Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

FAMINE,

SISTERS! sisters ! who sent you here?

SLAUGHTER, (to FIRE.) I will whisper it in her ear.

FIRE,
No! no! no!
Spirits hear what spirits tell :
"Twill make a holiday in hell.

No! no! no!
Myself, I named him once below,
And all the souls that damned be,
Leap'd up at once in anarchy,
Clapp'd their hands and danced for glee.
They no longer heeded me;
But laugh'd to hear hell's burning rafters
Unwillingly re-echo laughters !

No! no! no! Spirits hear what spirits tell: 'Twill make a holiday in hell!

Sisters! I from Ireland came !
Hedge and corn-fields all on flame,
I triumph'd o'er the setting sun!
And all the while the work was done,
On as I strode with my huge strides,
I Aung back my head and I held my sides,
It was so rare a piece of fun
To see the swelter'd cattle run
With uncouth gallop through the night,
Scared by the red and noisy light!
By the light of his own blazing cot
Was many a naked rebel shot:
The house-stream met the flame and hiss'd,
While crash ! fell in the roof, I wist,
On some of those old bedrid nurses,
That deal in discontent and curses.

[ocr errors]

FAMINE.

BOTH. Who bade you do't?

FIRE,

The same! the same! Letters four do form bis name. He let me loose, and cried Halloo ! To him alone the praise is due.

Whisper it, sister! so and so! In a dark hint, soft and slow.

ALL.

SLAUGHTER.
Letters four do form his name
And who sent you?

BOTH.
The same! the same!

He let us loose, and cried Halloo ! How shall we yield him honour due?

SLAUGHTER.

FAMINE.

He came by stealth, and unlock'd my den,
And I have drunk the blood since then
Of thrice three hundred thousand men.

Wisdom comes of lack of food,
I'll gnaw, I'll gnaw the multitude,
Till the cup of rage o'erbrim :
They shall seize him and his brood

BOTH,

Who bade you do it?

SLAUGHTER.

The same! the same!
Letters four do form his name.
He let me loose, and cried Halloo
To him alone the praise is due.

FAMINE,
Thanks, sister, thanks! the men have bled,
Their wives and their children faint for bread,
I stood in a swampy tield of battle;
With bones and sculls I made a rattle,
To frighten the wolf and carrion crow,
And the homeless dog—but they would not go.
So off I flew; for how could I bear
To see them gorge their dainty fare?
I heard a groan and a peevish squall,
And through the chink of a cottage wall,
Can you guess what I saw there?

FIRE. O thankless beldames and untrue ! And is this all that you can do For him who did so much for you? Ninety months he, by my troth ! Hath richly cater'd for you both; And in an hour would you repay An eight years' work ?-Away! away! I alone am faithful! I Cling to bim everlastingly.

1796.

RECANTATION

ILLUSTRATED IN THE STORY OF THE MAD OX

BOTH.

Whisper it, sister! in our ear.

An ox, long fed with musty hay,

And work'd with yoke and chain, Was turn'd out on an April day, When fields are in their best array, And growing grasses sparkle gay,

At once with sun and rain.

[blocks in formation]

The grass was fine, the sun was bright,

With truth I may aver it;
The ox was glad, as well he might,
Thought a green meadow no bad sight,
And frisk'd to show his huge delight,

Much like a beast of spirit. “Stop, neighbours ! stop! why these alarms ?

The ox is only glad.”
But still they pour from cots and farms,
Halloo! the parish is up

in

arms,
(A hoaxing hunt has always charms,)

Halloo! the ox is mad.
The frighted beast scamper'd about,

Plunge! through the hedge he drove-
The mob pursue with hideous rout,
A bull-dog fastens on his snout,
He gores the dog, his tongue hangs out-

He's mad, he's mad, by Jove !
“Stop, neighbours, stop!” aloud did call

A sage of sober hue,
But all at once on him they fall,
And women squeak and children squall,
“What! would you have him toss us all ?

And, damme! who are you?”
Ab, hapless sage! his ears they stun,

And curse him o'er and o'er-
“ You bloody-minded dog !" (cries one,)
“ To slit your windpipe were good fun-
'Od bl— you for an impious* son

Of a Presbyterian w-re! “ You'd have him gore the parish-priest,

And run against the altarYou fiend!”—The sage his warnings ceased, And north, and south, and west, and east, Halloo ! they follow the poor beast,

Mat, Dick, Tom, Bob, and Walter.
Old Lewis, 'twas his evil day,

Stood trembling in his shoes;
The ox was his-what could he say?
His legs were stiffen'd with dismay,
The ox ran o'er him 'mid the fray,

