WHEREIN IT IS ATTEMPTED TO DESCRIBE
CERTAIN VIEWS OF NATURE
TO POINT OUT, IN SOME INSTANCES, THE DIFFERENT INFLUENCE WHICH THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCES PRODUCE ON DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.
PRINTED FOR J. JOHNSON, SAINT PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD.
A WINTER DAY.
The cock, warm roosting 'midst his feather'd dames, Now lifts his beak and snuffs the morning air, Stretches his neck and claps his heavy wings, Gives three hoarse crows, and glad his talk is done; Low, chuckling, turns himself upon the roost, Then nestles down again amongst his mates. The lab'ring hind, who on his bed of straw, Beneath his home-made coverings, coarse, but warm, Lock'd in the kindly arms of her who spun them, Dreams of the gain that next year's crop should bring; Or at some fair disposing of his wool, Or by some lucky and unlook'd-for bargain. Fills his skin purse with heaps of tempting gold, Now wakes from sleep at the unwelcome call, And finds himself but just the same poor man As when he went to rest.— He hears the blast against his window beat, And wishes to himself he were a lord, That he might lie a-bed.— He rubs his eyes, and stretches out his arms; Heigh ho! heigh ho! he drawls with gaping mouth, Then most unwillingly creeps out of bed, And without looking-glass puts on his clothes. With rueful face he blows the smother'd fire, And lights his candle at the red'ning coal; First sees that all be right amongst his cattle, Then hies him to the barn with heavy tread, Printing his footsteps on the new fall'n snow. From out the heap of corn he pulls his sheaves, Dislodging the poor red-breast from his shelter, Where all the live-long night he slept secure; But now afrighted, with uncertain flight He flutters round the walls, to seek some hole, At which he may escape out to the frost. And now the flail, high whirling o'er his head, Descends with force upon the jumping sheave, Whilst every rugged wall, and neighboring cot Re-echoes back the noise of his strokes.
The fam'ly cares call next upon the wife To quit her mean but comfortable bed. And first she stirs the fire, and blows the flame, Then from her heap of sticks, for winter stor'd, An armful brings; loud crackling as they burn, Thick fly the red sparks upward to the roof, While slowly mounts the smoke in wreathy clouds. On goes the seething pot with morning cheer, For which some little wishful hearts await, Who, peeping from the bed-clothes, spy, well pleas'd, The cheery light that blazes on the wall, And bawl for leave to rise.—— Their busy mother knows not where to turn, Her morning work comes now so thick upon her. One she must help to tye his little coat, Unpin his cap, and seck another's shoe. When all is o'er, out to the door they run, With new comb'd sleeky hair, and glist'ning cheeks, Each with some little project in his head. One on the ice must try his new sol'd shoes: To view his well-set trap another hies, In hopes to find some poor unwary bird (No worthless prize) entangled in his snare; Whilst one, less active, with round rosy face, Spreads out his purple fingers to the fire, And peeps, most wishfully, into the pot.
But let us leave the warm and cheerful house, To view the bleak and dreary scene without, And mark the dawning of a winter day. For now the morning vapour, red and grumly, Rests heavy on the hills; and o'er the heav'ns Wide spreading forth in lighter gradual fliades, Just faintly colours the pale muddy sky. Then slowly from behind the southern hills, Inlarg'd and ruddy looks the rising sun, Shooting his beams askance the hoary waste, Which gild the brow of ev'ry swelling height, And deepen every valley with a shade. The crusted window of each scatter'd cot, The icicles that fringe the thatched roof, The new swept slide upon the frozen pool, All lightly glance, new kindled with his rays; And e'en the rugged face of scowling Winter Looks somewhat gay. But for a little while He lifts his glory o'er the bright'ning earth, Then hides his head behind a misty cloud,
The birds now quit their holes and lurking sheds, Most mute and melancholy, where thro' night All nestling close to keep each other warm, In downy sleep they had forgot their hardships; But not to chant and carol in the air, Or lightly swing upon some waving bough, And merrily return each other's notes; No; silently they hop from bush to bush, Yet find no seeds to stop their craving want, Then bend their flight to the low smoking cot, Chirp on the roof, or at the window peck, To tell their wants to those who lodge within. The poor lank hare flies homeward to his den, But little burthen'd with his nightly meal Of wither'd greens grubb'd from the farmer's garden; A poor and scanty portion snatch'd in fear; And fearful creatures, forc'd abroad by want, Are now to ev'ry enemy a prey.
The husbandman lays bye his heavy flail, And to the house returns, where on him wait His smoking breakfast and impatient children; Who, spoon in hand, and longing to begin, Towards the door cast many a weary look To see their dad come in.—— Then round they sit, a chearful company, All eagerly begin, and with heap'd spoons Besmear from ear to ear their rosy cheeks. The faithful dog stands by his matter's side Wagging his tail, and looking in his face; While humble puss pays court to all around, And purs and rubs them with her furry sides; Nor goes this little flattery unrewarded. But the laborious sit not long at table; The grateful father lifts his eyes to heav'n To bless his God, whose ever bounteous hand Him and his little ones doth daily feed; Then rises satisfied to work again.
The chearful rousing noise of industry Is heard, with varied sounds, thro' all the village. The humming wheel, the thrifty housewife's tongue, Who scolds to keep her maidens at their work, Rough grating cards, and voice of squaling children Issue from every house.—— But, hark!—the sportsman from the neighb'ring hedge His thunder sends!—loud bark each village cur; Up from her wheel each curious maiden starts, And hastens to the door, whilst matrons chide, Yet run to look themselves, in spite of thrift, And all the little town is in a stir.
Strutting before, the cock leads forth his train, And, chuckling near the barn among the straw, Reminds the farmer of his morning's service; His grateful master throws a lib'ral handful; They flock about it, whilst the hungry sparrows Perch'd on the roof, look down with envious eye, Then, aiming well, amidst the feeders light, And seize upon the feast with greedy bill, Till angry partlets peck them off the field. But at a distance, on the leafless tree, All woe be gone, the lonely blackbird sits; The cold north wind ruffles his glossy feathers; Full oft' he looks, but dare not make approach; Then turns his yellow bill to peck his side, And claps his wings close to his sharpen'd breast. The wand'ring fowler, from behind the hedge, Fastens his eye upon him, points his gun, And firing wantonly as at a mark, E'en lays him low in that same cheerful spot Which oft' hath ccho'd with his ev'ning's song.
The day now at its height, the pent-up kine Are driven from their flails to take the air. How stupidly they stare! and feel how strange! They open wide their smoking mouths to low, But scarcely can their feeble sound be heard; Then turn and lick themselves, and step by step Move dull and heavy to their flails again. In scatter'd groups the little idle boys With purple fingers, moulding in the snow Their icy ammunition, pant for war; And, drawing up in opposite array, Send forth a mighty fliower of well aim'd balls, Whilst little hero's try their growing flrength, And burn to beat the en'my off the field. Or on the well worn ice in eager throngs, Aiming their race, shoot rapidly along, Trip up each other's heels, and on the surface With knotted shoes, draw many a chalky line. Untir'd of play, they never cease their sport Till the faint sun has almost run his course, And threat'ning clouds, slow rising from the north, Spread grumly darkness o'er the face of heav'n; Then, by degrees, they scatter to their homes, With many a broken head and bloody nose, To claim their mothers' pity, who, most skilful, Cures all their troubles with a bit of bread.
The night comes on a pace—— Chill blows the blast, and drives the snow in wreaths. Now ev'ry creature looks around for shelter, And, whether man or beast, all move alike Towards their several homes; and happy they Who have a house to screen them from the cold! Lo, o'er the frost a rev'rend form advances! His hair white as the snow on which he treads, His forehead mark'd with many a care-worn furrow, Whose feeble body, bending o'er a staff, Still shew that once it was the seat of strength, Tho' now it shakes like some old ruin'd tow'r, Cloth'd indeed, but not disgrac'd with rags, He still maintains that decent dignity Which well becomes those who have serv'd their country. With tott'ring steps he to the cottage moves: The wife within, who hears his hollow cough, And patt'ring of iris stick upon the threshold, Sends out her little boy to see who's there. The child looks up to view the stranger's face, And seeing it enlighten'd with a smile, Holds out his little hand to lead him in. Rous'd from her work, the mother turns her head, And sees them, not ill-pleas'd.—— The stranger whines not with a piteous tale, But only asks a little, to relieve A poor old soldier's wants.—— The gentle matron brings the ready chair, And bids him sit, to rest his wearied limbs, And warm himself before her blazing fire. The children, full of curiosity, Flock round, and with their fingers in their mouths, Stand staring at him; whilst the stranger, pleas'd, Takes up the youngest boy upon his knee. Proud of its seat, it wags its little feet, And prates, and laughs, and plays with his white locks. But soon the soldier's face lays off its smiles; His thoughtful mind is turn'd on other days, When his own boys were wont to play around him, Who now lie distant from their native land In honourable, but untimely graves. He feels how helpless and forlorn he is, And bitter tears gush from his dim-worn eyes. His toilsome daily labour at an end, In comes the wearied master of the house, And marks with satisfaction his old guest, With all his children round.— His honest heart is fill'd with manly kindness; He bids him stay, and share their homely meal, And take with them his quarters for the night. The weary wanderer thankfully accepts, And, seated with the cheerful family, Around the plain but hospitable board, Forgets the many hardships he has pass'd.
