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Marmion by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

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In 1807 Scott practiced maneuvres with the Light Horse Volunteers (formed to defend an invasion from France) in order to polish his description of Flodden. Archibald Constable offered as publisher to pay at once a thousand guineas for the copyright, when he heard that the new poem was begun, though he had not yet seen a line of it. Scott, thirty-five years old, had the imp In 1807 Scott practiced maneuvres with the Light Horse Volunteers (formed to defend an invasion from France) in order to polish his description of Flodden. Archibald Constable offered as publisher to pay at once a thousand guineas for the copyright, when he heard that the new poem was begun, though he had not yet seen a line of it. Scott, thirty-five years old, had the impulse upon his mind of a preceding great success, took more than usual pains, and thoroughly enjoyed the writing. Scott continued work while practicing with the Light Horse Volunteers (in preparation for a planned invasion of France!), and in intervals between drill he would sometimes ride his charger at full speed up and down on the sands of Portobello within spray of the wave.


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In 1807 Scott practiced maneuvres with the Light Horse Volunteers (formed to defend an invasion from France) in order to polish his description of Flodden. Archibald Constable offered as publisher to pay at once a thousand guineas for the copyright, when he heard that the new poem was begun, though he had not yet seen a line of it. Scott, thirty-five years old, had the imp In 1807 Scott practiced maneuvres with the Light Horse Volunteers (formed to defend an invasion from France) in order to polish his description of Flodden. Archibald Constable offered as publisher to pay at once a thousand guineas for the copyright, when he heard that the new poem was begun, though he had not yet seen a line of it. Scott, thirty-five years old, had the impulse upon his mind of a preceding great success, took more than usual pains, and thoroughly enjoyed the writing. Scott continued work while practicing with the Light Horse Volunteers (in preparation for a planned invasion of France!), and in intervals between drill he would sometimes ride his charger at full speed up and down on the sands of Portobello within spray of the wave.

30 review for Marmion by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    To town and tower, to down and dale, To tell red Flodden’s dismal tale, And raise the universal wail. Tradition, legend, tune, and song, Shall many an age that wail prolong: Still from the sire the son shall hear Of the stern strife, and carnage drear, Of Flodden’s fatal field, Where shivered was fair Scotland’s spear, And broken was her shield! I wish I could write a review to do this great epic justice, but words fail me. Suffice it to say, I could hardly put the book down! I carried it with me everywhe To town and tower, to down and dale, To tell red Flodden’s dismal tale, And raise the universal wail. Tradition, legend, tune, and song, Shall many an age that wail prolong: Still from the sire the son shall hear Of the stern strife, and carnage drear, Of Flodden’s fatal field, Where shivered was fair Scotland’s spear, And broken was her shield! I wish I could write a review to do this great epic justice, but words fail me. Suffice it to say, I could hardly put the book down! I carried it with me everywhere - on walks, while doing chores, even running errands! It felt like I was transported to another world. Scott seemed to put his own native Scottish air into his writing...I could almost hear the rushing of the mountain streams and smell the heather on the moors. William Michael Rossetti, who wrote a biographical sketch of Scott in my edition of 'The Lady of the Lake' (I'm going to start on that right away! 😃), said that a good narrative poet must possess the gifts of "virility, knowledge of life, character, and circumstance, quick sympathy with man and nature, flow of invention, variety of presentment, and a heart that vibrates to the noble and the right." All these Scott most certainly had to no small degree, and every other heart that is capable of responding to whatever is true and beautiful, must thrill at his words!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Baumgartner

    Why don't people still write like this? I hate modern poetry and this is why. This is real writing, something that we lack in our culture. Why don't people still write like this? I hate modern poetry and this is why. This is real writing, something that we lack in our culture.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Grace Harwood