Aud gave him his death's bruise.
The frighted beast ran on--but here,

The gospel scarce more true is-
My muse stops short in mid career
Nay, gentle reader! do not sneer,
I cannot choose but drop a tear,

A tear for good old Lewis.
The frighted beast ran through the town,

All follow'd, boy and dad,
Bull-dog, parson, shopman, clown,
The Publicans rush'd from the Crown,
“Halloo! hamstring him! cut him down;"

They drove the poor od mad.
Should you a rat to madness tease,

Why e'en a rat might plague you: There's no philosopher but sees

That rage and fear are one disease
Though that may burn and this may freeze,

They're both alike the ague.
And so this ox, in frantic mood,

Faced round like any bull-
The mob turn'd tail, and he pursued,
Till they with fright and fear were stew'd,
And not a chick of all this brood

But had his belly-full.
Old Nick's astride the beast, 'tis clear-

Old Nicholas to a tittle!
But all agree he'd disappear,
Would but the parson venture near,
And through his teeth, right o'er the steer,

Squirt out some fasting-spittle.*
Achilles was a warrior fleet,

The Trojans he could worry-
Our partson too was swift of feet,
But show'd it chiefly in retreat!
The victor ox scour'd down the street,

The mob fled hurry-skurry.
Through gardens, lanes, and fields new-plow'd,

Through his hedge and through her hedge,
He plunged and toss'd, and bellow'd loud,
Till in his madness he grew proud
To see this helter-skelter crowd,

That had more wrath than courage.
Alas! to mend the breaches wide

He made for these poor ninnies,
They all must work, whate'er betide,
Both days and months, and pay beside
(Sad news for avarice and for pride)

A sight of golden guineas.
But here once more to view did pop

The man that kept his senses.
And now he cried—“Stop, neighbours ! stop.
The ox is mad! I would not swop,
No, not a schoolboy's farthing top

For all the parish fences.
“ The ox is mad! Ho! Dick, Bob, Mat!

What means this coward fuss ?
Ho! stretch this rope across the plat-
'Twill trip him up—or if not that,
Why, damme, we must lay him flat-

See, here's my blunderbuss !"
“A lying dog! just now he said,

The ox was only glad, Let's break his Presbyterian head !" “ Hush !” quoth the sage, “ you've been misled, No quarrels now let's all make head

You drove the poor oz mad.'
As thus I sat in careless chat,

With the morning's wet vewspaper,
In eager haste, without his hat,
As blind and blundering as a bat,
In came that fierce aristocrat,

Our pursy woollen-draper.

* One of the many fine words which the most uneducated * According to the superstition of the west countries, if ad about this time a constant opportunity of acquiring you meet the devil, you may either cut him in half with rom the sermons in the pulpit, and the proclamations on a straw, or you may cause him instantly to disappear by corners,

spilling over his horns.

be

528

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,

Whatever stir this mortal frame, All are but ministers of love,

And feed his sacred flame.

[merged small][ocr errors]

0! ever in my waking dreams,

I dwell upon that happy hour, When midway on the mount I sate,

Beside the ruin'd tower.

[blocks in formation]

She listen'd with a fitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace ; For well she knew, I could not choose

But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the knight that wore

Upon his shield a burning brand;
And how for ten long years he woo'd

The ladie of the land :

INTRODUCTION TO THE TALE OF THE

DARK LADIE. The following poem is intended as the introduction to a somewhat longer one. The use of the old ballad word Ladie for Lady, is the only piece of obsoleteness in it; and as it is professedly a tale of ancient times, I trust that the affectionate lovers of venerable antiquity (as Camden says) will grant me their pardon, and perhaps may be induced to admit a force and propriety in it. A heavier objection may be adduced against the author, that in these times of fear and expectation, when novelties explode around us in all directions, he should presume to offer to the public a silly tale of old-fashioned love: and five years ago, I own I should have allowed and felt the force of this objection. But, alas! explosion has succeeded explosion so rapidly, that novelty itself ceases to appear new; and it is possible that now even a simple story, wholly uninspired with politics or personality, may find some attention amid the hubbub of revolutions, as to those who have remained a long time by the falls of Niagara, the lowest whispering becomes distinctly audible.-S. T. C.

Dec. 21, 1799.

I told her how he pined: and ah!

The deep, the low, the pleading tone With which I sung another's love,

Interpreted my own.

She listen’d with a flitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace ; And she forgave me, that I gazed

Too fondly on her face!

O LEAVE the lily on its stem;

O leave the rose upon the spray ;
O leave the elder bloom, fair maids !

