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Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought,
The beauteous forms of Nature wrought, -
Fair trees and gorgeous flowers ;
The breezes their own languor lent ;
The stars had feelings, which they sent
Into those favour'd bowers.
Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween
That sometimes there did intervene
Pure hopes of high intent:
For passions link'd to forms so fair
And stately, needs must have their share
Of noble sentiment.
But ill he lived, much evil saw
With men to whom no better law
Nor better life was known ;
Deliberately and undeceived
Those wild men's vices he received,
And gave them back his own.
His genius and his moral frame
Were thus impair’d, and he became
The slave of low desires :
A man who without self-control
Would seek what the degraded soul
And yet he with no feign'd delight
Had woo'd the maiden, day and night,
Had loved her, night and morn:
What could he less than love a maid
Whose heart with so much nature play'd —
So kind and so forlorn ?
Sometimes most earnestly he said,
"O Ruth ! I have been worse than dead;
False thoughts, thoughts bold and vain
Encompass'd me on every side
When I, in confidence and pride,
Had cross'd the Atlantic main.
Before me shone a glorious world
Fresh as a banner bright, unfurl'd
To music suddenly:
I look'd upon those hills and plains,
And seem'd as if let loose from chains
To live at liberty !
No more of this - for now, by thee,
Dear Ruth ! more happily set free,
With nobler zeal I burn;
My soul from darkness is released
Like the whole sky when to the east
The morning doth return.'
Full soon that better mind was gone ;
No hope, no wish remain’d, not one,
They stirr'd him now no more ;
New objects did new pleasure give,
And once again he wish'd to live
As lawless as before.
Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared,
They for the voyage were prepared,
And went to the sea-shore :
But, when they thither came, the youth
Deserted his poor bride, and Ruth
Could never find him more.
God help thee, Ruth !- Such pains she had
That she in half a year was mad
And in a prison housed;
And there exulting in her wrongs,
Among the music of her songs
She fearfully caroused.
Yet sometimes milder hours she knew,
Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew,
Nor pastimes of the May,
— They all were with her in her cell ;
And a clear brook with cheerful knell
Did o'er the pebbles play.
When Ruth three seasons thus had lain,
There came a respite to her pain ;
She from her prison fled ;
But of the vagrant none took thought ;
And where it liked her best she sought
Her shelter and her bread.
Among the fields she breathed again :
The master-current of her brain
Ran permanent and free;
And, coming to the banks of Tone,
There did she rest ; and dwell alone
Under the greenwood tree.
The engines of her pain, the tools
That shaped her sorrow, rocks and pools,
And airs that gently stir
The vernal leaves she loved them still,
Nor ever tax'd them with the ill
Which had been done to her.
A barn her Winter bed supplies ;
But, till the warmth of Summer skies
And Summer days is gone,
(And all do in this tale agree,)
She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,
And other home hath none.
An innocent life, yet far astray !
And Ruth will, long before her day,
Be broken down and old.
Sore aches she needs must have ! but less
Of mind, than body's wretchedness,
From damp, and rain, and cold.
If she is prest by want of food
She from her dwelling in the wood
Repairs to a road-side ;
And there she begs at one steep place,
Where up and down with easy pace
The horsemen-travellers ride.
That oaten pipe of hers is mute
Or thrown away : but with a flute
Her loneliness she cheers ;
This flute, made of a hemlock stalk,
At evening in his homeward walk
The Quantock woodman hears.
I, too, have pass'd her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild -
Such small machinery as she turn'd
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourn'd,
A young and happy child !
Farewell ! and when thy days are told,
Ill-fated Ruth ! in hallow'd mould
Thy corpse shall buried be;
For thee a funeral bell shall ring,
And all the congregation sing
A Christian psalm for thee.
WRITTEN IN THE EUGANEAN HILLS,
ANY a green isle needs must be
Or the mariner, worn and wan,
Never thus could voyage on
Day and night, and night and day,
Drifting on his dreary way,
With the solid darkness black
Closing round his vessel's track;
Whilst above, the sunless sky
Big with clouds, hangs heavily,
And behind the tempest fleet
Hurries on with lightning feet,
Riving sail, and cord, and plank,
Till the ship has almost drank
Death from the o'er-brimming deep ;
And sinks down, down, like that sleep
When the dreamer seems to be
Weltering through eternity;
And the dim low line before
Of a dark and distant shore
Still recedes, as ever still
Longing with divided will,