Author of Wallace, or the Fight of Falkirk.
Printed For Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme,
and Brown. #rule
J. M‘Creery, Printer,
To My Mother.
My Mother, thou hast not forgot the hour,
Tho’ Time since then is far upon his way,
When youth and beauty crown’d thy bridal bow’r,
And on thy lap thy first-born infant lay
Catching the parting breath of lingering May,
Which, as it whisper’d o’er thy green alcove,
Gave life and freshness to the fervid day;
O’er thee the woodbine’s flexile tendrils wove,
And wafted on thine ear the woodland song of love;—
Nor did the sportive zephyr, as it flew
Through vales where Flora’s modest train repose,
Or the bright meadow spangled o’er with dew,
From Morn’s first blush to Evening’s fragrant close,
Fan with its wing, than thee, a fairer rose!
Such wert thou, when the natal Genius stood
Beside thy couch, and wav’d his wand, and smil’d;
His bright eye shed of light a glittering flood,
Half didst thou fear that aspect strange and wild,
As with immortal hand he touch’d th’ unconscious child!
Fear not, he cried, my office is to bless!
Which of the toys, that mortals blessings name,
Shall deck thy babe? be thou the arbitress!
The gift be thine, of Beauty, Wealth, or Fame—
Mine be the task to grant, and thine to claim!
Just then a crystal mirror on thine eye
Reflects a pallid cheek, a languid frame—3 B2r 53
See! Beauty flies the transient agony!—
I ask not for my babe what blooms so soon to die!
And, Genius, well I know, that gold in vain
Swells the clos’d coffer, and encrusts the heart;
But, the sad vigil kept thro’ nights of pain,
Grief’s throbbing ulcer, Envy’s rankling smart,
To lull and to appease, has Wealth the art?—
No; I would lead my child, where lurking care
Ne’er whets the sting, or brandishes the dart,
Would lead it to yon fairy region, where
No cloud obscures the day, no vapour loads the air!
Where on the vivid flower no canker preys,
That decks the bank of glancing Hippocrene,
Where Fancy’s rule the laughing realm obeys,—
Obedience mild, a willing meed I ween;
For who would rebel prove to such a queen!—B2 4 B2v 4
Be this the boon!—The natal Genius smil’d,
Auspicious shone the guardian’s brow serene,
Go range, he cried, the visionary wild,
Where fickle Fancy reigns, a wayward, wandering child!
Since then, thro’ every mountain, dell, or grove,
Wherever fountain gush’d, or murmur’d rill,
Fancy beheld her fondest votary rove
Her grassy glens, and climb each mist-crown’d hill;
And thus the ’tranced pilgrim wanders still;
And who would rudely break the enthusiast’s dream,
Or vex with worldly cares that bosom’s thrill,
As bending pensive o’er some wizard stream,
It ponders silently, the sweet, yet lofty theme?
Mother, how oft the lucre-loving sire
Commits his offspring to ungenial skies,
Sends him to burn beneath the tropic fire,5 B3r 5
And waste far off his native energies,
To glad, with foreign gold, a parent’s eyes!—
And has thy child a thriftless wanderer stray’d,
Bringing for thee no tributary prize?
Lo! at thy feet, a varied garland laid,
Of blossoms pluck’d for thee, from Fancy’s flowery glade!
The Poet’s Fate.
Why idly, shepherd, thro’ the live-long day,
In thriftless song, thy youthful leisure waste?
The busy world now beckons thee away,
Oh quit thy dream, of solid joys to taste;
Nor vainly liberal of youth’s golden prime,
Give to the thankless Muse, thy swiftly fleeting time!
Say, will thy Muse, ’mid Fortune’s varying gleams,
On age and want her airy favours shed,
Lull thee with hopes, and flatter thee with dreams,
And bind her laurels round thy drooping head;8 B4v 8
Bless with bright vision thy declining hour,
And on thy closing ears her heavenly accents pour?
Or will she, should neglect thy bosom rend,
From thy dim eye forbid the tear to flow,
Teach thee, unmov’d to meet each alien friend,
And bid thee smile on Memory’s hoarded woe?
Will air-built castles yield thy homeless form
Rest from perturbing cares, and shelter from the storm?
How wilt thou bear, when Folly’s ideot smile
Shall coldly mark thee for the vulgar scorn;
And sneering, thank indulgent Heav’n the while
That genius beam’d not on her natal morn;
But worldly thrift a glimmering light supplied,
She hail’d the taper’s gleam—and took it for her guide?
Whilst thou, poor Bard, the Muse’s luckless child,
In evil hour a dazzling track pursued,9 B5r 9
Which steer’d thy wandering course thro’ regions wild,
Where never Prudence led her pigmy brood,
Where never toil uptore the verdant sod
To seek man’s glittering prize, his earth-extracted god!
There, seldom Fortune’s summer-breathing gale
Fans the young impulse with auspicious wing,
But Poverty uprears her visage pale,
And checks, with icy grasp, the bosom-spring,
Blasts the fair promise of youth’s vernal hour,
Arrests the vital sap, and nips each opening flower!
Ah! many a name does dark oblivion claim,
Once cherished names, to faithless genius dear!
Ah! many a Bard, too late the boast of Fame,
Press’d with cold limbs an unattended bier,
And felt unmark’d hope’s transient hectic die,
And breath’d, where none could hear, his last unecho’d sigh!
Thus vainly, Otway, did thy numbers flow,
Thus idly, swell’d thy unavailing song?
Ah! did thy Muse immortal aid bestow
When Famine’s fever parch’d thy tuneful tongue?
When man, thy brother, from thy suppliant eye
Regardless turn’d away, and let the poet die?
Oh why each throbbing sense to anguish wake?
Why, on the bard, fix Fate’s tremendous seal
Which bids him suffer for the Muse’s sake
Such pangs, as common souls ne’er dar’d to feel?
Why does the touch of Sorrow’s venom’d dart
Thro’ ev’ry fine-strung nerve run quivering to his heart?
Oh, Chatteron! how gay thy morn arose!
Bright on thy youth celestial Genius smil’d,
But Poverty the genial current froze,
And Misery clasp’d thee, her devoted child!11 B6r 11
Urg’d, while thy lips her poison’d chalice drain’d,
And on thy wasting form each lurid eye-ball strain’d!
Yet, from thy breast, tho’ each fair form was fled,
Pride held her sullen empire in thy soul—
What! shall I, bending low my laurel’d head,
From affluence ask the slowly yielded dole,
From Pity’s boon, life’s poor support obtain,
Or drag its weary load in Flattery’s helot train!
Oh! ever following in the Muse’s rear,
Of perish’d hopes, a spectre band is seen;
There, Melancholy drops the frequent tear;
There, Memory raves of joys that once have been;
There keen-eyed Want assails with famish’d cry—
Who clanks the sounding chain?—’tis wild Insanity!
Addressed to a Friend,
With a Ring.
Nay, pretty Gertrude, do not fear me
Kind Friendship’s easy chain am I,
No fickle tyrant bids thee wear me,
My bondage ne’er shall force a sigh;
Then let me clasp thy taper finger,
In me no treacherous fetter fear,
I will but ask thy thoughts to linger
Upon the friend who plac’d me there.
Oh scorn not then a pledge so tender,
But let me deck thy snowy hand,
Till I, my envied post surrender,
And yield to Hymen’s mystic band;
And when to Love’s imperious token
My transient triumph I resign,
Oh! may’st thou never wish it broken,
And be its weight as light as mine!
