Scenes of Infancy: Descriptive of Teviotdale

PART I.
1. 'I hear the murmuring song of Teviot's stream,' &c.]— The river Teviot, which gives its name to the district of Teviotdale, rises in an elevated mountainous tract in the south of Scotland, from a rude rock, termed the Teviot-stone, descends through a beautiful pastoral dale, and falls into the Tweed at Kelso. The vale of the river is above thirty miles in length, and comprehends every variety of wild, picturesque, and beautiful scenery. The first part of its course is confined, and overshadowed by abrupt and savage hills, diversified with smooth green declivities, and fantastic copses of natural wood. Beneath Hawick, the vale opens, and several beautiful mountain-streams fall into the river. The meadow-ground becomes more extensive, and the declivities more susceptible of cultivation; but, in the distance, dark heaths are still seen descending from the mountains, which, at intervals, encroach on the green banks of the river. As the stream approaches the Tweed, the scenery becomes gradually softer, and, in the vicinity of Kelso, rivals the beauty of an Italian landscape. The name of Teviotdale, a term of very considerable antiquity, is not confined solely to the vale of the river, but comprehends the county of Roxburgh. In ancient times, its acceptation was still more extensive, including the tract of country which lies between the ridge of Cheviot and the banks of the Tweed. The inhabitants of this frontier district, inured to war from their infancy, had, at an early period of Scottish history, attained a high military reputation; and the term Tevidaleuses, or men of Teviotdale, seems to have been once employed as a general epithet for the Dalesmen in the south of Scotland. They devoted themselves to the life of the predatory warrior and the shepherd; and the intervals of their incursions were often employed in celebrating their martial exploits. Hence, this district became the very cradle of Scottish song, in every variety of melody, from the harsh and simple, but energetic, war-songs of the Liddisdale borderers, to the soft and pathetic love-strains of the banks of the Tweed.
These wild, but pleasing memorials of former times, though fading fast with every innovation of manners, still survive in the memory of the older peasants; and a poetical description of the striking features of the country seemed naturally to demand allusions to them. These allusions would have been more frequent, had not the subject received ample illustration in THE MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER, the work of a much esteemed friend.

2. 'Such strains the harp of haunted Merlin threw,']—MERLIN of Caledonia, from his habits of life, named THE WILD, is said to have been one of the earliest poets of the south of Scotland, whose name is preserved by history or tradition. Several compositions, attributed to him, or relating to him, still exist in the Welsh language, and have been lately printed in THE MYVYRIAN ARCHAIOLOGY OF WALES. Their strain of poetry is obscure, abrupt, and wild, but often reaches sublimity and pathos. His poetical reputation seems once to have been of greater celebrity than at present. Poole, in his English Parnassus, p. 387, denominates Homer the Grecian Merlin. His poems abound in allusions to the events of his own life, which seems to have been marked by striking vicissitudes. He flourished between the years 530 and 590. According to some accounts, he was born at Caerwerthevin, near the forest of Caledon. This is probably Carnwath, as Merlin mentions Lanerk in his poems. He studied under the famous Taliessin, and became equally illustrious as a poet and a warrior. He was present at the battle of Arderyth, Atturith, or Atterith, in 577, where he had the misfortune to slay his nephew; and, being soon after seized with madness, he buried himself in the forests of the south of Scotland, where, in the lucid intervals of frenzy, he lamented his unhappy situation in wild pathetic strains. 'I am a wild terrible screamer: raiment covers me not: affliction wounds me not: My reason is gone with the gloomy sprites of the mountain, and I myself am sad.' In his 'APPLE TREES,' he describes the beautiful orchard which his prince had bestowed on him as a reward of his prowess in battle. 'Seven score and seven are the fragrant apple trees, equal in age, height, and magnitude, branching wide and high as a grove of the forest, crowned with lovely foliage, growing on the sunny slope of a green hill, guarded by a lovely nymph with pearly teeth.' The recollection of this gift is excited by the view of an apple tree, under which he appears to have rested during his frenzy. He describes it as a majestic tree, loaded with the sweetest fruit, growing in the sequestered recesses of the forest of Caledon, shading all, itself unshaded. With the recollection of his former situation, returns his regret; and he complains to his lonely Apple-tree, that he is hated by the warriors, and despised by the snowy swans of the Britains, who would formerly have wished to have reclined, like the harp, in his arms. Then, in a bold prophetic strain, he announces the return of Modred, and Arthur, monarch of the martial host. 'Again shall they rush to the battle of Camlan. Two days, swells the sound of the conflict, and only seven escape from the slaughter.' Arderyz, Atterith, or Atturith, the scene of the great battle, in which Merlin wore the golden torques, or chain of honour, is probably Etterick. Fordun places the scene of the contest between the Liddel and Carwanolow (L. III. c. 31.). The celebrated Camlan may probably have been fought in the vicinity of Falkirk, where Camelon, the ancient capital of the Picts, is generally placed. This position accords sufficiently well with the situation of the kingdoms of the Britons, Scots, and Picts, to be the scene of a grand battle between the northern and southern tribes. The grave of Merlin is placed, by tradition, at Drummelzier, in Tweeddale, beneath an aged thorn-tree; but his prophetic fame has now obscured his poetical reputation. The most striking incidents in the life of the Scottish Merlin, the traditions relating to him, and the prophecies which he was supposed to have uttered, were, about 1150, collected by Geoffrey, of Monmouth, in his VITA MERLINI CALEDONII, a Latin poem, in hexameter verse, which, in spite of the barbarism of the age, apparent in the metrical structure, as well as in the poverty and inelegance of the phraseology, displays, in some passages, a pleasing simplicity of description, and a selection of wild and striking images.

3. 'The wabret leaf,' &c.]—WABRET, or WABRON, a word of Saxon origin, is the common name for the plantane leaf in Teviotdale. It is not unknown to the elder English poets. Cutwode has introduced it in the following fanciful description of a bee going on pilgrimage.

     'He made himself a pair of holy beads:
     The fifty aves were of gooseberries:
     The Paternoster, and the holy creeds,
     Were made of red and goodly fair ripe cherries:
     Blessing his marigold with ave-maries,
     And on a staff, made of a fennel stalk,
     The beadroll hangs, whilst he alone did walk.
     And with the flower, monkshood, makes a cowl;
     And of a gray dock got himself a gown;
     And, looking like a fox, or holy fool,
     He barbs his little beard, and shaves his crown,
     And in his pilgrimage goes up and down;
     And, with a wabret-leaf, he made a wallet,
     With scrip, to beg his crumbs, and pick his saIlet.'
                       Cutwode's Caltha Poetarum. Stanz. 116. 117.

4. 'And pittering grashoppers.']—The pittering grashopper occurs in 'Oberon's Diet,' a poem, quoted in Poole's Enghsh Parnassus, p. 336.
     'A little mushrome table spread,
     After a dance, they set on bread;
     A yellow corn of parkey wheat,
     With some small sandy grits to eat
     His choice bits with; and, in a trice,
     They make a feast less great than nice;
     But all the while his eye was served,
     We cannot think his ear was starved,
     But that there was in place to stir
     His ears, the pittering grashopper. [sic]

     This passage is taken from Herrick's Hesperides, 1648, p. 136, but very unfaithfully. In the original author, it runs thus:

     'A little mushroom table spread,
     After short prayers, they set on bread;
     A moon-parched grain of purest wheat,
     With some small glittering grit, to eat
     His choice bits with; then, in a trice,
     They make a feast less great than nice;
     But all this while his eye is served,
     We must not think his ear was starved,
     But that there was in place to stir
     His spleen, the chirring grashopper.'
                       Herrick's Hesperides, p. 136.

5. 'The fur-clad savage,' &c.—The following passages of Ovid's Elegies will elucidate this allusion. Some have supposed that the traditions of the country still preserve the memory of the illustrious exile.

'Nec sumus hic odio, nec scilicet esse meremur;
     Nec cum fortuna, mens quoque versa mea est.
Illa quies animi, quam tu laudare solebas,
     Ille vetus solito perstat in ore pudor—
Hoc facit, ut misero faveant adsintque Tomitæ
     Hæc quoniam tellus testificanda mihi est:
Illi me, quia velle vident, discedere malunt;
     Respectu cupiunt hic tamen esse sui.
Nec mihi credideris, extant decreta, quibus nos
     Laudat, et immunes publica cera facit;
Conveniens miseris et quamquam gloria non est,
     Proxima dant nobis oppida munus idem.
                       De Ponto, Lib. IV. Eleg. 9.

Ah pudet, et Getico scripsi sermone libellum,
     Structaque sunt nostris barbara verba modis;
Et placui, gratare mihi, cœpique poetæ
     Inter inhumanos nomen habere Getas.
Materiam quæris? laudes de Cæsare dixi:
     Adjuta est novitas numine nostra Dei—
Hæc ubi non patria perlegi scripta Camæna,
     Venit et ad digitos ultima charta meos,
Et caput et plenas omnes movere pharetras,
     Et longum Getico murmur in ore fuit.
                       Id. Lib. IV. Eleg. 13.

6. 'Since that bold chief, who Henry's power defied,' &c.]—The song of 'JOHNIE ARMSTRANG,' is still universally popular on the Scottish Border, and was so great a favourite among the inhabitants of the northern counties of England, that the residence of the hero was transferred from the higher Teviotdale to Westmoreland, as in the beginning of the well known English ballad,

     'Is there ever a man in Westmoreland.'

     This famous Border warrior was brother of the chief of the Armstrongs, once a powerful clan on the Scottish March. He resided at Gilnockie, the ruins of which are still to be seen at the Hollows, a beautiful romantic scene, a few miles from Langholm. By his power, or his depredations, having incurred the animosity and jealousy of some of the powerful nobles at the court of James V. he was enticed to the camp of that prince, during a rapid expedition to the Border, about 1530, and hanged, with all his retinue, on growing trees, at Carlenrig chapel, about ten miles above Hawick. The graves of Armstrong and his company are still shewn, in a deserted church yard in its vicinity. The Borderers, especially the clan of the Armstrongs, reprobated this act of severity, and narrated his fate, in a beautiful dirge, which exhibits many traces of pure natural feeling, while it is highly descriptive of the manners of the time. It is still a current tradition, that the trees, on which he and his men were hanged, were immediately blasted, and withered away. His spirited expostulation with the Scottish king is genuine history, being related by Lindsay of Pitscottie. Vid. 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. I. p.35.'

7. 'Where Bortha hoarse, &c.']—Bortha, the rivulet Borthwick, which falls into the Teviot a little above Hawick. The vale was formerly inhabited by a race of SCOTTS, retainers of the powerful family of Harden, famed, in Border history, for the extent of their depredations. The lands they possessed were chiefly overgrown with heath, and were well described by that couplet, in which Scott of Satchells, in his History of the name of Scott, characterizes the territories of Buccleugh.

     'Had heather-bells been corn of the best,
     Buccleugh had had a noble grist.'

Tradition relates, that, amid the plunder of household furniture hastily carried off by them, in one of their predatory incursions, a child was found enveloped in the heap, who was adopted into the clan, and fostered by Mary Scott, commonly known by the epithet of the Flower of Yarrow, who married the celebrated Watt, or Walter, of Harden, about the latter part of the sixteenth century. This child of fortune became afterwards celebrated as a poet, and is said to have composed many of the popular songs of the Border; but tradition has not preserved his name. It is curious, that a similar tradition exists among the Macgregors; in one of whose predatory incursions into Lennox, a child in a cradle was carried off among the plunder. He was, in like manner, adopted into the clan; and, on the proscription of the Macgregors, composed many pathetic songs, in which he lamented their fall. The greater part of these still exist, and might, perhaps, throw some light on that horrid transaction; but a history of the Highland clans, illustrated by authenticated facts and traditional poetry, is still a desideratum in Scottish literature.

8. 'From yon green peak, black haunted Slata brings.']—Slata is the Sletrig, which rises on the skirts of Wineburgh, runs through a wild romantic district, and falls into the Teviot at Hawick. Wineburgh, from which it derives its source, is a green hill, of considerable height, regarded by the peasants as a resort of the fairies, the sound of whose revels is said to be often heard by the shepherd, while he is unable to see them. On its top, is a small, deep, and black lake, believed by the peasants to be bottomless; to disturb the waters of which, by throwing stones into it, is reckoned offensive to the spirits of the mountain. Tradition relates, that, about the middle of last century, a stone having been inadvertently cast into it by a shepherd, a deluge of water burst suddenly from the hill, swelled the rivulet Sletrig, and inundated the town of Hawick. However fabulous be this assigned cause of the inundation, the fact of the inundation itself is ascertained, and was probably the consequence of the bursting of a water-spout, on the hill of Wineburgh. Lakes and pits, on the tops of mountains, are regarded in the Border with a degree of superstitious horror, as the porches or entrances of the subterraneous habitations of the fairies; from which confused murmurs, the cries of children, moaning voices, the ringing of bells, and the sounds of musical instruments, are often supposed to be heard. Round these hills, the green fairy circles are believed to wind, in a spiral direction, till they reach the descent to the central cavern; so that, if the unwary traveller be benighted on the charmed ground, he is inevitably conducted, by an invisible power, to the fearful descent.

9. 'Boast! Hawick! boast!' &c.]—Few towns in Scotland have been so frequently subjected to the ravages of war as Hawick. Its inhabitants were famous for their military prowess. At the fatal battle of Flodden, they were nearly exterminated; but the survivors gallantly rescued their standard from the disaster of the day.

10. 'Where Turnbulls once,' &c.]—The valley of the Roul, or Rule, was, till a late period, chiefly inhabited by the Turnbulls, descendants of a hardy, turbulent clan, that derived its name and origin from a man of enormous strength, who rescued king Robert Bruce, when hunting in the forest of Callender from the attack of a Scotish bison. The circumstance is mentioned by Boethius, in his history of Scotland. He describes the Scotish bison as of a white colour, with a crisp and curling mane, like a lion. It abborred the sight of men, and attacked them with dreadful impetuosity; it refused to taste the grass, for several days, that had been touched by man, and died of grief when taken and confined. Its motion was swift and bounding, resembling that of a deer, the agile make of which it combined, in its form, with the strength of the ox. The breed is now extinct. From this action, the name of the hero was changed from Rule to Turnbull, and he received a grant of the lands of Bedrule.

