-Sir Walter Scott
Lochinvar is ballad about romance, courage penned by Sir Walter Scott.
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
The poem starts with the introduction of the protagonist by the name of Lochinvar. He is a courageous knight and undeterred romantic. He is described as the dawning of the sun (from west). The brave-heart is a skilled fighter and needs no other weapon than his stately sword to send terror down his enemies’ spine. He is a sole crusader who enters the field of battle with total confidence in his abilities and swordsmanship.
Another striking trait of Lochinvar is his loyalty and resoluteness in love. He loves Ellen, who is getting married to a timid and lethargic man. She and Lochinvar is a perfect match but Ellen’s father, the King, disapproves of the knight.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.
Now, the poet describes various feats and accomplishments of the young her. He never leaves any battle half-fought. He is tireless in his pursuit of victory and glory. He has swum through rivers like River Eske which is very deep and fast. where it was being crossed by some stream. It was a deep river that he crossed bravely and without any fear. But his final and most difficult battle is at the Netherby gate where his beloved Ellen has agreed to be marry another man who is not worthy of her beauty and grace. Now, he has arrived at the battle of win back his lost love. Ellen considers Lochinvar coward who left her behind in the war of love. He was heartbroken and disillusioned by Lochinvar’s passion for wars over love.
So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”
Now, the knight gets off at the hall. His presence sends a flutter in the crowd of women, men and Ellen’s family His arrival is considered an open act of outrage, brave but provocative. However, the meek groom does not even offer a syllable of protest or challenge. So it was the King who thunders a resounding declaration at Lochinvar. He inquires if he had come to fight or give her blessings to the marrying couple.
“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;—
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide—
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”
Lochinvar was equally defiant and bold in his reply. He said that he had already given up his pursuit of Ellen as the King had previously rebuffed his marriage proposal. He reassures Ellen and her people that he had only come to dance and drink in celebration. He goes on to proclaim that there were numerous maiden in Scotland, more beautiful and desirable than Ellen, who would be jumping at the chance of marrying the gallant hero.
The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,—
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.
Ellen offers Lochinvar a glass of wine after consecrating it with a kiss. The knight accepted it and drank it in one breath and threw the glass in anger. He is tormented by the fact that Ellen married another man and betrayed his love. However, he offers her a final dance together. Ellen is aggrieved at his contempt but agrees. The lovers are united again. She kept blushing unable to think clearly. But she kept a smile on her face signifying the upwelling affections for Lochinvar. Her eyes are awash with tears at the prospect of marrying another man and losing him forever tugs at her heartstrings. Such mixed emotions were tearing her from inside. He took one dance with the bride after she blessed his wine.
So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”
The pair danced and enraptured the whole crowd. Lochinvar’s stature and strength complemented Ellen’s poise and grace. The whole hall was sparkled with their starry presence. Ellen’s mother was anxious, her father infuriated and the groom helpless and humiliated. They could not do anything to drive a wedge between the reunited lovers. The bridesmaids were entranced by the perfect match of Ellen and Lochinvar as they swooned across the floor. There were soft cries of exultation and admiration at the divine match they both made.
One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.
Lochinvar touched Ellen’s hand and whispered in her ear. It was as if her disaffection for his alienation just melted away. She was hypnotized by his love. They both ran across the hall and reached for Lochinvar’s horse. He flung her on the horse and rose to take the reins in his hands. Determined and defiant Lochinvar proclaimed that he had won back his love and rode as hard as he could to get away from the chasing pack of Ellen’s kinsmen.
There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
The various clans of Scotland could not muster enough power to arrest the fleeting couple and imprison their unfettered love. Ultimately, they relented and the Ellen was never seen again in the region. She and her beloved rode in triumphantly into the sunset. The story of Lochinvar became the favorite fable for the people so much so that it was considered unmatched in terms of its heroism, romanticism, gallantry and lion-heartedness.
The poem intertwines beautifully intricacies of romance, war, relationships and power-play. It also celebrates triumph of love over discord and heroic actions over grandiose statements. Even though there is no explicit fighting in the poem, it has a wealth of implicit and cold moments of battle and one-upmanship and a final victory.