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Anna Jane Vardill

The Warden of Carlisle

A Border Tale

O where are the Chiefs of Doon and Kyle?
 And why are our clans asleep?
They have ta’en my father by Southron guile,
 To lay him in Donjon-keep.
My father loves the lowland kine,
 Or the foray in down or dell;
But better he loves the Warden’s wine
 Than the Warden’s Donjon-cell.”

“Hast thou no lover, lady fair,
 To mount that gallant steed,
And break thy father’s donjon-bar
 While Southron traitors bleed?
Hast thou no lover, fair Laidie
 His good claymore to hold?
One lock of thy yellow hair would buy
 More than all the Warden’s gold!
I have but a Palmer’s staff and hood,
 My wrinkled brow is grey:
Yet there is a drop of youthful blood
 Glows warm in my heart to-day!”—
“Then, Palmer, give me thy mantle grey,
 In merry Carlisle I’ll sleep;
And my father shall laugh ere dawning day
 At the Warden’s Donjon-keep.”

The Palmer has open’d his mantle wide,
 And cast his crosier by;—
The Warden’s sword is by his side,
 And a red light in his eye.
Yestre’n when he came to Margaret’s bow’r,
 His tangled beard was white:
Now his locks are like the yellow flow’r,
 And his glance as the morning bright.

“Kneel not, fair daughter of Buccleugh!
 I pray thee, kneel not now!
Thy father’s hand my father slew,
 Tho’ milk-white was his brow.
Kneel not to me, sweet Margaret!
 Still leave thy wealth untold—
There is no Border-baron yet
 Who sells his hate for gold.”

“Lord Warden, take the jewels bright,
 That in my coffer lie,
But grant one ray of morning-light
 To bless my father’s eye!
I’ll give thee Lauder’s greenest linn,
 And Ettrick’s tow’r and dell,
For one breath of the western wind
 To cheer his Donjon-cell!”

“Nay, Lady, give me thy blue eye’s light,
 Breathe but one gentle sigh,
And I’ll pledge the faith of an English knight
 Thy father shall not die.
I came a traitor’s face to seek,
 But thine is kind and true;
Thou has England’s red rose in the cheek,
 Thine eye has her holy blue.

Take thou my ring as I take thine,
 Then kiss the cup with me;
This honest draught of rosy wine
 Our pledge of love shall be.”

The Warden quaff’d the silver tank—
 The draught was long and deep:
The next draught that the Warden drank
 His eyes were clos’d in sleep.

The lady has stolen the gay gold ring,
 And the Warden’s wide mantile;
Then she glints away like a raven’s wing
 To the Donjon of old Carlisle.
“Come forth, Buccleugh, from thy donjon deep!
 This mantle is long and wide!
Come forth while thy foes are hush’d in sleep,
 And haste to thy own burnside!”

The watchman look’d from the castle-rock
 When he heard the grey cock crow;
And he smil’d to see the Warden’s cloak,
 And a kirtle* glide below.

* * *

Buccleugh is come with his daughter fair
 To his own good Castle-ground;
But the gallant Warden still lies there
 In slumbers soft and sound.

“Now peace to thy pillow, noble knight!
 Content may thy night-dreams be!
The heart that has lov’d my Margaret
 Shall never have wound from me.
But thou shalt learn what faith to place
 In the blink of a rolling eye;
And thy King shall learn in how soft a space
 The wits of his Warden lie.”

The King has ridden thro’ Carlisle-town
 With gold on his war-steed’s shoe:—
“And where (quo’ he) is my Warden gone,
 And the robber, bold Buccleugh?”—
The King rode on to the western lea
 To seek the robber’s track,
But there he has found the Donjon-key
 And his Warden—in a sack.


* A woman's garment.

The European Magazine, Vol. 67, May 1815, pp. 442-443