    I read this book as it is referred to in Stoker's Dracula (as containing the legend of the erring nun who was walled up in Whitby Abbey and whose ghost allegedly haunts the abbey to this day) - there's not much about Whitby in here, but it is a great epic poem and I really enjoyed reading it. The poem recalls an age of chivalry and I particularly liked the way Scott addressed each canto to an individual with an initial poem about the seasons and the place he was writing from. I know he was criti I read this book as it is referred to in Stoker's Dracula (as containing the legend of the erring nun who was walled up in Whitby Abbey and whose ghost allegedly haunts the abbey to this day) - there's not much about Whitby in here, but it is a great epic poem and I really enjoyed reading it. The poem recalls an age of chivalry and I particularly liked the way Scott addressed each canto to an individual with an initial poem about the seasons and the place he was writing from. I know he was criticised for including these as it was generally felt that they disrupted the flow of his epic poem, but I thought they really added to the poem and informed the reader about the poet himself (I also liked the introduction with the image of the romantic Walter Scott galloping his horse up and down the beach in between his military training) It's a wonderful image, rendered so vividly. It was interesting to read in this poem that Stoker (or Mina Murray) makes a mistake in Dracula, and the nun referred to in Marmion was actually walled up in Lindsifarne Priory, not St Hilda's Whitby. This is a great poem - well worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    This was my first attempt at reading poetry by Sir Walter Scott. I chose this title, because it was mentioned as loved by Jane Austen. Thankfully, Scott's Marmion is written in short rhyming sentences which made it easier to understand than other poetry I've read. And it tells the story of Lord Marmion. What makes Marmion difficult is the old Scottish language. Overall, I probably understood about one third of what I was reading, but the words were lovely and for whatever reason, I didn't want t This was my first attempt at reading poetry by Sir Walter Scott. I chose this title, because it was mentioned as loved by Jane Austen. Thankfully, Scott's Marmion is written in short rhyming sentences which made it easier to understand than other poetry I've read. And it tells the story of Lord Marmion. What makes Marmion difficult is the old Scottish language. Overall, I probably understood about one third of what I was reading, but the words were lovely and for whatever reason, I didn't want to stop prematurely. This is something I would like to try to read again...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katja Labonté

    5 stars & 5/10 hearts. This poem is gorgeous. I loved it from the very beginning and loved it all the way through. The writing style is splendid, and the meter is lovely! I really enjoyed the story and setting, and the messages + themes were so good. Honestly it only made me love Scott’s writing more. I’ll have to reread this often. <3 Content: Characters are Catholic; mentions of wine, magic and magic beings; a voice from heaven prophecies death; a man carries on with a married woman; Marmion l 5 stars & 5/10 hearts. This poem is gorgeous. I loved it from the very beginning and loved it all the way through. The writing style is splendid, and the meter is lovely! I really enjoyed the story and setting, and the messages + themes were so good. Honestly it only made me love Scott’s writing more. I’ll have to reread this often. <3 Content: Characters are Catholic; mentions of wine, magic and magic beings; a voice from heaven prophecies death; a man carries on with a married woman; Marmion lusts for a woman; a girl passes as a page. Away these wingèd years have flown, To join the mass of ages gone; And though deep marked, like all below, With checkered shades of joy and woe; Though thou o’er realms and seas hast ranged, Marked cities lost, and empires changed, While here, at home, my narrower ken Somewhat of manners saw, and men; Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears, Fevered the progress of these years, Yet now, days, weeks, and months but seem The recollection of a dream, So still we glide down to the sea Of fathomless eternity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Al

    A great story, in six Cantos, pitting Lord Marmion against Sir Ralph de Wilton and culminating in the battle of Flodden Field in 1513. There’s also a nun who gets walled up alive for breaking her vows. Once I got past the first Canto, I was engrossed in the story because the second Canto has the story of the disgraced nun Constance, her testimony to the tribunal, and her punishment, and the story gets better from there. This was a very difficult read for me, because it takes me some time to get u A great story, in six Cantos, pitting Lord Marmion against Sir Ralph de Wilton and culminating in the battle of Flodden Field in 1513. There’s also a nun who gets walled up alive for breaking her vows. Once I got past the first Canto, I was engrossed in the story because the second Canto has the story of the disgraced nun Constance, her testimony to the tribunal, and her punishment, and the story gets better from there. This was a very difficult read for me, because it takes me some time to get used to this poetry. I had to read it out loud so that I could see the structure, but once I got into the poem and the story, I really enjoyed it. Scott was an excellent poet, and he included rhymed couplets in iambic tetrameter and alternating rhyme in iambic pentameter, as well as nested rhyme. To give a very popular example, there is this aphorism from Canto 6, 17th stanza: Oh! what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive! Marmion is also the source of “Lochinvar”, which is in many anthologies: 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. Jane Austen mentions Marmion in Persuasion, Charlotte Bronte mentions it in Jane Eyre, and Anne Bronte mentions it in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chandra

