Слике страница

เ 1746


For watchful, lurking, ʼmid th’ unrustling reed,

At those mirk hours the wily monster lies,
And listens oft to hear the passing steed,

And frequent round him rolls his sullen eyes,
If chance his savage wrath may some weak wretch surprise.

[ocr errors][merged small]


Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest, indeed !

Whom late bewilder'd in the dank, dark fen,

Far from his flocks, and smoking hamlet, then! To that sad spot where hums the sedgy weed :

On him, enraged, the fiend, in angry mood, Shall never look with pity's kind concern,

But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood
O'er its drown'd banks, forbidding all return !

Or, if he meditate his wish'd escape
To some dim hill, that seems uprising near,

To his faint eye the grim and grisly shape,
In all its terrors clad, shall wild appear.

Meantime the watery surge shall round him rise,
Pour'd sudden forth from every swelling source !

What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs ?
His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force,
And down the waves he floats, a pale and breathless corse !


For him in vain his anxious wife shall wait,

Or wander forth to meet him on his way ;

For him in vain at to-fall of the day,
His babes shall linger at th' unclosing gate :
Ah, ne'er shall he return! Alone, if Night

Her travellid limbs in broken slumbers steep,
With drooping willows dress'd, his mournful sprite

Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep: Then he, perhaps, with moist and watery hand,

Shall fondly seem to press her shuddering cheek, 130 And with his blue-swollen face before her stand,


And, shivering cold, these piteous accents speak : 132
Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils, pursue,

At dawn or dusk, industrious as before ;
Nor e'er of me one helpless thought renew,

While I lie weltering on the osier'd shore, Drown'd by the Kelpie's1 wrath, nor e'er shall aid thee more!"

[ocr errors]

Unbounded is thy range; with varied skill

Thy Muse may, like those feathery tribes which spring

From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing 140 Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle,

To that hoar pile2 which still its ruins shows : In whose small vaults a pigmy folk is found,

Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows, And culls them, wondering, from the hallow'd ground ! Or thither, 3 where, beneath the showery west,

The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid ; Once foes, perhaps, together now they rest,

No slaves revere them, and no wars invade : Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour,

The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold, And forth the monarchs stalk with sovereign power,

In pageant robes, and wreath'd with sheeny gold, And on their twilight tombs aërial council hold.


But, oh, o'er all, forget not Kilda's race,

On whose bleak rocks, which brave the wasting tides,

Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides.
Go! just, as they, their blameless manners trace !

Then to my ear transmit some gentle song,
Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain,

Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along, 1 Kelpie :' the water fiend.— * • Hoar pile:' a ruined chapel in one of the Hebrides, called the Isle of Pigmies, where it is said that some bones of a small race of men have been dng up. — 3* Thither :' Icolmkill, one of the Hebrides, where near sixty ancient Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings are interred.



And all their prospect but the wintry main.

With sparing temperance, at the needful time, They drain the scented spring; or, hunger-prest,

Along th' Atlantic rock, undreading climb, And of its eggs despoil the solan's? nest.

Thus, blest in primal innocence, they live Sufficed, and happy with that frugal fare

Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give. Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare ; Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!


Nor need'st thou blush that such false themes engage

Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possest;

For not alone they touch the village breast, But fill’d, in elder time, th' historic page.

There, Shakspeare's self, with every garland crown’d, Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheen,

In musing hour; his wayward sisters found, And with their terrors dress'd the magic scene.

From them he sung, when, 'mid his bold design, Before the Scot, afflicted, and aghast !

The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant pass'd.

Proceed ! nor quit the tales which, simply told,
Could once so well my answering bosom pierce ;

Proceed, in forceful sounds, and colours bold,
The native legends of thy land rehearse ;
To such adapt thy lyre, and suit thy powerful verse.



In scenes like these, which, daring to depart

From sober truth, are still to nature true,

And call forth fresh delight to Fancy's view, Th’ heroic Muse employ'd her Tasso's art !

1. Solan:' the solan geese breed in the face of the cliffs ; their eggs are the principal source of subsistence to the inhabitants of St Kilda.

How have I trembled, when, at Tancred's stroke, 193 Its gushing blood the gaping cypress pour’d !

When each live plant with mortal accents spoke, And the wild blast upheaved the vanish'd sword !

How have I sat, when piped the pensive wind, To hear his harp by British Fairfax strung!

Prevailing poet! whose undoubting mind Believed the magic wonders which he sung !

Hence, at each sound, imagination glows ! Hence, at each picture, vivid life starts here !

Hence his warm lay with softest sweetness flows ! Melting it flows, pure, murmuring, strong, and clear, And fills th' impassion'd heart, and wins th' harmonious ear!



All hail, ye scenes that o'er my soul prevail !

Ye splendid friths and lakes, which, far away,

Are by smooth Annan fill’d, or pastoral Tay,
Or Don’s1 romantic springs, at distance hail !
The time shall come, when I, perhaps, may tread

Your lowly glens, o’erhung with spreading broom ;
Or, o'er your stretching heaths, by Fancy led ;

Or o'er your mountains creep, in awful gloom! Then will I dress once more the faded bower,

Where Jonson2 sat in Drummond's classic shade; Or crop, from Teviotdale, each lyric flower,

And mourn, on Yarrow's banks, where Willy's laid ! Meantime, ye powers that on the plains which bore

The cordial youth, on Lothian's plains,» attend ! Where'er Home dwells, on hill, or lowly moor,

To him I lose, your kind protection lend, And, touch'd with love like mine, preserve my absent friend!


1. Annan,' • Tay,' 'Don :' three rivers in Scotland. 2 Jonson :' Ben Jonson paid a visit on foot, in 1619, to the Scotch poet Drummond, at his seat of Hawthornden, within four miles of Edinburgh. — 8 Lothian's plains :' Barrow, it seems, was at the Edinburgh University, which is in the county of Lothian.




OF SHAKSPEARE'S WORKS. SIR, WHILE, born to bring the Muse's happier days, A patriot's hand protects a poet's lays; While, nursed by you, she sees her myrtles bloom, Green and unwither'd o'er his honour'd tomb; Excuse her doubts, if yet she fears to tell What secret transports in her bosom swell : With conscious awe she hears the critic's fame, And blushing hides her wreath at Shakspeare's name. Hard was the lot those injured strains endured, Unown'd by Science, and by years obscured : Fair Fancy wept; and echoing sighs confess'd A fix'd despair in every tuneful breast. Not with more grief th' afflicted swains appear, When wintry winds deform the plenteous year ; When lingering frosts the ruin'd seats invade Where Peace resorted, and the Graces play’d.

Each rising art by just gradation moves, Toil builds on toil, and age on age improves :


« ПретходнаНастави »