I’ve often thought, the world around
Might echo to our footsteps’ sound,
While social scene, and desert drear,
Alike our vagrant track might bear,
And we might roll our searching eyes
Round native, and round foreign skies,
And still the soother Friendship find
A gay chimera of the mind;
A flame, blown up by Fancy’s breath,
A flower, to deck the poet’s wreath,15 B8r 15
A wandering meteor, which pursued
Would still the following step elude;
A painted charm from Circe’s bower,
Which, like the bow in summer shower
Would gleam across the gloomy sky,
Then fade upon the baffled eye,
And leave it aching to deplore
Those colours which are bright no more:
But yet a whisper from within
Urg’d me this shadowy prize to win;
Each heart with life’s warm current fraught
Must still pursue some favorite thought;
And never must the heaving breast
Till the last silence, hope to rest:
Nay, even in the hermit’s cell,
Where dank oblivion seems to dwell,
Scattering her slumb’rous dews around,
And shedding thick her mists profound,16 B8v 16
Nature’s true spark, tho’ languid, burns,
And the dim spirit world-ward turns!
Still, still we see earth’s giddy race
All pushing on with eager pace,
The grave, the gay, the sage, the vain,
Some gilded trifle to obtain!
Various their aims, alike their toil;
Some seek an empire, some a smile,
Some ask for wealth, and some for fame,
And pant and labour for a name!
I smil’d to see the crowd pursue,
Yet felt the restless impulse too.
Perchance, said I, my anxious breast
Throbs for a bauble like the rest;
Friendship may prove an emptier name
Than even power, or wealth, or fame—
But what of that! the doom is past,
And all must run to drop at last;17 C1r 17
And if the toy should disappear,
Elusive of my vain career,
Yet all who run beneath the sky,
Have follow’d cheats as well as I!
Philosophy, with brow severe,
Turn’d slowly from his task austere,
And bade me think before I ran,
Nor waste on dreams life’s little span;
Since ancient lore, and modern use,
Full many a warning might produce,
Of those who follow’d, to no end,
That ignis-fatuus, a Friend!
Then bent on his more solid aim
He turn’d again to hunt—a name!
The gay coquette, with laughing eyes,
Beheld my progress with surprise,
And smiling shook the rosy chain,
In which she held her votive train.C 18 C1v 18
Wealth smil’d contempt, to see my aim
Was such unprofitable game;
But would not chide me from my whim,
Lest I should interfere with him.
Thus, each maintained his own pursuit
Led to the only solid fruit,
And found in every neighbour’s aim
Food for compassion, mirth, or blame!
With ardent heart I urg’d the chase,
I reach’d the goal, I won the race!
With the high prize my toils are bless’d,
And now I wear it on my breast.
Now howls the dark storm, the torrent falls fast,
And the moon glimmers wat’ry and pale,
And the night-wand’ring traveller shudders aghast,
For the fiend of the tempest bestrides the rough blast,
And shrieks in the eddying gale!
And who is the damsel all mantled in white?
And why does she wander alone?
And why does she stray mid the horrors of night,
Since her cheek is all wan with despair and affright,
And wherefore that sorrowing groan?
Oh stay me not stranger, the merciless sky
On me darts its fury in vain:
’Tis despair’s lurid meteor that gleams from my eye,
’Tis the demon of anguish that urges the sigh,
And perplexes my wandering brain!
Then stay me not stranger! the path I explore
Is dreary, and dark, and unknown!
See the corpse-candles flitting my footsteps before!
Ah! soon shall the toil of my journey be o’er,
But I must pursue it alone.
Now turn thee rash maiden! now tarry, I pray!
All sternly the stranger exclaimed:
Oh where art thou wending thy desolate way?
From thy sire’s shelt’ring turrets what tempts thee to stray,
Once for prudence and piety famed?
Oh! stay me not stranger, and wild glared her eye,
Or morning will crimson the east!
The vow of my grief is recorded on high,
And ere night’s dusky shadows have quitted the sky,
Must the billow roll over my breast!
Ye towers of my Father! no more shall the song
Resound thro’ yon desolate hall,
Nor beauty nor chivalry lead the gay throng,
But the bell of the castle with deep muffled tongue,
Shall toll Lady Emmeline’s fall!
And where the bright banner once wav’d to the wind
Shall the dark flag of funeral float,
And the scenes, once to mirth’s frolic revels resign’d,
Where the soft strains of minstrelsy sooth’d the light mind,
Shall but echo the hoarse raven’s note!
Oh! once not the fluttering zephyr of May
Was lighter than Emmeline’s heart,
But sad was the hour, and ill-omen’d the day,
When destiny mark’d me for sorrow a prey,
And levell’d the love-poison’d dart.
Ye powers of delusion! how oft ye restore
The scenes which forever are fled,
Ere my Edwin the red-cross of chivalry bore,
And wav’d it aloft o’er the blood-crimson’d shore,
Doom’d to pillow his warrior head!
Sir Edwin I come! and the wavering gleam
Of the corpse-fires my footsteps shall light,
To where the cliff nodding above the dark stream,
I may quench in death’s bosom, life’s ferverous beam;
And repose ’mid the shadows of night!
Then swift to the cliff’s craggy summit she hied,
And gazed on the torrent below,
Now chide not, Sir Edwin, thy lingering bride,
Soon sinking to slumber beneath the cold-tide,
Shall I cancel despair’s sullen vow!
Now loudly the thunder rolled over her head,
And wild flashed the blue lightning’s glare,
The earth all convulsed trembl’d under her tread,
And a deep murmur’d sound, like the voice of the dead,
Echo’d sternly, Rash maiden beware!
The heart of the lady beat quick at the tone,
As it solemnly dwelt on her ear,—
She gazed on the pilgrim, no longer unknown,
Oh God! ’tis my Edwin! she utter’d a groan—
’Tis the voice of my Edwin I hear!
All hollow and motionless glare on her view
Those eyes which once sparkl’d so bright,
On that once-blooming cheek, sits the grave’s livid hue,
And the cold reptile crawls in that bosom so true.
Once the mansion of love and delight!
Now farewel#sp#sp my Emmeline! sadly he said,
And a sigh heav’d his shadowy breast—
To the far distant land where my relics are laid,
See the grey morning summons my lingering shade,
But we’ll meet in the realms of the blest!
The form of Sir Edwin now faded in air,
And Emmeline dropt on her knee—
Forgive me, she murmured, my guilty despair,
Oh! Heaven! in mercy receive my sad prayer,
And soon set thy penitent free!
Now homeward she wander’d, and silent and slow,
Towards the towers of her father she pass’d;
All wan and dejected, she mus’d on her vow,
Unheeded the torrent beat cold on her brow,
And she felt not the pitiless blast!
Hark! the wild raving storm how it rends the dark sky,
And threatens the wanderer’s head,
And mark the red bolt, how it darts from on high—
See Death’s chilling vapours have quench’d her dim eye,
Lady Emmeline’s spirit is fled!
Ev’n yet, when the shadows of twilight prevail,
Will the grey-headed villager tell,
How low-moaning spectres, all ghastly and pale,
On the cold breeze of evening heavily sail
Tow’rds the spot where fair Emmeline fell!
Ode to Time.
Written in the Year 18021802. Inscribed to Miss Seward.
Oh Thou, whose viewless form, slow-stealing Time,
Has silent march’d o’er many a conquer’d year,
Shall thy chill pow’r pervade the glowing rhyme!
Shall thy rude hand each tuneful record tear!
Shall genius raise aloft the soul-fraught strain,
And swell the choral tide of heav’n-taught verse in vain!