When all are satisfied, about the fire They draw their seats, and form a cheerful ring. The thrifty housewife turns her spinning wheel; The husband, useful even in his rest, A little basket weaves of willow twigs, To bear her eggs to town on market days; And work but serves t'enliven conversation. Some idle neighbours now come straggling in, Draw round their chairs, and widen out the circle. Without a glass the tale and jest go round; And every one, in his own native way, Does what he can to cheer the merry group. Each tells some little story of himself, That constant subject upon which mankind, Whether in court or country, love to dwell. How at a fair he sav'd a simple clown From being tricked in buying of a cow; Or laid a bet upon his horse's head Against his neighbour's, bought for twice his price, Which fail'd not to repay his better skill: Or on a harvest day, bound in an hour More sheaves of corn than any of his fellows, Tho' ne'er so keen, could do in twice the time. But chief the landlord, at his own fire-side, Doth claim the right of being listen'd to; Nor dares a little bawling tongue be heard, Tho' but in play, to break upon his story. The children sit and listen with the rest; And should the youngest raise its little voice, The careful mother, ever on the watch, And always pleas'd with what her husband says, Gives it a gentle tap upon the fingers, Or stops its ill tim'd prattle with a kiss. The soldier next, but not unask'd, begins, And tells in better speech what he has seen; Making his simple audience to shrink With tales of war and blood. They gaze upon him, And almost weep to see the man so poor, So bent and feeble, helpless and forlorn, That oft' has stood undaunted in the battle Whilst thund'ring cannons shook the quaking earth, And showering bullets hiss'd around his head. With little care they pass away the night, Till time draws on when they should go to bed; Then all break up, and each retires to rest With peaceful mind, nor torn with vexing cares, Nor dancing with the unequal beat of pleasure.
But long accustom'd to observe the weather, The labourer cannot lay him down in peace Till he has look'd to mark what bodes the night, He turns the heavy door, thrusts out his head, Sees wreathes of snow heap'd up on ev'ry side, And black and grimily all above his head, Save when a red gleam shoots along the waste To make the gloomy night more terrible Loud blows the northern blast—— He hears it hollow grumbling from afar, Then, gath'ring strength, roll on with doubl'd might, And break in dreadful bellowings o'er his head; Like pithless saplings bend the vexed trees, And their wide branches crack. He shuts the door, And, thankful for the roof that covers him, Hies him to bed.
A SUMMER DAY.
The dark-blue clouds of night in dusky lines, Drawn wide and streaky o'er the purer sky, Wear faint the morning purple on their skirts. The stars that full and bright shone in the west, But dimly twinkle to the stedfast eye; And seen, and vanishing, and seen again, Like dying tapers smoth'ring in their sockets, Appear at last shut from the face of heav'n; Whilst every lesser flame which shone by night, The flashy meteor from the op'ning cloud, That shoots full oft' across the dusky sky; Or wand'ring fire which looks across the marsh, Beaming like candle in a lonely cot, To cheer the hopes of the benighted trav'ller, Till swifter than the very change of thought, It shifts from place to place, escapes his glance, And makes him wond'ring rub his doubtful eyes; Or humble glow-worm, or the silver moth, Which cast a feeble glimm'ring o'er the green, All die away.—— For now the sun, slow moving in his grandeur, Above the eastern mountains lifts his head. The webs of dew spread o'er the hoary lawn, The smooth clear bosom of the settled pool, The polish'd ploughshare on the distant field, Catch fire from him, and dart their new got beams Upon die dazzled eye.
The new-wak'd birds upon the branches hop, Peck their loft down, and bristle out their feathers; Then stretch their throats and tune their morning song; Whilst stately crows, high swinging o'er their heads. Upon the topmost boughs, in lordly pride, Mix their hoarse croaking with the linnet's note; Till gather'd closer in a sable band, They take their flight to leek their daily food. The village labourer, with careful mind, As soon as doth the morning light appear, Opens his eyes with the first darting ray That pierces thro' the window of his cot, And quits his easy bed; then o'er the field, With lengthen'd swinging strides, betakes his way, Bearing his spade and hoe across his moulder, Seen from afar clear glancing in the sun, And with good will begins his daily work. The sturdy sun-burnt boy drives forth the cattle, And vain of power, bawls to the lagging kine, Who fain would stay to crop the tender shoots Of the green tempting hedges as they pass; Or beats the glist'ning bushes with his club, To please his fancy with a shower of dew, And frighten the poor birds who lurk within. At ev'ry open door, thro' all the village, Half naked children, half awake, are seen Scratching their heads, and blinking to the light; Till roused by degrees, they run about, Or rolling in the sun, amongst the sand Build many a little house, with heedful art. The housewife tends within, her morning care; And stooping 'midst her tubs of curdled milk, With busy patience, draws the clear green whey From the press'd sides of the pure snowy curd; Whilst her brown dimpled maid, with tuck'd-up sleeve, And swelling arm, assists her in her toil. Pots smoke, pails rattle, and the warm confusion Still thickens on them, till within its mould, With careful hands, they press the well-wrought curd.
So goes the morning, till the pow'rful sun High in the heav'ns sends forth his strengthen'd beams, And all the freshness of the morn is fled. The sweating trav'ller throws his burden down, And leans his weary shoulder 'gainst a tree. The idle horse upon the grassy field Rolls on his back, nor heeds the tempting clover. The swain leaves off his labour, and returns Slow to his house with heavy sober steps, Where on the board his ready breakfast plac'd, Invites the eye, and his right cheerful wife Doth kindly serve him with unfeign'd good will. No sparkling dew-drops hang upon the grass; Forth steps the mower with his glitt'ring scythe, In snowy shirt, and doublet all unbrac'd, White moves he o'er the ridge, with sideling bend, And lays the waving grass in many a heap. In ev'ry field, in ev'ry swampy mead, The cheerful voice of industry is heard; The hay-cock rises, and the frequent rake Sweeps on the yellow hay, in heavy wreaths, Leaving the smooth green meadow bare behind. The old and young, the weak and strong are there, And, as they can, help on the cheerful work. The father jeers his awkward half-grown lad, Who trails his tawdry armful o'er the field, Nor does he fear the jeering to repay. The village oracle, and simple maid, Jest in their turns, and raise the ready laugh; For there authority, hard favour'd, frowns not; All are companions in the gen'ral glee, And cheerful complaisance still thro' their roughness, With placid look enlightens ev'ery face. Some more advanced raise the tow'ring rick, Whilst on its top doth stand the parish toast In loose attire, and swelling ruddy cheek; With taunts and harmless mock'ry she receives The toss'd-up heaps from the brown gaping youth, Who flaring at her, takes his aim awry, Whilst half the load comes tumbling on himself. Loud is her laugh, her voice is heard afar; Each mower, busied in the distant field, The carter, trudging on his distant way, The shrill found know, cad up their hats in air, And roar across the fields to catch her notice: She waves her arm, and shakes her head at them, And then renews her work with double spirit. Thus do they jest, and laugh away their toil, Till the bright sun, full in his middle course, Shoots down his fiercest beams, which none may brave. The stoutest arm hangs listless by its side, And the broad shoulder'd youth begins to fail. But to the weary, lo! there comes relief! A troop of welcome children, o'er the lawn, With slow and wary steps, their burthens bring. Some bear upon their heads large baskets, heap'd With piles of barley bread, and gusty cheese, And some full pots of milk and cooling whey. Beneath the branches of a spreading tree, Or by the shad'wy side of the tall rick, They spread their homely fare, and seated round, Taste all the pleasure that a feast can give.
A drowzy indolence now hangs on all, And ev'ry creature seeks some place of rest, Screen'd from the violence of the oppressive heat. No scatter'd flocks are seen upon the lawn, Nor chirping birds among the bushes heard. Within the narrow shadow of the cot The sleepy dog lies stretched on his side, Nor heeds the heavy-footed passenger; At noise of feet but half his eye-lid lifts, Then gives a feeble growl, and sleeps again: Whilst puss, less nice, e'en in the scorching window, On t'other side, sits winking to the sun. No sound is heard but humming of the bee, For she alone retires not from her labour, Nor leaves a meadow flower unsought for gain.
Heavy and slow so pass the mid-day hours, Till gently bending on the ridge's top, The heavy seeded grass begins to wave, And the high branches of the slender poplar Shiver aloft in air their rustling leaves. Cool breaths the rising breeze, and with it wakes The worn out spirit from its state of stupor. The lazy boy springs from his mossy bed, To chace the gaudy tempting butterfly, Who spreading on the grass its mealy wings, Oft lights within his reach, e'en at his seer, Yet still eludes his grasp, and o'er his head Light hov'ring round, or mounted high in air Temps his young eye, and wearies out his limbs. The drouzy dog, who feels the kindly breeze That passing o'er him, lifts his shaggy ear, Begins to stretch him, on his legs half-rais'd, Till fully wak'd, with bristling cock'd-up tail, He makes the village echo to his bark.
But let us not forget the busy maid Who, by the side of the clear pebly stream, Spreads out her snowy linens to the sun, And sheds with lib'ral hand the chrystal show'r O'er many a fav'rite piece of fair attire, Revolving in her mind her gay appearance In all this dress, at some approaching fair. The dimpling half-check'd smile, and mutt'ring lip Betray the secret workings of her fancy, And flattering thoughts of the complacent mind. There little vagrant bands of truant boys Amongst the bushes try their harmless tricks; Whilst some a sporting in the shallow stream Toss up the lashing water round their heads, Or strive with wily art to catch the trout, Or 'twixt their fingers grasp the slipp'ry eel. The shepherd-boy sits singing on the bank, To pass away the weary lonely hours, Weaving with art his little crown of rushes, A guiltless easy crown that brings no care, Which having made he places on his head, And leaps and skips about, and bawls full loud To some companion, lonely as himself, Far in the distant field; or else delighted To hear the echo'd sound of his own voice Returning answer from the neighboring rock, Holds no unpleasing converse with himself.
Now weary labourers perceive, well-pleas'd, The shadows lengthen, and th' oppressive day With all its toil fast wearing to an end. The sun, far in the west, with side-long beam Plays on the yellow head of the round hay-cock, And fields are checker'd with fantastic shapes Or tree, or shrub, or gate, or rugged stone, All lengthen'd out, in antic disproportion, Upon the darken'd grass.—— They finish out their long and toilsome talk. Then, gathering up their rakes and scatter'd coats, With the less cumb'rous fragments of their feast, Return right gladly to their peaceful homes.
