The Lady of the Lake
Independently Published, Mar 11, 2018 - 212 pages
The Lady of the Lake is a narrative poem by Walter Scott, first published in 1810. Set in the Trossachs region of Scotland, it is composed of six cantos, each of which concerns the action of a single day. The poem has three main plots: the contest among three men, Roderick Dhu, James Fitz-James, and Malcolm Graeme, to win the love of Ellen Douglas; the feud and reconciliation of King James V of Scotland and James Douglas; and a war between the lowland Scots (led by James V) and the highland clans (led by Roderick Dhu of Clan Alpine). The poem was tremendously influential in the nineteenth century, and inspired the Highland Revival.By the late nineteenth century, however, the poem was much less popular. (It continued, however, to be a standard reading in elementary schools until the early twentieth century.) Its influence is indirect: Schubert's Ellens Dritter Gesang (later adapted to use the full lyrics of the Latin Ave Maria), Rossini's La Donna del Lago (1819), the Ku Klux Klan custom of cross burning, the last name of U.S. abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and the song "Hail to the Chief", were all inspired by It shares its name with the Arthurian character, the Lady of the Lake. Other allusions to the legend are scant.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, and 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. AuthorWalter Scott (15 August 1771 - 21 September 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, poet and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.Although primarily remembered for his extensive literary works and his political engagement, Scott was an advocate, judge and legal administrator by profession, and throughout his career combined his writing and editing work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire.A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society and served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820-32).Sir Walter Scott, novelist and poet - painted by Sir William AllanIn 1796, Scott's friend James Ballantyne founded a printing press in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders. Through Ballantyne, Scott was able to publish his first works, including "Glenfinlas" and "The Eve of St. John", and his poetry then began to bring him to public attention. In 1805, The Lay of the Last Minstrel captured wide public imagination, and his career as a writer was established in spectacular fashion.The way was long, the wind was cold,The Minstrel was infirm and old The Lay of the Last Minstrel (first lines)He published many other poems over the next ten years, including the popular The Lady of the Lake, printed in 1810 and set in the Trossachs. Portions of the German translation of this work were set to music by Franz Schubert. One of these songs, "Ellens dritter Gesang", is popularly labelled as "Schubert's Ave Maria".Beethoven's opus 108 "Twenty-Five Scottish Songs" includes 3 folk songs whose words are by Walter Scott. Marmion, published in 1808, produced lines that have become proverbial. Canto VI. Stanza 17 reads:
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