The Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake

3.8 7
by Sir Walter Scott

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The poem begins with a rapid-moving hunt, chasing a stag in the forests of the Trossachs. The stag outruns the hunt, exhausting all its members until only one huntsman –- who, we later learn, is James Fitz-James –- follows it until his horse falls down dead of exhaustion. The huntsman blows his horn to try to contact someone, wanders to the shore of Loch


The poem begins with a rapid-moving hunt, chasing a stag in the forests of the Trossachs. The stag outruns the hunt, exhausting all its members until only one huntsman –- who, we later learn, is James Fitz-James –- follows it until his horse falls down dead of exhaustion. The huntsman blows his horn to try to contact someone, wanders to the shore of Loch Katrine, where a young woman, Ellen Douglas, rows across and picks him up in a skiff. He is then taken to a house, which he suspects is a concealed hide-out of a Highland chief. There he is given dinner by Ellen, the bard Allan Bane, and Lady Margaret, and a bed for the night. That night he dreams of Ellen, only to see her face suddenly change to that of his exiled enemy, James Douglas – leading him to suspect that Ellen and James Douglas are related.
Since the poem will only work if James Douglas and James Fitz-James do not encounter each other until the sixth canto, this canto has a number of comings and goings. James Fitz-James departs the island first thing in the morning. Ellen and Allan Bane discuss Roderick Dhu, Malcolm Graeme, and James Fitz-James, agreeing that the first is bloodthirsty and homicidal, but the only person who would defend James Douglas, and that James Fitz-James is an attractive person, but may be a secret foe of their kinspeople. Roderick Dhu, James Douglas, and Malcolm Graeme return to the island. As Clan Alpine escorts Roderick Dhu to the island, they sing the boat song, "Hail to the Chief". Roderick Dhu asks Douglas for Ellen's hand in marriage, to conclude an alliance between Douglas and Clan Alpine, which can be the basis of a Highland uprising against King James. James Douglas refuses, partly because he will not force Ellen into a loveless marriage, partly also because he remains, despite all the injuries he has suffered, loyal to King James. Roderick Dhu and Malcolm Graeme quarrel over Ellen, and are about to draw their swords against each other, but James Douglas declares that the first to draw will be his foe. James Douglas also says that it is an insult for an exile for his daughter to be the spoil of a battle between two chiefs. Roderick Dhu tells Graeme to leave his territory, which Graeme does, refusing even to borrow a boat; Graeme instead swims across Loch Katrine to the shore.
Despite James Douglas' refusal to participate in the uprising, Roderick Dhu decides to commence the rebellion anyway. With a pagan prophet, Brian the Hermit, Roderick fashions and sets alight the fiery cross, and hands it to his henchman, Malise, to summon the members of the clan to war. The members of the clan drop everything they are doing to respond to the summons of their chief, whether it be a funeral (Angus at the funeral of his father, Duncan) or a wedding (Norman and Mary). Malise runs around the countryside, finally passing the burning cross on to Angus, the son of Duncan, a leading member of the clan who has just died; and Angus, in his turn, passes the summons on to Norman, a bridegroom, interrupting Norman's wedding. James Douglas flees the island for a hermit's cave so that he will not be associated with the Clan Alpine uprising. As Roderick Dhu is about to leave the island, he overhears Ellen praying to the Virgin, singing "Ave Maria." Roderick Dhu sadly realizes that this is the last time he will ever hear Ellen's voice, and then prepares to go off to battle.
Malise and Norman discuss the upcoming battle. Roderick Dhu has decided that the women and old men should take shelter on the island in the middle of Loch Katrine. When Norman asks why Roderick is staying apart from the main body of the troops, Malise says it is the result of a prophecy made by Brian the Hermit.
Roderick Dhu had consulted Brian as to what will be the outcome of the battle. To determine this, they sacrifice one of the finest animals that the clan had received from one of its cattle raids, a milk-white bull. Brian prophesied,
"Which spills the foremost foeman's life, that party conquers in the strife"
— lines 2524-25

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The lady of the lake 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ive loved this book since i was a little girl and my great aunt would read passages of it to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Stewart, James V of Scotland (1512 - 1542), became king when 17 months old. He died unwounded after losing a battle to the English when barely 30 years old. He left an infant daughter as heir: Mary Queen of Scots. His mother was Margaret Tudor, sister of England's King Henry VIII. King James's widowed mother remarried, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus in 1525. For three years James's stepfather kept him a virtual prisoner till he escaped in 1528 and began to act as king in his own name. His hatred for the mighty Douglas earl extended to all major figures of the Douglas clan. *** Walter Scott's THE LADY OF THE LAKE is a narrative poem of 1810 in six cantos. It sketches six days in the young king's life and relates it to a fictitious brother of the Earl of Angus, James Douglas, and his beautiful young daughter Ellen. The King hates the very name of Douglas and has banished the entire clan leadership from Scotland, including Ellen's father. The two have taken refuge on an island in Loch Katrine in the Trossachs highlands with Black Roderick (Roderick Dhu) head of the rebellious Clan Alpine, which included its most numerous branch, the MacGregors. *** The king, who loves to wander among his people anonymously, loses his way while hunting a stag, is given hospitality as 'James Fitz-James, Knight of Snowdoun,', develops a crush on Ellen and returns to Stirling Castle. *** Meanwhile Lord James Douglas and Helen's preferred suitor, Malcolm Graeme, come to Roderick's castle. Word arrives that King James is about to invade Clan Alpine land. James and Ellen Douglas therefore seek shelter elsewhere to spare the Clan. Roderick gathers his followers for battle, after a pagan ritual and the sending of his messenger, Malise, to rally every able-bodied man by means of the burning cross. Later the King mortally wounds Roderick, is reconciled to James Douglas and approves Ellen's marrying young Malcolm Graeme. *** I love, and hope that you will as well, the color and music of Scott's verses and will complete this review by sharing two passages with you without comment. There are many other verses as good or better. *** --Canto Three, Stanza XII. Roderick Dhu despatches his man Malise to carry the burning cross summoning the clansmen to battle. Stanza after stanza Malise courses over river and up mountain. Speed is the motif. The Brian mentioned is the half-crazed hermit who has blooded and burnt the sticks of yew and formed them into a cross. Doom befall any follower of Roderick who did not instantly leave plow, bride or other duty to race toward Lanrick mead. *** 'Then Roderick with impatient look From Brian¿s hand the symbol took: *** `Speed, Malise, speed¿ he said, and gave The crosslet to his henchman brave. ¿The muster-place be Lanrick mead¿­ Instant the time¿¿­speed, Malise, speed!¿ *** Like heath-bird, when the hawks pursue, A barge across Loch Katrine flew: High stood the henchman on the prow So rapidly the barge-men row, The bubbles, where they launched the boat, Were all unbroken and afloat, Dancing in foam and ripple still, When it had neared the mainland hill *** And from the silver beach¿s side Still was the prow three fathom wide, When lightly bounded to the land The messenger of blood and brand.' *** --Canto Five, Stanza xxx King James, angered by the fickle mob's rising resentment at his arresting Lord James Douglas, after the latter had come to make peace with Clan Alpine, rides haughtily back into Stirling Castle. Earlier the same subjects had cheered their king. How fickle is their loyalty. He speaks aside to his trusted aide, Lord Lennox, like some latter- day Coriolanus: *** The offended Monarch rode apart, With bitter thought and swelling heart, And would not now vouchsafe again Through Stirling streets to lead his train. *** ¿O
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Okay, thank you. XD anyway, nice story! -Jaysoar
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