The village, lone and silent thro' the day, Receiving from the fields its merry bands, Sends forth its ev'ning sound, confus'd but cheerful; Whilst dogs and children, eager housewives' tongues, And true love ditties, in no plaintive strain, By shrill voic'd maid, at open window sung; The lowing of the home-returning kine, The herd's low droning trump, and tinkling bell Tied to the collar of his fav'rite sheep, Make no contemptible variety To ears not over nice.—— With careless lounging gait, the saunt'ring youth Upon his sweetheart's open window leans, And as she turns about her buzzing wheel Diverts her with his jokes and harmless taunts. Close by the cottage door, with placid mien, The old man sits upon his seat of turf, His staff with crooked head laid by his side, Which oft the younger race in wanton sport, Gambolling round him, slyly steal away, And straddling o'er it, shew their horsemanship By raising round the clouds of summer sand, While still he smiles, yet chides them for the trick. His silver locks upon his shoulders spread, And not ungraceful is his stoop of age. No stranger passes him without regard; And ev'ry neighbour stops to wish him well, And ask him his opinion of the weather. They fret not at the length of his discourse, But listen with respect to his remarks Upon the various seasons he remembers; For well he knows the many divers signs Which do fortell high winds, or rain, or drought, Or ought that may affect the rising crop. The silken clad, who courtly breeding boast, Their own discourse still sweetest to their ears, May grumble at the old man's lengthened story, But here it is not so.——
From ev'ry chimney mounts the curling smoke, Muddy and gray, of the new ev'ning fire; On ev'ry window smokes the fam'ly supper, Set out to cool by the attentive housewife, While cheerful groups at every door conven'd Bawl cross the narrow lane the parish news, And oft the bursting laugh disturbs the air. But see who comes to set them all agag! The weary-footed pedlar with his pack. How stiff he bends beneath his bulky load! Cover'd with dust, slip-shod, and out at elbows; His greasy hat sits backward on his head; His thin straight hair divided on his brow Hangs lank on either side his glist'ning cheeks, And woe-begone, yet vacant is his face. His box he opens and displays his ware. Full many a varied row of precious stones Cast forth their dazzling lustre to the light. To the desiring maiden's wishful eye The ruby necklace shews its tempting blaze: The china buttons, stamp'd with love device, Attract the notice of the gaping youth; Whilst streaming garters, fasten'd to a pole, Aloft in air their gaudy stripes display, And from afar the distant stragglers lure. The children leave their play and round him flock; E'en sober aged grand-dame quits her seat, Where by the door she twines her lengthen'd threads, Her spindle stops, and lays her distaff by, Then joins with step sedate the curious throng. She praises much the fashions of her youth, And scorns each gaudy nonsense of the day; Yet not ill-pleas'd the glossy ribband views, Uproll'd, and changing hues with ev'ry fold, New measur'd out to deck her daughter's head.
Now red, but languid, the last weakly beams Of the departing sun, across the lawn Deep gild the top of the long sweepy ridge, And shed a scatter'd brightness, bright but cheerless, Between the op'nings of the rifted hills; Which like the farewell looks of some dear friend, That speaks him kind, yet sadden as they smile, But only serve to deepen the low vale, And make the shadows of the night more gloomy. The varied noises of the cheerful village By slow degrees now faintly die away, And more distinct each feeble sound is heard That gently steals ad own the river's bed, Or thro' the wood comes with the ruffling breeze. The white mist rises from the swampy glens, And from the dappled flatting of the heav'ns Looks out the ev'ning star.—— The lover skulking in the neighb'ring copse, (Whose half-seen form shewn thro' the thicken'd air, Large and majestic, makes the tray'ller start, And spreads the story of the haunted grove,) Curses the owl, whose loud ill-omen'd scream, With ceaseless spite, robes from his watchful ear The well known footsteps of his darling maid; And fretful, chaces from his face the night-fly, Who buzzing round his head doth often skim, With flutt'ring wing, across his glowing cheek: For all but him in deep and balmy sleep Forget the toils of the oppressive day; Shut is the door of ev'ry scatter'd cot, And silence dwells within.
NIGHT SCENES OF OTHER TIMES.
A POEM, IN THREE PARTS.
"The wild winds bellow o'er my head, And spent eve's fading light; Where shall I find some friendly shed To screen me from the night?
"Ah! round me lies a desert vast, No habitation near; And dark and pathless is the waste, And fills the mind with fear
"Thou distant tree, whose lonely top Has bent to many a storm, No more canst thou deceive my hope, And take my lover's form;
"For o'er thy head the dark cloud rolls, Black as thy blasted pride. How deep the angry tempest growls Along the mountain's side!
"Securely rests the mountain deer Within his hollow den, His slumber undisturb'd by fear, Far from the haunts of men.
"Beneath the fern the moorcock sleeps, And twisted adders lie; Back to his rock the night-bird creeps, Nor gives his wonted cry.
"For angry spirits of the night Ride in the troubled air, And to their dens, in wild affright, The beasts of prey repair.
"But oh! my love! where do'st thou rest? What shelter covers thee? O, may this cold and wint'ry blast But only beat on me!
"Some friendly dwelling may'st thou find, Where, undisturb'd with care, Thou shalt not feel the chilly wind That ruffles Marg'ret's hair.
"Ah, no! for thou did'st give thy word To meet me on the way; Nor friendly roof, nor coastly board Will tempt a lover's stay.
"O, raise thy voice, if thou art near! Its weakest sound were bliss: What other sound my heart can cheer In such a gloom as this?
"But from the hills with stunning sound The dashing torrents fall; Loud is the raging tempest round, And mocks a lover's call.
"Ha! see across the dreary waste A gentle form appears! It is my love, my cares are past, How vain were all my fears?"
The form approach'd, but sad and slow, Nor with a lover's tread; And from his cheek the youthful glow, And greeting smile was fled.
Dim sadness hung upon his brow; Fix'd was his beamless eye: His face was like the moon-light bow Upon a win'try sky.
And fix'd and ghastly to the sight, His strengthen'd features rose; And bended was his graceful height, And bloody were his clothes.
"O Marg'ret, calm thy troubled breast! Thy sorrow now is vain: Thy Edward from his peaceful rest Shall ne'er return again.
"A treach'rous friend has brought me low, And fix'd my early doom; And laid my corpse, with feigned woe, Beneath a vaulted tomb
"To take thee to my home I sware, And here we were to meet: Wilt thou a narrow coffin share, And part my winding-sheet?
"But late the lord of many lands, And now a grave is all: My blood is warm upon his hands Who revels in my hall.
"Yet think thy father's hoary hair Is water'd with his tears; He has but thee to sooth his care, And prop his load of years.
"Remember Edward when he's gone, He only liv'd for thee; And when thou'rt pensive, and alone, O Marg'ret call on me!
"Yet deep beneath the mould'ring clod I rest my wounded head: And terrible that call, and loud, Which shall awake the dead."
"No, Edward, I will follow thee, And share thy hapless doom: Companions shall our spirits be, Tho' distant is thy tomb.
"O! never to my father's tower Will I return again! A bleeding heart has little power To ease another's pain.
"Upon the wing my spirit flies, I feel my course is run; Nor shall these dim and weary eyes Behold to-morrow's sun."
Like early dew, or hoary frost, Spent with the beaming day, So shrunk the pale and wat'ry ghost, And dimly wore away.
No longer Marg'ret felt the storm, She bow'd her lovely head; And with her lover's fleeting form, Her gentle spirit fled.
Loud roars the wind that shakes this wall; It is no common blast: Deep hollow sounds pass thro' my hall, O would the night were past!
"Methinks the daemons of the air Upon the turrets growl; While down the empty winding stair Their deep'ning murmurs roll.
"The glimm'ring fire cheers not the gloom: How blue its weakly ray! And like a taper in a tomb, But spreads the more dismay.
"Athwart its melancholy light The lengthen'd shadow falls: My grandsires, to my troubled sight, Low'r on me from these walls.
"Methinks yon angry warrior's head Doth in its casement frown, And darts a look, as if it said, Where hast thou laid my son?
"But will these fancies never cease? O, would the night were run! My troubled soul can find no peace, But with the morning sun.
"Vain hope! the guilty never rest; Dismay is always near: There is a midnight in the breast No morn shall ever cheer.
"The weary hind is now at rest, Tho' lowly is his head, How sweetly lies the guiltless breast, Upon the hardest bed!
"The beggar, in his wretched haunt, May now a monarch be; Forget his woe, forget his want, For all can sleep but me.
"I've dar'd whate'er the boldest can, Then why this childish dread; I never fear'd a living man, And shall I fear the dead!
"No, whistling storms may shake my tower, And passing spirits scream: Their shadowy arms are void of power, And but a gloomy dream.
"But, lo! a form advancing slow Across my dusky hall! Art thou a friend? art thou a foe? O, answer to my call!"
Still nearer to the glimm'ring light The tow'ring figure strode, Till full, and horrid to the sight, The murther'd Edward stood.
His hand a broken dagger sway'd, Like Time's dark threat'ning dart; And pointed to the rugged blade That quiver'd in his heart.
The blood still trickled from his head, And clotted was his hair, That on his manly shoulders spread; His mangled breast was bare.
His face was like the muddy sky Before the coming snow; And dark and dreadful was his eye, And cloudy was his brow.
Pale Conrad shrunk, but grasp'd his sword; Fear thrill'd in ev'ry vein; His quiv'ring lip half-spoke its word; He paus'd, and shrunk again.
"Pale bloody spectre, at this hour Why do'st thou haunt the night? Has the deep gloomy vault no power To keep thee from my sight?
"Why do'st thou glare? Why do'st thou wave That fatal cursed knife? The deed is done, and from the grave Who can recall to life?
"Why rolls thine eye beneath thy brow, Dark as the midnight storm? What do'st thou want? O, let me know! But hide thy dreadful form.
"I'd give the life's blood from my heart To wash my crime away: If thou'rt a spirit, O, depart! Nor haunt a wretch of clay.
"Say, do'st thou with the blessed dwell? Return and blessed be! Or com'st thou from the lowest hell? I am more curst than thee."
The form advanc'd with solemn step, As though it meant to speak; And thrice it mov'd its mutt'ring lip, But silence did not break.
Then sternly stalk'd with heavy pace, Which shook the trembling wall; And, frowning, turn'd its angry face, And vanish'd from the hall.
With fixed eyes, pale Conrad stood, That from their sockets swell; Back on his heart ran the cold blood, He shudder'd as he fell.
Night fled, and thro' the window 'gan The early light to play; But on a more unhappy man Ne'er shone the dawning day.
