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Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

The Maid of Neidpath


              1  O lovers' eyes are sharp to see,
              2    And lovers' ears in hearing;
              3And love in life's extremity
              4    Can lend an hour of cheering.
              5Disease had been in Mary's bower,
              6    And slow decay from mourning,
              7Though now she sits on Neidpath's tower
              8    To watch her love's returning.

              9  All sunk and dim her eyes so bright,
            10    Her form decay'd by pining,
            11Till through her wasted hand, at night,
            12    You saw the taper shining;
            13By fits, a sultry hectic hue
            14    Across her cheek was flying,
            15By fits, so ashy pale she grew,
            16    Her maidens thought her dying.

            17  Yet keenest powers to see and hear
            18    Seem'd in her frame residing;
            19Before the watch-dog prick'd his ear,
            20    She heard her lover's riding;
            21Ere scarce a distant form was kenn'd,
            22    She knew, and waved to greet him;
            23And o'er the battlement did bend,
            24    As on the wing to meet him.

            25  He came--he passed--an heedless gaze,
            26    As o'er some stranger glancing;
            27Her welcome, spoke in faltering phrase,
            28    Lost in his courser's prancing--
            29The castle arch, whose hollow tone
            30    Returns each whisper spoken,
            31Could scarcely catch the feeble moan
            32    Which told her heart was broken.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: George Thomson, A select collection of original Scottish airs for the voice (London: T. Preston, 1803-09). 4 vols. in 2. musi Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto) (held in MUSI).
First publication date: 1806
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.129.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/3

Rhyme: ababcdcd


Other poems by Sir Walter Scott