And listen to my lay.
A cypress and a myrtle-bough

This morn around my harp you twined, Because it fashion’d mournfully

Its murmurs in the wind.
And now a tale of love and wo,

A woful tale of love I sing;
Hark, gentle maidens, hark ! it sighs

And trembles on the string.
But most, my own dear Genevieve,

It sighs and trembles most for thee!
O come and hear what cruel wrongs

Befell the Dark Ladie.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,

My hope, my joy, my Genevieve !
She loves me best, whene'er I sing

The songs that make her grieve.

But when I told the cruel scorn

That crazed this bold and lonely knight, And how he roam'd the mountain woods,

Nor rested day or night; And how he cross'd the woodman's paths,

Through briers and swampy mosses beat; How boughs rebounding scourged bis limbs,

And low stubs gored his feet;
That sometimes from the savage den,

And sometimes from the darksorne shade, And sometimes starting up at once

In green and sunny glade ;

There came and look'd him in the face

An angel beautiful and bright;
And how he knew it was a fiend,

This miserable knight!
And how, unknowing what he did,

He icapt amid a lawless band,
And saved from outrage worse than death

The ladie of the land!

And how she wept, and clasp'd his knees;

And how she tended him in vain And meekly strove to expiate

The scorn that crazed his brain :

LEWTI, OR THE CIRCASSIAN LOVE

CHANT.

And how she nursed him in a cave;

And how his madness went away, When on the yellow forest leaves

A dying man he lay:

At midnight by the stream I roved,
To forget the form I loved.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.

His dying words—but when I reach'd

That tenderest strain of all the ditty, My faltering voice and pausing harp

Disturb'd her soul with pity!

The moon was high, the moonlight gleam

And the shadow of a star
Heaved upon Tamaha's stream ;

But the rock shone brighter far,
The rock half-shelter'd from my view
By pendent boughs of tressy yew-
So shines my Lewti's forehead fair,
Glearning through her sable hair.
Image of Lewti! from my mind
Depart; for Lewti is not kind.

All impulses of soul and sense

Had thrilld my guiltless Genevieve; The music and the doleful tale,

The rich and balmy eve;

;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,

An undistinguishable throng, And gentle wishes long subdued,

Subdued and cherish'd long!

She wept with pity and delight,

She blush'd with love and maiden shame; And, like the murmurs of a dream,

I heard her breathe my name.

I saw a cloud of palest hue,

Onward to the moon it pass'd;
Still brighter and more bright it grew,
With fivating colours not a few,

Till it reach'd the moon at last:
Then the cloud was wholly bright
With a rich and amber light!
And so with many a hope I seek,

And with such joy I tind my Lewti:
And even so my pale wan cheek

Drinks in as deep a fiush of beauty ! Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind, If Lewti never will be kind.

I saw her bosom heave and swell,

Heave and swell with inward sighs-I could not choose but love to see

Her gentle bosom rise.

Her wet cheek glow'd : she stept aside

As conscious of my look she stepp'd : Then suddenly, with timorous eye,

She flew to me and wept.

She half-enclosed me with her arms,

She press'd me with a meek embrace; And bending back her head, look'd up,

And gazed upon my face.

The little cloud-it floats away,

Away it goes ; away so soon?
Alas! it has no power to siay ;
Its hues are dim, its hues are gray.

Away it passes from the moon !
How mournfully it seems to fly,

Ever fading more and more, To joyless regions of the sky

And now 'tis whiter than before ! As white as my poor cheek will be,

When, Lewti! on my couch I lie, A dying man for love of thee. Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind And yet thou didst not look unkind.

'Twas partly love, and partly fear,

And partly 'twas a bashful art, That I might rather feel than see

The swelling of her heart.

I calm'd her fears, and she was calm,

And told her love with virgin pride; And so I won my Genevieve,

My bright and beauteous bride.

And now once more a tale of wo,

A woful tale of love I sing: For thee, my Genevieve! it sighs,

And trembles on the string.

I saw a vapour in the sky,

Thin, and white, and very high ; I ne'er beheld so thin a cloud

Perhaps the breezes that can fly

Now below and now above,
Have snatch'd aloft the lawny shroud

Of lady fair-that died for love.
For maids, as well as youths, have perish'd
From fruitless love too fondly cherish'd.
Nay, treacherous image! leave my mind-
For Lewti never will be kind.

When last I sang the cruel scorn

That crazed this bold and lonely Knight And how he roand the mountain woods,

Nor rested day or night

I promised thee a sister tale

Of man's pertidious cruelty: Come, then, and hear what cruel wrong Befell the Dark Ladie.

67

Hush! my heedless feet from under

Slip the crumbling banks for ever: Like echoes to a distant thundei,

They plunge into the genile river. The river-swans have heard my tread, And startle from their reedy bed.

