The Lay of the Last Minstrel

by Sir Walter Scott

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"This Is My Own, My Native Land!"

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Context: An aged minstrel, last of the harpers, recites a tale of the love and the final union of lovers from rival families in sixteenth century Scotland. The love story is all but lost in the trappings of chivalry and enchantment. Each canto is set within a frame of lines in which the old minstrel speaks with those about him and often laments the more genial past. Particularly moving are the lines with which he begins the last canto. (Some of the language is reminiscent of Luke 24:32, in a passage discussing the appearance of Christ at Emmaus: "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?")

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell.

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