The gladsome sun all nature cheers, But cannot charm his cares: Still dwells his mind with gloomy fears, And murther'd Edward glares.
"No rest nor comfort can I find, I watch the midnight hour; I sit and listen to the wind Which beats upon my tower.
"Methinks low voices from the ground Break mournful on mine ear, And thro' these empty chambers sound So dismal and so drear.
"The ghost of some departed friend Doth in my sorrows share; Or is it but the rushing wind That mocketh my despair.
"Sad thro' the hall the pale lamp gleams Upon my father's arms: My soul is fill'd with gloomy dreams, I fear unknown alarms.
"Oh! I have known this lonely place With ev'ry blessing stor'd; And many a friend with cheerful face Sit smiling at my board,
"Whilst round the fire, in early bloom, My harmless children play'd, Who now within the narrow tomb Are with their mother laid.
"And now low bends my wretched head, And those I lov'd are gone: My friends, my family, all are fled, And I am left alone.
"Oft' as the cheerless fire declines, In it I sadly trace, As 'lone I sit, the half form'd lines Of many a much lov'd face.
"But chief, O Marg'ret! to my mind Thy lovely features rise: I strive to think thee less unkind, And wipe my streaming eyes.
"For only thee I had to vaunt, Thou wert thy mother's pride: She left thee like a shooting plant To screen my widow'd side.
"But thou hast left me weak, forlorn, And chill'd with age's frost, To count my weary days, and mourn The comforts I have lost.
"Unkindly fair! why did'st thou go? O, had I known the truth! Tho' Edward's father was my foe, I would have bless'd the youth.
"O could I see that face again, Whose smile calm'd ev'ry strife! And hear that voice, which sooth'd my pain, And made me wish for life!
"Thy harp hangs silent by the wall: My nights are sad and long: And thou art in a distant hall, Where strangers raise the song.
"Ha! some delusion of the mind My senses doth confound! It was the harp, and not the wind, That did so sweetly sound."
Old Arno rose, all wan as death, With broken steps of care; And oft' he check'd his quick-heav'd breath, And turn'd his eager ear.
When like a full, but distant choir The swelling sound return'd; And with the soft and trembling wire, The sighing echoes mourn'd.
Then softly whisper'd o'er the song Which Marg'ret lov'd to play, Like some sweet dirge, and sad, and long, It faintly died away.
His dim-worn eyes to heav'n he cast, Where all his griefs were known; And smote upon his troubled breast, And heav'd a heavy groan.
"I know it is my daughter's hand, But 'tis no hand of clay: And here a lonely wretch I stand, All childless, bent, and grey.
"And art thou low, my lovely child? And hast thou met thy doom? And has thy flatt'ring morning smil'd, To lead but to the tomb?
"O let me see thee ere we part, For souls like thine are blest; O let me fold thee to my heart If aught of form thou hast.
"This passing mist enrobes thy charms: Alas, to nought 'tis shrunk! And hollow strike my empty arms Against my aged trunk.
"Thou'rt fled like the low ev'ning breath That sighs upon the hill: O stay! tho' in thy weeds of death, Thou art my daughter still."
Loud wak'd the sound, then fainter grew, And long and sadly mourn'd; And softly sigh'd a long adieu, And never more return'd.
Old Arno stretch'd him on the ground, Thick as the gloom of night, Death's misty shadows gather'd round, And swam before his sight.
He heav'd a deep and deadly groan, Which rent his lab'ring breast; And long before the morning shone, His spirit was at rest.
Beside a spreading elm, from whose high boughs Like knotted tufts the crow's light dwelling shows, Where screen'd from northern blasts, and winter proof, Snug stands the parson's barn with thatched roof; At chaff-strew'd door, where, in the morning ray, The gilded mots in mazy circles play, And sleepy Comrade in the sun is laid, More grateful to the cur than neighb'ring shade; In snowy shirt unbrac'd, brown Robin stood, And leant upon his flail in thoughtful mood: His full round cheek where deeper flushes glow, The dewy drops which glisten on his brow; His dark cropt pate that erst at church or fair, So smooth and silky, shew'd his morning's care, Which all uncouth in matted locks combin'd, Now, ends erect, defies the ruffling wind; His neck-band loose, and hosen rumpled low, A careful lad, nor slack at labour shew. Nor scraping chickens chirping 'mongst the straw, Nor croaking rook o'er-head, nor chatt'ring daw; Loud-breathing cow amongst the rampy weeds, Nor grunting sow that in the furrow feeds; Nor sudden breeze that shakes the quaking leaves, And lightly rustles thro' the scatter'd sheaves; Nor floating straw that skims athwart his nose, The deeply musing youth may discompose. For Nelly fair, and blythest village maid, Whose tuneful voice beneath the hedge-row shade, At early milking, o'er the meadows born, E'er cheer'd the ploughman's toil at rising morn: The neatest maid that e'er, in linen gown, Bore cream and butter to the market town: The tightest lass, that with untutor'd air E'er footed ale-house floor at wake or fair, Since Easter last had Robin's heart possest, And many a time disturb'd his nightly rest. Full oft' returning from the loosen'd plough, He slack'd his pace, and knit his thoughtful brow; And oft' ere half his thresher's talk was o'er, Would muse, with arms across, at cooling door: His mind thus bent, with downcast eyes he stood, And leant upon his flail in thoughtful mood. His soul o'er many a soft rememb'rance ran, And, mutt'ring to himself, the youth began.
"Ah! happy is the man whose early lot Hath made him master of a furnish'd cot; Who trains the vine that round his window grows, And after setting sun his garden hoes; Whose wattled pales his own enclosure shield, Who toils not daily in another's field. Where'er he goes, to church or market town, With more respect he and his dog are known: A brisker face he wears at wake or fair, Nor views with longing eyes the pedlar's ware, But buys at will or ribands, gloves, or beads, And willing maidens to the ale-house leads: And, Oh! secure from toils which cumber life, He makes the maid he loves an easy wife. Ah, Nelly! can'st thou with contented mind, Become the help-mate of a lab'ring hind, And share his lot, whate'er the chances be, Who hath no dow'r, but love, to fix on thee? Yes, gayest maid may meekest matron prove, And things of little note may 'token love. When from the church thou cam'st at eventide And I and red-hair'd Susan by thy side, I pull'd the blossoms from the bending tree, And some to Susan gave, and some to thee; Thine were the best, and well thy smiling eye The diff'rence mark'd, and guess'd the reason why. When on a holy-day we rambling stray'd, And pass'd old Hodge's cottage in the glade; Neat was the garden dress'd, sweet hum'd the bee, I wish'd both cot and Nelly made for me; And well methought thy very eyes reveal'd The self-same wish within thy breast conceal'd. When artful, once, I sought my love to tell, And spoke to thee of one who lov'd thee well, You saw the cheat, and jeering homeward hied, Yet secret pleasure in thy looks I spied. Ay, gayest maid may meekest matron prove, And smaller signs than these have 'token'd love."
Now, at a distance, on the neighb'ring plain, With creaking wheels slow comes the heavy wain: High on its tow'ring load a maid appears, And Nelly's voice sounds shrill in Robin's ears. Quick from his hand he throws the cumb'rous flail, And leaps with lightsome limbs th' enclosing pale. O'er field and fence he scours, and furrow wide, With waken'd Comrade barking by his side; Whilst tracks of trodden grain, and sidelong hay, And broken hedge-flow'rs sweet, mark his impetuous way.
On village green, whose smooth and well worn sod, Cross-path'd with every gossip's foot is trod; By cottage door where playful children run, And cats and curs sit basking in the sun: Where o'er the earthen seat the thorn is bent, Cross-arm'd, and back to wall, poor William leant. His bonnet broad drawn o'er his gather'd brow, His hanging lip and lengthen'd visage shew A mind but ill at ease. With motions strange, His listless limbs their wayward postures change; Whilst many a crooked line and curious maze, With clouted shoon, he on the sand pourtrays. The half-chew'd straw fell slowly from his mouth, And to himself low mutt'ring spoke the youth.
"How simple is the lad! and reft of skill, Who thinks with love to fix a woman's will: Who ev'ry Sunday morn, to please her sight, Knots up his neck-cloth gay, and hosen white: Who for her pleasure keeps his pockets bare, And half his wages spends on pedlar's ware; When every niggard clown, or dotard old, Who hides in secret nooks his oft told gold, Whose field or orchard tempts with all her pride, At little cost may win her for his bride; Whilst all the meed her silly lover gains Is but the neighbours' jeering for his pains. On Sunday last when Susan's bands were read, And I astonish'd sat with hanging head, Cold grew my shrinking limbs, and loose my knee, Whilst every neighbour's eye was fix'd on me. Ah, Sue! when last we work'd at Hodge's hay, And still at me you jeer'd in wanton play; When last at fair, well pleas'd by show-man's stand, You took the new-bought fairing from my hand; When at old Hobb's you sung that song so gay, Sweet William still the burthen of the lay, I little thought, alas! the lots were cast, That thou shou'd'st be another's bride at last: And had, when last we trip'd it on the green And laugh'd at stiff-back'd Rob, small thought I ween, Ere yet another scanty month was flown, To see thee wedded to the hateful clown. Ay, lucky swain, more gold thy pockets line; But did these shapely limbs resemble thine, I'd stay at home, and tend the household geer, Nor on the green with other lads appear. Ay, lucky swain, no store thy cottage lacks, And round thy barn thick stands the shelter'd stacks; But did such features hard my visage grace, I'd never budge the bonnet from my face. Yet let it be: it shall not break my ease: He best deserves who doth the maiden please. Such silly cause no more shall give me pain, Nor ever maiden cross my rest again. Such grizzly suitors with their taste agree, And the black fiend may take them all for me!"
