Lochinvar is a ballad about romance and courage penned by Sir Walter Scott.
The poem starts with the introduction of the protagonist by the name of Lochinvar. He is a courageous knight and undeterred romantic. He is described as the dawning of the sun (from the west).
The brave-heart is a skilled fighter and needs no other weapon than his stately sword to send terror down his enemies’ spine. He is a sole crusader who enters the field of battle with total confidence in his abilities and swordsmanship.
Another striking trait of Lochinvar is his loyalty and resoluteness in love. He loves Ellen, who is getting married to a timid and lethargic man. She and Lochinvar is a perfect match but Ellen’s father, the King, disapproves of the knight.
Now, the poet describes various feats and accomplishments of the young Lochinvar. He never leaves any battle half-fought. He is tireless in his pursuit of victory and glory. He has swum through rivers like River Eske which is very deep and fast where it was being crossed by some stream.
It was a deep river that he crossed bravely and without any fear. But his final and most difficult battle is at the Netherby gate where his beloved Ellen has agreed to marry another man who is not worthy of her beauty and grace.
Now, he has arrived at the battle to win back his lost love. Ellen considers Lochinvar coward who left her behind in the war of love. He was heartbroken and disillusioned by Lochinvar’s passion for wars over love.
Now, the knight gets off at the hall. His presence sends a flutter in the crowd of women, men and Ellen’s family His arrival is considered an open act of outrage, brave but provocative.
However, the meek groom does not even offer a syllable of protest or challenge. So it was the King who thunders a resounding declaration at Lochinvar. He inquires if he had come to fight or give her blessings to the marrying couple.
Lochinvar was equally defiant and bold in his reply. He said that he had already given up his pursuit of Ellen as the King had previously rebuffed his marriage proposal. He reassures Ellen and her people that he had only come to dance and drink in celebration.
He goes on to proclaim that there were numerous maidens in Scotland, more beautiful and desirable than Ellen, who would be jumping at the chance of marrying the gallant hero.
Ellen offers Lochinvar a glass of wine after consecrating it with a kiss. The knight accepted it and drank it in one breath and threw the glass in anger. He is tormented by the fact that Ellen married another man and betrayed his love.
However, he offers her a final dance together. Ellen is aggrieved at his contempt but agrees. The lovers have united again. She kept blushing unable to think clearly. But she kept a smile on her face signifying the upwelling affections for Lochinvar.
Her eyes are awash with tears at the prospect of marrying another man and losing him forever tugs at her heartstrings. Such mixed emotions were tearing her from inside. He took one dance with the bride after she blessed his wine.
The pair danced and enraptured the whole crowd. Lochinvar’s stature and strength complemented Ellen’s poise and grace. The whole hall was sparkled with their starry presence. Ellen’s mother was anxious, her father infuriated and the groom helpless and humiliated.
They could not do anything to drive a wedge between the reunited lovers. The bridesmaids were entranced by the perfect match of Ellen and Lochinvar as they swooned across the floor. There were soft cries of exultation and admiration at the divine match they both made.
Lochinvar touched Ellen’s hand and whispered in her ear. It was as if her disaffection for his alienation just melted away. She was hypnotized by his love. They both ran across the hall and reached for Lochinvar’s horse.
He flung her on the horse and rose to take the reins in his hands. Determined and defiant Lochinvar proclaimed that he had won back his love and rode as hard as he could to get away from the chasing pack of Ellen’s kinsmen.
The various clans of Scotland could not muster enough power to arrest the fleeting couple and imprison their unfettered love. Ultimately, they relented and Ellen was never seen again in the region. She and her beloved rode in triumphantly into the sunset.
The story of Lochinvar became the favorite fable for the people so much so that it was considered unmatched in terms of its heroism, romanticism, gallantry, and lion-heartedness.
The poem Lochinvar intertwines beautifully intricacies of romance, war, relationships, and power-play. It also celebrates the triumph of love over discord and heroic actions over grandiose statements.
Even though there is no explicit fighting in the poem, it has a wealth of implicit and cold moments of battle and one-upmanship and a final victory.