Tho’ ages past have own’d thy tyrant sway,
Tho’ many a wreck the spoiler’s power reveals,28 C6v 28
Beneath thy scythe, tho’ empires pass away,
And countless charms the unconscious grave conceals,
Tho’ o’er the laurel’d brow the dusky tomb
In sullen silence sheds its deep impervious gloom;—
Not with his ebbing breath the poet dies,
He lives, he speaks to ages yet unborn!
Then boast not Time thy earthly mould’ring prize,
Still shall the Bard thy envious efforts scorn;
Ne’er shall his triumphs to thy sway belong,
All-hail’d by distant years, victorious in his song!
Direct thy glance beyond life’s fragile hour,
Oh Seward! lov’d of the Aonian Nine!
On thy full gaze bid all the future pour,
And raptur’d, see the admiring future thine!
See laurels bloom thy shadowy brow to wreathe,
Hear Bards, yet uncreate, an awful tribute breathe!
Fot not to thee, with niggard hand, assign’d
The transient triumph of some local strain:
Thine, the proud empire of the enthusiast mind,
Thine, the fine chords which swell to pleasing pain;
To joy’s tumultuous throb, to mystic fear,
To friendship’s bosom glow, or pity’s hallow’d tear!
Lo! where the oral Muse of former time
By thee invok’d, in gothic state descends,
With potent hand awakes the runic rhyme,
And the thick veil of dark oblivion rends!
See from the tomb the fateful weapon wave! See Miss Seward’s Runic Dialogue, Hervar and Argantyr.
Oh cease the mutter’d rite! respect the secret grave!
To drop soft dews on beauty’s wither’d flower,
From the full breast to urge the slow-heav’d sigh,30 C7v 30
Or bid descend the tributary shower
To wet the turf where worth and valour lie,
Snatch Fame’s bright banner from the grasp of Time,
O’er the illustrious dead to wave its folds sublime.
The gen’rous task be thine! Lo André’s shade,
With flight indignant quits yon murd’rous shore!
Spirit of Song! instruct the matchless Maid,
Teach her sweet pity’s seraph strain to pour,
Bid the sad tale descend to latest years,
Embalm’d to time remote, in friendship’s tuneful tears!
What nameless thousands crowd life’s little day,
Minions of sordid wealth, or pageant pow’r!
Born but to sport in Fortune’s gilded ray,
The weak ephemera of a sunshine hour!
E’en Memory o’er their urns forgets to weep,
For them how dark the tomb, the oblivious grave how deep!
And are those eyes but meteors of a day?
Doom’d is that hand in mould’ring dust to sleep?
Those eyes whence Genius pours his living ray,
That hand, so skill’d the Muse’s lyre to sweep!
Yes, tho’ the hand must perish, yet the song
Wak’d by its touch survives, in echoes loud and long!
Then Seward, live till Time itself shall close,
Nor mourn mortality’s promiscuous doom,
Since Death in vain his dreaded ice-bolt throws,
To blast the laurel Genius bids to bloom!
Lift to thy Muse the soul-enkindled eye,
She grants a glorious boon—’tis Immortality!
Where is Happiness?
Pilgrim, I ween, that darken’d brow
Full many a summer’s sun has known,
And o’er that bending head of snow
Has many a wintry whirlwind blown!
Pilgrim, they say in search of lore
That form thro’ various realms has past,
Shiv’ring on Zembla’s ice-bound shore,
Gasping ’mid Zaara’s burning waste;
Now Pilgrim linger;—on thine eye
Fast fades the varying world away,33 D1r 33
Age in grey mist involves thy sky,
And closes swift thy chequer’d day;
And let it close! thro’ storm and fair,
Thro’ cold and heat thy course has run.
Farewel to travel, toil, and care,
And greet with smiles thy setting sun!
Yet ere thy faltering tongue shall cease,
And ere thy glimmering sense is fled,
And ere yon green-sward turf, in peace,
Shall kindly wrap thy weary head!
Oh! stranger tell, oh quick declare!
Wherever stray’d thy wandering feet,
Of Happiness, delusive fair,
Say, didst thou find the lov’d retreat?
The Pilgrim rais’d his pensive eye
And mildly shook his hoary head,
His cold breast heav’d a trembling sigh
As thus the time-worn wanderer said,
In life’s warm spring, youth’s transient pride,
Boldly I sought the flying Maid,
Hope led the way, a rapid guide,
And young Ambition lent his aid;
What then were travel, toil, and pain!
Onward the ardent chase I press’d,
For I was young, and gay, and vain,
And Fancy revell’d in my breast!
’Twas joy, ’twas glory to pursue!
We panted up the steep hill’s side,35 D2r 35
Yet swifter from our eager view
We saw the rosy phantom glide!
Idly we rang’d each proud alcove,
Each gilded dome, and lofty tower,
’Twas vain thro’ grandeur’s paths to rove,
There never dwelt the smiling power.
Now, weary of the fruitless chase,
Ambition, halting, turn’d aside,
But Hope still urg’d the lagging race,
And Fancy spoke of scenes untried;
To cottage seats our steps we bent,
With hinds we ate our hard-earn’d fare,
But soon we fled—for Discontent
And joyless ignorance were there?
Love, fickle, fleeting, froward love,
Thro’ briary paths now lit the way,
Bless’d we pursu’d thro’ glen and grove—
’Twas but the meteor’s sportive ray!
Next Friendship lur’d,—as yet untried;
Her mildest guise the tempter wore,
Yes, I will dwell with thee! I cried,
And seek life’s bustling scenes no more!
She heard, but soon her form decay’d,
And Friendship press’d the silent bier!
Thus, still escap’d the futile shade,
And coldly gleam’d the fruitless tear:
’Twas now, I own’d Despair supreme,
E’en Hope, in silence heard me rave,37 D3r 37
Since love had prov’d a fev’rish dream,
And Friendship moulder’d in the grave:
Yet still the sweet consoler strives
To lull this weary heart to rest,
And still a glimmering spark survives,
And cheers the twilight of the breast.
Beshrew thy tale, oh, pilgrim grey!
Say fares it thus with human life?
And must we bend our toilsome way
Thro’ rugged scenes of grief and strife;
While fancy, youth, and health decay,
To chase a flying shade, our doom,
Till Age arrests our feeble way
To plunge us ’mid the dreary tomb?
The Palmer rais’d his placid eye—
Yet, lingering Hope forbids despair!
The grave’s dark realm I go to try—
Haply the fugitive is there!
Oh, soft crept repose o’er thy gentle breast,
Oh mild on thine eyes the slumbers fell!
While a seraph still lull’d thee to thy rest
With—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
Oh sweet is thy walk in the rosy morn,
When the drop hangs bright in the lily’s bell!
E’en the linnet which bends yon slender thorn
Sings—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
Oh sweet is thy talk in the twilight hour,
When thine ear drinks the distant curfew’s swell!
For the silence which dwells on the moonlight bow’r,
Says—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
Oh sweet is thy walk ’mid the crowds of life!
Sweeter than tongue of Bard can tell!
They are hush’d—the sounds of woe and strife,
For—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
Oh the old have bless’d thee ere they died,
And from lisping tongues the blessing fell;
And from blushing morn till even tide
’Tis—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
That blessing shall lay on thy breast at night,
To guard thy sleep from visions fell,41 D5r 41
And the sound that hails thy morning light
Be—Bless thee Lady Isabel!
And, Lady, when thy farewel sigh
Has sadden’d a world that loves thee well,—
Then, Seraphs shall sing thee to their sky
With—Bless thee Sister Isabel!