Now thro' the village rise confused sounds, Hoarse lads, and children shrill, and yelping hounds. Straight ev'ry matron at the door is seen, And pausing hedgers on their mattocks lean. At every narrow lane, and alley mouth, Loud laughing lasses stand, and joking youth. A near approaching band in colours gay, With minstrels blythe before to cheer the way, From clouds of curling dust which onward fly, In rural splendour break upon the eye. As in their way they hold so gayly on, Caps, beads, and buttons glancing in the sun, Each village wag, with eye of roguish cast, Some maiden jogs, and vents the ready jest; Whilst village toasts the passing belles deride, And sober matrons marvel at their pride. But William, head erect, with settled brow, In sullen silence view'd the passing shew; And oft' he scratch'd his pate with manful grace, And scorn'd to pull the bonnet o'er his face; But did with steady look unmoved wait, Till hindmost man had turn'd the church-yard gate; Then turn'd him to his cot with visage flat, Where honest Tray upon the threshold sat. Up jump'd the kindly beast his hand to lick, And, for his pains, receiv'd an angry kick. Loud shuts the flapping door with thund'ring din; The echoes round their circling course begin, From cot to cot, in wide progressive swell, Deep groans the church-yard wall and neighb'ring dell, And Tray, responsive, joins with long and piteous yell.
Where ancient broken wall encloses round, From tread of lawless feet, the hallow'd ground, And somber yews their dewy branches wave O'er many a motey stone and mounded grave: Where parish church, confus'dly to the sight, With deeper darkness prints the shades of night, And mould'ring tombs uncouthly gape around, And rails and fallen stones bestrew the ground: In loosen'd garb derang'd, with scatter'd hair, His bosom open to the nightly air, Lone, o'er a new heap'd grave poor Basil bent, And to himself began his simple plaint.
"Alas! how cold thy home! how low thou art! Who wert the pride and mistress of my heart. The fallen leaves light rustling o'er thee pass, And o'er thee waves the rank and dewy grass. The new laid sods in decent order tell How narrow now the space where thou must dwell. Now rough and wint'ry winds may on thee beat, And drizzly drifting snow, and summer's heat; Each passing season rub, for woe is me! Or storm, or sunshine, is the same to thee. Ah, Mary! lovely was thy slender form, And sweet thy cheerful brow, that knew no storm. Thy steps were graceful on the village-green, As tho' thou had'st some courtly lady been: At church or market, still the gayest lass, Each younker slack'd his speed to see thee pass. At early milking, tuneful was thy lay, And sweet thy homeward song at close of day; But sweeter far, and ev'ry youth's desire, Thy cheerful converse by the ev'ning fire. Alas! no more thou'lt foot the grassy sward! No song of thine shall ever more be heard! Yet now they trip it lightly on the green, As blythe and gay as thou hadst never been: The careless younker whittles lightsome by, And other maidens catch his roving eye: Around the ev'ning fire, with little care, The neighbours sit, and scarcely miss thee there; And when the night advancing darkens round, They to their rest retire, and slumber sound. But Basil cannot rest; his days are sad, And long his nights upon the weary bed. Yet still in broken dreams thy form appears, And still my bosom proves a lover's fears. I guide thy footsteps thro' the tangled wood; I catch thee sinking in the boist'rous flood; I shield thy bosom from the threaten'd stroke; I clasp thee falling from the headlong rock; But ere we reach the dark and dreadful deep, High heaves my troubled breast, I wake, and weep. At ev'ry wailing of the midnight wind Thy lowly dwelling comes into my mind. When rain beats on my roof, wild storms abroad, I think upon thy bare and beaten sod; I hate the comfort of a shelter'd home, And hie me forth o'er fenceless fields to roam: I leave the paths of men for dreary waste, And bare my forehead to the howling blast. O Mary! loss of thee hath fix'd my doom: This world around me is a weary gloom: Dull heavy musings down my spirits weigh, I cannot sleep by night, nor work by day. Or wealth or pleasure slowest minds inspire, But cheerless is their toil who nought desire. Let happier friends divide my farmers' dock, Cut down my grain, and sheer my little flock; For now my only care on earth shall be Here ev'ry Sunday morn to visit thee; And in the holy church, with heart sincere, And humble mind, our worthy curate hear: He best can tell, when earthly cares are past, The surest way to meet with thee at last. I'll thus a while a weary life abide, Till wasting Time hath laid me by thy side; For now on earth there is no place for me, Nor peace, nor slumber, till I rest with thee."
Loud, from the lofty spire, with piercing knell, Solemn, and awful, toll'd the parish bell; A later hour than rusties deem it meet That church-yard ground be trode by mortal feet, The wailing lover startled at the sound, And rais'd his head and cast his eyes around. The gloomy pile in strengthen'd horrour lower'd, Large and majestic ev'ry object tower'd: Dim thro' the gloom they shew'd their forms unknown, And tall and ghastly rose each whiten'd stone: Aloft the waking screech-owl 'gan to sing, And past him skim'd the bat with flapping wing. The fears of nature woke within his breast; He left the hallowed spot of Mary's rest, And sped his way the church-yard wall to gain, Then check'd his coward heart, and turn'd again. The shadows round a deeper horrour wear; A deeper silence hangs upon his ear; A stiller rest is o'er the settled scene; His flutt'ring heart recoils, and shrinks again. With hasty steps he measures back the ground, And leaps with summon'd force the church-yard bound; Then home with knocking limbs, and quicken'd breath, His footstep urges from the place of death.
AN ADDRESS TO THE MUSES.
Ye tuneful Sifters of the lyre, Who dreams and fantasies inspire; Who over poesy preside, And on a lofty hill abide Above the ken of mortal fight, Fain would I sing of you, could I address ye right.
Thus known, your pow'r of old was sung, And temples with your praises rung; And when the song of battle rose, Or kindling wine, or lovers' woes, The poet's spirit inly burn'd, And still to you his upcast eyes were turn'd.
The youth all wrapp'd in vision bright, Beheld your robes of flowing white: And knew your forms benignly grand, An awful, but a lovely band; And felt your inspiration strong, And warmly pour'd his rapid lay along.
The aged bard all heav'n-ward glow'd, And hail'd you daughters of a god: Tho' to his dimmer eyes were seen Nor graceful form, nor heav'nly mien, Full well he felt that ye were near, And heard you in the blast that shook his hoary hair.
Ye lighten'd up the valley's bloom, And deeper spread the forest's gloom; The lofty hill sublimer flood, And grander rose the mighty flood; For then Religion lent her aid, And o'er the mind of man your sacred empire spread.
Tho' rolling ages now are past, And altars low, and temples wade; Tho' rites and oracles are o'er, And gods and heros rule no more; Your fading honours still remain, And still your vot'ries call, a long and motley train.
They seek you not on hill and plain, Nor court you in the sacred sane; Nor meet you in the mid-day dream, Upon the bank of hallowed stream; Yet still for inspiration sue, And still each lifts his fervent prayer to you.
He knows ye not in woodland gloom, But wooes ye in the shelfed room; And seeks you in the dusty nook, And meets you in the letter'd book; Full well he knows you by your names, And still with poets faith your presence claims.
The youthful poet, pen in hand, All by the side of blotted stand, In rev'rie deep, which none may break, Sits rubbing of his beardless cheek; And well his inspiration knows, E'en by the dewy drops that trickle o'er his nose.
The tuneful sage of riper fame, Perceives you not in heated frame; But at conclusion of his verse, Which still his mutt'ring lips rehearse, Oft' waves his hand in grateful pride, And owns the heav'nly pow'r that did his fancy guide.
O lovely sisters! is it true, That they are all inspir'd by you? And while they write, with magic charm'd, And high enthusiasm warm'd, We may not question heav'nly lays, For well I wot, they give you all the praise.
O lovely sisters! well it shews How wide and far your bounty flows: Then why from me withhold your beams? Unvisited of heav'nly dreams, Whene'er I aim at heights sublime, Still downward am I call'd to seek some stubborn rhyme.
No hasty lightning breaks the gloom, Nor flashing thoughts unsought for come, Nor fancies wake in time of need; I labour much with little speed; And when my studied task is done, Too well, alas! I mark it for my own.
Yet should you never smile on me, And rugged still my verses be; Unpleasing to the tuneful train, Who only prize a slowing strain; And still the learned scorn my lays, I'll lift my heart to you, and sing your praise.
Your varied ministry to trace, Your honour'd names, and godlike race; And lofty bow'rs where fountains flow, They'll better sing who better know; I praise ye not with Grecian lyre, Nor will I hail ye daughters of a heathen fire.
Ye are the spirits who preside In earth, and air, and ocean wide; In hissing flood, and crackling fire; In horror dread, and tumult dire; In stilly calm, and stormy wind, And rule the answ'ring changes in the human mind.
High on the tempest-beaten hill, Your misty shapes ye shift at will; The wild fantastic clouds ye form; Your voice is in the midnight storm; Whilst in the dark and lonely hour, Oft' starts the boldest heart, and owns your secret pow'r.
From you, when growling storms are past, And light'ning ceases on the wade, And when the scene of blood is o'er, And groans of death are heard no more, Still holds the mind each parted form, Like after echoing of the o'erpassed storm.
When closing glooms o'erspread the day, And what we love has pass'd away, Ye kindly bid each pleasing scene Within the bosom still remain, Like moons who doth their watches run With the reflected brightness of the parted sun.
The shining day, and nightly shade, The cheerful plain and gloomy glade, The homeward flocks, and shepherds play, The busy hamlet's closing day, Full many a breast with pleasures swell, Who ne'er shall have the gift of words to tell,
Oft' when the moon looks from on high, And black around the shadows lie; And bright the sparkling waters gleam, And rushes rustle by the stream, Shrill sounds, and fairy forms are known By simple 'nighted swains, who wander late alone.
Ye kindle up the inward glow, Ye strengthen ev'ry outward show; Ye overleap the strongest bar, And join what Nature sunders far: And visit oft' in fancies wild, The bread of learned sage, and simple child.
From him who wears a monarch's crown, To the unletter'd artless clown, All in some strange and lonely hour Have felt, unsought, your secret pow'r, And lov'd your roving fancies well, You add but to the bard the art to tell.
Ye mighty spirits of the song, To whom the poets' pray'rs belong, My lowly bosom to inspire, And kindle with your sacred fire, Your wild obscuring heights to brave, Is boon, alas! too great for me to crave.
But O, such sense of matter bring! As they who feel and never sing Wear on their hearts, it will avail With simple words to tell my tale; And still contented will I be, Tho' greater inspirations never fall to me.
