Page images
[ocr errors]


And lighten'd up a tapestried wall,

Pay the deep debt" — O say not so! And for her use a menial train

To me no gratitude you owe. A rich collation spread in vain.

Not mine, alas! the boon to give, The banquet proud, the chamber gay,

And bid thy noble father live; Scarce drew one curious glance astray;

I can but be thy guide, sweet maid, Or, if she look’d, 'twas but to say,

With Scotland's King thy suit to aid. With better omen dawn’d the day

No tyrant he, though ire and pride In that lone isle, where waved on high

May lead his better mood aside. The dun deer's hide for canopy;

Come, Ellen, come !-'tis more than time, Where oft her noble father shared

He holds his court at morning prime."The simple meal her care prepared,

With beating heart, and bosom wrung, While Lufra, crouching by her side,

As to a brother's arm she clung. Her station claim'd with jealous pride,

Gently he dried the falling tear, And Douglas, bent on woodland game,

And gently whisper'd hope and cheer; Spoke of the chase to Malcolm Græme,

Her faultering steps half led, half staid, Whose answer, oft at random made,

Through gallery fair and high arcade, The wandering of his thoughts betray’d.

Till, at his touch, its wings of pride
Those, who such simple joys have known,

A portal arch unfolded wide.
Are taught to prize them when they're gone.
But sudden, see, she lifts her head !

Within 'twas brilliant all and light,
The window seeks with cautious tread.

A thronging scene of figures bright; What distant music has the power

It glow'd on Ellen's dazzled sight, To win her in this woeful hour!

As when the setting sun has given 'Twas from a turret that o'erhung

Ten thousand hues to summer even,
Her latticed bower, the strain was sung.

And, from their tissue, fancy frames
Aerial knight and fairy dames.

Still by Fitz-James her footing staid;
My hawk is tired of perch and hood,

A few faint steps she forward made,
My idle greyhound loathes his food,

Then slow her drooping head she raised, My horse is weary of his stall,

And fearful round the presence gazed ; And I am sick of captive thrall.

For him she sought, who own'd this state, I wish I were as I have been,

The dreaded prince whose will was fate! Hunting the hart in forest green,

She gazed on many a princely port, With bended bow and blood-hound free,

Might well have ruled a royal court; For that's the life is meet for me.

On many a splendid garb she gazed,

Then turn'd bewilder'd and amazed, “I hate to learn the ebb of time,

For all stood bare ; and, in the room, From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime,

Fitz-James alone wore cap and plume. Or mark it as the sunbeams crawl,

To him each lady's look was lent; Inch after inch, along the wall.

On him each courtier's eye was bent; The lark was wont my matins ring,

Midst furs and silks and jewels sheen, The sable rook my vespers sing ;

He stood, in simple Lincoln green, These towers, although a king's they be,

The centre of the glittering ring Have not a hall of joy for me.

And Snowdoun's knight is Scotland's king! “ No more at dawning morp I rise,

As wreath of snow, on mountain-breast, And sun myself in Ellen's eyes, Drive the feet deer the forest through,

Slides from the rock that gave it rest, And homeward wend with evening dew;

Poor Ellen glided from her stay, A blithesome welcome blithely meet,

And at the monarch's feet she lay; And lay my trophies at her feet,

No word her choaking voice commands,While Aed the eve on wing of glee,

She show'd the ring—she clasp'd her hands. That life is lost to love and me!".

0! not a moment could he brook,

The generous prince, that suppliant look! The heart-sick lay was hardly said,

Gently he raised her,-and, the while, The list'ner had not turn'd her head,

Check'd with a glance the circle's smile ; It trickled still, the starting tear,

Graceful, but grave, her brow he kiss’d, When light a footstep struck her ear,

And bade her terrors be dismiss'd:And Snowdoun's graceful knight was near.

“ Yes, Fair; the wandering poor

Fitz-James She turn’d the hastier, lest again

The fealty of Scotland claims. The prisoner should renew his strain.

To him thy woes, thy wishes, bring; “ O welcome, brave Fitz-James !” she said;

He will redeem his signet ring. “How may an almost orphan maid

Ask nought for Douglas;-yester even,

[ocr errors]

His prince and he have much forgiven:

My fairest earldom would I give
Wrong hath he had from slanderous tongue, To bid Clan-Alpine's Chieftain live!
I, from his rebel kinsmen, wrong.