In Imitation of the Style Of Beattie’s Minstrel.
Yes, it is hard the steep ascent to climb
Whence Fame’s proud structure beams upon the eye,
And well I wot, that many a son of rhyme,
Loth to give o’er, yet timorous to try,
Pours from his weary heart the anxious sigh;
Fearful he wends; for by the mountain’s side43 D6r 43
Grim satire him appals with frequent cry,
And flaps her harpy wings, while envious Pride
Mocks from his side fair Hope, his comfort and his guide!
Yet, tho’ the way be rude, and wild, and steep,
Tho’ satire’s irksome scream be in mine ear,
Yet will I toil upward path to keep,
Inflexible amid those phantoms drear,
Envy, and lurking Hate, and Scorn severe;
For should my feet yon shining summit gain,
And should I grasp at length the prize so dear,
Oh! what were labour, weariness, and pain,
The meed, the immortal meed of glory to obtain!
Methinks, arrived at Fame’s eternal dome,
Already round my brow her leaves entwine;
Smiling, I mark how Time’s o’erwhelming gloom
Steals silently o’er many a soul supine,44 D6v 44
And feel oblivion never can be mine!
Cease soaring Thought! thy rapid pinions stay!
For sometimes Hope’s frail taper will decline,
And often must I rue her wav’ring ray,
Lest it should die indeed, and fail me on my way.
Oh! if to me, ye Muses, ’tis assign’d
That pinnacle to reach, attained by few,
If Fame’s loud trump shall cheer this ardent mind,
And her wide prospects glitter on my view,
Yet, for one boon, one precious boon I sue!
Still, let each social, simple feeling, thrive
Within my heart, to Nature’s dictates true,
Still, let affection’s gentler flame survive!
Or take, ye Muses, all Ambition has to give!
Change, they who list, the fond maternal smile,
And friendship’s honest, heart-consoling glow,45 D7r 45
For the proud honours of yon air-built pile,
And flattery, empty food of man below;
All Pride can ask, or glory can bestow!
Yet, hear me Muses from your sacred shrine!
Oh! bid these various flow’rs together grow,
Let gentleness with radiant genius twine,
Life’s mild, unenvied sweets, and glory’s wreath be mine!
Inscribed to the Misses G——y.
Oh, Deva! as thy crystal wave
By yonder primrose bank is gliding,
Softly its verdant surface lave,
Nor mock the boist’rous torrent’s chiding!
And as with soothing, murmuring swell,
Thy whispering wave is lightly flowing,
List, lingering to the tuneful shell,
Its sweet responsive meed bestowing:
No green hair’d Naiad wakes the strain
Which on thy glist’ning breast reposes,
Or floating o’er th’ enamel’d plain
Its warbled cadence gently closes.
Yet linger, Deva! tho’ the spell
From mortal hand derives its power,
Yet listen to its dulcet swell,
And loiter round yon magic bower!
For there, tho’ human pow’rs preside,
Immortal soul her light diffuses,
There Science, Truth, and Feeling guide,
Nor Taste her potent aid refuses:
And see, where bending o’er thy stream
Some musing grace each charm discloses!48 D8v 48
Thy wave reflects her blue eye’s beam,
And glows with youth’s transparent roses!
Oh may thy dimpled waters long
Such hues of bliss and beauty borrow,
Nor e’er, these gifted shades among,
Obtrude the tear-stain’d cheek of sorrow!
For here, within each gentle breast,
Its genuine treasure, worth has rested;
Here sense resides, a native guest,
And Wit, of Satire’s sting divested!
Then, as thy smooth waves glide along,
And in the silvery moon-beam glisten,
Murmur the tributary song,
And woo some partial ear to listen;
And whisper, Deva, as you stray,
How Flattery’s strain the Muse despises,
Limpid like the votive lay,
Fresh from the heart’s pure fountain rises!
Ode to Genius.
Written in the Year 18051805. Inscribed to the Young Roscius.
Whence is that pow’r, whose awful magic call,
Imperious bids the astonish’d world attend,
Before whose shrine adoring myriads fall,
To whom the hero, sage, and monarch bend;
Whose touch has force to chain the rebel mind,
To teach the Critic’s torpid heart to feel,
Silence the snakes round Envy’s brow entwin’d,
And bid the tear from sullen eye-balls steal?51 E2r 51
’Tis Genius, rushing from his native sky,
Lord of the kindling soul, and brightly-beaming eye!
Oh, Genius! who can bear thy solar blaze,
Nor dazzled shrink, by too much splendour blind?
Yet lo! thy wildest, warmest, fiercest rays,
Fling their untemper’d radiance on the mind
Of feeble infancy! thy lightnings play
With mystic lustre round an infant’s brow;
On his clear’d vision breaks unclouded day,
And his rapt soul receives the quick’ning glow;
Throbs his young breast, wild rolls his sparkling eye,
And all his form betrays the inspiring deity!
Lo! where he soars; Experience, far behind,
Astonish’d views the wondrous infant range
The mighty empire of mysterious mind,
Tracing its vast recesses, dark and strange!E2 52 E2v 52
And see, the Passions, an infuriate crew,
Rush on his sight!—he smiles to see them rage—
His fancy sports ’mid visions wild and new,
The great, the sad, the terrible, engage
Each tranced sense!—behold his hand he rears,
Tears Time’s all covering veil, and leaps the mound of years!
And dares an eye, just open’d on the light,
Search the black tablet of the villain’s soul;
With mad ambition climb the dizzy height,
Or headlong down the gulph of danger roll?
And can that ear where childhood’s lullaby
Has scarcely ceas’d to hum its sleepy sound,
List unappall’d to horror’s midnight cry,
When murder bids the death-shriek echo round?
And can the brow youth’s greenest garland binds,
Beam with th’ unutter’s thoughts, that swell a thousand minds!
And may it be, that sounds so widely felt,
Can from the lisping tongue of childhood flow!
Oh! Genius! canst thou bid a nation melt
In anguish o’er an infant’s mimic woe?
See! from his lab’ring breast the expiring pang
Heves its quick-throb! what death-like stillness reigns,
While breathless crowds in mute amazement hang,
The freezing stream scarce moving in their veins!
And ah! he dies!—grief claims the transient pause,
Then yields a people’s voice the thunder of applause!
Children of Genius, on that lasting page
Where ne’er oblivion’s chilling fingers rest,
Your names shall dwell thro’ many an after age,
When long, life’s scene has clos’d upon the breast!
When wealth and pow’r, of short-lived honours proud,
Their pageant play’d, obey the general doom,
Mix unrecorded with the mouldering crowd,54 E3v 54
And never stranger footstep seeks their tomb,
Borne on the breath on Memory’s warmest sigh
Your name shall float thro’ time to dim futurity! This Poem was written early in the year 18051805, when the Young Roseius made his first appearance in London; thither it was sent to him by the author, who had seen him in his favorite characters at the Chester theatre; the author likewise sent it to Miss Seward, from whom two years subsequent she received a letter inclosing a copy of the lines on the same subject inserted in the collection of poems lately edited by Mr. Scott; she now thinks it expedient to mention this circumstance to prevent a suspicion of plagiarism, though in all probability the letter to which she alludes makes one of the series in the possession of Mr. Constable, and promised to the public.
’Tisbut a dull ungrateful saying,
That life and joy are still decaying,
That all is spent in vision-weaving,
A strife of trusting and deceiving;
That time but mocks us as he flies,
Vexes our hearts and cheats our eyes!
