Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem

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Walter Scott’s move from editing ballads into writing narrative poetry in his own right began with

The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem

, begun in 1802 and published

in 1805. Consisting of an introduction and six cantos, with a prose foreword and notes, the


is a verse romance in the gothic manner. The plot involves an elderly Minstrel, “the last of race” according to Scott’s forward, who with his orphan guide takes shelter in Newark Tower, a fortification in the Scottish Borders. There, the Minstrel sings a tale – the


of the title – to the resident Duchess and her company of ladies.

The Lay revolves around a young couple from opposing Borders families whose marriage is delayed by a long-standing feud. The action begins when the heroine’s mother seeks to procure a

3969 words

Citation: Oliver, Susan. "The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 August 2005 [, accessed 12 June 2024.]

384 The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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