    Marmion was excellent; although, The Lady of the Lake is still my absolute favorite epic poem written by Sir Walter Scott. I was so pleased that things ended well for fair Clara and her fiancée, De Wilton. Scott does know how to craft a beautiful happy ending. He has quickly become one of my favorites!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    For those who don't know, this is a poem in six cantos, but each canto is prefaced by a long poetic dedicatory canto. I found I liked the historical story, but found the preliminary poems less interesting and rather intrusive. I think if I had been reading it in book, rather than ebook, format I would have skipped the contemporary parts and just read the Marmion cantos. For those who don't know, this is a poem in six cantos, but each canto is prefaced by a long poetic dedicatory canto. I found I liked the historical story, but found the preliminary poems less interesting and rather intrusive. I think if I had been reading it in book, rather than ebook, format I would have skipped the contemporary parts and just read the Marmion cantos.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Manning

    It took me FOREVER to read this, but the wording is so graceful. It takes you to another time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. C.

    I read this because it was billed as an epic poem about the Battle of Flodden and, since it was by Walter Scott, I thought it would be told from the Scottish point of view. But the villain, the hero, and the damsel(s) in distress are all English. Scott can turn a phrase, to be sure, but this was not my favorite of his works--except for the ballad of Lochinvar and his bride in the Canto V. The disposition of Marmion's remains was interesting, though. I suppose such things did happen more than onc I read this because it was billed as an epic poem about the Battle of Flodden and, since it was by Walter Scott, I thought it would be told from the Scottish point of view. But the villain, the hero, and the damsel(s) in distress are all English. Scott can turn a phrase, to be sure, but this was not my favorite of his works--except for the ballad of Lochinvar and his bride in the Canto V. The disposition of Marmion's remains was interesting, though. I suppose such things did happen more than once "back in the day."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Heath-Caldwell

    Walter Scott's Marmion with engravings by Charles Heath Walter Scott's Marmion with engravings by Charles Heath

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Romantic Historical Narrative

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Those who know me, know that I love Walter Scott. Therefore, it's no surprise that I found myself enamoured with the story of the caddish Marmion in the days preceding the Battle of Flodden. I usually read Scott's novels, so it was a delightful change to be reminded of Scott's skill in the technical and creative aspects of verse. This is the first instalment of the new Edinburgh Edition of Scott's Poetry. As with the novels, the Edinburgh Edition has cleared up mistakes that crept into the text, Those who know me, know that I love Walter Scott. Therefore, it's no surprise that I found myself enamoured with the story of the caddish Marmion in the days preceding the Battle of Flodden. I usually read Scott's novels, so it was a delightful change to be reminded of Scott's skill in the technical and creative aspects of verse. This is the first instalment of the new Edinburgh Edition of Scott's Poetry. As with the novels, the Edinburgh Edition has cleared up mistakes that crept into the text, returning it, as much as possible to what Scott intended. The notes were helpful in terms of placing the text in its literary and cultural context.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Honestly, Sir Walter, did it never occur to you that the important plot points, which help to make sense of the rest of the work, would be better brought out at the beginning ? Or maybe even in the middle? This poem is just like his early novels, hours and hours of scene setting and bits of info before the actual meat is approached. I can only be thankful I live when I do, with the richness of literature available, rather than in the early 19th century when this could create a sensation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Raborg

    A very beautiful and stirring epic poem. I found it hard to follow at times, but the action and poetry are thrilling.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve R