Oh! as we mark the hour-glass waning,
How vain, how thriftless our complaining!
Time, o’er my headthy wing has past
With swift, unseen, unconscious haste,
I feel already on my brow
Life’s warm, yet temperate noon-day glow;56 E4v 56
And shall I heave the ungrateful sigh
That morn has faded from my sky,
Call life a day-dream of deceit,
A scene of toys, a painted cheat,
Which smiles, and promises, and flies—
Because pert Fancy told me lies;
Or with Suspicion’s scowling eye
Look onward thro’ futurity?
Time, like ourselves, in limits bound,
Enforced runs the allotted round,
And we poor, silly, wayward elves,
Are dupes indeed, but—to ourselves!
Then, farewel hours, and days, and years,
Embalm’d in Memory’s grateful tears,
Lov’d for the joys ye led along,
And pardon’d now, each vanish’d wrong?
How many a fragile child of rhyme
Has mock’d thee on thy passage, Time,57 E5r 57
Or tried to coax thee on thy way,
Spell-bind thy wing, and win they stay
I call thee, but to pay thee, Time,
The tribute of one child of rhyme,
Who thanks thee, that thy wing has shed
So many blessings on her head;
Who thanks thee, for the wreathing bough
Whose verdant leaves entwine her brow;
For that best prize to mortals given,
Which lends our world a gleam from heaven—
Friendship! while life owns such a guest,
Is Time a cheat, a dream, a jest?
No! Time when I have done with thee,
That gift shall gild Eternity!
To the Butterfly.
Oh! why does my approach alarm thee,
Thou pretty, fluttering, fragile thing?
I do not bear the heart to harm thee,
Then fearless rest thy speckl’d wing:
How often when oppress’d with sorrow,
Pensive I’ve mark’d thy gay career,
And long’d that buoyant wing to borrow,
Like thee my careless course to steer!
And when with thee in fancy soaring
Light sails the visionary mind,59 E6r 59
Then grief, and care, and vain deploring,
Earth’s cumbrous brood, it leaves behind:
Then wave thy wing—we’ll rise together,
While man, the reptile, crawls below;
We’ll float mid golden fields of æther,
And revel ’mid the sun-beam’s glow!
And when the dewy-mantled even
Summons each weary wing to rest,
With thee I’ll quit yon spangled heaven,
To slumber on a rose’s breast!
No! fare thee well! for Fate’s dominion
Has bound to earth my dull career;
Go, wave far off thy gaudy pinion,
And leave the wayward murm’rer here!
Oh! haste away, thou pretty rover,
Nor idly waste thy sunshine hour,
Thy span of bliss shall soon be over,
And summer zephyrs sigh no more!
And rest my thoughts, till Time unfailing
To me the immortal moment brings,
When I thro’ clouds of æther sailing
May weave my everlasting wings!
To the Right Honourable Lady Isabella K—
Yes, gifted name, by Poet bless’d,
That blessing still shall dwell with thee;
’Tis but a sound, yet none shall wrest
Its claim to immortality!
That magic sound shall still express
The gentle, lovely, chaste and wise,
All that the kindling bard may bless,
All, that to heaven may look and rise!
All that is noble, just, and kind,
True to the bard’s benignant spell,
Still swells the breast, refines the mind,
And fills the heart of Isabel!
What is a dream? Why fools and sages
Have wisely puzzled o’er the theme,
Till swept away by rolling ages,
Their being is become a dream!
Tho’ vainly ponder’d, long and deep,
From early times these sapient fellows,
O’er the grave riddle fall’n asleep,
Not one, the wish’d result can tell us!
Onward the ignis-fatuus flits;
In vain they stretch’d the hand to hold it,64 E8v 64
And lost their time, and wore their wits,
Illusive vapours still enfold it!
Youth wakes elate to life’s warm beam,
Flings away toys, for love and battles,
Smiling looks back on childhood’s dream,
With all its jingling bells and rattles;—
Short is his smile, for glowing youth
Is but a brilliant morning vision!
The fading cheats, call’d love and truth,
But themes for riper man’s derision!
Yet, who but sees with fond regret
These phantoms bright, so quickly wasted?
Oh! stay dear forms, and cheat me yet,
For pleasant were ye while ye lasted!
But now adieu to idle dreaming,
For manhood’s graver brain too light,
Int’rest sedate, with sober seeming,
Puts every gentler shade to flight!
Yet even int’rest’s form shall perish!
Int’rest must fade like all the rest!
And let it go—for who would cherish
Care’s ugliest night-mare in his breast!
Now Father Time, who ne’er reposes
Leads to the couch, with rapid feet,
Where failing nature dreams and dozes
On the cold worm and winding-sheet!
What is a dream?—the earth, the sky,
Our love and hate, our joy and sorrow,F 66 F1v 66
Shall all dissolve beneath our eye,
And prove an empty dream to-morrow!
Miser, the hoard thou gazest on
Is not so solid as thou deemest;
Thy glittering heap shall soon be gone,
It is but air, and thou but dreamest!
Poet, these dreamers laugh at thee,
And mock thy fancy’s fragile scheming,
Too much asleep, poor elves, to see,
That they themselves are only dreaming!
Inscribed to Mrs.—
Who art thou, stranger, with the beard of snow,
Th’ unwavering glance, and deeply furrow’d brow,
Eye, which with strange, yet temper’d radiance shines,
Brow, where fix’d thought, with treasur’d lore combines?
The sage replied,
Not all unknown to fame,
A student I, and Science is my name!
Yet start not thou;—Humility my guide,
I chide no meek inquirer from my side;
The erring, wandering, shade-pursuing crowd,
Have still my honours on a cheat bestow’d,F2 68 F2v 68
Whose solemn weed, and quaint, and crabbed phrase,
Beguile the foolish million of their praise;
But he is Pedantry, howe’er he claim
My attributes, my votaries, and my name!
I am the same who pointed Newton’s eye
To pierce the myst’ries of the concave sky,
And, when recall’d to earth his daring view,
Breath’d in his ear the secret known to few,
That worlds explor’d, and clouds and oceans past,
All man can grasp, is emptiness at last!
The truth is mine, in painful study learn’d,
By deep research, and long inquiry earn’d.
The social bond knits Pedantry and Pride,
Humility is still my faithful guide,
Tho’ Genius sometimes rashly bounds before,
And tempts where rocks arise and billows roar;
Now for awhile the wanderers are at rest,
I and my guide secure in Harriet’s breast;69 F3r 69
No hermit refuge, no secluded bourn,
Where selfish Discontent has fled to mourn;
A goodly band divide the bless’d retreat,
There, Piety has fix’d her firmest seat;
Not she, who stern explores each neighbour’s eye,
Well pleas’d therein the blinding mote to spy,
Who never smil’d on virtue but her own,
And owes her safety to a heart of stone!
No! let her build her hut ’mid polar snows,
Not in the realm where heav’n’s own day-beam glows!
Ah no! far different is the hallow’d guest
Who rears a spotless shrine in Harriet’s breast!
Peace, Hope, and Charity, her offspring fair,
Seek the bless’d home, and love to commune there:
There stern Reflection views with brow unbent
Th’ unblotted record of a life well spent:
There, unmolested, Genius twines his wreath,
For even Envy holds her poison’d breath,70 F3v 70
Nor dare she bid the rankling vapour blow
To blight one leaf that shadows Harriet’s brow!
Yet fear not mortals, to approach too near
The sacred shrine—for gentleness is there!