Hast thou no other boon to crave?
We would not to the vulgar crowd

No other captive friend to save?"-
Yield what they craved with clamour loud ; Blushing, she turn’d her from the King,
Calmly we heard and judged his cause,

And to the Douglas gave the ring,
Our council aided, and our laws.

As if she wish'd her sire to speak I stanch'd thy father's death-feud stern,

The suit that stain'd her glowing cheek.With stout De Vaux and grey Glencairn;

“ Nay, then, my pledge has lost its force, And Bothwell's Lord henceforth we own

And stubborn justice holds her course. The friend and bulwark of our throne.

Malcolm, come forth!"-And, at the word, But, lovely infidel, how now?

Down kneel'd the Græme to Scotland's lord. What clouds thy misbelieving brow?

“ For thee, rash youth, no suppliant sues, Lord James of Douglas, lend thine aid ;

From thee may vengeance claim her dues, Thou must confirm this doubting maid.”

Who, nurtured underneath our smile,

Hast paid our care by treacherous wile, Then forth the noble Douglas sprung,

And sought, amid thy faithful clan, And on his neck his daughter hung.

A refuge for an outlaw'd man, The monarch drank, that happy hour,

Dishonouring thus thy loyal name.The sweetest, holiest draught of power,

Fetters and warder for the Græme!When it can say with godlike voice,

His chain of gold the King unstrung, Arise, sad virtue, and rejoice!

The links o'er Malcolm's neck he flung, Yet would not James the general eye

Then gently drew the glittering band,
On nature's raptures long should pry;

And laid the clasp on Ellen's hand.
He stepp'd between—"Nay, Douglas, nay,
Steal not my proselyte away!

Harp of the north, farewell! the hills grow dark, The riddle 'tis my right to read,

On purple peaks a deeper shade descending ; That brought this happy chance to speed.

In twilight copse the glow-worm lights her spark, Yes, Ellen, when disguised I stray

The deer, half-seen, are to the covert wending. In life's more low but happier way,

Resume thy wizard elm! the fountain lending, 'Tis under name which veils my power,

And the wild breeze, thy wilder minstrelsy; Nor falsely veils—for Stirling's tower

Thy numbers sweet with nature's vespers blending, of yore the name of Snowdon claims,

With distant echo from the fold and lea, [bee. And Normans call me James Fitz-James.

And herd-boy's evening pipe, and hum of housing Thus watch I o'er insulted laws, Thus learn to right the injured cause."

Yet, once again, farewell, thou minstrel harp! Then, in a tone apart and low,

Yet, once again, forgive my feeble sway, -“ Ah, little trait'ress! none must know

And little reck I of the censure sharp What idle dream, what lighter thought,

May idly cavil at an idle lay. What vanity full dearly bought,

Much have I owed thy strains on life's long way, Join'd to thine eye's dark witchcraft, drew

Through secret woes the world has never known, My spell-bound steps to Benvenue,

When on the weary night dawn'd wearier day, In dangerous hour, and all but gave

And bitterer was the grief devour'd alone. Thy monarch’s life to mountain glaive!"

That lo'er live such woes, Enchantress! is thine owl. Aloud he spoke—“ Thou still dost hold That little talisman of gold,

Hark! as my lingering footsteps slow retire,

Some spirit of the air has waked thy string! Pledge of my faith, Fitz-James's ring

'Tis now a seraph bold, with touch of fire, What seeks fair Ellen of the king :"

'Tis now the brush of fairy's frolic wing. Full well the conscious maiden guess'd,

Receding now, the dying numbers ring

Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell, He probed the weakness of her breast;

And now the mountain breezes scarcely bring But, with that consciousness, there came

A wandering witch-note of the distant spellA lightning of her fears for Græme,

And now,'tis silent all!- Enchantress, fare thee well!
And more she deem'd the monarch's ire
Kindled 'gainst him, who, for her sire,
Rebellious broad-sword boldly drew;

And, to her generous feeling true,
She craved the grace of Roderick Dhu.-

The blood left Wilfrid's ashen cheek; “ Forbear thy suit:—the King of kings

Matilda sees,

and hastes to speak.Alone can stay life's parting wings.