A MELANCHOLY LOVER'S FAREWELL TO HIS MISTRESS.
My Phillis, all my hopes are o'er, And I shall see thy face no more. Since ev'ry secret wish is vain, I will not stay to give thee pain. Then do not hang thy low'ring brow, But let me bless thee ere I go: Nor, O, despise my last adieu! I've lov'd thee long, and lov'd thee true.
The prospects of my youth are crost, My health is flown, my vigour lost; My soothing friends augment my pain, And cheerless is my native plain; Dark o'er my spirit hangs the gloom, And thy disdain has fix'd my doom. But light gales ruffle o'er the sea, Which soon shall bear me far from thee; And wherefoe'er our course is cast, I know will bear me to my rest. Full deep beneath the briny wave, Where rest the venturous and brave, A place may be decreed for me; And should no tempest raise the sea, Far hence upon a foreign land, Whose sons, perhaps, with friendly hand The stranger's lowly tomb may raise; A broken heart will end my days.
But Heaven's blessing on thee rest! And may no troubles vex thy breast! Perhaps, when pensive and alone, You'll think of me when I am gone; And gentle tears of pity shed, When I am in my narrow bed. Yet softly let thy sorrow flow! And greater may'st thou never know! All free from worldly care and strife, Long may'ft thou live a happy life! And ev'ry earthly blessing find, Thou loveliest of womankind: And blest thy secret wishes be! Tho' cruel thou hast been to me.
And do'st thou then thine arm extend And may I take thy lovely hand? And do thine eyes thus gently look, As tho' some kindly wish they spoke? My gentle Phillis, tho' severe, I do not grudge the ills I bear; But still my greatest grief will be, To think my love has troubled thee. O, do not scorn this swelling grief! The laden bosom seeks relief: Nor yet this infant weakness blame, For thou hast made me what I am. But hark! the sailors call away, No longer may I ling'ring stay; May peace within thy mansion dwell! O, gentle Phillis, fare thee well!
A CHEERFUL TEMPERED LOVER'S FAREWELL TO HIS MISTRESS.
The light winds on the streamers play That soon shall bear me far away; My comrades give the parting cheer, And I alone have linger'd here. Now Phill. my love, since it will be, And I must bid farewell to thee, Since ev'ry hope of thee is flown, Ne'er send me from thee with a frown; But let me kindly take thy hand, And bid God bless me in a foreign land.
No more I'll loiter by thy side, Well pleas'd thy gamesome taunts to bide; Nor lovers' gambols lightly try To make me graceful in thine eye; Nor sing the merry roundelay, To cheer thee at the close of day. Yet ne'ertheless tho' we must part, I'll bear thee still upon my heart; And oft' I'll fill the ruddy glass, To toast my lovely scornful lass. Far hence, upon a foreign shore, Still will I keep an open door, And still my little fortune share With all who ever breath'd my native air. And who thy beauteous face hath seen, Or ever near thy dwelling been, Shall push about the flowing bowl, And be the matter of the whole. And ev'ry woman for thy sake, Though proud and cruel, as they're weak, Shall in my walls protection find, Thou fairest of a fickle kind.
O, dearly! dearly! have I paid, Thou little haughty cruel maid, To give that inward peace to thee, Which thou hast ta'en away from me. Soft hast thou slept, with bosom light, Whilst I have watch'd the weary night; And now I cross the surgy deep, That thou may'st still untroubled sleep— But in thine eyes, what do I see, That looks as tho' they pitied me? I thank thee, Phill. yet be not sad, I leave no blame upon thy head. I would, more grac'd with pleasing make, I had been better for thy sake, But yet, perhaps, when I shall dwell Far hence, thou'lt sometimes think how well— I dare not stay, since we must part, T'expose a fond and foolish heart; Where'er I go, it beats for you, God bless ye, Phill. adieu! adieu!
A PROUD LOVER'S FAREWELL TO HIS MISTRESS.
Farewell thou haughty, cruel fair! Upon thy brow no longer wear That sombre look of cold disdain, Thou ne'er shalt see my face again. Now ev'ry silly wish is o'er, And fears and doubtings are no more.
All cruel as thou art to me, Long has my heart been fix'd on thee; On thee I've mus'd the live-long day, And thought the weary night away; I've trac'd thy footsteps o'er the green, And shar'd thy rambles oft unseen; I've linger'd near thee night and day, When thou hast thought me far away; I've watch'd the turning of thy face, And fondly mark'd thy moving grace; And wept thy rising smiles to see; I've been a fool for love of thee. Yet do not think I stay the while Thy weakly pity to beguile: Let forced favour fruitless prove! The pity curst, that brings not love! No woman e'er shall give me pain, Or ever break my rest again: Nor aught that comes of woman kind Have pow'r again to move my mind. Far on a foreign shore I'll seek Some lonely island, bare and bleak; I'll seek some wild and rugged cell, And with untamed creatures dwell. To hear their cries is now my choice, Far more than man's deceitful voice: To listen to the howling wind, Than luring tongue of womankind. They look not beautiful and good, But ronghsome seem as they are rude.
O Phillis! thou hast wreck'd a heart, Which proudly bears, but feels the smart. Adieu! adieu! should'st thou e'er prove The pang of ill-requited love, Thou'lt know what I have borne for thee, And then thou wilt remember me.
A POET, OR, SOUND-HEARTED LOVER'S FAREWELL TO HIS MISTRESS.
Fair Nymph, who dost my fate controul, And reign'st the mistress of my soul, Where thou all bright in beauties ray Hast held a long tyrannick sway, They who the hardest rule maintain, In their commands do still refrain From what impossible must prove, But thou hast bade me cease to love; Nor would some gentle mercy give, And only bid me cease to live. Ah! when the magnet's pow'r is o'er, The compass then will point no more; And when no verdure cloaths the spring, The tuneful birds forget to sing: But thou all sweet and heav'nly fair, Hast bade thy swain from love forbear. In pity let thine own fair hand A death's-wound to this bosom send: This tender heart of purest faith May then resign thee with its breath; And in the sun-beam of thine eye A proud and willing victim die.
But since thou wilt not have it so, Far from thy presence will I go: Far from my heart's dear bliss I'll stray, Since I no longer can obey. In foreign climes I'll distant roam, No more to hail my native home: To foreign swains I'll pour my woe, In foreign plains my tears shall flow: By murm'ring stream and shady grove Shall other echoes tell my love; And richer flow'rs of vivid hue Upon my tomb shall other maidens strew.
Adieu, dear Phillis! should'ft thou e'er Some soft and plaintive story hear, Of hapless youth who died for love, Or all forlorn did banish'd rove, O think of me! nor then deny The gentle tribute of a sigh.
* * * * *
It may be objected that all these lovers are equally sad, though one is a cheerful, the other a melancholy lover. It is true they are all equally sad, for they are all equally in love, and in despair, when it is impossible for them to be otherwise; but if I have pictured their farewell complaints in such a way as to give you an idea that one lover is naturally of a melancholy, one of a cheerful, and one of a proud temper, I have done all that is intended.
THE STORM-BEAT MAID.
SOMEWHAT AFTER THE STYLE OF OUR OLD ENGLISH BALLADS.
All shrouded in the winter snow, The maiden held her way; Nor chilly winds that roughly blow, Nor dark night could her stay.
O'er hill and dale, through bush and briar, She on her journey kept; Save often when she 'gan to tire, She stop'd awhile and wept.
Wild creatures left their caverns drear, To raise their nightly yell; But little doth the bosom fear, Where inward troubles dwell.
No watch-light from the distant spire, To cheer the gloom so deep, Nor twinkling star, nor cottage fire Did thro' the darkness peep.
Yet heedless still she held her way, Nor fear'd the crag nor dell; Like ghost that thro' the gloom to stray, Wakes with the midnight bell.
Now night thro' her dark watches ran, Which lock the peaceful mind; And thro' the neighb'ring hamlets 'gan To wake the yawning hind.
Yet bark of dog, nor village cock, That spoke the morning near; Nor gray-light trembling on the rock, Her 'nighted mind could cheer.
The whirling flail, and clacking mill Wake with the early day; And careless children, loud and shrill, With new-made snow-balls play.
And as she pass'd each cottage door, They did their gambols cease; And old men shook their locks so hoar, And wish'd her spirit peace.
For sometimes slow; and sometimes fast, She held her wav'ring pace; Like early spring's inconstant blast, That ruffles evening's face.
At length with weary feet she came, Where in a shelt'ring wood, Whose master bore no humble name, A stately castle stood.
The open gate, and smoking fires, Which cloud the air so thin; And shrill bell tinkling from the spires, Bespoke a feast within.
With busy looks, and hasty tread, The servants cross the hall; And many a page, in buskins red, Await the master's call.
Fair streaming bows of bridal white On ev'ry shoulder play'd; And clean, in lily kerchief dight, Trip'd every houshold maid.
She ask'd for neither lord nor dame, Nor who the mansion own'd; But straight into the hall she came, And sat her on the ground.
The busy crew all crouded nigh, And round the stranger star'd; But still she roll'd her wand'ring eye, Nor for their questions car'd.
"What dost thou want, thou storm-beat' maid, That thou these portals past? Ill suiteth here thy looks dismay'd, Thou art no bidden guest."
"O chide not!" said a gentle page, And wip'd his tear-wet cheek, "Who would not shun the winter's rage? The wind is cold and bleak.
"Her robe is stiff with drizly snow, And rent her mantle grey; None ever bade the wretched go Upon his wedding-day."
Then to his lord he hied him straight, Where round on silken seat Sat many a courteous dame and knight. And made obeisance meet,
"There is a stranger in your hall, Who wears no common mien; Hard were the heart, as flinty wall, That would not take her in.
"A fairer dame in hall or bower Mine eyes did ne'er behold; Tho' shelter'd in no father's tower, And turn'd out to the cold.
"Her face is like an early morn, Dimm'd with the nightly dew; Her skin is like the sheeted torn, Her eyes are wat'ry blue.