Oh! when at length the scatter’s virtues mourn,
That fate has reft them of their fav’rite bourn,
When that bright spirit sojourns in the skies,
And when the mortal form in silence lies;
Still Fame shall tell the world in honest pride,
That Harriet liv’d,—and weep that Harriet died!
Now woe to yon castle’s ruthless tow’r!
Now woe to yon rugged wall!
And tenfold woe to the dreary hour
Which beheld our king in thrall;
Oh Carisbrook! how thou smilest now,
Like a rebel bold and gay!
Ah soon may the ivy in thy brow
Creep over thy ruins grey!
Then, he who views thy mouldering gate,
And stands in thy desert hall,
Shall breathe a curse on the rebel hate
Which decreed our martyr’s fall:
Whenever thy battlements shall lie
Inglorious in the dust,
Each Briton who marks thy destiny
Shall smile on a fate so just!
’Twas the dull and dusky twilight hour,
When close to his window grate,
Catching the breath of an April show’r
The captive sovereign sate:
A tear glisten’d bright in Stuart’s eye,
And his cheek was deadly pale,73 F5r 73
And his bosom answer’d ev’ry sigh
Heav’d by the evening gale.
His cheek was pale, and his princely eye
Was fill’d with memory’s tears,
As he ponder’d on the destiny
Which flatter’d his early years;
He thought on the friends for him who died,
Yet was not that pang the worst;
He thought on friends who had left his side,
And felt as his heart would burst!
But he shudder’d, as in looking back
On the days forever lost,
Reflection ’mid the shadowy track
Met Strafford’s headless ghost!
What armour can that breast defend
From Memory’s home-struck blows?
The shade of one deserted friend,
Outfrowns a thousand foes!
It plagues us in the silent hour,
It haunts us as we sleep,
It stays the heart-relieving show’r,
And mocks us as we weep!
The crown from off his sacred head
By rebels rudely torn,
An exil’d wife, and children fled,
The christian King had borne!
But when to Heaven he look’d and pray’d
To heal his agony,75 F6r 75
Still murmur’d in his ear the shade—
Thus did I hope in thee!
Yet Stuart weep not! in yon skies,
Where thou shalt quickly be,
Say, can thy loyal servant prize
A life-drop shed for thee?
Oh! the red-drop, the transient groan,
The struggle and farewel,
Were quickly pass’d, forever gone,
And but with memory dwell:
Nay, in that last, stern, bitter hour,
Even as the spirit fled,
The noble victim felt its pow’r,
And gloried as he bled!
Oh! thickens fast the twilight shade,
Yet Stuart’s aching eye
Pursues the dim lights as they fade
Along the silent sky:
Now all are gone! each glimm’ring ray
Has vanish’d in the west,
And all in night and silence lay
Like Stuart’s dreary breast!
Bending to earth, behold the brow
Which holy balsam steep’d,
Oppress’d beneath a load of woe,
By heartless traitors heap’d!
Oh! spare him England! yet too late
The loyal hearts appeal!77 F7r 77
E’en now he drains the cup of hate,
And feels what wretches feel!
If ever tyrant’s irksome reign
Oh England! blot thy throne,
Bethink thee then, of Stuart’s pain,
And Heav’n’s justice own!
If ever—but indignant lay,
Shalt thou prescribe to Heaven!
The traitor swarm is swept away,
And England is forgiven!
Time, thro’ thy mist, with daring eye
Even now the Bard can trace,
The hour when many a realm shall lie
Uprooted from its base.
While Britain stems the storm alone,
Free ’mid a world of slaves,
Firm on her ocean-plated throne,
The empire of the waves!
On Witnessing the Decline of Health, Spirits, and Genius, In a Well-Known Author.
Now Phœbus has flung back the mantle of night,
And taught blushing nature her charms to unfold,
His orb o’er the mountains looks beamy and bright,
And the breast of the rivulet glistens with gold!
And cold is the bosom, exulting, I cried,That scorns to reflect back thy life-giving rays! And dull is the stream that can silently glide, Nor murmur in flowing, its tribute of praise!
For youth’s rising energies gilded the hour.
And the quick throb of pleasure sprang high in each vein,
And Fancy imparted her magical pow’r
To each prize that Ambition was panting to gain.
Thus S——d, the dawn of thy morning was bright,
Thus lucid and warm was the beam of thy noon!
And Hope’s fairy flatteries shed o’er thy sight
Rosy mists, which were destin’d to vanish too soon!
Bright forms, is it thus, that ye bloom and decay?
Is it thus, that ye glance in gay colours awhile?
Is it thus that ye fade with the swift-setting day,
Delusively promise, and transiently smile?
Yes S——d, thy day-star is waning apace,
And sorrow and sickness have chosen their hour,81 G1r 81
And as feebly concludes thy once vigorous race,
See Envy’s grim smiles are beginning to low’r!
Ah! little the sweet-warbled promise of morn
Presag’d fleeting Freindship’s untimely decay,
Nor of life’s dusky twilight, when dim and forlorn,
The gay hour of fame should be gliding away!
Ah! even thy Muse, like the world’s giddy throng,
Ungrateful forsakes thee, and shuns thy decline!
No longer she deigns to awaken thy song,
Or mingle her high-soaring spirit with thine;
And the wreath which she gather’d in happier years,
Lov’d tribute, which only the Muse can bestow,
Now withering, neglected, and blighted with tears,
Hangs drooping and languidly over thy brow!
Farewel silent lyre! for thy once cherish’d strain
So lofty and sweet thrills the bosom no more,
Thy strings are all broken, and never again
On the rapt ear of taste shall thy melodies pour!
And S——d farewel! soon the slumber of years
Shall shed its repose o’er thy world-wearied breast, The accomplishment of this event too soon followed its prediction.
But the dim smile of Memory shall shine thro’ her tears,
As she rescues thy name from the regions of rest.
Sad wears the hour!—heavy and drear
Creeps, with slow pace, the waning year,
And sullen, sullen, heaves the blast
Its deep sighs o’er the lonely waste!
Nature looks pale, and sick, and waning,
And loads the dank air with her hoarse complaining;
’Mid the blue mist stands a dusky form,
I gaze and shudder to remember
That grim precursor of the storm,
The generous Briton’s foe, dull, scowling, dark November!G2 84 G2v 84
O’er the fallen leaves he takes his way
Whispering, and murmuring themes of sorrow;
He points at the cloud which veils the day,
And smiting his breast, he seems to say,
It shall burst on thy head to-morrow!
Then he hints, in deep sepulchral tone,
At the peace which is under the church-yard stone!
November, ever by thy side
Lurk wan despair, ungenial pride!
No roses round thy mornings bloom,
And thy eve descends with tenfold gloom,
Gladness, abash’d when thou art nigh,
Enforced heaves a timid sigh;
Lo! blighted by thy withering frown
Love, sickening, sees his myrtle crown
Fade, fall, and change, beneath his eye85 G3r 85
To the yellow tint of jealousy,
Then scattered by the winds, dispers’d and trampled lie!
November, why does every brow
Droop, as thy dun cloud sails the sky,
Why do thy hours o’er mortals flow
Lagging and sullenly?
Seldom, dark Month, thy form is seen
To wear December’s warrior mien;
Still does thy scanty verdure grow,
Unburied yet by winter’s snow,
The storms, which soon shall burst amain,
With all their winds, a boisterous train.
But menace now—yet who but sighs
For louder winds, and wilder skies?