11. 'The tiny heathflowers now begin to blow.']— 'In the desarts and moors of this realm,' says Boethius, ' grows an herb named heather, very nutritive to beasts, birds, and especially to bees. In the month of June, it produces a flower of purple hue, as sweet as honey. Of this flower the Picts made a delicious and wholesome liquor. The manner of making it has perished with the extermination of the Picts, as they never showed the craft of making it, except to their own blood. The traditions of Teviotdale add, that when the Pictish nation were exterminated, it was found that only two persons had survived the slaughter, a father and a son. They were brought before Kenneth, the conqueror, and their life was offered them, on condition the father would discover the method of making the heath-liquor. "Put this young man to death, then," said the hoary warrior. The barbarous terms were complied with; and he was required to fulfil his engagement. "Now, put me to death, too;" replied he. "You shall never know the secret. Your threats might have influenced my son; but they are lost on me." The king condemned the veteran savage to live; and tradition further relates, that his life, as the punishment of his crime, was prolonged far beyond the ordinary term of mortal existence. When some ages had passed, and the ancient Pict was blind and bed-rid, he overheard some young men vaunting of their feats of strength. He desired to feel the wrist of one of them, in order to compare the strength of modern men, with those of the times which were only talked of as a fable. They reached to him a bar of iron, which he broke between his hands, saying, 'You are not feeble, but you cannot be compared to the men of ancient times.' Such are the romantic forms which historical facts assume, after long tradition; and such are the original materials of popular poetry.

PART II.
12. 'Nor he, who sung— "The daisy is so sweet."]—Few of our English poets have celebrated the daisy so much as Chaucer, who lost no opportunity of singing its praise. In the days of chivalry, the daisy was the emblem of fidelity in love; and was frequently borne at tournaments, both by ladies and knights. Alcestis was supposed to have been metamorphosed into this flower, and was therefore reckoned 'the daisy-queen.' Chaucer beautifully describes the procession of the daisy-queen and her nymphs with the god of love, in the prologue to his legend of good women.

13. 'And the gray corn-craik trembles at the sound.']—The corn-craik is a provincial term, by which the rail is denominated in many parts of England and Scotland.

14. 'Its lord o'erthrew the spires of Hazeldean;']—Hazeldean was the name of an ancient church, on the river Teviot, long since defaced by a branch of the family of Douglas; which supposed sacrilege, popular superstition imagined could be expiated only by the extinction of the male-line of the family. A reverence for places of worship, scarcely consistent with the simplicity of the Presbyterian forms of religion, prevails in the south of Scotland.

15. 'Lords of the border! where their pennons flew.']—The pennant of Percy, gained in single combat at Newcastle, by Douglas, before the battle of Otterburn, is still preserved by Douglas of Cavers, the lineal descendant of the chieftain by whom the battle was won.

16. 'Where rolls, o'er Otter's dales, the surge of war.']—The battle of Otterburn was precipitated by the gallant Percy, that he might not be counted by Douglas, a recreant knight, for the breach of his promise to fight him on the third day. For his speech, on receiving the message which announced the approach of the army of York, see the ancient heroic ballad of the battle of Otterburn.

17. 'The yellow pestilence is buried deep. ']— Tradition still records, with many circumstances of horror, the ravages of the pestilence in Scotland. According to some accounts, gold seems to have had a kind of chemical attraction for the matter of infection, and it is frequently represented as concentrating its virulence in a pot of gold. According to others, it seems to have been regarded as a kind of spirit or monster, like the cockatrice, which it was deadly to look on, and is sometimes termed 'THE BAD YELLOW.' Adomnan, in his life of St Columba, relates, that the Picts and Scots of Britain were the only nations that escaped the ravages of the pestilence, which desolated Europe in the seventh century. Wyntown relates, that Scotland was first afflicted with this formidable epidemic in 1349.
     'In Scotland, the first pestilence
     Began; of so great violence,
     That it was said, of living men,
     The third part it destroyed then;
     After that, intill Scotland
     A year or more it was wedand;
     Before that time was never seen
     A pestilence in our land so keen.
     Both men, and bairns, and women,
     It spared not to kill then.'
                       Wyntown's Chronicle, Vol. II. p. 271

     In numerous places of Scotland, the peasants point out large flat stones, under which they suppose the pestilence to be buried, and which they are anxious not to raise, lest it should emerge, and again contaminate the atmosphere. The Bass of Inverury, an earthen mount, about 200 feet high, is said, by tradition, to have been once a castle, which was walled up, and covered with earth, because the inhabitants were infected with the plague. It stands on the banks of the Ury; against which stream it is defended by buttresses, built by the inhabitants of Inverury, who were alarmed by a prophecy, ascribed to Thomas the Rhymer, and preserved by tradition.
     'Dee and Don, they shall run on,
     And Tweed shall run, and Tay;
     And the bonny water of Ury
     Shall bear the Bass away.'
The inhabitants of Inverury sagaciously concluded, that this prediction could not be accomplished, without releasing the imprisoned pestilence, and, to guard against this fatal event, they raised ramparts against the encroachments of the stream.

[Original is missing pages 169-181]

notices of this event in Teviotdale, and Liddisdale, the Gododin of the Welsh bards, and the country of the Ottadini.

18. 'While oft the Saxon raven, poised for flight.']— Teviotdale, Liddisdale, and the mountainous districts of Dumfries-shire, which seem to have formed the Welsh principalities of Reged and Gododin, were the scene of the most sanguinary warfare between the Welsh and Saxons. After Scotland and England were formed into two powerful kingdoms, these districts were comprehended in the Middle March of Scotland; and the hardy clans, by which they were inhabited, became versed in every kind of predatory warfare. THE MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER exhibits an accurate view of their history and manners.

19. 'So rose the stubborn race, unknown to bow.']—After the union of the kingdoms, the free-booters of the Border were restrained, with considerable difficulty, from their antient practices; but, by the united authority of civil and military law, 'the rush-bush was made to keep the cow.' The inhabitants of the Border then became attached to the forms and doctrines of Presbyterianism, with as much enthusiasm as had formerly roused them to turbulence and rapine. This sudden change of manners is thus described by Cleland:

     For instance, lately on the Borders,
     Where there were nought but theft and murders,
     Rapine, cheating, and resetting,
     Slight-of-hand-fortunes getting;
     Their designation, as ye ken,
     Was all along 'the taking men.'
     Now rebels prevail more with words,
     Than dragoons do with guns and swords;
     So that their bare preaching now,
     Makes the thrush-bush keep the cow.
     Better than Scots or English kings
     Could do by killing them with strings;
     Yea, those who were the greatest rogues.
     Follows them over hills and bogs,
     Crying for prayers and for preaching.
                       CLELAND'S Poems, p.30.

     In the reign of Charles II. and during the tyrannical administration of Lauderdale, a violent attempt was made to impose the forms of the English church on the Presbyterians of Scotland. The attempt was resisted, partial insurrections were excited, and various actions, or rather skirmishes, took place, particularly at Pentland, and Bothwell Bridge, and the country was subjected to military law. Many sanguinary acts of violence occurred, and many unnecessary cruelties were inflicted, the memory of which will not soon pass away on the Borders. The names of the principal agents in these tyrannical and bloody proceedings, are still recollected with horror in the west and middle marches; they are dignified with the names of 'the Persecutors;' and tradition, aggravating their crimes, has endowed them with magical power, and transformed them almost into dæmons.

20. 'So, when by Erie's lake the Indians red.']— The Indian feast of souls is one of those striking solemnities, which cannot fail to produce a powerful impression on minds susceptible of enthusiasm. In the month of November, the different families, which compose one of their tribes, assemble, and erect a long hut in a solitary part of the wilderness. Each family collects the skeletons of its ancestors, who have not yet been interred in the common tombs of the tribe. The skills of the dead are painted with vermilion, and the skeletons are adorned with their military accoutrements. They choose a stormy day, and bring their bones to the hut in the desert. Games, and funeral solemnities are celebrated, and ancient treaties again ratified in the presence of their fathers. They sit down to the banquet, the living intermingled with the dead. The elders of the tribe relate their mythic fables, and their ancient traditions. They then dig a spacious grave, and, with funeral dirges, carry the bones of their fathers to the tomb. The remains of the respective families are separated by bear-skins and beaver-furs. A mound of earth is raised over the graves, on the top of which, a tree is planted, which they term the Tree of tears and sleep.

21. 'By Fancy rapt, where tombs are crusted gray.']—A great part of the ancient churchyard of Hazeldean has been swept away by the river Teviot, so that no vestige remains of the burying-place of the author's ancestors.

  FINIS.  
Printed by J. BALLANTYNE,
Border-press, Edinburgh
 
Print

Scenes of Infancy: Descriptive of Teviotdale

[Editor's note: This wide-ranging poem, which invokes Scotland's natural and martial history in the context of moderization and imperialism, contains two specifically Arthurian sections. The first introduces Taliessen's prophecy and Arthur's return as a savior. The second links Thomas the Rhymer's capture by the fairy queen and the knights' sleep under Eildon, then again invokes the prophecy of Arthur's return.]


Dulcia rura valete, e Lydia, dulcior illis,
Et casti tones, et felix nomen agelli.
                                       VALERIUS CATO


TO
THE RIGHT HON. LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, THE FOLLOWING POEM IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
AS A SMALL, BUT SINCERE, MARK OF THE AUTHOR’S ESTEEM AND ADMIRATION FOR HER LADYSHIP’S TASTE
AND UNDERSTANDING, WHICH ARE THE DELIGHT OF ALL, WHO HAVE THE PLEASURE OF HER AQUAINTANCE.
                   PART I.
BEN SANNO I VERI POGGI, E LE SONANTE
SELVE ROMITE, E L'ACQUE
CHE SO LE MIE RICHEZZE INNI SOAVI:
ALOR LA CENTRA CONSACRAR MI PIAQUE—
                                           MENZINI.