"And tall and slender is her form, Like willow o'er the brook; But on her brow there broods a storm, And restless is her look,
"And well her troubled motions shew The tempest in her mind; Like the unshelter'd sapling bough Vex'd with the wintry wind.
"Her head droops on her ungirt breast, And scatter'd is her hair; Yet lady brac'd in courtly vest Was never half so fair."
Reverse, and cold the turning blood The bridegroom's cheek forsook: He shook and stagger'd as he stood, And falter'd as he spoke.
"So soft and fair I know a maid, There is but only she; A wretched man her love betrayed, And wretched let him be."
Deep frowning, turn'd the bride's dark eye, For bridal morn unmeet; With trembling steps her lord did hie The stranger fair to greet.
Tho' loose in scatter'd weeds array'd, And ruffled with the storm; Like lambkin from its fellows stray'd, He knew her graceful form.
But when he spy'd her sunken eye, And features sharp and wan, He heav'd a deep and heavy sigh, And down the big tears ran.
"Why droops thy head, thou lovely maid, Upon thy hand of snow? Is it because thy love betray'd, That thou art brought so low?"
Quick from her eye the keen glance came Who question'd her to see: And oft she mutter'd o'er his name, And wist not it was he.
Full hard against his writhing brows His clenched hands he prest; Full high his lab'ring bosom rose, And rent its silken vest.
"O cursed be the golden price, That did my baseness prove! And cursed be my friends advice, That wil'd me from thy love!
"And cursed be the woman's art, That lur'd me to her snare! And cursed be the faithless heart That left thee to despair!
"Yet now I'll hold thee to my side, Tho' worthless I have been, Nor friends, nor wealth, nor dizen'd bride, Shall ever stand between.
"When thou art weary and depress'd, I'll lull thee to thy sleep; And when dark fancies vex thy breast, I'll sit by thee and weep.
"I'll tend thee like a restless child Where'er thy rovings be; Nor gesture keen, nor eye-ball wild, Shall turn my love from thee.
"Night shall not hang cold o'er thy head, And I securely lie; Nor drizly clouds upon thee shed, And I in covert dry.
"I'll share the cold blast on the heath, I'll share thy wants and pain: Nor friend nor foe, nor life nor death, Shall ever make us twain."
Spirit of strength, to whom in wrath 'tis given To mar the earth, and shake the vasty heaven: Behold the gloomy robes, that spreading hide Thy secret majesty, lo! slow and wide, Thy heavy skirts sail in the middle air, Thy sultry shroud is o'er the noonday glare: Th' advancing clouds sublimely roll'd on high, Deep in their pitchy volumes clothe the sky; Like hosts of gath'ring foes array'd in death, Dread hangs their gloom upon the earth beneath, It is thy hour: the awful deep is still, And laid to rest the wind of ev'ry hill. Wild creatures of the forest homeward scour, And in their dens with fear unwonted cow'r. Pride in the lordly palace is forgot, And in the lowly shelter of the cot The poor man sits, with all his fam'ly round, In awful expectation of thy sound. Lone on his way the trav'ller stands aghast; The fearful looks of man to heav'n are cast, When, lo! thy lightning gleams on high, As swiftly turns his startled eye; And swiftly as thy shooting blaze Each half performed motion stays, Deep awe, all human strife and labour stills, And thy dread voice alone, the earth and heaven fills.
Bright bursts the lightning from the cloud's dark womb, As quickly swallow'd in the closing gloom. The distant streamy flashes, spread askance In paler sheetings, skirt the wide expanse. Dread flaming from aloft, the cat'ract dire Oft meets in middle space the nether fire. Fierce, red, and ragged, shiv'ring in the air, Athwart mid-darkness shoots the lengthen'd glare. Wild glancing round, the feebler lightning plays; The rifted centre pours the gen'ral blaze; And from the warring clouds in fury driven,[A] Red writhing falls the keen embodied bolt of heaven.
[Footnote A: In poetry we have only to do with appearances; and the zig-zag lightning, commonly thought to be the thunder-bolt, is certainly firm and embodied, compared to the ordinary lightning, which takes no distinct shape at all.]
From the dark bowels of the burthen'd cloud Dread swells the rolling peal, full, deep'ning, loud. Wide ratt'ling claps the heavens scatter'd o'er, In gathered strength lift the tremendous roar; With weaning force it rumbles over head, Then, growling, wears away to silence dread. Now waking from afar in doubled might, Slow rolling onward to the middle height; Like crash of mighty mountains downward hurl'd, Like the upbreaking of a wrecking world, In dreadful majesty, th' explosion grand Bursts wide, and awful, o'er the trembling land. The lofty mountains echo back the roar, Deep from afar rebounds earth's rocky shore; All else existing in the senses bound Is lost in the immensity of sound. Wide jarring sounds by turns in strength convene, And deep, and terrible, the solemn pause between.
Aloft upon the mountain's side The kindled forest blazes wide. Huge fragments of the rugged deep Are tumbled to the lashing deep. Firm rooted in the cloven rock, Loud crashing falls the stubborn oak. The lightning keen, in wasteful ire, Fierce darting on the lofty spire, Wide rends in twain the ir'n-knit stone, And stately tow'rs are lowly thrown. Wild flames o'erscour the wide campaign, And plough askance the hissing main. Nor strength of man may brave the storm, Nor shelter skreen the shrinking form; Nor castle wall its fury stay, Nor masy gate may bar its way. It visits those of low estate, It shakes the dwellings of the great, It looks athwart the secret tomb, And glares upon the prison's gloom; While dungeons deep, in unknown light, Flash hidious on the wretches' fight, And lowly groans the downward cell, Where deadly silence wont to dwell.
Now upcast eyes to heav'n adore, And knees that never bow'd before. In stupid wonder flares the child; The maiden turns her glances wild, And lifts to hear the coming roar: The aged shake their locks so hoar: And stoutest hearts begin to fail, And many a manly cheek is pale; Till nearer closing peals astound, And crashing ruin mingles round; Then 'numbing fear awhile up-binds The pausing action of their minds, Till wak'd to dreadful sense, they lift their eyes, And round the stricken corse, shrill shrieks of horror rise.
Now thinly spreads the falling hall A motly winter o'er the vale, The hailstones bounding as they fall On hardy rock, or storm-beat' wall. The loud beginning peal its fury checks, Now full, now fainter, with irreg'lar breaks, Then weak in force, unites the scatter'd found; And rolls its lengthen'd grumblings to the distant bound. A thick and muddy whiteness clothes the sky, In paler flashes gleams the lightning by; And thro' the rent cloud, silver'd with his ray, The sun looks down on all this wild affray; As high enthron'd above all mortal ken, A greater Pow'r beholds the strife of men: Yet o'er the distant hills the darkness scowls, And deep, and long, the parting tempest growls.
Pow'r uncontrollable, who hold'st thy sway In the unbounded air, whose trackless way Is in the firmament, unknown of fight, Who bend'st the sheeted heavens in thy might, And lift'st the ocean from its lowest bed To join in middle space the conflict dread; Who o'er the peopled earth in ruin scours, And buffets the firm rock that proudly low'rs, Thy signs are in the heav'ns. The upper clouds Draw shapeless o'er the sky their misty shrowds; Whilst darker fragments rove in lower bands, And mournful purple cloaths the distant lands. In gather'd tribes, upon the hanging peak The sea-fowl scream, ill-omen'd creatures shriek: Unwonted sounds groan on the distant wave, And murmurs deep break from the downward cave. Unlook'd-for gusts the quiet forests shake, And speak thy coming—awful Pow'r, awake!
Like burst of mighty waters wakes the blast, In wide and boundless sweep: thro' regions vast The floods of air in loosen'd fury drive, And meeting currents strong, and fiercely strive. First wildly raving on the mountain's brow 'Tis heard afar, till o'er the plains below With even rushing force it bears along, And gradual swelling, louder, full, and strong, Breaks wide in scatter'd bellowing thro' the air. Now is it hush'd to calm, now rous'd to war, Whilst in the pauses of the nearer blast, The farther gusts howl from the distant waste. Now rushing furious by with loosen'd sweep, Now rolling grandly on, solemn and deep, Its bursting strength the full embodied sound In wide and shallow brawlings scatters round; Then wild in eddies shrill, with rage distraught, And force exhausted, whistles into naught. With growing might, arising in its room, From far, like waves of ocean onward come Succeeding gusts, and spend their wasteful ire, Then slow, in grumbled mutterings retire: And solemn stillness overawes the land, Save where the tempest growls along the distant strand. But great in doubled strength, afar and wide, Returning battle wakes on ev'ry side; And rolling on with full and threat'ning sound, In wildly mingled fury closes round. With bellowings loud, and hollow deep'ning swell, Reiterated hiss, and whistlings shrill, Fierce wars the varied storm, with fury tore, Till all is overwhelm'd in one tremendous roar.
The vexed forest, tossing wide, Uprooted strews its fairest pride; The lofty pine in twain is broke, And crushing falls the knotted oak. The huge rock trembles in its might; The proud tow'r tumbles from its height; Uncover'd stands the social home; High rocks aloft the city dome; Whilst bursting bar, and flapping gate, And crashing roof, and clatt'ring grate, And hurling wall, and falling spire, Mingle in jarring din and ruin dire. Wild ruin scours the works of men; Their motly fragments strew the plain. E'en in the desert's pathless waste, Uncouth destruction marks the blast: And hollow caves whose secret pride, Grotesque and grand, was never ey'd By mortal man, abide its drift, Of many a goodly pillar reft. Fierce whirling mounts the desert sand, And threats aloft the peopl'd land. The great expanded ocean, heaving wide, Rolls to the farthest bound its lashing tide; Whilst in the middle deep afar are seen, All stately from the sunken gulfs between, The tow'ring waves, which bend with hoary brow, Then dash impetuous to the deep below. With broader sweepy base, in gather'd might Majestic, swelling to stupendous height, The mountain billow lifts its awful head, And, curving, breaks aloft with roarings dread. Sublimer still the mighty waters rise, And mingle in the strife of nether skies. All wildness and uproar, above, beneath, A world immense of danger, dread, and death.