“ Happy in friendship's ready aid, I know his heart, I know his hand,

Let all my murmurs here be staid ! Have shared his cheer, and proved his brand :- And Rokeby's maiden will not part


From Rokeby's hall with moody heart.

But when you hear the passing bell, This night at least, for Rokeby's fame

Then, Lady, twine a wreath for me,
The hospitable hearth shall flame,

And twine it of the cypress tree.
And, ere its native heir retire,
Find for the wanderer rest and fire,

Yes! twine for me thc cypress bough;
While this poor harper, by the blaze,

But, O Matilda, twine not now!
Recounts the tale of other days.

Stay till a few brief months are past,
Bid Harpool ope the door with speed,

And I have look'd and loved my last!
Admit him, and relieve each need.-

When villagers my shroud bestrew
Meantime, kind Wycliffe, wilt thou try

With pansies, rosemary, and rue,-
Thy minstrel skill!-nay, no reply-

Then, Lady, weave a wreath for me,
And look not sad! I guess thy thought,

And weave it of the cypress tree.
Thy verse with laurels would be bought;
And poor Matilda, landless now,

Has not a garland for thy brow.
True, I must leave sweet Rokeby's glades,

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
Nor wander more in Greta shades;

On the mountain dawns the day,
But sure, no rigid jailor, thou

All the jolly chace is here,
Wilt a short prison-walk allow,

With hawk, and horse, and hunting spear;
Where summer flowers grow wild at will,

Hounds are in their couples yelling,
On Marwood-chace and Toller-hill;

Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
Then holly green and lily gay

Merrily, merrily, mingle they,
Shall twine in guerdon of thy lay.”—

“ Waken, lords and ladies gay.”
The mournful youth, a space aside,
To tune Matilda's harp applied;

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
And then a low sad descant rung,

The mist has left the mountain gray,
As prelude to the lay he sung.

Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been,

To track the buck in thicket green;
O Lady, twine no wreath for me,

Now we come to chaunt our lay,
Or twine it of the cypress tree!

“ Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Too lively glow the lilies light,
The varnish'd holly's all too bright,

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
The May-flower and the eglantine

To the green-wood haste away;
May shade a brow less sad than mine:

We can shew you where he lies,
But, Lady, weave no wreath for me,

Fleet of foot, and tall of size;
Or weave it of the cypress tree!

We can shew the marks he made,

When 'gainst the oak his antlers fray'd;
Let dimpled mirth his temples twine

You shall see him brought to bay,
With tendrils of the laughing vine;

“ Waken, lords and ladies gay.”
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due;

Louder, louder chaunt the lay,
The myrtle bough bids lovers live,

Waken, lords and ladies gay!
But that Matilda will not give;

Tell them youth, and mirth, and glee,

Run a course as well as we.
Then, Lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress tree!

Time, stern huntsman! who can baulk,

Staunch as hound, and fleet as hawk?
Let merry England proudly rear

Think of this, and rise with day,
Her blended roses, bought so dear;

Gentle lords and ladies gay.
Let Albin bind her bonnet blue
With heath and hare-bell dipped in dew;
On favour'd Erin's crest be seen

The flower she loves of emerald green-

The violet in her green-wood bower,
But, Lady, twine no wreath for me,

Where birchen boughs with hazles mingle,
Ortwine it of the cypress tree!

May boast itself the fairest flower

In glen, or copse, or forest dingle.
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair;

Though fair her gems of azure hue,
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves

Beneath the dew-drop's weight reclining,
With bloody hand the victor weaves,

I've seen an eye of lovelier blue,
Let the loud trump his triumph tell;

More street through wat'ry lustre shining.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The summer sun that dew shall dry,

The owl and the raven are mute for dread, Ere yet the day be past its morrow;

And the time is meet to awake the dead!
Nor longer in my false love's eye,
Remain'd the tear of parting sorrow.

“ Souls of the mighty, wake and say,

To what high strain your harps were strung,

When Lochlin plough'd her billowy way, TO A LADY,

And on your shores her Norsemen fung WITH FLOWERS FROM A ROMAN WALL.

Her Norsemen train’d to spoil and blood, Take these flowers, which, purple waving,

Skill'd to prepare the raven's food, On the ruin'd rampart grew,

All by your harpings doora'd to die

On bloody Largs and Loncarty.
Where, the sons of freedom braving,
Rome's imperial standards flew.

