The Lay of the Last Minstrel was an immediate success and ran into many editions. It was followed by a spate of other narrative poems Marmion (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810; the most popular), Rokeby (1813), The Lord of the Isles (1815), and others. The Lay shows the influence in its rhythms of Coleridge's Christabel, but before long it settles down into the trotting octosyllabic couplets (varied occasionally with interspersed shorter lines rhyming with each other in ballad metre style) which represent the norm of Scott's narrative verse. Scott wrote fast and without much artistic conscience; so long as he could keep the rhymes and the verse movement going he was content. He is at his best at describing settings and sometimes in presenting fierce and rapid action; in love scenes and with sentiment generally he is at his worst. The description of the Battle of Flodden in Marmion has a fine heroic vigour and finely conveys a sense of doom. But sooner or later patches of mechanical padding are inserted to carry the verse on at all costs. The narrative is as a rule studiedly objective, but in Marmion Scott introduced preliminary passages of personal reminiscence. Scott also had a strangely melancholy lyric strain, which he learned from folk literature, found in occasional incidental lyrics introduced into the narrative poems as well as scattered throughout the novels.


This information has been extracted to                                                           Academic year 2000/2001
British Encyclopedia, Inc.                                                                             © a.r.e.a./ Dr. Vicente Forés López
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