SWEET scenes of youth, to faithful memory dear,
Still fondly cherished with the sacred tear,
When, in the softened light of summer skies,
Full on my soul life’s first illusions rise!
Sweet scenes of youthfull bliss, unknown to pain!
I come, to trace your soothing haunts again,
To mark each grace, that pleased my stripling prime,
By absence hallowed, and endeared by time,
To lose, amid your winding dells, the past:—
Ah! must I think this lingering look the last!
Ye lovely vales, that met my earliest view!
How soft ye smiled, when Nature’s charms were new!
Green was her vesture, glowing, fresh, and warm,
And every opening grace had power to charm;
While, as each scene in living lustre rose,
Each young emotion waked from soft repose.
     Even as I muse, my former life returns,
And youth’s first ardour in my bosom burns.
Like music melting in a lover’s dream,
I hear the murmuring song of Teviot’s stream: 1
The crisping rays, that on the waters lie,
Depict a paler moon, a fainter sky;
While, through inverted alder boughs below,
The twinkling star with greener lustre grow.
      On these fair banks, thine ancient bards no more,
Enchanting stream! their melting numbers pour;
But still their viewless harps, on poplers hung,
Sigh the soft airs, they learned when time was young:
And those who tread, with holy feet, the ground,
At lonely midnight, hear their silver sound;
When river breezes wave their dewy wings,
And lightly fan the wild enchanted strings.
     What earthly hand presumes, aspiring bold,
The airy harp of ancient bards to hold,
With ivy’s sacred wreath to crown his head,
And lead the plaintive chorus of the dead—
He, round the poplar’s base, shall nightly strew
The willow’s pointed leaves, of pallid blue,
And still restrain the gaze, reverted keen,
When round him deepen sighs from shapes unseen.
And o’er his lonely head, like summer bees,
The leaves, self-moving, tremble on the trees:
When morn’s first rays fall quivering on the strand,
Then is the time to stretch the daring hand,
And snatch it from the bending poplar pale,
The magic harp of ancient Teviotdale.
     If thou, Aurelia! bless the high design,
And softly smile, that daring hand is mine.
Wild on the breeze the thrilling lyre shall fling
Melodius accents, from each elfin string.
Such strains the harp of haunted Merlin threw, 2
When from his dreams the mountain sprites withdrew;
While, trembling to the wires, that warbled shrill,
His apple blossoms waved along the hill.
Hark! how the mountain-echoes still retain
The memory of the prophet’s boding strain!
“Once more, begirt with many a martial peer,
Victorious Arthur shall his standard rear,
In ancient pomp his mailed bands display;
While nations, wondering, mark their strange array,
Their proud commanding port, their giant form,
The spirit’s stride, that treads the northern storm:
Where fate invites them to the dread repast,
Dark Cheviot’s eagles swarm on every blast;
On Camlan bursts the sword’s impatient roar;
The war-horse wades, with champing hoofs, in gore;
The scythed car on grating axle rings;
Broad o’er the field the ravens join their wings;
Above the champions, in the fateful hour,
Floats the black standard of the evil power.”
     Though many a wond’rous tale, of elder time,
Shall grace the wild traditionary rhyme,
Yet, not of warring hosts and faulchion wounds,
Again the harp of ancient minstrels sounds:
Be mine to sing the meads, the pensile goves,
And silver streams, which dear Aurelia loves.
     From wilds of tawny heath, and mosses dun,
Through winding glens, scarce perilous to the sun,
Afraid to glitter in the noon-tide beam,
The Teviot leads her young, sequestered stream;
Till, far retiring from her native rills,
She leaves the covert of her sheltering hills,
And, gathering wide her waters on their way,
With foamy force emerges into day.
     Where’er she sparkles o’er her silver sand,
The daisied meads in glowing hues expand;
Blue osiers whiten in their bending rows;
Broad o’er the stream the pendent alder grows;
But, more remote, the spangled fields unfold
Their bosoms, streaked with vegetative gold;
Gray down; ascending, dimple into dales;
The silvery birch hangs o’er the sloping vales;
While, far remote, where flashing torrents shine,
In misty verdure towers the tapering pine,
And dusky heaths in sullen languor lie,
Where Cheviot’s ridges swell to meet the sky.
     As every prospect opens on my view,
I seem to live departed years anew;
When, in these wilds, a jocund, sportive child,
Each flower, self-sown, my heedless hours beguiled,
The wabret leaf, that by the pathway grew,
3
The wild-briar rose, of pale and blushful hue,
The thistle’s rolling wheel, of silken down,
The blue-bell, or the daisy’s pearly crown,
The gaudy butterfly, in wanton round,
That, like a living pea-flower, skimmed the ground.
     Again I view the cairn, and moss-gray stone,
Where oft, at eve, I wont to muse alone,
And vex, with curious toil, mine infant eye,
To count the gems that stud the nightly sky,
Or think, as playful fancy wandered far,
How sweet it were to dance from star to star!
     Again I view each rude romantic glade,
Where once, with tiny steps, my childhood stray’d,
To watch the foam-bells of the bubbling brook,
Or mark the motions of the clamorous rook,
Who saw her next, close thatched with ceaseless toil,
At summer eve become the woodman’s spoil.
     How lightly then I chaced, from flower to flower,
The lazy bee, at noon-tide’s languid hour,
When, pausing faint, beneath the sweltering heat,
The hive could scarce their drowsy hum repeat!
     Nor scenes alone with summer beauties bright,
But winter’s terrors brought a wild delight,
With fringed flakes of snow, that idly sail,
And windows tinkling shrill with dancing hail;
While, as the drifting tempest darker blew,
White showers of blossoms seemed the fields to strew.
     Again, beside this silver rivulet’s shore,
With green and yellow moss-flowers mottlied o’er,
Beneath a shivering canopy reclined,
Of aspen leaves, that wave without a wind,
I love to lie, when lulling breezes stir
The spiry cones, that tremble on the fir,
Or wander mid the dark-green fields of broom,
When peers, in scattered tufts, the yellow bloom,
Or trace the path, with tangling furze o’er-run;
When bursting seed-bells crackle in the sun,
And pittering grashoppers, confusedly shrill, 4
Pipe giddily along the glowing hill.
     Sweet grashopper, who lovest at noon to lie
Serenely in the green-ribbed clover’s eye,
To sun thy filmy wings, and emerald vest,
Unseen thy form, and undisturbed thy rest!
Oft have I, listening, mused the sultry day,
And wondered what thy chirping song might say;
When nought was heard, along the blossomed lea,
To join thy music, save the listless bee.
     Since, with weak step, I traced each rising down,
Nor dreamed of worlds beyond yon mountains brown,
These scenes have ever to my heart been dear;
But still, Aurelia! most, when thou wert near.
     On Eden’s banks, in pensive fit reclined,
Thy angel features haunted still my mind;
And oft, when ardent fancy spurned controul,
The living image rushed upon my soul,
Filled all my heart, and, mid the bustling crowd,
Bade me, forgetful, muse, or think aloud;
While, as I sighed, thy favourite scenes to view,
Each lingering hour seemed lengthening as it flew:
As Ovid, banished from his favourite fair,
No gentle melting heart his grief to share,
Was wont, in plaintive accents, to deplore
Campania’s scenes, along the Getic shore;
A lifeless waste, unfanned by vernal breeze,
Where snow-flakes hung, like leaves, upon the trees:
The fur-clad savage loved his aspect mild, 5
Kind as a father, gentle as a child,
And though they pitied, still they blessed the doom,
That baded the Get&elig; hear the songs of Rome.
     Sweet scenes, conjoin’d with all that most endears
The cloudless morning of my tender years!
With fond regret, your haunts I wander o’er,
And, wondering, feel myself the child no more:
Your forms, your sunny tints, are still the same;—
But sad the tear, which lost affections claim.
     Aurelia! mark yon silver clouds unrolled,
Where, far in ether, hangs each shining fold,
That on the breezy billow idly sleeps,
Or climbs, ambitious, up the azure steeps!
Their snowy ridges seem to heave and swell,
With airy domes, where parted spirits dwell;
Untainted souls, from this terrestrial mould
Who fled, before the priest their names had told.
     On such an eve as this, so mild and clear,
I followed to the grave a sister’s bier.
As sad, by Teviot, I retired alone,
The setting sone with silent splendour shone;
Sublime emotions reached my purer mind;
The fear of death, the world, was left behind.
I saw the thin-spread clouds of summer lie,
Like shadows, on the soft cerulean sky:
As each its silver bosom seemed to bend,
Rapt fancy heard an angel voice descent,
Melodius, as the strain which floats on high,
To soothe the sleep of blameles infancy;
While, soft and slow, aerial music flowed,
To hail the parted spirit on its road.
“To realms of purer light,” it seemed to say,
“Thyself as pure, fair sufferer! come away!
“The moon, whose silver beams are bathed in dew,
“Sleeps on her mid-way cloud of softest blue;
“Her watery light, that trembles on the tree,
“Shall safely lead thy viewless steps to me.”
As o’er my heart the sweet illusions stole,
A wilder inflence charmed and awed my soul;
Each graceful form, that vernal nature wore,
Roused keen sensations, never felt before;
The woodland’s sombre shade, that peasants fear,
The haunted mountain-streams, that murmured near,
The antique tomb-stone, and the church-yard green,
Seemed to unite me with the world unseen.
Oft, when the eastern moon rose darkly red,
I heard the viewless paces of the dead,
Heard, on the breeze, the wandering spirit’s sigh,
Or airy skirts unseen, that rustled by.
The lyre of woe, that oft had soothed my pain,
Soon learned to breathe a more heroic strain,
And bade the weeping birch her branches wave,
In mournful murmurs, o’er the warrior’s grave.
     Where rising Teviot joins the Frostylee,
Stands the huge trunk of many a leafless tree.
No verdant wood-bine wreaths their age adorn;
Bare are the boughs, the knarled roots uptorn.
Here shone no sun-beam, fell no summer-dew,
Nor ever grass beneath the branches grew,
Since that bold chief, who Henry’s power defied, 6
True to his country, as a traitor died.
     Yon mouldering cairns, by ancient hunters placed,
Where blends the meadow with the marshy waste
Mark where the gallant warriors lie:—but long
Their fame shall flourish in the Scotian song;
The Scotian song, whose deep impulsive tones
Each thrilling fibre, true to passion, owns,
When, soft as gales o’er summer seas that blow,
The plaintive music warbles love-lorn woe,
Or, wild and loud, the fierce exulting strain
Swells its bold notes, triumphant, o’er the slain.
     Such themes inspire the border shepherd’s tale,
When, in the grey thatch, sounds the fitful gale,
And constant wheels go round, whith whirling din,
As, by red ember light, the damsels spin:
Each chaunts, by turns, the song his soul approves,
Or bears the burthen to the maid he loves.
     Stilly to the surly strain of martial deeds,
In cadence soft, the dirge of love succeeds,
With tales of ghosts, that haunt unhallowed ground;
While, narrowing still, the circle closes round,
Till, shrinking pale from nameless shapes of fear,
Each peasant starts his neighbor’s voice to hear.
     What minstrel wrought these lays of magic power,
A swain once taught me in his summer bower,
As, round his knees, in playful age I hung,
And eager listened to the lays he sung.
     Where Bortha hoarse, that loads the meads with sand, 7
Rolls her red tide to Teviot’s western strand,
Through slaty hills, whose sides are shagged with thorn,
Where springs, in scattered tufts, the dark-green corn
Towers wood-girt Harden, far above the vale;
And clouds of ravens o’er the turrets sail.
A hardy race, who never shrunk from war,
The SCOTT, to rival realms a mighty bar,
Here fixed his mountain-home;—a wide domain,
And rich the soil, had purple heath been grain;
But, what the niggard ground of wealth denied,
From fields more blessed his fearless arm supplied.
     The waning harvest-moon shone cold and bright;
The warder’s horn was heard at dead of night;
And, as the massy portals wide were flung,
With stamping hoofs the rocky pavement rung.
What fair, half-veiled, leans from her latticed hall,
Where red the wavering gleams of torch-light fall?
’Tis Yarrow’s fairest flower, who, through the gloom,
Looks, wistful, for her lover’s dancing plume.
Amid the piles of spoil, that strewed the ground,
Her ear, all anxious, caught a wailing sound;
With trembling haste the youthful matron flew,
And from the hurried heaps an infant drew:
Scared at the light, his little hands he flung
Around her neck, and to her bosom clung;
While beauteous Mary soothed, in accents mild,
His cluttering soul, and clasped her foster child.
Of milder mood the gentle captive grew,
Nor loved the scenes, that scared his infant view.
In vales remote, from camps and castles far,
He shunned the fearful shuddering joy of war;
Content the loves of simple swains to sing,
Or wake to fame the harp’s heroic string.
     His are the the strains, whose wandering echoes thrill