In dumb despair the sailor stands, The frantic merchant wrings his hands, Advent'rous hope clings to the yard, And sinking wretches shriek unheard: Whilst on the land, the matron ill at rest, Thinks of the distant main, and heaves her heavy breast. The peasants leave their ruin'd home, And o'er the fields distracted roam: Insensible the 'numbed infant sleeps, And helpless bending age, weak and unshelter'd weeps. Low shrinking fear, in place of state, Skulks in the dwellings of the great. The rich man marks with careful eye, Each wasteful gust that whistles by; And ill men fear'd with fancied screams Sit list'ning to the creaking beams. At break of ev'ry rising squall On storm-beat' roof, or ancient wall, Full many a glance of fearful eye Is upward cast, till from on high, From cracking joist, and gaping rent, And falling fragments warning sent, Loud wakes around the wild affray, 'Tis all confusion and dismay.
Now powerful but inconstant in its course, The tempest varies with uncertain force. Like doleful wailings on the lonely waste, Solemn and dreary sounds the weaning blast. Exhausted gusts recoiling growl away, And, wak'd anew, return with feebler sway; Save where between the ridgy mountains pent, The fierce imprison'd current strives for vent, With hollow howl, and lamentation deep, Then rushes o'er the plain with partial sweep. A parting gust o'erscours the weary land, And lowly growls along the distant strand: Light thro' the wood the shiv'ring branches play, And on the ocean far it slowly dies away.
AN ADDRESS TO THE NIGHT.
A FEARFUL MIND.
Uncertain, awful as the gloom of death, The Night's grim shadows cover all beneath. Shapeless and black is ev'ry object round, And lost in thicker gloom the distant bound. Each swelling height is clad with dimmer shades, And deeper darkness marks the hollow glades. The moon in heavy clouds her glory veils, And slow along their passing darkness sails; While lesser clouds in parted fragments roam, And red stars glimmer thro' the river's gloom.
Nor cheerful voice is heard from man's abode, Nor sounding footsteps on the neighb'ring road; Nor glimm'ring fire the distant cottage tells; On all around a fearful stillness dwells: The mingled noise of industry is laid, And silence deepens with the nightly shade. Though still the haunts of men, and shut their light, Thou art not silent, dark mysterious Night, The cries of savage creatures wildly break Upon thy quiet; birds ill-omen'd shriek; Commotions strange disturb the rustling trees; And heavy plaints come on the passing breeze. Far on the lonely waste, and distant way, Unwonted sounds are heard, unknown of day. With shrilly screams the haunted cavern rings; And heavy treading of unearthly things Sounds loud and hollow thro' the ruin'd dome; Yea, voices issue from the secret tomb.
But lo! a sudden flow of bursting light! What wild surrounding scenes break on the sight! Huge rugged rocks uncouthly low'r on high, Whilst on the plain their lengthen'd shadows lie. The wooded banks in streamy brightness glow; And waving darkness skirts the flood below. The roving shadow hastens o'er the stream; And like a ghost's pale shrowd the waters glean. Black fleeting shapes across the valley stray: Gigantic forms tow'r on the distant way: The sudden winds in wheeling eddies change: 'Tis all confus'd, unnatural, and strange. Now all again in horrid gloom is lost: Wild wakes the breeze like sound of distant host: Bright shoots along the swift returning light: Succeeding shadows close the startled sight. Some restless spirit holds the nightly sway: Long is the wild, and doubtful is my way. Inconstant Night, whate'er thy changes be, It suits not man to be alone with thee. O! for the shelt'ring roof of lowest kind, Secure to rest with others of my hind!
AN ADDRESS TO THE NIGHT.
A DISCONTENTED MIND.
How thick the clouds of night are rang'd o'er head! Confounding darkness o'er the earth is spread. The clouded moon her cheering count'nance hides; And feeble stars, between the ragged sides Of broken clouds, with unavailing ray, Look thro' to mock the trav'ller on his way. Tree, bush, and rugged rock, and hollow dell, In deeper shades their forms confus'dly tell, To cheat the weary wand'rer's doubtful eye; Whilst chilly passing winds come ruffling by; And tangled briars perplex the darken'd pass; And slimy reptiles glimmer on the grass; And stinging night-flies spend their cursed spite; Unhospitable are thy shades, O Night!
Now hard suspicion bars the creaking door; And safe within the selfish worldlings snore: And wealthy fools are warm in downy bed: And houseless beggars shelter in the shed: And nestling coveys cow'r beneath the brake; While prowling mischief only is awake. Each hole and den fends forth its cursed brood, And savage bloody creatures range the wood. The thievish vagrant plies his thriftless trade Beneath the friendly shelter of the shade; Whilst boldest risk the lawless robber braves: The day for fools was made, and night for knaves.
O welcome, kindly moon! thy light display, And guide a weary trav'ller on his way. Hill, wood, and valley, brighten in her beam; And wavy silver glitters on the stream. The distant path-way shews distinct and clear, From far inviting, but perplex'd when near. For blackning shadows add deceitful length, And lesser objects gain unwonted strength; Each step misguiding; to the eye unknown, The shining gutter, from the glist'ning stone; While crossing shadows checker o'er the ground, The more perplexing for the brightness round. Deceitful are thy smiles, untoward Night! Thy gloom is better than misguiding light. Then welcome is yon cloud that onward fails, And all this glary shew in darkness veils. But see how soon the fleeting shade is past, And streamy brightness moots across the waste. Now fly the shadows borne upon the wind; Succeeding brightness travels fast behind. And now it low'rs again. Inconstant Night, Confound thy freaks! be either dark or light. Yet let them come; whate'er thy changes be, I was a fool to put my trust in thee.
AN ADDRESS TO THE NIGHT.
A SORROWFUL MIND.
How lone and dreary hangs the sombre Night O'er wood and valley, stream and craggy height! While nearer objects, bush, and waving bough, Their dark uncertain forms but dimly show; Like those with which disturbed fancies teem, And shape the scen'ry of a gloomy dream. The moon is cover'd with her sable shrowd; And o'er the heav'us rove many a dusky cloud; Thro' ragged rents the paly sky is seen, And feebly glance the twinkling stars between: Whilst earth below is wrapt in stilly gloom, All sad and silent as the closed tomb.
No bleating flock is heard upon the vale; Nor lowing kine upon the open dale; Nor voice of hunter on the lonely heath; Nor sound of trav'ller on the distant path. Shut is the fenced door of man's abode; And ruffling breezes only are abroad. How mournful is thy voice, O nightly gale! Across the wood, or down the narrow vale; And sad, tho' secret and unknown they be, The sighs of woeful hearts that wake with thee. For now no friends the haunts of sorrow seek; Tears hang unchidden on the mourner's cheek: No side-look vexes from the curious eye; Nor calm reproving reasoner is by; The kindly cumbrous visitor is gone, And laden spirits love to sigh alone. O Night! wild sings the wind, deep low'rs the shade; Thy robe is gloomy, and thy voice is sad: But weary souls confin'd in earthly cell Are deep in kindred gloom, and love thee well.
But now the veiling darkness passes by; The moon unclouded holds the middle sky. A soft and mellow light is o'er the wood; And silv'ry pureness sparkles on the flood. White tow'r the clifts from many a craggy breach; The brown heath shews afar its dreary stretch. While fairer as the brighten'd object swells, Fast by its side the darker shadow dwells: The lofty mountains form the deeper glade, And keener light but marks the blacker made. Then welcome yonder clouds that swiftly sail, And o'er yon glary op'ning draw the veil. But, ah! too swiftly flies the friendly shade! Returning brightness travels up the glade, And all is light again. O fickle Night! No traveller is here to bless thy light. I seek nor home, nor shed; I have no way; Why send thy beams to one who cannot stray? Or wood, or desert, is the same to me; O low'r again, and let me rest with thee!
AN ADDRESS TO THE NIGHT.
A JOYFUL MIND.
The warping gloom of night is gather'd round; And varied darkness marks the uneven ground. A dimmer shade is on the mountain's brow, And deeper low'rs the lengthen'd vale below; While nearer objects all enlarged and dark, Their strange and shapeless forms uncouthly mark; Which thro' muddy night are dimly shown, Like old companions in a garb unknown. The heavy sheeted clouds are spread on high, And streaky darkness bounds the farther sky: And swift along the lighter vagrants sweep, Whilst clear stars thro' their riven edges peep. Soft thro' each ragged breach, and streamy rent, And open gaps in dusky circle pent, The upper heaven looks serenely bright In dappled gold, and snowy fleeces dight: And on the middle current lightly glides The lesser cloud, with silver wreathy sides. In sudden gusts awakes the nightly breeze Across the wood, and rustles thro' the trees; Or whistles on the plain with eddying sweep; Or issues from the glen in wailings deep, Which die away upon the open vale: Whilst in the pauses of the ruffling gale The buzzing night-fly rises from the ground, And wings his flight in many a mazy round; And lonely owls begin their nightly strain, So hateful to the ear of 'nighted swain. Thou do'st the weary trav'ller mislead; Thy voice is roughsome, and uncooth thy weed, O gloomy Night! for black thy shadows be, And fools have rais'd a bad report on thee. Yet art thou free and friendly to the gay, And light hearts prize thee equal to the day.
Now tiresome plodding folks are gone to rest; And soothing slumber locks the careful breast. And tell-tale friends, and wise advisers snore; And softly slip-shod youths unbar the door. Now footsteps echo far, and watch-dogs bark; Worms glow, and cats' eyes glitter in the dark. The vagrant lover crosses moor and hill, And near the lowly cottage whistles shrill: Or, bolder grown, beneath the friendly shade, Taps at the window of his fav'rite maid; Who from above his simple tale receives, Whilst stupid matrons start, and think of thieves, Now daily fools unbar the narrow soul, All wise and gen'rous o'er the nightly bowl. The haunted wood receives its motley host, (By trav'ller shun'd) tho' neither fag nor ghost; And there the crackling bonfire blazes red, While merry vagrants feast beneath the shed. From sleepless beds unquiet spirits rise, And cunning wags put on their borrow'd guise: Whilst silly maidens mutter o'er their boon, And crop their fairy weeds beneath the moon: And harmless plotters slyly take the road, And trick and playful mischief is abroad.