O beauteous birds ! methinks ye measure Easily caught, ensnare him, 0 ye nymphs,

Your movements to some heavenly tune! Ye Oreads chaste, ye dusky Dryades ! beauteous birds ! 'tis such a pleasure

And you, ye earth-winds! you that make at morn To see you move beneath the moon,

The dew-drops quiver on the spider's webs! I would it were your true delight

You, O ye wingless airs ! that creep between To sleep by day and wake all night.

The rigid stems of heath and bitten furze,

Within whose scanty shade, at summer-noon I know the place where Lewti lies,

The mother-sheep hath worn a hollow bedWhen silent night has closed her eyes :

Ye, that now cool her fleece with dropless damp, It is a breezy jasmine bower,

Now pant and murmur with her feeding lamb. The nightingale sings o'er her head:

Chase, chase him, all ye fays, and elfin goomes ! Voice of the night! had I the power

With prickles sharper than his darts berock That leafy labyrinth to thread,

His little godship, making him perforce And creep, like thee, with soundless tread, Creep through a thorn-bush on yon hedgehog's I then might view her bosom white

back. Heaving lovely to my sight,

This is my hour of triumph! I can now As these two swans together heave

With my own fancies play the merry fool, On the gently swelling wave.

And laugh away worse folly, being free.

Here will I seat myself, beside this old, 0! that she saw me in a dream,

Hollow, and weedy oak, which ivy-twine And dreamt that I had died for care ;

Clothes as with network : here will I couch my All pale and wasted I would seem,

limbs, Yet fair withal, as spirits are !

Close dy this river, in this silent shade, I'd die, indeed, if I might see

As safe and sacred from the step of man Her bosom heave, and heave for me!

As an invisible world—unheard, unseen, Soothe, gentle image! soothe my mind! And listening only to the pebbly brook To-morrow Lewti may be kind.

That murmurs with a dead, yet tinkling sound; 1795.

Or to the bees, that in the neighbouring trunk
Make honey-hoards. The breeze that visits me
Was never love's accomplice, never raised

The tendril ringlets from the maiden's brow, THE PICTURE, OR THE LOVER'S

And the blue, delicate veins above her cheek; RESOLUTION.

Ne'er played the wanton-never half-disclosed THROUGH weeds and thorns, and matted under- The maiden's snowy bosom, scattering thence wood

Eye-poisons for some love-distemper’d youth, I force my way; now climb, and now descend Who ne'er henceforth may see an aspen grove O'er rocks, or bare or mossy, with wild foot Shiver in sunshine, but his feeble heart Crushing the purple whorts; wbile oft unseen, Sball flow away like a dissolving thing. Hurrying along the drifted forest leaves,

Sweet breeze! thou only, if I guess aright, The scared snake rustles. Onward still I toil, Liftest the feathers of the robin's breast, I know not, ask not whither! A new joy, That swells its little breast, so full of song, Lovely as light, sudden as summer gust,

Singing above me, on the mountain ash.
And gladsome as the first-born of the spring, And thou too, desert stream! no pool of thine,
Beckons me on, or follows from behind,

Though clear as lake in latest summer eve,
Playmate, or guide! The master-passion quell’d, Did e'er reflect the stately virgin's robe,
I feel that I am free. With dun-red bark

The face, the form divine, the downcast look The fir trees, and th’ unfrequent slender oak, Contemplative! Behold! her open palm Forth from this tangle wild of bush and brake Presses her cheek and brow! her elbow rests Soar up, and form a melancholy vault

On the bare branch of half-uprooted tree, High o'er me, murmuring like a distant sea. That leans towards its mirror! Who erewhile

Here wisdom might resort, and here remorse ; Had from her countenance turn'd, or look'd by Here too the lovelorn man who, sick in soul,

stealth, And of this busy human heart aweary,

(For fear is true love's cruel nurse,) be now Worships the spirit of unconscious life

With steadfast gaze and unoffending eye, In tree or wild-flower. Gentle lunatic !

Worships the watery idol, dreaming hopes If so he might not wholly cease to be,

Delicious to the soul, but fleeting, vain, He would far rather not be that, he is;

E'en as that phantom world on which he gazed, But would be something that he knows not of, But not unheeded gazed ! for see, ah! see, In winds, or waters, or among the rocks !

The sportive tyrant with her left hand plucks But hence, fond wretch! breathe not contagion The heads of tall flowers that behind her grow, here!

Lychnis, and willow-herb, and fox-glove bells : No myrtle-walks are these: these are no groves And suddenly, as one that toys with time, Where love dare loiter! If in sullen mood Scatters them on the pool! Then all the charm He should stray hither, the low stumps shall gore Is broken--all that phantom world so fair His dainty feet, the brier and the thoru

Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, Make his plumes haggard. Like a wounded bird And each misshapes the other. Stay a while

« ZurückWeiter »