The shepherd, lingering on the twilight hill,
When evening brings the merry folding-hours,
And sun-eyed daisies close their winking flowers.
He lived, o’er Yarrow’s Flower to shed the tear,
To strew the holly’s leaves o’er Harden’s bier;
But none was found, above the minstrel’s tomb,
Emblem of peace, to bid the daisy bloom;
He, nameless as the race, from which he sprung,
Saved other names, and left his own unsung.
     Nursed in these wilds, a lover of the plains,
I sing, like him, the joys of inland swains,
Who climb their loftiest mountain-peaks, to view,
From far, the cloud-like waste of ocean blue.
But not, like his, with unperceived decay,
My days in Fancy’s dreams shall melt away;
For soon yon sun, that here so softly gleams,
Shall see me tossing on the ocean streams.
Yet still ’tis sweet, to trace each youthful scene,
And conjure up the days, which might have been,
Live o’er the fancied suns, which ne’er shall roll,
And woo the charm of song to soothe my soul,
Paint the fair scenes, which charmed when life began,
And in the infant stamped the future man.
From yon green peak, black haunted Slata bring 8
The gushing torrents of unfathomed springs:
In a dead lake, that ever seems to freeze,
By sedge inclosed from every ruffling breeze,
The fountains lie; and shuddering peasants shrink,
To plunge the stone within the fearful brink:
For here, ’tis said, the fairy hosts convene,
With noisy talk, and bustling steps unseen;
The hill resounds with strange, unearthly cries;
And moaning voices from the waters rise.
Here oft, in sweetest sounds, is heard the chime
Of bells unholy, from the fairy clime;
The tepid gales, that in these regions blow,
Oft, on the brink, dissolve the mountain-snow;
Around the deep, that seeks the downward sky,
In mazes green the haunted ringlets lie.
Woe to the upland swain, who, wandering far,
The circle treads, beneath the evening star!
His feet the witch-grass green impels to run,
Full on the dark descent, he strives to shun;
Till, on the giddy brink, o’er powered by charms,
The fairies clasp him, in unhallowed arms,
Doomed, with the crew of restless foot, to stray
The earth by night, the nether realms by day;
Till seven long years their dangerous circuit run,
And call the wretch to view this upper sun.
Nor long the time, if village-saws be true,
Since in the deep a hardy peasant threw
A ponderous stone; when, murmuring from below,
With gushing sound he heard the lake o’erflow.
The mighty torrent, foaming down the hills,
Called, with strong voice, on all her subject rills;
Rocks drove on jagged rocks, with thundering sound;
And the red waves, impatient, rent their mound;
On Hawick burst the flood’s resistless sway,
Ploughed the paved streets, and tore the walls away,
Floated high roofs, from whelming fabricks torn;
While pillared arches down the wave were borne.
     Boast! Hawick, boast! Thy structures, reared in blood, 9
Shall rise triumphant over fame and flood,
Still doomed to prosper, since, on Flodden’s field,
Thy sons, and hardy band, unwont to yield,
Fell with their martial king, and—glorious boast!
Gained proud renown, where Scotia’s fame was lost.
     Between red ezlar banks, that frightful scowl,
Fringed with gray hazel, roars the mining Roull;
Where Turnbulls once, a race no power could awe, 10
Lined the rough skirts of stormy Ruberslaw.
Bold was the chief, from whom their line they drew,
Whose nervous arm the furious Bison slew;
The Bison, fiercest race of Scotia’s breed,
Whose bounding course outstripped the red-deer’s speed.
By hunters chafed, encircled on the plain,
He, frowning, shook his yellow lion-mane,
Spurned, with black hoof, in bursting race, the ground
And fiercely tossed his moony horns around.
On Scotia’s lord he rushed, with lightning speed,
Bent his strong neck, to toss the startled steed;
His arms robust the hardy hunter flung
Around his bending horns, and upward wrung,
With writhing force his neck retorted round,
And rolled the panting monster on the ground,
Crushed, with enormous strength, his bony skull:
And courtiers hailed the man, who turned the bull.
     How wild and harsh the moorland music floats,
When clamourous curlews scream with long-drawn notes,
Or, faint and piteous, wailing plovers pipe,
Or loud, and louder still, the soaring snipe!
And here the lonely lapwing hoops along,
That piercing shrieks her still-repeated song,
Flaps her blue wing, displays her pointed crest,
And, cowring, lures the peasant from her nest.
But if, where all her dappled treasure lies,
He bend his steps, no more she round him flies;
Forlorn, despairing of a mother’s skill,
Silent and sad, she seeks the distant hill.
     The tiny heath-flowers now begin to blow; 11
The russet moor assumes a richer glow;
The powdery bells, that glance in purple bloom,
Fling from their scented cups a sweet perfume;
While from their cells, still moist with morning dew,
The wandering wild bee sips the honied glue:
In wider circle wakes the liquid hum,
And, far remote, the mingled murmurs come.
     Where, panting, in his chequered plaid involved,
At noon, the listless shepherd lies dissolved,
Mid yellow crow-bells, on the rivulet’s banks,
Where knotted rushes twist in matted ranks,
The breeze, that trembles through the whistling bent,
Sings, in his placid ear, of sweet content,
And wanton blows, with eddies whirling weak,
His yellow hair across his ruddy cheek.
His is the lulling music of the rills,
Where, drop by drop, the scanty current spills
Its waters o’er the shelves, that wind across,
Or filters through the yellow, hairy moss.
’Tis his, recumbent by the well-spring clear,
When leaves are broad, and oats are in the ear,
And marbled clouds contract the arch on high,
To read the changes of the fleckered sky;
What bodes the fiery drake, at sultry noon;
What rains or winds attend the changing moon,
When circles, round her disk, of yellowish hue,
Portentous close, while yet her horns are new;
Or, when the evening sky looks mild and gray,
If crimson tints shall streak the opening day.
Such is the science to the peasant dear,
Which guides his labour through the varied year;
While he, ambitious, mid his brother swains,
To shine, the pride and wonder of the plains,
Can, in the pimpernel’s red-tinted flowers,
As close their petals, read the measured hours,
Or tell, as short or tall his shadow falls,
How clicks the clock within the manse’s walls.
     Though with in the rose’s flaring crimson dye,
The heath flower’s modest blossoms ne’er can vie,
Nor to the bland caresses of the gale
Of morn, like her, expand the purple veil,
The swain, who, mid her fragrance finds repose,
Prefers her tresses to the gaudy rose,
And bids the wild bee, her companion, come
To soothe his slumbers, with her airy hum.
     Sweet, modest flower, in lonely deserts dun,
Retiring still for converse with the sun,
Whose sweets invite the soaring lark to stoop,
And from thy cells the honied dew-bell scoop!
Though unobtrusive all thy beauties shine,
Yet boast, thou rival of the purpling vine!
For once thy mantling juice was seen to laugh
In pearly cups, which monarchs loved to quaff;
And frequent wake the wild inspired lay,
On Teviot’s hills, beneath the Pictish sway.
     When clover-fields have lost their tints of green,
And beans are full, and leaves are blanched and lean,
And winter’s piercing breath prepares to drain
The thin green blood from every poplar’s vein,
How grand the scene yon russet down displays,
While far the withering heaths with moor-burn blaze!
The pillared smoke ascends, with ashen gleam;
Aloft in air the arching flashes stream;
With rushing, crackling noise, the flames aspire,
And roll one deluge of devouring fire;
The timid flocks shrink from the smoky heat,
Their pasture leave, and in confusion bleat,
With curious look the flaming billows scan,
As whirling gales the red combustion fan.
     So, when the storms through Indian forests rave,
And bend the pliant canes in curling wave,
Grind their silicious joints, with ceaseless ire,
Till bright emerge the ruby seeds of fire,
A brazen light bedims the burning sky,
And shuts each shrinking star’s refulgent eye;
The forest roars, where crimson surges play,
And flash through lurid night infernal day;
Floats far and loud the hoarse, discordant yell,
Of ravening pards, which, harmless, crowd the dell,
While boa-snakes to wet savannahs trail,
Aukward, a lingering, lazy length of tail;
The barbarous tiger whets his fangs no more,
To lap, with torturing pause, his victim’s gore;
Curbed of their rage, hyenas gaunt are tame,
And shrink, begirt with all-devouring flame.
     But, far remote, ye careful shepherds! lead
Your wanton flocks, to pasture on the mead,
While from the flame the bladed grass is young,
Nor crop the slender spikes that scarce have sprung;
Else, your brown heaths to sterile wastes you doom,
While frisking lambs regret the heath-flowers bloom.
And ah! when smiles the day, and fields are fair,
Let the black smoke ne’er clog the burthened air!
Or soon, too soon! the transient smile shall fly,
And chilling mildews ripen in the sky,
The heartless flocks shrink shivering from the cold,
Reject the fields, and linger in the fold.
     Lo! in the vales, where wandering rivulets run,
The fleecy mists shine gilded in the sun,
Spread their loose folds, till now the lagging gale
Unfurls no more its lightly-skimming sail,
But, through the hoary flakes, that fall like snow,
Gleams, in ethereal hue, the watery bow:
’Tis ancient Silence, robed in thistle-down,
Whose snowy locks its fairy circles crown;
His vesture moves not, as he hovers lone,
While curling fogs compose his airy throne;
Serenely still, self-posed, he rests on high,
And soothes each infant breeze, that fans the sky.
The mists ascend;—the mountains scarce are free,
Like islands floating in a billowy sea;
While on their chalky summits, glimmering dance
The sun’s last rays, across the gray expanse:
As sink the hills in waves, that round them grow,
The hoary surges scale the cliff’s tall brow;
The fleecy billows o’er its head are hurled,
As ocean once embraced the prostrate world.
     So, round Caffraria’s cape, the polar storm
Collects black spiry clouds, of dragon form:
Flash livid lightnings o’er the blackening deep,
Whose mountain-waves in silent horror sleep;
The sanguine sun, again emerging bright,
Darts through the clouds long watery lines of light;
The deep, congealed to lead, now heaves again,
While foamy surges furrow all the main;
Broad shallows whiten in tremendous row;
Deep gurgling murmurs echo from below;
And, o’er each coral reef, the billows come and go.
     Oft have I wandered, in my vernal years,
Where Ruberslaw his misty summit rears,
And, as the fleecy surges closed amain,
To gain the top have traced that shelving lane,
Where every shallow stripe of level green,
That, winding, runs the shattered crags between
Is rudely notched across the grassy rind,
In aukward letters, by the rural hind.
When fond and faithful swains assemble gay,
To meet their loves on rural holiday,
The trace of each obscure, decaying name
Of some fond pair records the secret flame:
And here the village maiden bends her way,
When vows are broke, and fading charms decay,
Sings her soft sorrow to the mountain gale,
And weeps, that love’s delusions e’er should fail.
Here, too, the youthful widow comes, to clear,
From weeds, a name to fold affection dear:
She pares the sod, with bursting heart, and cries,
“The hand, that traced it, in the cold grave lies!”—
     Ah! dear Aurelia! when this arm shall guide
Thy twilight steps no more by Teviot’s side,
When I, to pine in eastern realms, have gone,
And years have passed, and thou remain’st alone,
Wilt thou, still partial to thy youthful flame,
Regard the turf, where first I carved thy name,
And think, thy wanderer, far beyond the sea,
False to his heart, was ever true to thee?
Why bend, so sad, that kind, regretful view,
As every moment were my last adieu?
Ah! spare that tearful look, ’tis death to see,
Nor break the tortured heart, that bleeds for thee!
That snowy cheek, that moist and gelid brow,
Those quivering lips, that breathe the unfinished vow,
These eyes, that still with dimming tears o’erflow,
Will haunt me, when thou canst not see my woe.
Not yet, with fond but self-accusing pain,
Mine eyes, reverted, linger o’er the main;
But, sad, as he that dies in early spring,
When flowers begin to blow, and larks to sing,
When Nature’s joy and moment warms his heart,
And makes it doubly hard with life to part,
I hear the whispers of the dancing gale,
And, fearful, listen for the flapping sail,
Seek, in these natal shades, a short relief,
And steal a pleasure from maturing grief.
     Yes! in these shades, this fond, adoring mind
Had hoped, in thee, a dearer self to find,
Still from the form some lurking race to glean,
And wonder, it so long remained unseen;
Hoped, those seducing graces might impart
Their native sweetness to this sterner heart,
While those dear eyes, in pearly light that shine,
Fond thought! should borrow manlier beams from mine.
Ah! fruitless hope of bliss, that near shall be!
Shall but this lonely heart survive to me?
No! in the temple of my purer mind,
Thine imaged form shall ever live enshrined,
And hear the vows, to first affection due,
Still breathed—for love, that ceases, ne’er was true.