Who but looks onward with desire
To the clustering group, and social fire?86 G3v 86
Then get thee hence—tread thou the path
Which circling months have trod before,
Give way to Winter’s honest wrath,
For, grateful that thy reign is o’er,
Welcome the fleecy shower! welcome the whirlwind’s roar!
November, why o’er yonder tomb
Low’rs thy dark sky with denser gloom?
O’er yon deserted, lonely grave,
Thy rushing winds more shrilly rave,
There thick descends thy yellow leaf
In whirling eddies from on high,
And in the sudden sob of grief
Thy voice mourns hollowly!
Who slumbers there—what silent friend,
That on his chill dank bed thy gather’d woes descend?87 G4r 87
He was a man, whose rugged way
Still led thro’ paths of sorrow,
Still dark and joyless rose his day,
Still did he fear to-morrow!
November low’r’d, the moaning wind
Breath’d sadness on a sadden’d mind!
Why did he listen, for it told
In whispers, low, and faint, and cold,
Of perish’d hope, of that still sleep
Which never wakes to groan and weep?
He heard alas!—And now the gust
Wails loudly o’er his mouldering dust!
November, Fancy’s wayward child
Speaks to thee now,—full well she knows
That fraught for her, with omens wild,
Heavy thy breath’s dank vapour blows!88 G4v 88
But far beyond thy dusky sky,
Beyond poor Nature, fading fast,
She peirces with confiding eye,
And spies a beacon ’mid the waste!
Good Bye to the Muse.
Fare thee well, my dear Muse! I have lov’d thee, ’tis true,
And our severing costs me a sigh,
But Time, Chance, and Destiny, must have their due,
And ’tis sooner or later—Good bye!
Good bye to Ambition, to pleasure, to pelf,
Good bye to our air-founded views,
Good bye to our follies—Good bye to ourself,
Good bye to the once-cherish’d Muse!
Yet linger a moment! for ere thou depart
Methinks I would commune awhile,90 G5v 90
On moments which thou hast made dear to my heart
With thy converse, thy song, and thy smile;
For I bear not a heart, all relentless and stern,
Without once looking back which can sever,
And which scorns that the high-seated spirit should yearn
Over joys which are parting for ever;
I bear not a heart, which can sullenly say,
Because I have found thee deceiving,
Past illusions, forgotten in truths of to-day,
Farewel! without thinking or grieving!
I have sigh’d o’er the rose which but blushes to fade,
O’er the shadow which darkens our views,
Over ev’ry frail beauty which bloom’d and decay’d,
And shall I not sigh for my Muse!
Yet they say, and I fear there is truth in the tale,
In sickness, in age, or in sorrow,
The fair-promising Muse will her votary fail,
And a hint from expediency borrow;
Then ’tis better to tear the fresh laurel, I ween,
While it blossoms and flaunts on my brow,
Than to wait till cold winter has wither’d its green,
And to watch while it perishes slow;
And ’tis better to yield while unbiass’d and free,
Than to wait till a blessing is taken;
So I take a proud leave gentle Musie of thee,
That by thee I may ne’er be forsaken!
Lines Suggested by a Perusal of the Last Minstrel.
In yon ungentle clime whose steeps
Still frown with unrelenting snows,
Whose rugged breast the north wind sweeps,
How warm the minstrel spirit glows!
Amid her whirlwinds rude and hoarse,
What sweetly-solemn strains arise!93 G7r 93
Wild, as her torrents’ rapid course,
And as awful as her stormy skies!
And soft! along the heathy waste
What strange mysterious warblings pour!—
All silent sinks the mountain blast,
The deafening linn suspends its roar.—
Hark! ’tis a deep, a potent strain!
No vulgar minstrel strikes the lyre,
But on his heart and on his brain,
Flashes the Muse’s lambent fire!
Aloft his mystic wand he rears—
When lo! the vapoury clouds of time
Leave all unveil’d the dark brown years,
Obedient to the wizard rhyme—
Hark Caledonia! from the tomb,
From the rude cairn’s unsculptur’d heap,
From the pale cloister’s twilight gloom
It breaks the warrior’s grizly sleep!
On the dim legends gothic page
What lofty deeds obscurely slept,
While o’er them still, from age to age,
Oblivion’s mouldering mildew crept!
Mark Scotland, mark! the wondrous song
Rouses from dust each slumbering name,
Oh mark its echoes loud and long!
It gives your vanish’d sires to fame!
Once more the chieftain’s eye severe,
Gleams with the lightning’s vivid flash,95 G8r 95
And half appall’d, we seem to hear
His glittering claymore’s mortal clash!
Oh Scotland! if within thee rest
One spark, to fame, to honour dear,
How must he warm thy rugged breast,
Who tells thee what thy fathers were!
And do we doubt, if still remains
In Scottish hearts the patriot glow?
Go ask, ’mid Egypt’s distant plains,
How Caledonians meet the foe!
While to the whistling northern blast
The thistle rears her purple head,
So long shall Scotland’s glory last,
And wide her song of fame be spread,
For still, amid her whirlwinds hoarse,
Her minstrel’s patriot strain shall rise,
Wild, as her torrents’ rapid course,
And awful as her stormy skies!
The tapers are quench’d and the mass is said,
Lady, Lady! cease to weep!
Why clingest thou thus round the silent dead,
He goes to his grave so deep?
On the sable bier the Lady she gaz’d,
Her woe it is wild despair,
Her lip it is pale and her eye is glaz’d,
Lady, Lady! hence to pray’r!
And if I might open that eye so bright
To look on another day,
Oh then I would kneel thro’ the live-long night,
Ye should not bid me pray!
From that silent voice, if but one sound more
Might to mine ear be given,
Oh ne’er should my cry and my pray’r be o’er
’Till I had wearied Heaven!
But my heart upon yonder bier is laid,
Ye are bearing it away!
And how can she plead to Heaven for aid
Who has not a heart to pray!
Go hide my love under the damp green stone!
Go bury him low and deep!99 H2r 99
I’ll build me a bow’r in the church-yard lone
To watch my husband’s sleep.
And when the moon rises above the yew
Which shadows his silent breast,
I’ll mingle my tears with the glitt’ring dew
That sprinkles his place of rest.
Oh cold is the night, and the wind it blows,
And thy husband sleeps in peace,
Then pray for the balsam of soft repose,
It shall bid thy sorrows cease!
But seek not thou ’mid the shadows of night
Yon church-yard dark and wide,
For there hovers oft the shivering sprite,
And the shrouded phantoms glide!
Yet tho’ sick and wan is the moonlight ray,
Tho’ hollow the night-blasts rave,
The Lady has taken the dreary way
Which leads to the new-made grave.
And the morning cock it crows loud and shrill,
And the clouds of night are gone,
Yet the Lady is watching pale and still
By the side of the silent stone!
Now heavily, heavily pass’d the day,
And again the night is come,
And the owl has call’d the Lady away
To visit her husband’s home;
But the bat is flapping its leathern wing,
And ’tis sad to sit alone,101 H3r 101
And when the cock crows and the matins ring,
The Lady she is gone!
Now Lady, Lady, the moon shines clear,
And soft the night-winds blow,
Thy watch will be sweet by the chambers drear
Where thy true love sleeps below!
Now slowly, slowly, her steps she bent
Thro’ the church-path’s lonely track,
Yet tho’ all so slowly she thither went,
Full quickly she hied her back!
Oh its I would shrive, go call me a priest,
I have sinn’d in too much sorrow,
And I will away to the midnight feast
And throw by my weeds to-morrow!
Of a cheek like this to wither the bloom
Alas! ’tis a deadly crime!
