Lord Ullin’s Daughter by Thomas Campbell

A Chieftan to the Highlands bound,
Cries, ‘Boatman, do not tarry;
And I’ll give thee a silver pound
To row us o’er the ferry.’

‘Now who be ye would cross Lochgyle,
This dark and stormy water?’
‘Oh! I’m the chief of Ulva’s isle,
And this Lord Ullin’s daughter.

‘And fast before her father’s men
Three days we’ve fled together,
For should he find us in the glen,
My blood would stain the heather.

‘His horsemen hard behind us ride;
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover?’

Outspoke the hardy Highland wight:
‘I’ll go, my chief – I’m ready:
It is not for your silver bright,
But for your winsome lady.

‘And by my word, the bonny bird
In danger shall not tarry:
So, though the waves are raging white,
I’ll row you o’er the ferry.’

By this the storm grew loud apace,
The water-wraith was shrieking;
And in the scowl of heaven each face
Grew dark as they were speaking.

But still, as wilder blew the wind,
And as the night grew drearer,
Adown the glen rode armed men-
Their trampling sounded nearer.

‘Oh! Haste thee, haste!’ the lady cries,
‘Though tempests round us gather;
I’ll meet the raging of the skies,
But not an angry father.’

The boat has left a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her-
When oh! Too strong for human hand,
The tempest gathered o’er her.

And still they rowed amidst the roar
Of waters fast prevailing;
Lord Ullin reach’d that fatal shore-
His wrath was chang’d to wailing.

For sore dismay’d, through storm and shade,
His child he did discover;
One lovely hand she stretch’d for aid,
And one was round her lover.

‘Come back! Come back!’ he cried in grief,
‘Across this stormy water;
And I’ll forgive your Highland chief,
My daughter!- oh, my daughter!’

‘Twas vain: the loud waves lash’d the shore,
Return or aid preventing;
The waters wild went o’er his child,
And he was left lamenting.

Summary

The beautiful and young daughter of Lord Ullin fell in love with the Chieftain of Ulva isle in Scotland and wanted to marry him. Since Lord Ullin was deadly against their alliance, the lovers decided to elope. As soon as Lord Ullin came to know of their elopement, he led a group of his armed men and gave them a hot chase. The lovers fled from place to place. For three days they were able to dodge Lord Ullin and his men. Finally, they reached the shore of Lochgyle.

The weather was dark and stormy. The Chieftain asked the boatman not to delay any longer but row them over the ferry across Lochgyle to his native state of Ulva. The Chieftain said that if Lord Ullin found them in the glen, he would kill him instantly. His horsemen were behind them. He offered to give the ferry-man a silver pound for his services. The valiant boatman promised to help them, not for his money but for the girl’s sake. He would do his utmost to see that the lady would not be in danger.

By that time, a fierce storm gathered and a wild wind began to blow. The water was assuming the form of ghosts. The heaven was scowling. Each face was looking dark as it was speaking. The night grew more fearful. It was dangerous to go out in the stormy sea. Just then, they heard the sound of the hooves of horses. The girl cried to make haste as she would not like to meet her angry father. Instead she would prefer to meet the angry skies.

The stormy sea was before Lord Huhn’s daughter. It was too strong for human beings. In fact, it had gathered over her. Still they rowed in the middle of it. Just then Lord Ullin reached that fatal, shore. The boat of the lovers was caught in the storm. He was shocked to see his daughter struggling with the waves. She stretched one hand towards him for help. The other was round her lover.

Lord Ullin asked her to come back. He promised to forgive her highland chief. But it was too late. The loud waves lashed the shore. The storm had drowned the two lovers. Lord Ullin stood there lamenting over the loss of his beautiful and bonny lass.

Analysis

Lord Ullin’s Daughter is one of the most famous romantic poems of Thomas Campbell, which describes how a Scottish Chieftain and his beloved flee from her angry father.
Both try to escape Lord Ullin’s anger and ask the boatman to ferry them quickly and not to delay as the Lord’s men chasing them on horsebacks. In spite of rough sea the boatman agrees to row them across, not because of silver but for the sake of the girl with childlike innocence and charm. He promises to help them through the waves that are angry and infuriated.

The storm grows violent, the wind blows fiercely, the waves become wild and leap higher as the night becomes dearer. The sound of the horses can be heard close by. The lady implores the boatman to hasten as the storm has gathered around them. The lady faces a dilemma. If she is caught, the angry father will her lover and her too. If they ferry ahead, they may be engulfed by the tempest. She finally decides to sail further in the stormy sea rather than face the wrath of her father. She says that she is ready to meet the anger of the skies but not her angry father.

The boatman who ferries the couple across the sea is courageous and helpful. He doesn’t care for money. He is a man of words. He risks everything to fulfill his promise.

The sea is too fierce for human beings, hence the boatman fails to control his boat. The boat is caught in the storm. Lord Ullin reaches the fatal shore, his wrath changes into wailing. He finds his dear daughter with one beautiful hand stretched out for help and the other hand round her lover. He promises to forgive her highland chief, but it is futile, as the strong waves dash against the shore and prevent all help and rescue. Lord Ullin is left lamenting.

The poem depicts generation gap. The father should have understood his daughter’s feelings.

The poet uses words like ‘adown’ ‘rode’ which contain harsh consonants to create an unpleasant effect. The hard, metallic sound seems to strike our ear and knock us down. The poet has used these harsh consonants to prepare us for the impending tragedy.

Campell used poetic devices like imagery, symbolism, and alliteration to portray the menacing face of nature.

Imagery used figurative language to help form mental pictures. Campell has used vivid, diverse, and popular imagery for this purpose. The following images depict anger of sea, sky, wind and water: ‘Waves are ragin white’, ‘stormy water’, water wraith was shrieking’, ‘raging of the skies’, ‘scowl of heaven’.

The line ‘the water wraith was shrieking uses symbolism. The wind has raised the water into a kind of violent storm. The sea storm changes into a tempest and drowns Lord Ullin’s daughter and her love. Thus the symbolism is a premonition of what happens at the end.

The alliteration in ‘stormy sea’, ‘storm and shade’, ‘waterwild went’, ‘wilder blew the wind’ and ‘loud waves lashed the shore; reinforce the menacing face of nature.

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