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Great, but ill-omen'd monument of fame,
AN ELEGIAC. POEM.
Beneath an aged oak's embow'ring shade,
Whose spreading arms with gray moss fringed were, Around whose trunk the clasping ivy stray'd;
A love-lorn youth oft pensive would repair.
Fast by a Naïad taught her stream to glide,
Which through the dale a winding channel wore; The silver willow deck'd its verdant side,
The whisp'ring sedges war'd along the shore.
Here oft, when morn peep'd o'er the dusky hill;
Here oft when eve bedew'd the misty vale ; Careless he laid him all beside the rill,
And pour'd in strains like these his artless tale.
Ah! would he say-and then a sigh would heave;
Ah Cynthia ! sweeter than the breath of morn, Soft as the gentle breath that fans at eve,
Of thee bereft how shall I live forlorn?
Ah! what avails this sweetly solemn bow'r,
That silent stream where dimpling eddies play; Yon thymy bank bedeck'd with many a flow'r,
Where maple-tufts exclude the beam of day?
Rob’d of my love, for how can
As droops the lily at the blighting gale;
Or crimson-spotted cowslips of the mead, Whose tender stalk (alas ! their stalk so frail)
Some hasty foot hath bruis'd with heedless tread:
As droops the woodbine, when some village hind
Hath felld the sapling elm it fondly bound;
No more it gadding dances in the wind,
But trails its fading beauties on the ground;
So droops my soul, dear maid, downcast and sad,
For ever! ah! for ever torn from thee; Bereft of each sweet hope, which once it had,
When love, when treacherous love first smild on me.
Return blest days, return ye laughing hours,
Which led me up the roseate steep of youth ; Which strew'd my simple path with vemal flow'rs,
And bade me court chaste Science and fair Truth.
Ye know, the curling breeze, or gilded fly
That idly wantons in the noontide air, Was not so free, was not so gay as I,
Por ah! I knew not then or love, or care.
Witness, ye winged daughters of the year,
If e'er a sigh had learnt to heave my breast! If e'er my cheek was conscious of a tear,
'Till Cynthia came and rob’d my soul of rest!
O have you seen, bath'd in the morning dew,
The budding rose its infant bloom display; When first its virgin tints unfold to view,
It.shrinks and scarcely trusts the blaze of day.
So soft, so delicate, so sweet she came,
Youth's damask glow just dawning on her cheek: I gaz'd, I sigh’d, I caught the tender flame,
Felt the fond pang, and droop'd with passion, weak.
Yet not unpitied was my pain the while;
· For oft beside yon sweet-briar in the dale, With many a blush, with many a melting smile,
She sate and listen’d to the plaintive tale.
Ah me! I fondly dreamt of pleasures rare,
Nor deem'd so sweet a face with scorn could glow; How could you cruel then pronounce despair,
Chill the warm hope, and plant the thorn of, wo?
What though no treasures canker in my chest,
Nor crowds of suppliant vassals hail me lord! What though my roof can boast no princely guest,
Nor surfeits lurk beneath my frugal board !
Yet should Content, that shuns the gilded bed,
With smiling Peace, and Virtue there forgot, And rose-lip'd Health, which haunts the straw-built
With cherub Joy, frequent my little cot:
Led by chaste Love, the decent band should come,
O charmer would'st thou deign' my roof to share;
Nor should the Muses scorn our simple dome,
Or knit in mystic dance, the Graces fair.
The woodland nymphs, and gentle fays, at eve
Forth from the dripping cave and mossy dell, Should round our hearth fantastic measures weave,
And shield from mischief by their guardian spell.
Come then bright maid, and quit the city throng;
Have rural joys no charm to win the soul ? -She proud, alas ! derides my lowly song,
Scorns the fond vow, and spurns the russet stole.
Then Love begone, thy thriftless empire yield,
In youthful toils I'll lose the unmanly pain: With echoing horns I'll rouse the jocund field,
Urge the keen chase, and sweep along the plain.
Or all in some lone moss-grown tow'r sublime
With midnight lamp I'll watch pale Cynthia round, Explore the choicest rolls of ancient Time,
And heal with Wisdom's balm my hapless wound.
Or else I'll roam--ah no! that sigh profound
Tells me that stubborn love disdains to yield: Nor flight, nor Wisdom's balm can heal the wound,
Nor pain forsake me in the jocund field.