So I’ll sit no more by the lonely tomb,
’Tis good to repent in time.
Then her maidens braided her yellow hair,
And with jewels deck’d her brow;
And they tinted that Lady’s cheek so fair,
With the rose-bud’s softest glow.
And her mantle of silk it floated proud
Around her slender form,
While her Lord lay wrapt in his mould’ring shroud,
A feast for the crawling worm!
But the dead are gone, and we may be gay;
Time mocks us from our sorrow,103 H4r 103
For if we are sullen and sad to-day
We too may be dead to-morrow!
Oh I lov’d my lord while beauty and life
In charms array’d his form,
But ’tis vain with the grave to hold my strife,
Or rival the loathsome worm!
Now wise I ween was that Lady’s mind,
Her moonlight watch for leaving;
For love is a dream, and sighs they are wind—
What e’er was gain’d by grieving?
Then Lady away to the midnight ball!
Waste no more time in weeping,
For the vapours float and the dews they fall,
Thy husband’s pillow steeping.
By echoing harps and by tapers bright,
By mirth and dance surounded,
That Lady she soon bade her grief good night,
And her light heart gaily bounded!
And if yet upon her wavering sense
A saddening thought remains,
Hark! Flattery is nigh to drive it thence,
With its false yet dulcet strains!
See how she listens, and blushes, and smiles,
Her vow and her griefs forgetting,
While entranced by the syren’s warbled wiles
She marks each rival fretting!
Now Lady, and are those sweet smiles thine own,
Or to another given?
Oh, their Lord sleeps under the damp green stone,
And his soul is gone to heaven!
And the gale that flutters thro’ scented groves,
And the lark that skims the sky,
And the mountain kid that merrily roves,
Are not less fetter’d than I.
Then she gave her hand to the gallant gay—
(Already her heart was dancing,)
And blythe to the crowd she hasten’d away,
Where nimble feet were glancing.
Now floated a damp and earthy smell,
’Twas like a church-yard vapour!
And a ghastly mist o’er the dancers fell,
And dimm’d each struggling taper;
And frozen and terror-struck stood the crowd,
Which of late so jocund were,
For a spectre was there in his wavering shroud,
And the dress which dead men wear!
And hollowly hollowly sounds his tongue,
And it says in the Lady’s ear,
Thou camest not tho’ I waited long,
So I come for thee my dear!
Then quick on her shuddering hand he plac’d
His fingers livid and cold,
And his ghastly arm it grasp’d her waist,
Which shrank from its icy hold!
We must not tarry—’tis time to come!
Why art thou my love so slow?107 H6r 107
The glow-worm is waiting to light thee home,
And all is ready below!
The Lady is gone with her spectre spouse,
Tho’ she had fain denied,
The grave is a sad and a dreary house
For a gay and blooming bride!
The mist is fled, and the tapers are bright,
And all is as before;
But each dancer’s heart is frozen with fright,
And the joy of the ball is o’er!
Why my truant thoughts return
O’er the pleasing past to stray,
Why my fancy wilt thou mourn
The lost delights of yesterday!
Light-wing’d minutes, laughing hours,
Blushing youth, and pleasure gay,
Careless ease and social pow’rs,
Are ye too fled with yesterday!
Scenes of vanish’d bliss adieu!
Flit ye airy shapes away!
Hope gives a morrow to my view
Which looks not back on yesterday!
To the Memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Vassall.
Muses of Britain! shall the tear
Which Memory sheds o’er valour’s bier,
Fall silent in the grave?
Are mute despair, and heart-drawn sighs
Meet tribute for the brave!
No, raise your pealing voices high,111 H8r 111
And bid them pierce the echoing skies
With hymns of victory!
Amid life’s humblest, lowliest scene,
Where the year glides untraced away,
And man, as he had never been,
Forgot, unheeded, or unseen,
Resigns his little day,
E’en o’er his undistinguish’d brow
A while the mourner Pity weeps,
Her teeming eyes incessant flow,
To wet the turf, where pale and low,
Some silent mortal sleeps:
But when the hero dies,
A suffering country sighs!
Yet soon the melancholy pause,
To grateful sorrow given,112 H8v 112
Yields to the thunder of applause,
Which sweeps the vaulted heaven;
Whilst ye immortal Nine!
With busy fingers twine
From ever-living plants fair chaplets for his shrine!
Where was the generous flush of youth?
On Vassall’s cheek it glow’d!
Where thy pure dictates, manly Truth?
From Vassall’s lips they flow’d!
Honour, unsafe, but noble guest,
Sate proudly thron’d in Vassall’s breast!
His gleaming faulchion wav’d on high,
Like the red meteor in the sky,
Glar’d terror on the startled eye:
Yet often o’er his prostrate foe,
His British arm withheld the blow,113 I1r 113
And bade the trembler rise and live,
To tell thro’ distant years how Britons can forgive!
Shall he, the gallant and the young,
Drop from his high career unsung?
Ye Muses, no,
The living glow,
Which fills your sacred strains was giv’n,
To snatch from Lethe’s chilling wave
The well-earned honours of the brave,
And bid his name survive below,
Whom Destiny, with sudden blow,
Untimely sent to heaven!
Mighty La Plata’s giant shore
Shook at the British lion’s roar,
And wild the death-star gleam’d,
Slaughter pour’d a crimson tide;I 114 I1v 114
E’en warriors shrank, dismay’d to view
Death wear his grimmest, ghastliest hue,
And half reluctant seem’d;
For fierce athwart the gloom of night,
The war-fires cast their lurid light!
Elate against the hurtling storm,
Vassall opposed his dauntless form,
And cheer’d his martial train:
Come on, my Friends! yon bulwark’s pride,
Shall fall before war’s sweeping tide,
And strew the smoking plain.
On, on he rush’d! the crashing wall
Gave way and nodded to the fall!
Victory, thy flame inspir’d his breast,
Shed sparkles from his eyes, and flashed around his crest!
England! thy conquering banner flies,
Fann’d by the breath of hostile skies;
Andto the quell’d Iberian’s eyes115 I2r 115
Recals those times when stories say,
That Britons never lost the day:
Yet on La Plata’s shore
Wild Triumph lifts her echoing shouts no more!
But Silence with portentous form,
Points to the relics of the storm,
Where victory hangs her wreathed head
In sadness o’er the glorious dead,
And exultation’s ferverous glow
Freezes in every generous breast,
Since he, the bravest and the best,
Pride of his country’s youth! is laid thus early low.
’Tis o’er! for now the funeral knell
Comes on the gale with sullen swell!
The martial drum, so wont to cheer
The hero in his bright career,
With deaden’d stroke saddens the ear!116 I2v 116
Ah! all is past! no trumpet’s sound
Shall raise him from th’ unconscious ground!
England may call her valiant band
The champions of her land,
But Vassall’s day is o’er,
Spent on a distant shore,
And still’d the beating heart, unnerv’d the patriot hand.
Ah! who is she whose streaming eye,
Disdaining earth, would pierce the sky,
To seek her hero there?
But soft! let no rude glance intrude
Upon the sacred solitude,
That veils the widow’s tear!
Muses of Britain! shall the tomb
Fold in its unrelenting gloom117 I3r 117
All that is good and great?
In vain did Britain’s soldier fall,
And must oblivion’s dusky pall
Spread darkness o’er his fate?
Ah! no! his praise shall shine in story,
While Fame shall blazon on his grave,
That while he liv’d, he liv’d to glory,
And died the foremost of the brave!
J. M‘Creery, Printer,
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster Row.
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