Page images

“ There is, “ resumed the nymph,” not only humour and truth in this little poem, but a naïveté of thought and expression, which shows that the author possesses very amiable dispositions."

“ Possessed !" replied the Bachelor with a mournful accent,—" but read me the short ballad on old age. I remember, when I heard it at first, it struck me as one of the most plaintive and simple complaints I had ever met with. It is in my opinion quite a melody, and a sad one too. Alas, that we should grow old !"

Egeria turned over the papers, till she found the piece, and then began to read.

Come any gentle poet

Who wants a mournful page,
His theme I soon will show it;

Oh, sing the woes of age !
He sure must weep for pity,

Who sings so sad a lay ;
And tears, to grace his ditty,

His sorrow shall repay.

O age is dark and dreary,

As every old man knows;
Without labour he is weary,

In rest finds no repose;
His life affords no pleasure,

For he has lived too long ;
A cup with over-measure,

It palls upon the tongue.

His friends long time departed,

That were so true and kind,

When children are hard-hearted,

He bears them oft in mind :
He silent sits and ponders,

In grief and helpless pride ;
And as his fancy wanders,
He thinks them at his side.

O who would strive with nature

For half an hour of gloom,
To live an abject creature,

Usurping others' room !
I seek not life, but rather

I pray to be at rest;
When friends go all together,

That voyage is surely best.

“ I shall not be content, my dear Benedict,” said the nymph, “ till you tell me by whom these papers were written, and how it happened that so many really charming things have never been published ?"

“ Whether any of these poems have ever been published,” replied the Bachelor, “ I do not certainly know; but the Essay on Deformity was printed in some periodical work at the time it was written, and I recollect it obtained a warm commendation from the editor. The author then was very young, a mere boy, and the promise of his talent was a blossom that might have come in time to some rich and rare fruit, had he been spared in health.”

6 In health ! then he is still alive ?” said the nymph.

• Do not question me any further at present,” replied the Bachelor; “ I have a reason for my silence. Have you looked at any more ?”

“ Yes; and here is a song which is both spirited and highly poetical.”

THE CALL OF MORVEN, Strike the harp ! strike the harp! O ye masters of song! Call forth your high strains that to glory belong. The valiant depart, go ye minstrels before, And lead with proud steps to the fight as of yore. High flames the red signal on Cruachan's bound, And answering swords gleam in thousands around. The banner of Albin unfurls in its might, And flaps like an eagle preparing for flight; Full spread to the blast see it rushes afar, And the sons of green Morven must follow to war. Hide your tears ! Oye maids, in your brightness o'ercast, Nor rend your fair locks till the heroes be past ! Approach not, ye mothers, lamenting afar, For the sons of green Morven are summoned to war! O ye shores of the ocean, for combats renown'd, Where the bones of the mighty lie scatter'd around; Where the Roman was chased from the hill to the plain, And the haughty Norweyan lies stretched on the Dane: Again shall ye tell where the valiant have died, And the spoiler of nations stood check’d in his pride ; Once more shall your echoes redouble from far The sound of pursuit, and the triumph of war.

- But,” continued the nymph, “it is in the simple pathetic that the author most excels,--and here is a little piece of that kind which I think affecting and pretty."

O I am not of this countrie,

And much my heart is wrung,
To wander in a foreign land,

And beg in foreign tongue.

'Tis all to gain a little sum

To bear me o'er the sea ; And hither slowly I am come

To ask your charity.

My home is in the Valteline,

Far inland from the main ; And every day I wish and pine

To see it once again.

I cannot mend this little store ;

My wishing is in vain ; · And I shall ne'er behold it more,

Ah never, ne'er again!

If you have ever been abroad,

Bestow an alms on me! And think you speed me on my road

My native land to see.

My cot still rises to my view,

And will not let me stay ;
But I am old, and alms are few,

And long is the delay!

And must I ever thus deplore

My labour spent in vain ?
And shall I ne'er behold it more?

Ah never, ne'er again!

Your country is a pleasant land,

But, oh, it is not mine!
I have not here a kindred band

As in the Valteline.

When on my native hills I play'd,

I breathed not English air ;

I did not love an English maid

When love was all my care.

But I must die on England's strand,

A prisoner of the main !
And ne'er behold my native land,

Ah, never, ne'er ágain!

“I am also well pleased with another short poem, which, without being very lofty in the style, is very animated in the conception, and full of lyrical energy.”

O thou who didst thy vigils keep,
On lonely tower or heath-clad steep,
Watching the midnight beacon's blaze,
That, streaming to the warrior’s gaze,
Told him the invading foe was near,
And bade him grasp the Scottish spear ;
0, welcome to this heart again!
Welcome ! with all thy radiant train,
Valour with Friendship by his side,
Domestic Love with pinions tied,
And Poesy, the wild and free,
Sweet child of Sympathy and thee !
Too long a stranger to thy shrine,
And heedless of thy songs divine,
I follow'd shadows, false though fair,
That beckoning through the misty air,
Drew me, unwilling and afraid,
To desert paths of deepest shade.
Yet not bereft of thee, sweet Power !
For still, from thine and Virtue's bower,
Thou follow’dst on the devious track,
Suppliant to win thy votary back ;

« PreviousContinue »