                     PART II. I SING OF BROOKS, OF BLOSSOMS, BIRDS, AND BOWERS,
OF APRIL, MAY, OF JUNE, AND JULY FLOWERS;
I WRITE OF GROVES, OF TWILIGHT; AND I SING
THE COURT OF MAB, AND OF THE FAIRY KING:
I WRITE OF YOUTH, OF LOVE, &C.
                                           Herrick’s Hesperides.

Star of the mead! sweet daughter of the day,
Whose opening flower invites the morning ray,
From thy moist cheek, and bosom’s chilly fold.
To kiss the tears of eve, the dew-drops cold!
Sweet daisy, flower of love! when birds are paired,
‘Tis sweet to see thee, with thy bosom bared,
Smiling, in virgin innocence, serene,
Thy pearly crown above thy vest of green.
The lark, with sparkling eye, and rustling wing,
Rejoins his widowed mate in early spring,
And, as he prunes his plumes, of russet hue,
Swears, on thy maiden blossom, to be true.
     When May-day comes, the morning of the year,
And from young April dries the gelid tear,
When, as the verdure spreads, the bird is seen
No more, that sings amid the hawthorns green,
In lovelier tints thy swelling blossoms blow,
The leaflets red between the leaves of snow.
The damsel, now, whose love-awakened mind
First hopes to leave her infancy behind,
Glides o’er the untrodden mead, at dawning hour,
To seek the matin-dew of mystic power,
Bends o’er the mirror-stream, with blushful air,
And weaves thy modest flower amid her hair.
Of have I watched thy closing buds at eve,
Which for the parting sun-beams seemed to grieve,
And, when gay morning gilt the dew-bright plain,
Seen them unclasp their folded leaves again:
Nor he, who sung—"The daisy is so sweet,"— 12
More dearly loved thy pearly form to greet;
When on his scarf the knight the daisy bound,
And dames at tourneys shone, with daisies crown’d,
And fays forsook the purer fields above,
To hail the daisy, flower of faithful love.
     Ne’er have I chanced, upon the moonlight-green,
In May’s sweet month, to see the daisy queen,
With all her train, in emerald vest array’d;
As Chaucer once the radiant show survey’d&mdash
Graceful and slow advanced the stately fair;
A sparkling fillet bound her golden hair;
With snowy florouns was her chaplet set,
Where living rubies raised each curious fret,
Sweet as the daisy, in her vernal pride;
The god of love attendant by her side:
His silken vest was purfled o’er with green,
And crimson rose-leaves wrought the sprigs between;
His diadem, a topaz, beamed so bright,
The moon was dazzled with it purer light.
     This Chaucer saw; but fancy’s Power denies
Such splendid visions to our feebler eyes:
Yet sure, with nymphs as fair, by Teviot’s strand,
I oft have roamed, to see the flower expand;
When, like the daisy-nymph, above the rest,
Aurelia’s peerless beauty shone confest.
Lightly we danced, in many a frolic ring,
And welcomed May, with every flower of spring:
Each smile, that sparkled in her artless eye,
Nor owned her passion, nor could quite deny;
As blithe I bathed her flushing cheek with dew,
And, on the daisy, swore to love her true.
     Still, in these meads, beside the daisy-flower,
I love to see the spiky rye-grass tower;
While o’er the folding swathes the mowers bend,
And sharpening scythes their grating echoes send
Far o’er the thymy fields.—With frequent pause,
His sweepy stroke the lusty mower draws,
Impels the circling blade, with sounding sway,
Nods to the maids that spread the winnowing hay,
Draws from the grass the wild-bee’s honied nest,
And hands to her, he prizes o’er the rest.
     Again the ruthless weapon sweeps the ground;
And the grey corn-craik trembles at the sound. 13
Her callow brood around her, cowring, cling&mdash
She braves its edge—she mourns her severed wing.
Oft had she taught them, with a mother's love,
To note the pouncing merlin from the dove,
The slowly-floating buzzard's eye to shun,
As o'er the meads he hovers in the sun,
The weazel's sly imposture to prevent,
And mark the martin by his musky scent:—
Ah! fruitless skill, which taught her not to scan
The scythe afar, and ruthless arm of man!
In vain her mate, as evening shadows fall,
Shall, lingering, wait for her accustomed call;
The shepherd boys shall oft her loss deplore,
That mocked her notes beside the cottage-door.
     The noon-breeze pauses now, that lightly blew;
The brooding sky assumes a darker hue;
Blue watery streaks, diverging, downwards run,
Like rays of darkness, from the lurid sun;
The shuddering leaves of fern are trembling still;
A horrid stillness creeps from hill to hill;
A conscious tremor Nature seems to feel,
And silent waits the thunder's awful peal.
The veil is burst;— the brazen concave rends
Its fiery arch;—one lurid stream descends:
Hark! from yon beetling cliff, whose summit rude,
Projecting, nods above the hanging wood,
Rent from its solid base, with crashing sound,
Downward it rolls, and ploughs the shelving ground.
The peasants, awe-struck, bend with reverend air,
And, pausing, leave the half-compleated prayer;
Then, as the thunder distant rolls away,
And yellow sun-beams swim through drizzly spray,
Begins to talk, what woes the rock portends,
Which from its jutting base the lightning rends:
Then circles many a legendary tale,
Of Douglas’ race, foredoomed without a male
To fade, unblessed, since, on the church-yard green,
Its lord o’erthrew the spires of Hazel-dean; 14
For sacred ruins long respect demand,
And curses light on the destroyer’s hand.
     Green Cavers, hallowed by the Douglas name!
Tower from thy woods! assert thy former fame!
Hoist the broad standard of thy peerless line,
Till Percy’s Norman banner bow to thine!
The hoary oaks, that round thy turrets stand—
Hark! how they boast each mighty planter’s hand!
Lords of the border! where their pennons flew, 15
Mere mortal might could ne’er their arms subdue:
Their sword, the scythe of ruin, mowed a host;
Nor Death a triumph o’er the line could boast.
     Where rolls, o’er Otter’s dales, the surge of war, 16
One mighty beacon blazes, vast and far.
The Norman archers round their chieftain flock;
The Percy hurries to the spearmen’s shock:
“Raise, minstrels! raise the pealing notes of war!
“Shoot, till broad arrows dim each shrinking star!
“Beam o’er our deeds, fair Sun! thy golden light;
“Nor be the warrior’s glory lost in night!”
In vain!—his standards sink;— his squadrons yield;—
His bowmen fly:—a dead man gains the field.
     The song of triumph Teviot’s maids prepare—
O! where is he? the victor Douglas where?
Beneath the circling fern he bows his head,
That weaves a wreath of triumph o’er the dead.
In lines of crystal shine the wandering rills,
Down the green slopes of Minto’s sunbright hills,
Whose castled crags, in hoary pomp sublime,
Ascend, the ruins of primæval time.
The peasants, lingering in the vales below,
See their white peaks with purple radiance glow,
When setting sunbeams on the mountains dance,
Fade, and return to steal a parting glance.
     So, when the hardy chamois-hunters pass
O’er mounds of crusted snows, and seas of glass,
Where, far above our living atmosphere,
The desert rocks their crystal summits rear,
Bright on their sides the silver sunbeams play,
Beyond the rise of morn and close of day:
O’er icy cliffs the hunters oft incline,
To watch the rays, that far through darkness shine,
And, as they gaze, the fairy radiance deem
Some Alpine carbuncle’s enchanted gleam.
     Mark, in yon vale, a solitary stone,
Shunned by the swain, with loathsome weeds o’ergrown!
The yellow stone-crop shoots from every pore,
With scaly, sapless lichens crusted o’er:
Beneath the base, where starving hemlocks creep,
The yellow pestilence is buried deep, 17
Where first its course, as aged swains have told,
It stayed, concentrered in a vase of gold.
     Here oft, at sunny noon, the peasants pause,
While many a tale their mute attention draws;
And, as the younger swains, with active feet,
Pace the loose weeds, and the flat tombstone mete,
What curse shall seize the guilty wretch they tell,
Who drags the monster from his midnight cell,
And, smit by love of all-alluring gold,
Presumes to stir the deadly, tainted mold.
     From climes, where noxious exhalations steam
O’er aguey flats, by Nile’s redundant stream,
It came.—The mildewed cloud, of yellow hue,
Drops from its putrid wings the blistering dew;
The peasants mark the strange discoloured air,
And from their homes retreat, in wild despair;
Each friend they seek, their hapless fate to tell;—
But hostile lances still their flight repel.
Ah! vainly wise, who soon must join the train,
To seek the help, your friends implored in vain!
To heaths and swamps the cultured field returns;
Unheard-of deeds retiring virtue mourns;
For, mixed with fell diseases, o’er the clime
Rain the foul seeds of every baleful crime;
Fearless of fate, devoid of future dread,
Pale wretches rob the dying and the dead:
The sooty raven, as he flutters by,
Avoids the heaps, where naked corses lie;
The prowling wolves, that round the hamlet swarm,
Tear the young babe from the frail mother’s arm;
Full forged, the monster, in the desert bred,
Howls, long and dreary, o’er the unburied dead.
     Two beauteous maids the dire infection shun,
Where Dena’s valley fronts the southern sun;
While Friendship sweet, and love’s delightful Power,
With fern and rushes thatched their summer bower.
When spring invites the sister-friends to stray,
One graceful youth, companion of their way,
Bars their retreat from each obtrusive eye,
And bids the lonely hours unheeded fly,
Leads their light steps beneath the hazel spray,
Where moss-lined boughs exclude the blaze of day,
And ancient rowans mix their berries red,
With nuts, that cluster brown above their head.
He, mid the writhing roots of elms, that lean
O’er oozy rocks of ezlar, shagged and green,
Collects pale cowslips for the faithful pair,
And braids the chaplet round their flowing hair,
And for the lovely maids alternate burns,
As love and friendship take the sway by turns.
Ah! hapless day, that, from this blessed retreat,
Lured to the town his slow, unwilling feet!
Yet, soon returned, he seeks the green recess,
Wraps the dear rivals in a fond caress;
As heaving bosoms own responsive bliss,
He breathes infection in one melting kiss;
Their languid limbs he bears to Dena’s strand,
Chafes each soft temple with his burning hand:
Their cheeks to his the grateful virgins raise,
And fondly bless him, as their life decays;
While o’er their forms he bends, with tearful eye,
And only lives to hear their latest sigh.
A veil of leaves the redbreast o’er them threw,
Ere thrice their locks were wet with evening dew.
There the blue ring-dove coos, with ruffling wing,
And sweeter there the throstle loves to sing;
The woodlark breathes, in softer strain, the vow;
And love’s soft burthen floats from bough to bough.
     But thou, sweet minstrel of the twilight vale!
O! where art thou, melodious nightingale!
On their green graves shall still the moonbeams shine,
And see them mourned by every song but thine;
That song, whose lapsing tones so sweetly float,
That love-sick maidens sigh at every note!
     O! by the purple rose of Persia’s plain,
Whose opening petals greet thine evening strain,
Whose fragrant odours oft thy song arrest,
And call the warbler to her glowing breast,
Let pity claim thy love-devoted lay,
And wing, at least, to Dena’s vale thy way!
     Sweet bird! how long shall Teviot’s maids deplore
Thy song, unheard along her woodland shore?
In southern groves thou charm’st the starry night,
Till darkness seems more lovely far than light;
But still, when vernal April wakes the year,
Nought save the echo of thy song we hear.
The lover, lingering by some ancient pile,
When moonlight meads in dewy radiance smile,
Starts, at each woodnote wandering through the dale,
And fondly hopes he hears the nightingale.
O! if those tones, of soft enchanting swell,
Be more than dreams, which fabling poets tell;
If e’er thy notes have charmed away the tear
From Beauty’s eye, or mourned o’er Beauty’s bier;
Waste not the softness of thy notes in vain,
But pour, in Dena’s vale, thy sweetest strain!
     Dena! when sinks at noon the summer breeze,
And moveless falls the shadework of the trees,
Bright in the sun thy glossy beeches shine,
And only Ancrum’s groves can vie with thine;
Where Ala, bursting from her moorish springs,
O’er many a cliff her smoking torrent flings,
And broad, from bank to bank, the shadows fall
From every Gothic turret’s mouldering wall,
Each ivied spire, and sculpture-fretted court;
Where plumy templars held their gay resort,
Spread their cross-banners, in the sun to shine,
