Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fresh to that soil thou turn'st, where every vale
Shall prompt the poet, and his song demand:
To thee thy copious subjects ne'er shall fail;

Thou need'st but take thy pencil to thy hand,
And paint what all believe, who own thy genial land.

There must thou take perforce thy Doric quill; "Tis Fancy's land to which thou sett’st thy feet; Where still, 'tis said, the fairy people meet, Beneath each birken shade, on mead or hill. There each trim lass, that skims the milky store, To the swart tribes their creamy bowls allots; By night they sip it round the cottage-door, While airy minstrels warble jocund notes. There, every herd, by sad experience, knows How, wing'd with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly, When the sick ewe her summer food forgoes, Or, stretch'd on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie. Such airy beings awe th’untutord swain : Nor thou, tho' learn’d, his homelier thoughts neglect; Let thy sweet Muse the rural faith sustain; These are the themes of simple sure effect,

That add new.conquests to her boundless reign, And fill with double force her heart-commanding strain.

Ev'n yet preserv'd, how often may'st thou hear, Where to the Pole the Boreal mountains run, Taught by the father, to his listening son, Strange lays, whose power had charm'd a Spencer's car.

At every pause, before thy mind possest,
Old Runic bards shall seem to rise around
With uncouth lyres, in many-colour'd vest,
Their matted hair with boughs fantastic crown'd:
Whether thou bidd'st the well-taught hind repeat
The choral dirye that mourns some chieftain brave,
When every shrieking maid her bosom beat,
And strew'd with choicest herbs bis scented grave ;
Or, whether sitting in the shepherd's shiel,**
Thou hear'st some sounding tale of war's alarms ;
When at the bugle's call, with fire and steel,

The sturdy clans pour'd forth their brawny swarms,
And hostile brothers met to prove each other's arms.

'Tis thine to sing, how, framing hideous spells,
In Sky's lone isle, the gifted wizzard-seer ;
Lodg'd in the wintry cave with Fate's fell spear,
Or in the depth of Uist's dark forests dwells :
How they, whose sight such dreary dreams engross,
With their own vision oft astonish'd droop;
When, o'er the watery strath, or quaggy moss,
They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop.
Or, if in sports, or on the festive green,
Their destin'd glance some fated youth descry,.
Who now, perhaps, in lusty vigour seen,
And rosy health, shall soon lamented die.

A summer hut, built in the high part of the mountains, to tend their focks in the warm season, when the weatber is fine,

For them the viewless forms of air obey:
Their bidding heed, and at their beck repair.
They know what spirit brews the stormful day,

And heartless oft, like moody madness stare
To see the phantom train their secret work prepare.

To monarchs dear, some hundred miles astray, Oft have I seen Fate give the fatal blow! The Seer in Sky, shrieked as the blood did flow,When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay ! As Boreas threw his young Aurora® forth, In the first year of the first George's reign, And battles rag'd in welkin of the North, They mourn’d in air, fell, fell Rebellion slain! And as, of late, they joy'd in Preston's fight, Saw, at sad Falkirk, all their hopes near crown'd! They ravid! divining thro' their second sight, Pale, red Culloden, where these hopes were drown'd! Illustrious William !+ Britain's guardian name ! One William sav'd us from a tyrant's stroke; He, for a sceptre gain’d heroic fame,

But thou, more glorious, Slavery's chain hast broke, To reign a private man, and bow to Freedom's yoke !

* It is highly probable, that Collins meant the first appearance of the Northern Lights, which happened about the year 1715; from this circumstance, that no ancient writer has taken notice of them ; vor any modern, previous to the above period.

* The Duke of Cumberland, who defcated the Pretender at Culloden.

These too thou 'lt sing ! for well thy magic Muse
Can to the topmost heaven of grandeur soar,
Or stoop to wail the swain that is no more.
Ah, homely swains! your homeward steps ne'er lose;
Let not dank Will* mislead you to the heath :
Dancing in mirky night, o'er fen and lake,
He glows, to draw you downward to your death,
In his bewitch’d, low, marshy, willow brake.
What tho' far off, from some dark dell espied,
His glimmering mazes cheer the excursive sight ?
Yet turn, ye wanderers, turn your steps aside,
Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light;
For watchful, lurking, 'mid th' unrustling reed,
At those mirk hours the wily monster lies,
And listens oft to hear the passing steed,

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

Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest, indeed!
Whom late bewilder'd in the dank, dark fen,
Far from his flocks and smoaking hamlet then,
To that sad spot where hums the sedgy weed :
On him, enrag'd, the fiend, in angry mood,
Shall never look with pity's kind concern,
But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood
O’er its drown’d banks, forbidding all return!

* A fiery meteor, called Will-with-the-Wisp, Jack-with-the-Lantorn, &c. It hovers over fenny and marshy places.

Or, if he meditate his wish'd escape,
l'o some dim hill that seems uprising near,
To his faint eye, the griin and grisly shape,
In all its terrors clad, shall wild appear.
Meantime the watery surge shall round him rise,
Pourd sudden forth from every swelling souro

urce ! What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs ?

His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force, And down the waves he floats, a pale and breathless corse !

For him in vain his anxious wife shall wait,
Or wander forth to meet him on his way;
For him in vain, at to-fall of the day,
His babes shall linger at th' unclosing gate:
Ah, ne'er shall he return! Alone, if night
Her travell'd limbs in broken sluinbers steep,
With drooping willows drest his mournful sprite
Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep :
Then he, perhaps, with moist and watery hand,
Shall fondly seem to press her shuddering cheek,
And with his blue-swoln face before her stand,
And, shivering cold, these piteous accents speak:
" Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils, pursue,
At dawn or dusk, industrious as before ;
Nor e'er of me one helpless thought renew,

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

• The water-fiend.

« PreviousContinue »