    After reading all of Scott's twenty odd Waverley novels, this was the first of his first epic poems that I tried. Disappointing. His characterization is there, his flair for romantic description and his ability to present conflicting emotional motivations, but sadly, these do not discount the negative impact of a largely misdirected narrative thrust to his story. The poem is cast in six cantos, each of about a thousand lines. However, each canto is prefaced with a two- to three-hundred line intro After reading all of Scott's twenty odd Waverley novels, this was the first of his first epic poems that I tried. Disappointing. His characterization is there, his flair for romantic description and his ability to present conflicting emotional motivations, but sadly, these do not discount the negative impact of a largely misdirected narrative thrust to his story. The poem is cast in six cantos, each of about a thousand lines. However, each canto is prefaced with a two- to three-hundred line introduction, addressed to one of Scott's personal friends, and having virtually nothing to do with the story he is purportedly telling. There are lovely pastoral descriptions and many references to prevailing superstitions, current and recently passed political leaders as well as classical authors, but one wonders at their ultimate value. Then, there is the story itself. Supposedly focused on the defeat in the early sixteenth century of the Scottish forces under James IV at Flodden Field by the English who had been sent against them by Henry VIII, this is but a pretext for the much more intimate story of the title character, an English emissary to James; a noble lady named Clare whom he has pursued (largely for the value of the lands winning her hand would bring to him); another woman, named Catherine who, out of love for Marmion has run away from her convent and tried - unsuccessfully - to have Clare poisoned. She is now condemned to death for these crimes. Finally, De Wilton, another English nobleman, has been recently dishonored by some scurrilously forged letters sent via an unwitting Clare by Marmion, who bested his rival at single combat. Relatively good stuff, you might opine, but the problem is that all of these occurred BEFORE the actual poem commences, and were it not for some overly-officious and copious notes appended to each Canto, I would have been hard pressed to sort these matters out. Much of the actual poem is composed more of a series of picturesque tableaux than a series of narrative actions. Each Canto has a setting: 1 Castle, 2 Convent, 3 Hostel, 4 Camp, 5 Court and 6 Battle, and Scott's normal ability to juxtapose conflicting motives with engaging turns of plot sadly fails him. Having completed my reading, the most impressive writing I remember is that describing the Scottish forces arrayed before battle in the opening one or two hundred lines of Canto 4. It is as Scott were so mesmerized by the gallantry of his romantic scene that he forgot to tell a story. Even the 'battle' focuses more on what happens to Clare (actually, more to her state of mind than any 'action'), who has been left on its outskirts. The any actual cut and thrust of violent engagement is almost totally absent from the Canto entitled 'Battle'. The mixed fates of Marmion, De Wilton, Clare and Catherine are at least succinctly described and the conclusion, even given its panegyric to Pitt (the poem was published in 1808, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars) is neatly presented. Scott's rather prosaic iambic pentameter and aabbcc.... rhyme scheme is adequate to the task if not poetically inspiring. Scott appears to have written about ten other narrative poems, and I'll work my way through them, with the most famous 'Lady of the Lake' being next in my schedule. Hope they get better and come at least close to matching his mastery as a writer which he repeatedly showed in his novels.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Tribble

    Writers nowadays are taught that every scene must serve a purpose and that you must start in the middle of the story and that you must keep the plot moving along sprightly. Which is probably why I much prefer nineteenth century literature, and why many of my favorite twentieth century authors (I don't think I have a favorite from the twenty-first century yet) break the rules. Starting the story with the main character's childhood, and spending time setting the mood or describing the scenery, all Writers nowadays are taught that every scene must serve a purpose and that you must start in the middle of the story and that you must keep the plot moving along sprightly. Which is probably why I much prefer nineteenth century literature, and why many of my favorite twentieth century authors (I don't think I have a favorite from the twenty-first century yet) break the rules. Starting the story with the main character's childhood, and spending time setting the mood or describing the scenery, all practices common in the nineteenth century, may irritate the hasty, and are sometimes a struggle for me, but so often they pay off in a much richer, deeper reading experience. Even in his age, Scott was scolded for his rambly introductions to each Canto of this poem, but I think they contain some of his best poetry, like these two couplets from the "Introduction to Canto First": "November's sky is chill and drear, November's leaf is red and sear." "No longer Autumn's glowing red Upon our Forest hills is shed." And I love how he shifts from reassuring his children that spring will come again, to mourning his country's "winter" state and wondering whether there will be such glorious heroes as Nelson et al. again. The whole thing is only peripherally related to the main plot of Marmion, and yet to me it adds a richness and a melancholy to the tale. And the nice thing about Marmion is, if you don't like that sort of thing, you can just skip the intros and read the Cantos! Highly recommended to any fan of Sir Walter Scott, to any fan of epic poetry, and to any fan of nineteenth century literature. There's a reason this poem was quoted in so many classics, and popular for over a century.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Stimpson

    The language is absolutely beautiful, though difficult to get through and understand at certain points (especially with important plot events so far apart). Didn't know the famous line was Scott's however, and that was exciting to come across toward the end. The language is absolutely beautiful, though difficult to get through and understand at certain points (especially with important plot events so far apart). Didn't know the famous line was Scott's however, and that was exciting to come across toward the end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Quinnharley

    4.5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    Another Scott work, another rating of 4 stars. Fast moving with a good story. Oh Verse, I have missed you during this plague year.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill McFadyen

    Not an easy read - ballads are long poems and probably easier to listen to than to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    I love Scott!!!!!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Johnlrice

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ayesha Rehman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Helia

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kali

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Riddell

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Ervin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Idhreniel739

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