And called green Teviot’s youth to Palestine.
     Sad is the wail, that floats o’er Alemoor’s lake,
And nightly bids her gulfs unbottomed quake,
While moonbeams, sailing o’er her waters blue,
Reveal the frequent tinge, of blood-red hue.
The water-birds, with shrill discordant scream,
Oft rouse the peasant from his tranquil dream:
He dreads to raise his slow unclosing eye,
And thinks he hears an infant’s feeble cry:
The timid mother, clasping to her breast
Her starting child, by closer arms carest,
Hushes, with soothing voice, her murmuring wail,
And sighs to think of poor Eugenia’s tale.
     By alders circled, near the haunted flood,
A lonely pile, Eugenia’s dwelling stood;
Green woodbine wandered o’er each mossy tower,
The scented apple spread its painted flower;
The flower, that in its lonely sweetness smiled,
And seemed to say, “I grew not always wild!”
In this retreat, by memory’s charm endeared,
Her lovely boy the fair Eugenia reared,
Taught young affection every fondling wile,
And smiled herself, to see her infant smile.
     But, when the lisping prattler learned to frame
His faultering accents to his father’s name,—
That hardy knight, who first from Teviot bore
The crosiered shield to Syria’s palmy shore,—
Oft to the lake she led her darling boy,
Marked his light footsteps, with a mother’s joy,
Spring o’er the lawn, with quick elastic bound,
And, playful, wheel, in giddy circles round,
To view the thin blue pebble smoothly glide
Along the surface of the dimpling tide:
How sweet, she thought it still, to hear him cry,
As some red-spotted daisy met his eye,
When stooping low, to touch it on the lee,—
“The pretty flower! see, how it looks at me!”
     Bright beamed the setting sun;—the sky was clear,
And sweet, the concert of the woods to hear;
The hovering gale was steeped in soft perfume;
The flowery earth seemed fairer still to bloom;
Returning heifers lowed from glade to glade;—
Nor knew the mother that her boy had stray’d.
Quick from a brake, where tangled sloethorns grew,
The dark-winged erne impetuous glanced to view;
He, darting, stoop’d, and, from the willowy shore,
Above the lake the struggling infant bore;
Till, scared by clamours, that pursued his way,
Fair in the wave he dropped his helpless prey.
Eugenia shrieks,—with frenzied sorrow wild,
Caresses on her breast her lifeless child,
And fondly hopes, contending with despair,
That heaven for once may hear a mother’s prayer.
In her torn heart distracting fancies reign,
And oft she thinks her child revives again;
Fond fluttering hope awhile suspends her smart:—
She hears alone the throb, that rends her heart,
And, clinging to the lips, as cold as snow,
Pours the wild sob of deep, despairing woe.
     From Ala’s banks to fair Melrose’s fane,
How bright the sabre flashed o’er hills of slain,
—I see the combat through the mist of years—
When Scott and Douglas led the border spears!
The mountain streams were bridged with English dead;
Dark Ancrum’s heath was dyed with deeper red;
The ravaged abbey rung the funeral knell,
When fierce Latoun and savage Evers fell;
Fair bloomed the laurel-wreath, by Douglas placed
Above the sacred tombs, by war defaced.
Hail! dauntless chieftain! thine the mighty boast,
In scorn of Henry and his southern host,
To venge each ancient violated bust,
And consecrate to fame thy father’s dust.
     So, when great Ammon’s son to Ister’s banks
Led, in proud bannered pomp, his Grecian ranks,
—Bright blazed their faulchions at the monarch’s nod,
And nations trembled at the earthly god—
Full in his van he saw the Scythian rear,
With fierce insulting shout, the forward spear:
“No fears,” he cried, “our stubborn hearts appal,
“Till heaven’s blue starry arch around us fall:
“These ancient tombs shall bar thy onward way;
“This field of graves thy proud career shall stay.”
     Deserted Melrose! oft, with holy dread,
I trace thy ruins, mouldering o’er the dead;
While, as the fragments fall, wild Fancy hears
The solemn steps of old departed years,
When beamed young Science, in these cells forlorn,
Beauteous and lonely, as the star of morn.
Where gorgeous panes a rainbow lustre threw,
The rank green grass is cobwebbed o’er with dew;
Where pealing organs, through the pillared fane,
swelled, clear to heaven, devotion’s sweetest strain,
The bird of midnight hoots, with dreary tone,
And sullen echoes through the cloisters moan.
     Farewell, ye moss-clad spires! ye turrets gray,
Where science first effused her orient ray!
Ye mossy sculptures, on the roof embossed,
Like wreathing icicles congealed by frost!
Each branching window, and each fretted shrine,
Which peasants still to fairy hands assign!
May no rude hand your solemn grandeur mar,
Nor waste the structure, long revered by war!
     From Eildon’s cairns no more the watch-fire’s blaze,
Red as a comet, darts portentous rays;
The fields of death, where mailed warriors bled,
The swain beholds, with other armies clad,
When purple streamers flutter high in air,
From each pavilion of the rural Fair.
The rural Fair! In boy-hood’s days serene,
How sweet to fancy was the novel scene,
The merry bustle, and the mixed uproar,
While every face a jovial aspect wore,
The listening ear, that heard the murmurs run,
The eye, that gazed, as it would ne’er have done!
     The crafty pedlars, first, their wares dispose,
With glittering trinkets in alluring rows;
The toy-struck damsel to her fondling swain
Simpers, looks kind, and then looks coy again;
Pleased, half-unwilling, he regards the fair,
And braids the ribbon round her sun-burnt hair.
     Proud o’er the gazing group his form to rear,
Bawls from his cart the vagrant auctioneer;
While many an oft-repeated tale he tells,
And jokes, adapted to the ware he sells.
     But when the fife and drum resound aloud,
Each peopled booth resigns its motly crowd:—
A bunch of roses dangling at his breast,
The youthful ploughman springs before the rest,
Throngs to the flag, that flutters in the gale,
And eager listens to the serjeant’s tale,
Hears feats of strange and glorious peril done,
In climes, illumined by the rising sun,
Feels the proud helmet nodding o’er his brow,
And soon despises his paternal plow.
His friends to save the heedless stripling haste;—
A weeping sister clings around his waist;—
Fierce hosts, unmarshalled, mix, with erring blows,
And saplings stout to glittering swords oppose,
With boisterous shouts, and hubbub hoarse and rude,
That faintly picture days of ancient feud.
Broad Eildon’s shivery side, like silver, shines,
As in the west the star of day declines:
While o’er the plains the twilight, vast and dun,
Stalks on to reach the slow-retiring sun,
Bright twinkling ringlets o’er the vallies fly,
Like infant stars, that wander from the sky.
     In thin and livid coruscations roll
The frosty lightnings of the wintry pole;
Lines of pale light the glimmering concave strew,
Now loosely flaunt, with wavering sanguine hue,
Now o’er the cope of night, heavy and pale,
Shoots, like a net, the yellowed chequered veil,
The peasants, wondering, see the streamers fly,
And think they hear them hissing through the sky;
While he, whom hoary locks, and reverend age,
And wiser saws, proclaim the rural sage,
Prophetic tells, that, still when wars are near,
The skies portentous signs of carnage wear.
Ere dark Colloden called her clans around,
To spread for death a mighty charnel ground,
While yet unpurpled with the dews of fight,
Their fate was pictured on the vault of night.
So Scotia’s swains, as fancy’s dreams prevail,
With looks of mimic wisdom shape the tale.
But, mid the gloomy plains of Labradore,—
Save the slow wave that freezes on the shore,
Where scarce a sound usurps the desert drear,
Nor wild wood-music ever hails the year,—
The Indian, cradled in his bed of snow,
Sees heaven’s broad arch with flickering radiance glow,
And thinks he views, along the peopled sky,
The shades of elks and rein-deer glancing by,
While warriors, parted long, the dance prepare,
And fierce carousal o’er the conquered bear.
     By every thorn along the woodland damp,
The tiny glow-worm lights her emerald lamp;
Like the shot-star, whose yet unquenched light
Studs with faint gleam the raven-vest of night.
The fairy ring-dance now, round Eildon-tree,
Moves to wild strains of elfin minstrelsy:
On glancing step appears the fairy queen;
The printed grass, beneath, springs soft and green;
While, hand in hand, she leads the frolic round,
The dinning tabor shakes the charmed ground;
Or, graceful mounted on her palfrey gray,
In robes, that glister like the sun in May,
With hawk and hound she leads the moonlight ranks,
Of knights and dames, to Huntly’s ferny banks.
Where Rymour, long of yore, the nymph embraced,
The first of men unearthly lips to taste.
Rash was the vow, and fatal was the hour,
Which gave a mortal to a fairy’s power!
A lingering leave he took of sun and moon;
—Dire to the minstrel was the fairy’s boon!—
A sad farewell of grass and green-leaved tree,
The haunts of childhood doomed no more to see.
Through winding paths, that never saw the sun,
Where Eildon hides his roots in caverns dun,
They pass,—the hollow pavement, as they go,
Rocks to remurmuring waves, that boil below;
Silent they wade, where sounding torrents lave
The banks, and red the tinge of every wave;
For all the blood, that dyes the warrior’s hand,
Runs through the thirsty springs of Fairyland.
Level and green the downward region lies,
And low the ceiling of the fairy skies;
Self-kindled gems a richer light display
Than gilds the earth, but not a purer day.
Resplendent crystal forms the palace-wall;
The diamond’s trembling lustre lights the hall:
But where soft emeralds shed an umbered light,
Beside each coal-black courser sleeps a knight;
A raven plume waves o’er each helmed crest,
And black the mail, which binds each manly breast,
Girt with broad faulchion, and with bugle green—
Ah! could a mortal trust the fairy queen!
From mortal lips an earthly accent fell,
And Rymour’s tongue confessed the numbing spell:
In iron sleep the minstrel lies forlorn,
Who breathed a sound before he blew the horn.
     So Vathek once, as eastern legends tell,
Sought the vast dome of subterranean hell,
Where ghastly, in their cedar biers enshrined,
The fleshless forms of ancient kings reclined,
Who, long before primæval Adam rose,
Had heard the central gates behind them close.
With jarring clang the hebon portals ope,
And, closing, toll the funeral knell of hope.
A sable tapestry lined the marble wall,
And spirits cursed stalked dimly through the hall:
There, as he viewed each right hand ceaseless prest,
With writhing anguish, to each blasted breast,
Blue, o’er his brow, convulsive fibres start,
And flames of vengeance eddy round his heart;
With a dire shriek, he joins the restless throng,
And vaulted Hell returned his funeral song.
     Mysterious Rymour! doomed, by Fate’s decree,
Still to revisit Eildon’s lonely tree,
Where oft the swain, at dawn of Hallow-day,
Hears thy black barb with fierce impatient neigh!
Say, who is he, with summons strong and high,
That bids the charmed sleep of ages fly,
Rolls the long sound through Eildon’s caverns vast,
While each dark warrior rouses at the blast,
His horn, his faulchion, grasps with mighty hand,
And peals proud Arthur’s march from Fairyland?
Where every coal-black courser paws the green,
His printed step shall evermore be seen:
The silver shields in moony splendour shine—
Beware, fond youth! a mightier hand than thine,
With deathless lustre, in romantic lay,
Shall Rymour’s fate, and Arthur’s fame display.
O SCOTT! with whom, in youth’s serenest prime,
I wove, with careless hand, the fairy rhyme,
Bade chivalry’s barbaric pomp return,
And heroes wake from every mouldering urn!
Thy powerful verse, to grace the courtly hall,
Shall many a tale of elder time recall,
The deeds of knights, the loves of dames, proclaim,
And give forgotten bards their former fame.
Enough for me, if Fancy wake the shell,
To eastern minstrels strains like thine to tell;
Till saddening memory all our haunts restore,
The wild-wood walks by Esk’s romantic shore,
The circled hearth, which ne’er was wont to fail
In cheerful joke, or legendary tale,
The mind, whose fearless frankness nought could move,
Thy friendship, like an elder brother’s love.
While from each scene of early life I part,
True to the beatings of this ardent heart,
When, half-deceased, with half the world between,
My name shall be unmentioned on the green,
When years combine with distance, let me be,
By all forgot, remembered yet by thee!