“ Mute are ye all? No inurmurs strange Warriors from the breach of danger

Upon the midnight breeze sail by;

Nor through the pines with whistling change Pluck no longer laurels there: They but yield the passing stranger

Mimic the harp's wild harmony!

Mute are ye now?-Ye ne'er were mute, Wild-flower wreaths for beauty's hair.

When Murder with his bloody foot,

And Rapine with his iron hand,

Were hovering near yon mountain strand. WRITTEN UNDER THE THREAT OF INVASION IN

“ O yet awake the strain to tell, THE AUTUMN OP 1804.

By every deed io song enrollid,
The forest of Glenmore is drear,

By every chief who fought or fell
It is all of black pine, and the dark oak-tree; For Albion's weal in battle bold;-
And the midnight wind, to the mountain deer, From Coilgach, first who roll'd his car
Is whistling the forest lullaby:

Through the deep ranks of Roman war,
The moon looks through the drifting storm,

To him, of veteran memory dear,
But the troubled lake reflects not her form,

Who victor died on Aboukir.
For the waves roll whitening to the land,
And dash against the shelvy strand.

By all their swords, by all their scars,

By all their names, a mighty spell ! There is a voice among the trees

By all their wounds, by all their wars, That mingles with the groaning oak

Arise, the mighty strain to tell! That mingles with the stormy breeze,

For fiercer than fierce Hengist's strain, And the lake-waves dashing against the rock ;- More impious than the heathen Dane, There is a voice within the wood,

More grasping than all-grasping Rome,
The voice of the Bard in fitful mood;

Gaul's ravening legions hither come!"
His song was louder than the blast,
As the Bard of Glenmore through the forest past.

The wind is hush'd, and still the lake

Strange murmurs fill my tingling ears, “ Wake ye from your sleep of death,

Bristles my hair, my sinews quake, Minstrels and Bards of other days!

At the dread voice of other years, For the midnight wind is on the heath,

“ When targets clash'd, and bugles rung, And the midnight meteors dimly blaze!

And blades round warriors' heads were flung, The spectre with his bloody hand

The foremost of the band were we, Is wandering through the wild woodland;

And hymn'd the joys of liberty!"

[ocr errors]




HESTER. When maidens such as Hester die, Their place ye may not well supply, Though ye among a thousand try,

With vain endeavour.

Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood.
Earth seemed a desart I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces-
How some they have died, and some theyhave left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed,

And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate,

That Aush'd her spirit.
I know not by what name beside
I shall it call :-if'twas not pride,
It was a joy to that allied,

She did inherit.


Her parents held the Quaker rule, Which doth the human feeling cool, But she was train'd in Nature's school,

Nature had blest her.

A FAREWELL TO TOBACCO. May the Babylonish curse Strait confound my stammering verse, If I can a passage see In this word-perplexity, Or a fit expression find, Or a language to my mind, (Still the phrase is wide or scant) To take leave of thee, great plant! Or in any terms relate Half my love, or half my hate: For I hate, yet love, thee so, That, whichever thing I shew, The plain truth will seem to be A constrain'd hyperbole, And the passion to proceed More for a mistress than a weed.

[blocks in formation]

Sooty retainer to the vine, Bacchus' black servant, negro fine; Sorcerer, that mak'st us dote upon Thy begrimed complexion, And, for thy pernicious sake, More and greater oaths to break Than reclaimed lovers take 'Gainst women: thou thy siege dost lay Much too in the female way, While thou suck'st the lab'ring breath Faster than kisses or than death.

THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES. I have had playmates, I have had companions, In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days, All, all are gone, the old familiar faces. I have been laughing, I have been carousing, Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies, All, all are gone, the old familiar faces. I loved a love once, fairest among women! Closed are her doors on me, I must not see herAll, all are gone, the old familiar faces. I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man; Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly; Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Thou in such a cloud dost bind us,
That our worst foes cannot find us,
And ill fortune, that would thwart us,
Shoots at rovers, shooting at us;
While each man, thro' thy height’ning steam,
Does like a smoking Etna seem,
And all about us does express
(Fancy and wit in richest dress)
A Sicilian fruitfulness.

Thou through such a mist dost shew us, That our best friends do not know us, And, for those allowed features,

« PreviousContinue »