Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




Young Mary stole along the vale,
    To keep her tryst with Ulnor’s lord;
A warrior clad in coat of mail
    Stood darkling by the brawling ford.

“O let me pass, O let me pass,
    Dark falls the night on hill and lea;
Flies, flies the bright day swift and fast,
    From lordly bow’er and greenwood tree.
The small birds twitter as they fly
    To dewy bough and leaf-hid nest;
Dark fold the black clouds on the sky,
    And maiden terrors throng my breast!”

“And thou shalt pass, thou bonnie maid,
    If thou wilt only tell to me—
Why hiest thou forth in lonesome shade;
    Where may thy wish’d-for bourne be?”
“O let me by, O let me by,
    My granddam dwells by Ulnor’s shore;
She strains for me her failing eye—
    Beside her lowly ivied door.”

“I rode by Ulnor’s shore at dawn,
    I saw no ancient dame and cot;
I saw but startl’d doe and fawn—
    Thy bourne thou yet hast told me not.”
“O let me pass—my father lies
    Long-stretch’d in coffin and in shroud,—
Where Ulnor’s turrets climb the skies,
    Where Ulnor’s battlements are proud!”

“I rode by Ulnor’s walls at noon;
    I heard no bell for passing sprite;
And saw no henchman straik’d for tomb;
    Thou hast not told thy bourne aright.”
“O let me pass—a monk doth dwell
    In lowly hut by Ulnor’s shrine;
I seek the holy friar’s cell,
    That he may shrive this soul of mine.”

I rode by Ulnor’s shrine this day,
    I saw no hut—no friar’s cowl;
I heard no holy hermit pray—
    I heard but hooting of the owl!”
“O let me pass—time flies apace—
    And since thou wilt not let me be;
I tryst with chief of Ulnor’s race,
    Beneath the spreading hawthorn tree!” [Page 107]

“I rode beside the bonnie thorn,
    When this day’s sun was sinking low;
I saw a damsel like the morn,
    I saw a knight with hound and bow;
The chief was chief of Ulnor’s name,
    The maid was of a high degree;
I saw him kiss the lovely dame
    I saw him bend the suitor’s knee!

“I saw the fond glance of his eye
    To her red cheek red roses bring;
Between them, as my steed flew by,
    I saw them break a golden ring.”
“O wouldst thou know, thou curious knight,
    Where Mary’s bourne to-night will be?
Since thou has seen such traitor sight,
    Beneath the blooming hawthorn tree.”

Fair shone the yellow of her locks,
    Her cheek and bosom’s drifted snow;
She leap’d adown the sharp grey rocks,
    She sought the sullen pool below.
The knight his iron vizard rais’d,
    He caught young Mary to his heart;
She lifted up her head and gaz’d—
    She drew her yellow locks apart.

The roses touch’d her lovely face;
    The lilies white did faint and flee;
The knight was chief of Ulnor’s race,—
    His only true love still was she! [Page 108]