                     PART III Heureux qui dans le sein de ses dieux domestiques
Se dèrobe au fracas des tempêtes publiques,
Et, dans un doux abri, trompant tous les regards,
Cultive ses jardins, les vertus et les arts!

                                           DELILLE

BLEST are the sons of life's sequestered vale:
No storms of fate their humble heads assail.
Smooth as the rivulet glides along the plain,
To lose its noiseless waters in the main,
Unheard, unnoted, moves the tranquil stream
Of rural life, that haunts each waking dream;
When fond regret for all I leave behind,
With sighs unbidden, lingers o'er my mind.
     Again, with youth's sensations wild, I hear
The sabbath-chimes roll sweetly on my ear,
And view, with solemn gait and serious eye,
Long moving lines of peasants churchward hie.
The rough-toned bell, which many an year hath seen,
And drizzling mists have long since crusted green,
Wide o'er the village flings its muffled sound;
With quickened pace they throng the burial ground;
As each selects his old paternal seat,
Bright flash the sparkles round their iron feet;
From crowded pews, arranged in equal row,
The dirge-like music rises, soft and slow;
Uncultured strains! which yet the warmth impart
Of true devotion to the peasant's heart.
     I mark the preacher's air, serene and mild:
In every face he sees a listening child,
Unfolds, with reverend air, the sacred book,
Around him casts a kind paternal look,
And hopes, when all his mortal toils are past,
This filial family to join at last.
He paints the modest virtues of the swains,
Content and happy on their native plains,
Uncharmed by pomp, by gold's refulgent glare,
Or Fame's shrill clarion, pealing through the air,
That bids the hind a heart untainted yield
For laurels, crimsoned in the gory field.
"Beyond this life, and life's dark barrier stream,
"How bright the rays of light celestial gleam,
"Green fields of bliss, and heavens of cloudless blue,
"While Eden spreads her flowery groves anew!
"Farewell the sickening sigh, that virtue owes
"To mortal life's immedicable woes,
"Sweet pity's tear, that loves to fall unseen,
"Like dews of eve on meads of tender green!
"The trees of life, that on the margin rise
"Of Eden's stream, shall calm the sufferer's sighs,
"From the dark brow the wrinkle charm away,
"And soothe the heart, whose pulses madly play;
"Till, pure from passion, free from earthly stain,
"One pleasing memory of the past remain,
"Full tides of bliss in ceaseless circles roll,
"And boundless rapture renovate the soul."
     When mortals, vainly wise, renounce their God,
To vaunt their kindred to the crumbling clod,
Bid o'er their graves the blasted hemlock bloom,
And woo the eternal slumber of the tomb,
The long, long night, unsoothed by Fancy's dream;—
Unheard the vultures, o'er their bones that scream—
Though mimic pity half conceals their fear,
Awed, to the good man's voice they lend an ear.
But, as the father speaks, they, wondering, find
New doubts, new fears, infest the obdurate mind;
Wild scenes of woe, with ghastly light, illume
The sullen regions of the desert tomb;
His potent words the mental film dispart,
Pierce the dark crust, that wraps the atheist's heart,
And stamp, in characters of livid fire,
The fearful doom of Heaven's avenging ire.
But, when he saw each cherished bosom-sin,
Like nestling serpents, gnaw the breast within,
To soothe the softened soul his doctrine fell,
Like April-drops that nurse the primrose-bell,
Whose timid beauty first adorns the mead,
When spring's warm showers to winter's blights succeed.
     As home the peasants move, with serious air,
For sober talk they mingle, pair and pair;
Though quaint remark unbend the steadfast mien,
And thoughts less holy sometimes intervene,
No burst of noisy mirth disturbs their walk;
Each seems afraid of worldly things to talk,
Save yon fond pair, who speak with meeting eyes;—
The sacred day profaner speech denies.
     Some love to trace the plain of graves, alone,
Peruse the lines, that crowd the sculptured stone,
And, as their bosoms heave at thoughts of fame,
Wish, that such homely verse may save their name,
Hope, that their comrades, as the words they spell,
To greener youth their plowman skill may tell,
And add, that none sung clearer at the ale,
Or told, at winter's eve, a merrier tale,
When drowsy shepherds, round the embers, gaze
At tiny forms, that tread the mounting blaze,
And songs and jokes the laughing hours beguile,
And borrow sweetness from the damsels' smile.
Vain wish! The lettered stones, that mark his grave,
Can ne'er the swain from dim oblivion save:
Ere thrice yon sun his annual course has rolled,
Is he forgotten, and the tales he told.
At fame so transient, peasants, murmur not;
In one great book your deeds are not forgot;
Your names, your blameless lives, impartial Fate
Records, to triumph o'er the guilty great,
When each unquiet grave upheaves the dead,
And awful blood-drops stain the laurelled head.
     See, how each barbarous trophy wastes away!
All, save great Egypt's pyramids, decay.
Green waves the harvest, and the peasant-boy
Stalls his rough herds, within the towers of Troy;
Prowls the sly fox, the jackal rears her brood,
Where once the towers of mighty Ilium stood.
And you, stern children of the northern sun,
Each stubborn Tartar, and each swarthy Hun,
Toumen, and Mothe, who led your proud Monguls,
And piled in mountain-heaps your foemen's skulls!
Broad swarmed your bands, o'er every peopled clime,
And trod the nations from the rolls of time.
Where is your old renown?—On Sibir's plain,
Nameless and vast, your tombs alone remain.
How soon the fame of Niger's lord decayed,
Whose arm Tombuto's golden sceptre swayed!
Dark Izkia! name, by dusky hosts revered,
Who first the pile of negro-glory reared!
O'er many a realm, beneath the burning zone,
How bright his ruby-studded standard shone!
How strong that arm, the glittering spear to wield,
While sable nations gathered round his shield!
But chief, when, conquest-crowned, his radiant car
From Niger's banks repulsed the surge of war,
When rose, convulsed in clouds, the desert grey,
And Arab lances gleamed in long array!
At every shout, a grove of spears was flung,
From cany bows a million arrows sprung;
While, prone and panting, on the sandy plain
Sunk the fleet barb, and weltered mid the slain.
Niger, exulting o'er her sands of gold,
Down her broad wave the Moorish warriors rolled;
While each dark tribe, along her sylvan shore,
Gazed on the bloody tide, and arms unseen before.—
Unknown the grave where Izkia's ashes lie:—
Thy fame has fled, like lightning o'er the sky.
Even he, who, first, with garments rolled in blood,
Reared the huge piles by Nile's broad moon-horned flood,
Swore, that his fame the lapse of time should mock,
Graved on the granite's everlasting rock,
Sleeps in his catacomb, unnamed, unknown;—
While sages vainly scan the sculptured stone.
     So fades the palm, by blighting blood-droops stained,
The laurel wreath, by ruffian War profaned;
So fades his name, whom first the nations saw
Ordain a mortal's blind caprice for law,
The fainting captive drag to slavery's den,
And truck for gold the souls of free-born men.
But hope not, tyrants! in the grave to rest,—
The blood, the tears, of nations unredressed,—
While sprites celestial mortal woes bemoan,
And join the vast creation's funeral groan!
For still, to heaven when fainting nature calls,
On deeds accursed the darker vengeance falls.
     Nor deem the negro's sighs and anguish vain,
Who, hopeless, grinds the hardened trader's chain;
As, wafted from his country far away,
He sees Angola's hills of green decay.
The dry harmattan flits along the flood,
To parch his veins, and boil his throbbing blood;
In dreams he sees Angola's plains appear;
In dreams he seems Angola's strains to hear;
And, when the clanking fetter bursts his sleep,
Silent, and sad, he plunges in the deep.
     Stout was the ship, from Benin's palmy shore
That first the freight of bartered captives bore:
Bedimmed with blood, the sun, with shrinking beams,
Beheld her bounding o'er the ocean streams;
But, ere the moon her silver horns had reared,
Amid the crew the speckled plague appeared.
Faint and despairing, on their watery bier,
To every friendly shore the sailors steer;
Repelled from port to port, they sue in vain,
And track, with slow unsteady sail, the main.
Where ne'er the bright and buoyant wave is seen,
To streak with wandering foam the sea-weeds green,
Towers the tall mast, a lone and leafless tree;
Till, self-impelled, amid the waveless sea,
Where summer breezes ne'er were heard to sing,
Nor hovering snow-birds spread the downy wing,
Fixed, as a rock, amid the boundless plain,
The yellow steam pollutes the stagnant main;
Till, far through night, the funeral flames aspire,
As the red lightning smites the ghastly pyre.
     Still, doomed by fate, on weltering billows rolled,
Along, the deep their restless course to hold,
Scenting the storm, the shadowy sailors guide
The prow, with sails opposed to wind and tide;
The spectre ship, in livid glimpsing light,
Glares baleful on the shuddering watch at night,
Unblest of God and man!— Till time shall end,
Its view strange horror to the storm shall lend.
     Land of my fathers! though no mangrove here,
O'er thy blue streams, her flexile branches rear,
Nor scaly palm her fingered scions shoot,
Nor luscious guava wave her yellow fruit,
Nor golden apples glimmer from the tree,
Land of dark heaths and mountains! thou art free.
Untainted yet, thy stream, fair Teviot! runs,
With unatoned blood of Gambia's sons:
No drooping slave, with spirit bowed to toil,
Grows, like the weed, self-rooted to the soil;
Nor cringing vassal, on these pansied meads,
Is bought and bartered, as the flock he feeds.
Free, as the lark, that carols o'er his head,
At dawn the healthy plowman leaves his bed,
Binds to the yoke his sturdy steers with care,
And, whistling loud, directs the mining share;
Free, as his lord, the peasant treads the plain,
And heaps his harvest on the groaning wain;
Proud of his laws, tenacious of his right,
And vain of Scotia's old unconquered might.
     Dear native vallies! may ye long retain
The chartered freedom of the mountain swain!
Long mid your sounding glades, in union sweet,
May rural innocence and beauty meet!
And still be duly heard, at twilight calm,
From every cot the peasant's chaunted psalm!
Then, Jedworth! though thy ancient choirs shall fade,
And time lay bare each lofty colonnade,
From the damp roof the massy sculptures die,
And in their vaults thy rifted arches lie,
Still in these vales shall angel harps prolong,
By Jed's pure stream, a sweeter even song,
Than long processions, once, with mystic zeal,
Poured to the harp and solemn organ's peal.
     O softly, Jed! thy sylvan current lead
Round every hazel copse and smiling mead,
Where lines of first the glowing landscape screen,
and crown the heights with tufts of deeper green.
While, mid the cliffs, to crop the flowery thyme,
The shaggy goats with steady footsteps climb,
How wantonly the ruffling breezes stir
The wavering trains of tinsel gossamer,
In filmy threads of floating gold, which slide
O'er the green upland's wet and sloping side,
While, ever varying in the beating ray,
The fleeting network glistens bright and gay!
To thee, fair Jed! a holier wreath is due,
Who gav'st thy THOMSON all thy scenes to view,
Bad'st forms of beauty on his vision roll,
And mould to harmony his ductile soul;
Till Fancy's pictures rose, as nature bright,
And his warm bosom glowed with heavenly light.
     In March, when first, elate on tender wing,
O'er frozen heaths the lark essays to sing;
In March, when first, before the lengthening days,
The snowy mantle of the earth decays,
The wreaths of crusted snows are painted blue,
And yellowy moss assumes a greener hue,
How smiled the bard, from winter's funeral urn,
To see, more fair, the youthful earth return!
     When morn's wan rays with clearer crimson blend,
And first the gilded mists of spring ascend,
The sun-beams swim through April's silver showers,
The daffodils expand their yellow flowers,
The lusty stalk with sap luxuriant swells,
And, curling round it, smile the bursting bells,
The blowing king-cup bank and valley studs,
And on the rosiers nod the folded buds;
Warm beats his heart, to view the mead's array,
When flowers of summer hear the steps of May.
     But, when the wintry blast the forest heaves,
And shakes the harvest of the ripened leaves;
When brighter scenes the painted woods display
Than Fancy's fairy pencil can pourtray,
He, pensive, strays, the saddened groves among,
To hear the twittering swallows farewell song.
The finch no more on pointed thistles feeds,
Pecks the red leaves, or crops the swelling seeds;
But water-crows by cold brook-margins play,
Lave their dark plumage in the freezing spray,
And, wanton, as from stone to stone they glide,
Dive at their beckoning forms beneath the tide;
He hears at eve the fettered bittern's scream,
Ice-bound in sedgy marsh, or mountain stream,
Or sees, with strange delight, the snow-clouds form,
When Ruberslaw conceives the mountain storm;
Dark Ruberslaw, that lifts his head sublime,
Rugged and hoary with the wrecks of time!
On his broad misty front the giant wears
The horrid furrows of ten thousand years;
His aged brows are crowned with curling fern,
Where perches, grave and lone, the hooded Erne,
Majestic bird! by ancient shepherds stiled
The lonely hermit of the russet wild,
That loves amid the stormy blast to soar,
When through disjointed cliffs the tempests roar,
Climbs on strong wing the storm, and, screaming high,
Rides the dim rack, that sweeps the darkened sky.
     Such were the scenes his fancy first refined,
And breathed enchantment o'er his plastic mind,
Bade every feeling flow, to virtue dear,
And formed the poet of the varied year.
Bard of the seasons! could my strain, like thine,
Awake the heart to sympathy divine,
Sweet Osna's stream, by thin-leaved birch o'erhung,
No more should roll her modest waves unsung.—
Though now thy silent waters, as they run,
Refuse to sparkle in the morning sun,
Though dark their wandering course, what voice can tell
Who first, for thee, shall strike the sounding shell,
And teach thy waves, that dimly wind along,
To tune to harmony their mountain song!
Thus Meles rolled a stream, unknown to fame,
Not yet renowned by Homer's mighty name;
Great sun of verse, who, self-created, shone,
To lend the world his light, and borrow none!
     Through richer fields, her milky wave that stain,
Slow Cala flows o'er many a chalky plain;
With silvery spikes of wheat, in stately row,
And golden oats, that on the uplands grow,
Gray fields of barley crowd the water edge,
Drink the pale stream, and mingle with the sedge.
     Pure blows the summer breeze o'er moor and dell,
Since first in Wormiswood the serpent fell:
From years, in distance lost, his birth he drew,
And with the ancient oaks the monster grew,
Till venom, nursed in every stagnant vein,
Shed o'er his scaly sides a yellowy stain,
Save where, upreared, his purfled crest was seen,
Bedropt with purple blots and streaks of green.
Deep in a sedgy fen, concealed from day,
Long ripening, on his oozy bed he lay;
Till, as the poison-breath around him blew,
From every bough the shrivelled leaflet flew,
Grey moss began the wrinkled trees to climb,
And the tall oaks grew old before their time.
     On his dark bed the grovelling monster long
Blew the shrill hiss, and launched the serpent prong,
Or, writhed, on frightful coils, with powerful breath,
Drew the faint herds to glut the den of death,
Dragged, with unwilling speed, across the plain
The snorting steed, that gazed with stiffened mane,
The forest bull, that lashed, with hideous roar,
His sides indignant, and the ground uptore.
Bold as the chief, who, mid black Lerna's brake,
With mighty prowess quelled the water-snake,
To rouze the monster from his noisome den,
A dauntless hero pierced the blasted fen:
He mounts, he spurs his steed;—in bold career,
His arm gigantic wields a fiery spear;
With aromatic moss the shaft was wreathed,
And favouring gales around the champion breathed;
By power invisible the courser drawn,
Now quick, and quicker, bounds across the lawn;
Onward he moves, unable now to pause,
And, fearless, meditates the monster's jaws,
Impells the struggling steed, that strives to shun,
Full on his wide unfolding fangs to run;
Down his black throat he thrusts the fiery dart,
And hears the frightful hiss, that rends his heart;
Then, wheeling light, reverts his swift career.—
The writhing serpent grinds the ashen spear;
Rolled on his head, his awful volumed train
He strains, in tortured folds, and bursts in twain.
On Cala's banks, his monstrous fangs appal
The rustics, pondering on the sacred wall,
Who hear the tale, the solemn rites between,
On summer sabbaths, in the churchyard green.
     On Yeta's banks the vagrant gypsies place
Their turf-built cots; a sun-burned swarthy race!
From Nubian realms their tawny line they bring,
And their brown chieftain vaunts the name of king;
With loitering steps, from town to town they pass,
Their lazy dames rocked on the paniered ass:
From pilfered roots, or nauseous carrion, fed,
By hedge-rows green they strew the leafy bed,
While scarce the cloak of taudry red conceals
The fine turned limbs, which every breeze reveals:
Their bright black eyes through silken lashes shine,
Around their necks their raven tresses twine;
But chilling damps, and dews of night, impair
Its soft sleek gloss, and tan the bosom bare.
Adroit the lines of palmistry to trace,
Or read the damsel's wishes in her face,
Her hoarded sliver store they charm away,
A pleasing debt, for promised wealth to pay.
     But, in the lonely barn, from towns remote,
The pipe and bladder opes is screaking throat,
To aid the revels of the noisy rout,
Who wanton dance, or push the cups about:
Then for their paramours the maddening brawl,
Shrill, fierce, and frantic, echoes round the hall.
No glimmering light to rage supplies a mark,
Save the red firebrand, hissing through the dark;
And oft the beams of morn, the peasants say,
The blood-stained turf, and new-formed graves, display.
Fell race, unworthy of the Scotian name!
Your brutal deeds your barbarous line proclaim;
With dreadful Galla's linked in kindred bands,
The locust brood of Ethiopia's sands,
Whose frantic shouts the thunder blue defy,
And launch their arrows at the glowing sky.
In barbarous pomp, they glut the inhuman feast
With dismal viands, man abhors to taste;
And grimly smile, when red the goblets shine,
When mantles red the shell—but not with wine.
     Ye sister streams, whose mountain waters glide,
To lose your names in Teviot's crystal tide!
Not long, through greener fields, ye wander slow,
While heavens of azure widen as ye grow;
For soon, where scenes of sweeter beauty smile
Around the mounds of Roxburgh's ruined pile,
No more the mistress of each lovely field,
Her name, her honours, Teviot soon must yield.
     Roxburgh! how fallen, since first, in Gothic pride,
Thy frowning battlements the war defied,
Called the bold chief to grace thy blazoned halls,
And bade the rivers gird thy solid walls!
Fallen are thy towers, and, where the palace stood,
In gloomy grandeur waves yon hanging wood;
Crushed are thy halls, save where the peasant sees
One moss-clad ruin rise between the trees;
The still-green trees, whose mournful branches wave,
In solemn cadence, o'er the hapless brave.
Proud castle! Fancy sill beholds thee stand,
The curb, the guardian, of this Border land,
As when the signal flame, that blazed afar,
And bloody flag, proclaimed impending war,
While, in the lion's place, the leopard frowned,
And marshalled armies hemmed thy bulwarks round.
     Serene in might, amid embattled files,
From Morven's hills, and the far western isles,
From barrier Tweed, and Teviot's border tide,
See through the host the youthful monarch ride!
In streaming pomp, above each mailed line,
The chiefs behold his plumy helmet shine,
And, as he points the purple surge of war,
His faithful legions hail their guiding star.
     From Lothian's plains, a hardy band uprears,
In serried ranks, a glittering grove of spears:
The Border chivalry more fierce advance;
Before their steeds projects the bristling lance;
The panting steeds, that, bridled in with pain,
Arch their proud crests, and ardent paw the plain:
With broad claymore, and dirk, the Island clan
Clang the resounding targe, and claim the van,
Flash their bright swords, as stormy bugles blow,
Unconscious of the shaft and Saxon bow.
     Now sulphurous clouds involve the sickening morn,
And the hoarse bombal drowns the pealing horn;
Crash the disparted walls, the turrets rock,
And the red flame bursts through the smouldering smoke.
But hark! with female shrieks the vallies ring!
The death-dirge sounds for Scotia's warrior-king;
Fallen in his youth, ere, on the listed field,
The tinge of blood had dyed his silver shield;
Fallen in his youth, ere, from the bannered plain
Returned his faulchion, crimsoned with the slain.
His sword is sheathed, his bow remains unstrung,
His shield unblazoned, and his praise unsung:
The holly's glossy leaves alone shall tell,
How, on these banks, the martial monarch fell.
     Lo! as to grief the drooping squadrons yield,
And quit, with tarnished arms, the luckless field,
His gallant consort wipes her tears away,
Renews their courage, and restores the day.
"Behold your king!" the lofty heroine cried,
"He seeks his vengeance where his father died.
"Behold your king!"—rekindling fury boils
In every breast;—the Saxon host recoils;—
Wide o'er the walls the billowy fames aspire,
And streams of blood hiss through curling fire.
     Teviot, farewell! for now thy silver tide,
Commixed with Tweed's pellucid stream, shall glide.
But all thy green and pastoral beauties fail
To match the softness of thy parting vale.
Bosomed in woods, where mighty rivers run,
Kelso's fair vale expands before the sun:
Its rising downs in vernal beauty swell,
And, fringed with hazel, winds each flowery dell;
Green spangled plains to dimpling lawns succeed,
And Tempe rises on the banks of Tweed;
Blue o'er the river Kelso's shadow lies,
And copse-clad isles amid the waters ride;
Where Tweed her silent way majestic holds,
Float the thin gales in more transparent folds;
New powers of vision on the eye descend,
As distant mountains from their bases bend,
Lean forward from their seats, to court the view,
While melt their softened tints in vivid blue;
But fairer still, at midnight's shadowy reign,
When liquid silver floods the moonlight plain,
And lawns, and fields, and woods of varying hue,
Drink the wan lustre, and the pearly dew;
While the still landscape, more than noontide bright,
Glistens with mellow tints of fairy light.
     Yet, sure, these pastoral beauties ne'er can vie
With those, which fondly rise to Memory's eye.
When absent long, my soul delights to dwell
On scenes, in early youth she loved so well.
'Tis fabling Fancy, with her radiant hues,
That guilds the modest scenes which Memory views;
And softer, finer tints she loves to spread,
For which we search in vain the daisied mead,
In vain the grove, the rivulet's mossy cell—
Tis the delusive charm of Fancy's spell.
                   PART IV. Merveilleuses histoires racontées autour du foyer,
tendres epanchemens du cœur longues habitudes d'aimer
si nècessaires á la vie, vous avez rempli les journèes de ceux
qui n'ont point quitté leur pays natal. Leurs tombeaux sont
dans leur patrie, avec le soleil couchant, les pleurs de
leurs amis et les charmes de la religion.

