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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: There's a pleasant place of rest
Last Line: Take my leave!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bon Gaultier (with Theodore Martin)
Subject(s): Glasgow, Scotland; Knights & Knighthood; Legends; Rhyme

THERE'S a pleasant place of rest, near a City of the West,
Where its bravest and its best find their grave.
Below the willows weep, and their hoary branches steep
In the waters still and deep,
Not a wave!

And the old Cathedral Wall, so scathed and grey and tall,
Like a priest surveying all, stands beyond,
And the ringing of its bell, when the ringers ring it well,
Makes a kind of tidal swell
On the pond!

And there it was I lay, on a beauteous summer's day,
With the odour of the hay floating by;
And I heard the blackbirds sing, and the bells demurely ring,
Chime by chime, ting by ting,

Then my thoughts went wandering back, on a very beaten track,
To the confine deep and black of the tomb,
And I wondered who he was, that is laid beneath the grass,
Where the dandelion has
Such a bloom.

Then I straightway did espy, with my slantly sloping eye,
A carved stone hard by, somewhat worn;
And I read in letters cold -- were lyes Launcelot ye bolve,
Off ye race off Bogile old,
Glasgow borue

We wals ane balyaunt Knychte maist terrible in fychte
Here the letters failed outright, but I knew
That a stout crusading lord, who had crossed the Jordan's ford,
Lay there beneath the sward.
Wet with dew.

Time and tide they passed away, on that pleasant summer's day,
And around me, as I lay, all grew old:
Sank the chimneys from the town, and the clouds of vapour brown
No longer, like a crown,
O'er it rolled.

Sank the great Saint Rollox stalk, like a pile of dingy chalk;
Disappeared the cypress walk, and the flowers.
And a donjon keep arose, that might baffle any foes,
With its men-at-arms in rows,
On the towers.

And the flag that flaunted there, showed the grim and grizzly bear,
Which the Bogles always wear for their crest.
And I heard the warder call, as he stood upon the wall,
'Wake ye up! my comrades all,
From your rest!

'For, by the blessed rood, there's a glimpse of armour good
In the deep Cowcaddens wood, o'er the stream;
And I hear the stifled hum, of a multitude that come,
Though they have not beat the drum,
It would seem!

'Go tell it to my Lord, lest he wish to man the ford
With partisan and sword, just beneath;
Ho, Gilkison and Nares! Ho, Provan of Cowlairs!
We'll back the bonny bears
To the death!'

To the tower above the moat, like one who heedeth not,
Came the bold Sir Launcelot, half undressed;
On the outer rim he stood, and peered into the wood,
With his arms across him glued
On his breast.

And he mutter'd, 'Foe accurst! hast thou dared to seek me first?
George of Gorbals, do thy worst -- for I swear,
O'er thy gory corpse to ride, ere thy sister and my bride,
From my undissevered side
Thou shalt tear!

'Ho herald mine, Brownlee! ride forth, I pray, and see,
Who, what, and whence is he, foe or friend!
Sir Roderick Dalgleish, and my foster-brother Neish
With his bloodhounds in the leash,
Shall attend.'

Forth went the herald stout, o'er the drawbridge and without,
Then a wild and savage shout rose amain,
Six arrows sped their force, and, a pale and bleeding corse,
He sank from off his horse
On the plain!

Back drew the bold Dalgleish, back started stalwart Neish,
With his bloodhounds in the leash, from Brownlee.
'Now shame be to the sword that made thee knight and lord,
Thou caitiff thrice abhorred,
Shame on thee!

'Ho, bowmen, bend your bows! Discharge upon the foes,
Forthwith no end of those heavy bolts.
Three angels to the brave who finds the foe a grave,
And a gallows for the slave
Who revolts!'

Ten days the combat lasted; but the bold defenders fasted,
While the foemen, better pastied, fed their host;
You might hear the savage cheers of the hungry Gorbaliers,
As at night they dressed the steers
For the roast.

And Sir Launcelot grew thin, and Provan's double chin
Showed sundry folds of skin down beneath;
In silence and in grief found Gilkison relief,
Nor did Neish the spell-word, beef,
Dare to breathe.

To the ramparts Edith came, that fair and youthful dame,
With the rosy evening flame on her face.
She sighed, and looked around on the soldiers on the ground,
Who but little penance found,
Saying grace!

And she said unto her lord, as he leaned upon his sword,
'One short and little word may I speak?
I cannot bear to view those eyes so ghastly blue,
Or mark the sallow hue
Of thy cheek!

I know the rage and wrath that my furious brother hath
Is less against us both than at me.
Then, dearest, let me go to find among the foe
An arrow from the bow,
Like Brownlee!'

'I would soil my father's name, I would lose my treasured fame,
Ladye mine, should such a shame on me light:
While I wear a belted brand, together still we stand,
Heart to heart, hand in hand!'
Said the knight.

