.
Till the rapt traveler would stay,
Forgetful of the closing day;
And noble youths, the strain to hear,
Forsook the hunting of the deer;
And Yarrow, as he roll’d along,
Bore burden to the Minstrel’s song.

-- from The Lay of the Last Minstrel