                                           ATALA.

Once more, inconstant shadow! by my side
I see thee stalk, with vast gigantic stride,
Pause when I stop, and where I careless bend
My steps, obsequiously their course attend:
So faithless friends, that leave the wretch to mourn,
Still with the sunshine of his days return.
Yet oft, since first I left these vallies green,
I, but for thee, companionless had been.
To thee I talked, nor felt myself alone,
While summer suns and living moon-beams shone.
Oft, while an infant, playful in the sun,
I hoped thy silent gambols to outrun,
And, as I viewed thee ever at my side,
To overleap thy hastening figure tried;
Oft, when with flaky snow the fields were white,
Beneath the moon I started at thy sight,
Eyed thy huge stature, with suspicious mien,
And thought I had my evil genius seen.
But, when I left my father's old abode,
And thou the sole companion of my road,
As sad I paused, and fondly looked behind,
And almost deemed each face I met unkind,
While kindling hopes to boding fears gave place,
Though seem'dst the ancient spirit of my race.
In startled Fancy's ear I heard thee say,
"Ha! I will meet thee after many a day,
"When youth's impatient joys, too fierce to last,
"And fancy's wild illusions, all are past;
"Yes! I will come, when scenes of youth depart,
"To ask thee for thy innocence of heart,
"To ask thee, when though bidst this light adieu,
"Ha! wilt thou blush thy ancestors to view?"
     Now, as the sun descends with westering beam,
I see thee lean across clear Teviot's stream:
Through thy dim figure, fringed with wavy gold,
Their gliding course the restless waters hold;
But, when a thousand waves have rolled away,
The incumbent shadow suffers no decay.
Thus, wide, through mortal life, delusion reigns;
The substance changes, but the form remains:
Or, if the substance still remains the same,
We see another form, and hear another name.
     So, when I left sweet Teviot's woodland green,
And hills, the only hills mine eyes had seen,
With what delight I hoped to mark, anew,
Each well-known object rising on my view!
Ah fruitless hope! When youth's warm light is o'er,
Can aught to come its glowing hues restore?
As lovers, absent long, with anguish trace
The marks of time on that familiar face,
Whose bright and ripening bloom could once impart
Such melting fondness to the youthful heart,
I sadly stray by Teviot's pastoral shore,
And every change with fond regret deplore.
No more the black-cock struts along the heath,
Where berries cluster blue the leaves beneath,
Spreads the jet wing, or flaunts the dark-green train,
In laboured flight the tufted moors to gain,
But, far remote, on flagging plume he flies,
Or shuts in death his ruddy sparkling eyes.
No more the screaming bittern, bellowing harsh,
To its dark bottom shakes the shuddering marsh;
Proud of his shining breast and emerald crown,
The wild-drake leaves his bed of eider-down,
Stretches his helming neck before the gales,
And sails on winnowing wing for other vales,
     Where the long heaths in billowy roughness frown,
The pine, the heron's ancient home, goes down,
Though wintry storms have tossed its spiry head,
Since first o'er Scotia's realm the forests spread.
     The mountain ash, whose crimson berries shine;
The flaxen birch, that yields the palmy wine;
The guine, whose luscious sable cherries spring,
To lure the blackbird mid her boughs to sing;
The shining beech, that holier reverence claims,
Along whose bark our fathers carved their names;
Yield to the ponderous axe, whose frequent stroke
Re-echoes loudly from the elzar rock,
While frighted stock-doves listen, silent long,
Then from the hawthorn crowd their gurgling song.
     Green downs, ascending, drink the moorish rills,
And yellow corn-fields crown the heathless hills,
Where to the breeze the shrill brown linnet sings,
And prunes, with frequent bill, his russet wings.
High, and more high, the shepherds drive their flocks,
And climb, with timid step, the hoary rocks;
From cliff to cliff the ruffling breezes sigh,
Where idly on the sun-beat steeps they lie,
And wonder, that the vale no more displays
The pastoral scenes, that pleased their early days.
     No more the cottage roof, fern-thatched and gray,
Invites the weary traveller from the way,
To rest, and taste the peasant's simple cheer,
Repaid by news and tales he loved to hear;
The clay-built wall, with woodbine twisted o'er,
The house-leek, clustering green above the door,
While, through the sheltering elms, that round them grew,
The winding smoke arose in columns blue;—
These all have fled; and, from their hamlets brown,
The swains have gone, to sicken in the town,
To pine in crowded streets, or ply the loom;
For splendid halls deny the cottage room.
Yet on the neighboring heights they oft convene,
With fond regret to view each former scene,
The level meads, where infants wont to play
Around their mothers, as they piled the hay,
The hawthorn hedge-row, and the hanging wood,
Beneath whose boughs their humble cottage stood.
     Gone are the peasants from the humble shed,
And with them too the humble virtues fled:
No more the farmer, on these fertile plains,
Is held the father of the meaner swains,
Partakes, as he directs, the reaper's toil,
Or with his shining share divides the soil,
Or in his hall, when winter nights are long,
Joins in the burthen of the damsel's song,
Repeats the tales of old heroic times,
While BRUCE and WALLACE consecrate the rhymes.
These all are fled—and, in the farmer's place,
Of prouder look, advance a dubious race,
That ape the pride of rank, with aukward state,
The vice, but not the polish, of the great,
Flaunt, like the poppy, mid the ripening grain,
A nauseous weed, that poisons all the plain.
The peasant, once a friend, a friend no more,
Cringes, a slave, before the master's door;
Or else, too proud, where once he loved, to fawn,
For distant climes deserts his native lawn,
And fondly hopes, beyond the western main
To find the virtues, here beloved in vain.
     So the red Indian, by Ontario's side,
Nursed hardy on the brindled panther's hide,
Who, like the bear, delights his woods to roam,
And on the maple finds at eve a home,
As fades his swarthy race, with anguish sees
The white man's cottage rise beneath his trees,
While o'er his vast and undivided lawn
The hedge-row and the bounding trench are drawn,
From their dark beds his aged forests torn,
While round him close long fields of reed-like corn:—
He leaves the shelter of his native wood,
He leaves the murmur of Ohio's flood,
And forward rushing, in indignant grief,
Where never foot has trod the falling leaf,
He bends his course, where twilight reigns, sublime,
O'er forests, silent since the birth of time;
Where roll on spiral folds, immense and dun,
The ancient snakes, the favourites of the sun,
Or in the lonely vales, serene, repose;
While the clear carbuncle its lustre throws,
From each broad brow, star of a baleful sky,
Which luckless mortals only view to die!
Lords of the wilderness, since time began,
They scorn to yield their ancient sway to man.
     Long may the Creek, the Cherokee, retain
The desert woodlands of his old domain,
Ere Teviot's sons, far from their homes beguiled,
Expel their wattled wigwams from the wild!
For ah! not yet the social virtues fly,
That wont to blossom in our northern sky,
And, in the peasant's free-born soul, produce
The patriot glow of Wal1ace and of Bruce;
Like that brave band, great Abercromby led
To fame or death, by Nile's broad swampy bed,
To whom the unconquered Gallic legions yield
The trophied spoils of many a stormy field:
Not yet our swains, their former virtues lost,
In dismal exile roam from coast to coast;
But soon, too soon, if lordly wealth prevail,
The healthy cottage shall desert the dale,
The active peasants trust their hardy prime
To other skies, and seek a kinder clime.
From Teviot's banks I see them wind their way:
"Tweedside," in sad farewell, I hear them play:—
The plaintive song, that wont their toils to cheer,
Sounds to them doubly sad, but doubly dear;
As, slowly parting from the osiered shore,
They leave these waters to return no more.
But ah! where'er their wandering steps sojourn,
To these loved shores their pensive thoughts shall turn,
There picture scenes of innocent repose,
When, garrulous, at waning age's close,
They to their children shall securely tell
The hazards, which in foreign lands befell.
Teviot! while o'er thy sons I pour the tear,
Why swell thy murmurs sudden on mine ear?
Still shall thy restless waters hold their way,
Nor fear the fate that bids our race decay;
Still shall thy waves their mazy course pursue,
Till every scene be changed that meets my view:
And many a race has traced its narrow span,
Since first thy waters down these vallies ran.
Ye distant ages, that have past away,
Since dawned the twilight of creation's day!
Again to Fancy's eye your course unroll,
And let your visions soothe my pensive soul!
     And lo! emerging from the mist of years,
In shadowy pomp a woodland scene appears;
Woods of dark oak, that once o'er Teviot hung,
Ere on their swampy beds her mosses sprung.
On these green banks the ravening wolf-dogs prowl,
And, fitful, to the hoarse night-thunder howl,
Or, hunger-gnawn, by maddening fury bold,
Besiege the huts, and scale the wattled fold.
The savage chief, with soul devoid of fear,
Hies to the chace, and grasps his pliant spear,
Or, while his nervous arm its vigour tries,
The knotted thorn a massy club supplies.
He calls his hounds; his moony shield afar,
With clanging boss, convokes the silvan war;
The tainted steps his piercing eyes pursue
To some dark lair, which sapless bones bestrew:
His foamy chaps the haggard monster rears,
Champs his gaunt jaws, which clotted blood besmears,
Growls surly, rolls his eyes, that sparkle fire,
While hounds and hunters from his fangs retire;
Till, writhing on the tough transfixing lance,—
With boisterous shouts the shrinking rout advance;
His shaggy fur the chieftain bears away,
And wears the spoils on every festive day.
     Not his the puny chace, that from her lair
Urges, in safe pursuit, the timorous hare,
Detects her mazes, as she circling wheels,
And venturous treads on her pursuers' heels;
Through fields of grain the laggard harriers guides,
Or, plunging through the brake, impetuous rides,
Hoops the shrill view halloo, to see her scud
The plain, and drinks the tremulous scream of blood.
     Hark! the dark forest rings with shrill alarms:
Another foe invites the chieftains' arms.
Where Teviot's damsels, late, in long array,
Led the light dance beneath the moonlight spray,
Lords of the earth, the Roman legions wheel
Their glittering files, and stamp, with gory heel,
Bathe the keen javelin's edge in purple dew;
While death smiles dimly o'er the faulchion blue.
Wake the hoarse trumpet, swell the song of war,
And yoke the steed to the careering car,
With azure-streaks the warriors' visage stain,
And let the arrowy clouds obscure the plain!
The bards, as o'er their sky-blue vestures flow
Their long redundant locks, of reverend snow,
Invoke their ancestors of matchless might,
To view their offspring in the toil of fight.
     "Let the wide field of slain be purpled o'er,
"One red capacious drinking-cup of gore!
"Blest are the brave, that for their country die:
"On viewless steeds they climb the waste of sky;
"Embrued in blood, on eagle's wings they soar,
"Drink, as they rise, the battle's mingled roar:
"Their deeds the bards on sculptured rocks shall grave,
"Whose marble page shall northern tempests brave;
"Even Time's slow wasting foot shall ne'er eraze
"The awful chronicle of elder days:
"Then drink the pure metheglin of the bee,
"The heath's brown juice, and live or perish, free!"
In vain !—for, wedged beneath the arch of shields,
Where'er the legions move, the combat yields;
Break the dark files, the thronging ranks give way,
And o'er the field the vacant chariots stray.
Woe to the tribes, who shun the faulchion's stroke,
And bend their necks beneath the captive's yoke!
The rattling folds of chains, that round them fall,
They madly grind against the dungeon wall:
Die! cowards, die! nor wait your servile doom,
Dragged in base triumph through the streets of Rome!
The night descends—the sounding woods are still—
No more the watchfire blazes from the hill;
The females now their dusky locks unbind,
To float dishevelled in the midnight wind;
Inspired with black despair, they grasp the steel,
Nor fear to act the rage their bosoms feel:
Then maids and matrons dare a fearful deed,
And recreant lovers, sons, and husbands, bleed:
They scan each long-loved face, with ghastly smile,
And light, with bloody hands, the funeral pile,
Then, fierce retreat to woods and wilds afar,
To nurse a race, that never shrunk from war.
     Long ages, next, in sullen gloom, go by,
And desert still these barrier regions lie.
While oft the Saxon raven, poised for flight, 18
Receding, owns the British dragon's might:
Till, rising from the mixed and martial breed,
The nations see an iron race succeed.
Fierce as the wolf, they rushed to seize their prey;
The day was all their night, the night their day;
Or, if the night was dark, along the air
The blazing village shed a sanguine glare:
Theirs was the skill, with venturous pace, to lead,
Along the sedgy marsh, the floundering steed,
To fens and misty heaths conduct their prey,
And lure the bloodhound from his scented way:
The chilly radiance of the harvest moon,
To them, was fairer than the sun at noon;
For blood pursuing, or for blood pursued,
The palaced courtier's life with scorn they viewed,
Pent, like the snail, within the circling shell;
While hunters loved beneath the oak to dwell,
Roused the fleet roe, and twanged their bows of yew.
While staghounds yelled, and merry bugles blew.
     Not their's the maiden's song of war's alarms,
But the loud clarion, and the clang of arms,
The trumpet's voice, when warring hosts begin
To swell impatient battle's stormy din,
The groans of wounded on the blood-red plain,
And victor shouts exulting o'er the slain:
No wailing shriek, no useless female tear,
Was ever shed around their battle-bier;
But heaps of corses, on the slippery ground,
Were piled around them, for their funeral mound.
     So rose the stubborn race, unknown to bow; 19
And Teviot's sons were, once, like Erin's now—
Erin, whose waves a favoured region screen!
Green are her vallies, and her mountains green;
No mildews hoar the soft sea-breezes bring,
Nor breath envenomed blasts the flowers of spring,
But, rising gently o'er the wave, she smiles;
And travellers hail the emerald queen of isles.
     Tall and robust, on Nature's ancient plan,
Her mother-hand here frames her favourite man:
His form, which Grecian artists might admire,
She bids awake, and glow with native fire;
For, not to outward form alone confined,
Her gifts impartial settle on his mind.
Hence springs the lightning of the speaking eye,
The quick suggestion, and the keen reply,
The powerful spell, that listening senates binds,
The sparkling wit of fine elastic minds,
The milder charms, which feeling hearts engage,
That glow, unrivalled, in her Goldsmith's page.
     But kindred vices, to these powers allied,
With ranker growth their shaded lustre hide;
As crops, from rank luxuriance of the soil,
In richest fields defraud the farmer's toil,
And when, from every grain the sower flings
In earth's prolific womb, a thousand springs,
The swelling spikes in matted clusters grow,
And greener stalks shoot constant from below,
Debarred the fostering sun; till, crude and green,
The milky ears mid spikes matured are seen:
Thus, rankly shooting in the mental plain,
The ripening powers no just proportion gain;
The buoyant wit, the rapid glance of mind,
By taste, by genuine science, unrefined,
For solid views the ill-poised soul unfit,
And bulls and blunders substitute for wit.
As, with swift touch, the Indian painter draws
His ready pencil o'er the trembling gauze,
While, as it glides, the forms, in mimic strife,
Seem to contend which first shall start to life;
But careless haste presents each shapeless limb,
Aukwardly clumsy, or absurdly slim:
So rise the hotbed embryos of the brain,
Formless and mixed, a crude abortive train,
Vigorous of growth, with no proportion graced,
The seeds of genius, immatured by taste.
     Such, sea-girt Erin! are thy sons confest:
And such, ere Order lawless feud redrest,
Were Teviot's sons; who, now, devoid of fear,
Bind to the rush by night the theftless steer.
Fled is the bannered war, and hushed the drum;
The shrill-toned trumpet's angry voice is dumb;
Invidious rust corrodes the bloody steel;
Dark and dismantled lies each ancient peel:
Afar, at twilight gray, the peasants shun
The dome accurst, where deeds of blood were done.
No more the staghounds, and the huntsman's cheer,
From their brown coverts rouse the startled deer:
Their native turbulence resigned, the swains
Feed their gay flocks along these heaths and plains;
While, as the fiercer passions feel decay,
Religion's milder mood assumes its sway.
     And lo! the peasant lifts his glistening eye,
When the pale stars are sprinkled o'er the sky:—
In those fair orbs, with friends departed long,
Again he hopes to hymn the choral song;
While on his glowing cheek no more remains
The trace of former woes, of former pains:
As o'er his soul the vision rises bright,
His features sparkle with celestial light;
To his tranced eye, the mighty concave bends
Its azure arch to earth, and heaven descends.
     Cold are the selfish hearts, that would controul
The simple peasant's grateful glow of soul,
When, raising, with his hands, his heart on high,
The sacred tear-drops trembling in his eye,
With firm untainted zeal, he swears to hold
The reverend faith, his fathers held of old.
Hold firm thy faith! for, on the sacred day,
No sabbath-bells invite thy steps to pray;
But, as the peasants seek the churchyard's ground,
Afar they hear the swelling bugle's sound,
With shouts and trampling steeds approaching near,
And oaths and curses murmuring in the rear.—
Quick they disperse, to moors and woodlands fly,
And fens, that hid in misty vapours lie:
But, though the pitying sun withdraws his light,
The lapwing's clamorous hoop attends their flight,
Pursues their steps, where'er the wanderers go,
Till the shrill scream betrays them to the foe.
     Poor bird! where'er the roaming swain intrudes
On thy bleak heaths and desart solitudes,
He curses still thy scream, thy clamorous tongue,
And crushes with his foot thy moulting young:
In stern vindictive mood, he still recalls
The days, when, by the mountain water-falls,
Beside the streams, with ancient willows gray,
Or narrow dells, where drifted snow-wreaths lay,
And rocks that shone, with fretted ice-work hung,
The prayer was heard, and sabbath-psalms were sung.
     Of those dire days, the child, untaught to spell,
Still learns the tale he hears his father tell;
How from his sheltering hut the peasant fled,
And in the marshes dug his cold damp bed;
His rimy locks, by blasts of winter tost,
And stiffened garments rattling in the frost.
     In vain the feeble mother strove to warm
The shivering child, close cradled on her arm;
The cold, that crept along each freezing vein,
Congealed the milk the infant sought to drain.
     Still, as the fearful tale of blood goes round,
From lips comprest is heard a muttering sound;
Flush the warm cheeks, the eyes are bright with dew,
And curses fall on the unholy crew;
Spreads the enthusiast glow—With solemn pause,
An ancient sword the aged peasant draws,
Displays its rusty edge, and weeps to tell,
How he, that bore it, for religion fell,
And bids his offspring consecrate the day,
To dress the turf, that wraps the martyr's clay.
     So, when by Erie's lake the Indians red 20
Display the dismal banquet of the dead,
While streams descend in foam, and tempests rave,
They call their fathers from the funeral cave,
In that green mount, where virgins go, to weep
Around the lonely tree of tears, and sleep:
Silent they troop, a melancholy throng,
And bring the ancient fleshless shapes along,
The painted tomahawks, embrowned with rust,
And belts of wampum, from the sacred dust,
The bow unbent, the tall unfurbished spear,
Mysterious symbols! from the grave they rear.
With solemn dance and song, the feast they place,
To greet the mighty fathers of their race;
Their robes of fur the warrior youths expand,
And silent sit, the dead on either hand;
Eye, with fixed gaze, the ghastly forms, that own
No earthly name, and live in worlds unknown;
In each mysterious emblem round them, trace
The feuds and friendships of their ancient race;
With awful reverence, from the dead imbibe
The rites, the customs, sacred to the tribe,
The spectre forms, in gloomy silence, scan,
And swear to finish what their sires began.
     By Fancy rapt, where tombs are crusted gray, 21
I seem, by moon-illumined graves, to stray,
Where, mid the flat and nettle-skirted stones,
My steps remove the yellow crumbling bones.
The silver moon, at midnight cold and still,
Looks, sad and silent, o'er yon western hill;
While large and pale the ghostly structures grow,
Reared on the confines of the world below.
Is that dull sound the hum of Teviot's stream?
Is that blue light the moon's, or tomb-fire's gleam,
By which a mouldering pile is faintly seen
The old deserted church of Hazel-dean,
Where slept my fathers in their natal clay,
Till Teviot's waters rolled their bones away?
Their feeble voices from the stream they raise—
"Rash youth! unmindful of thy early days,
"Why didst thou quit the peasant's simple lot?
"Why didst thou leave the peasant's turf-built cot,
"The ancient graves, where all thy fathers lie,
"And Teviot's stream, that long has murmured by?
"And we—when Death so long has closed our eyes,
"How wilt thou bid us from the dust arise,
"And bear our mouldering bones across the main,
"From vales, that knew our lives devoid of stain?
"Rash youth! beware, thy homebred virtues save,
"And sweetly sleep in thy paternal grave!"