'All our chances are not lost, as your brother and his host
Shall discover to their cost rather hard!
Ho, Provan! take this key -- hoist up the Malvoisie,
And heap it, d'ye see,
In the yard.

'Of usquebaugh and rum, you will find, I reckon, some,
Besides the beer and mum, extra stout;
Go straightway to your tasks, and roll me all the casks,
As also range the flasks,
Just without.

'If I know the Gorbaliers, they are sure to dip their ears
In the very inmost tiers of the drink.
Let them win the outer-court, and hold it for their sport,
Since their time is rather short,
I should think!'

With a loud triumphant yell, as the heavy drawbridge fell,
Rushed the Gorbaliers pell-mell, wild as Druids;
Mad with thirst for human gore, how they threatened and they swore,
Till they stumbled on the floor,
O'er the fluids!

Down their weapons then they threw, and each savage soldier drew
From his belt an iron screw, in his fist:
George of Gorbals found it vain their excitement to restrain,
And indeed was rather fain
To assist.

With a beaker in his hand, in the midst he took his stand,
And silence did command, all below --
'Ho! Launcelot the bold, ere thy lips are icy cold,
In the centre of thy hold,
Pledge me now!

'Art surly, brother mine? In this cup of rosy wine,
I drink to the decline of thy race!
Thy proud career is done, thy sand is nearly run,
Never more shall setting sun
Gild thy face!

'The pilgrim in amaze, shall see a goodly blaze,
Ere the pallid morning rays flicker up.
And perchance he may espy certain corpses swinging high!
What, brother! art thou dry?
Fill my cup!'

Dumb as death stood Launcelot, as though he heard him not,
But his bosom Provan smote, and he swore:
And Sir Roderick Dalgleish remarked aside to Neish,
'Never sure did thirsty fish
Swallow more!

'Thirty casks are nearly done, yet the revel's scarce begun,
It were knightly sport and fun to strike in!'
'Nay, tarry till they come,' quoth Neish, 'unto the rum --
They are working at the mum,
And the gin!'

Then straight there did appear to each gallant Gorbalier
Twenty castles dancing near, all around,
The solid earth did shake, and the stones beneath them quake,
And sinuous as a snake
Moved the ground.

Why and wherefore they had come, seemed intricate to some,
But all agreed the rum was divine.
And they looked with bitter scorn on their leader highly born,
Who preferred to fill his horn
Up with wine!

Then said Launcelot the tall, 'Bring the chargers from their stall;
Lead them straight unto the hall, down below:
Draw your weapons from your side, fling the gates asunder wide,
And together we shall ride
On the foe!'

Then Provan knew full well as he leaped into his selle,
That few would 'scape to tell how they fared,
And Gilkison and Nares, both mounted on their mares,
Looked terrible as bears,
All prepared.

With his bloodhounds in the leash, stood the iron-sinewed Neish,
And the falchion of Dalgleish glittered bright --
'Now, wake the trumpet's blast; and, comrades, follow fast;
Smite them down unto the last!'
Cried the knight.

In the cumbered yard without, there was shriek, and yell, and shout,
As the warriors wheeled about, all in mail.
On the miserable kerne, fell the death-strokes stiff and stern,
As the deer treads down the fern,
In the vale!

Saint Mungo be my guide! It was goodly in that tide
To see the Bogle ride in his haste;
He accompanied each blow, with a cry of 'Ha!' or 'Ho!'
And always cleft the foe
To the waist.

'George of Gorbals -- craven lord! thou didst threat me with the cord,
Come forth and brave my sword, if you dare!'
But he met with no reply, and never could descry
The glitter of his eye

Ere the dawn of morning shone, all the Gorbaliers were down,
Like a field of barley mown in the ear:
It had done a soldier good, to see how Provan stood,
With Neish all bathed in blood,
Panting near.

'Now ply ye to your tasks -- go carry down those casks,
And place the empty flasks on the floor.
George of Gorbals scarce will come, with trumpet and with drum,
To taste our beer and rum
Any more!'

So they plied them to their tasks, and they carried down the casks,
And replaced the empty flasks on the floor;
But pallid for a week was the cellar-master's cheek,
For he swore he heard a shriek
Through the door.

When the merry Christmas came, and the Yule-log lent its flame
To the face of squire and dame in the hall,
The cellarer went down to tap October brown,
Which was rather of renown
'Mongst them all.

He placed the spigot low, and gave the cask a blow,
But his liquor would not flow through the pin.
'Sure, 'tis sweet as honeysuckles!' so he rapped it with his knuckles.
But a sound, as if of buckles,
Clashed within.

'Bring a hatchet, varlets, here!' and they cleft the cask of beer:
What a spectacle of fear met their sight!
There George of Gorbals lay, skull and bones all blanched and grey.
In the arms he bore the day
Of the fight!

I have sung this ancient tale, not, I trust, without avail,
Though the moral ye may fail to perceive;
Sir Launcelot is dust, and his gallant sword is rust,
And now, I think, I must
Take my leave!

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