"Answer Came There None"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: During the early nineteenth century Walter Scott, known for his ballads, narrative poems, and historical novels, captured the Romantic interest in the medieval past. The descendant of a family related to the old Scotch clan of Buccleuch, he cherished the ambition to become a landed aristocrat and attempted to recapture the flamboyancy and magnificence of the past through the construction of the mansion of Abbotsford on the banks of the Tweed. He was known to his readers as "The Wizard of the North" and, until the sudden advent of Byron on the literary scene with the publication of Childe Harold, was the most popular writer of his day. One of Scott's later poems, "The Bridal of Triermain," is the first of a long series of nineteenth century treatments of the "Matter of Arthur." Around the Arthurian characters he winds the legend of Sleeping Beauty, thus creating a tone of the marvelous and supernatural which is commonplace to the metrical romance. Lord Roland de Vaux, motivated by a strange and inexplicable sound of the harp, undertakes a perilous journey both to test his chivalry and to search for a bride for Triermain. At one point he must pass through a forbidding valley which, following sunset, takes on a ghastly hue and is filled with strange and shrieking sounds. Dauntless, Roland rushes from his cave-shelter to do battle with whatever adversary there may be, only to find the sounds and the sight a phantasy of the enchanted mind:

He paused perforce, and blew his horn,
And on the mountain-echoes borne
Was heard an answering sound,
A wild and lonely trumpet-note;
In middle air it seem'd to float
High o'er the battled mound;
And sounds were heard, as when a guard
Of some proud castle, holding ward,
Pace forth their nightly round.
The valiant Knight of Triermain
Rung forth his challenge-blast again,
But answer came there none;
And 'mid the mingled wind and rain,
Darkling he sought the vale in vain,
Until the dawning shone; . . .