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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 though far off, from some dark dell espied,
His glimmering mazes cheer th' 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 wretc!
Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest, indeed!
Whom late bewilder'd in the dank, dark fen,
Far from his flocks, and smoking 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 ! Or, if he meditate his wish'd escape,
To some dim hill that seems uprising near, To his faint eye, the grim and grisly shape,
In all its terrours clad, shall wild appear. Meantime the watery surge shall round him rise,
Pour'd sudden forth from every swelling source !
* A fiery meteor, called by various names, such as Will with the Wisp, Jack with the Lantern, &c. It hovers in the air over marshy and fenny places.
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
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,
Her travell’d limbs in broken slumbers steep,
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 !”
Unbounded is thy range; with varied skill
spring From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle,
To that hoar pile * which still its ruin shows :
In whose small vaults a Pigmy-folk is found, Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows, And culls them, wond'ring, from the hallow'd
ground! Or thithert, where beneath the show'ry west
The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid : Once foes, perhaps together now they rest,
No slaves revere them, and no wars invade : Yet frequent now, at midnight solemn hour,
The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold, And forth the monarchs stalk with sovereign power,
In pageant robes, and wreath'd with sheeny gold, And on their twilight tombs aërial council hold.
But, oh, o'er all, forget not Kilda's race,
Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain, Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along,
And all their prospect but the wintery main.
* One of the Hebrides is called the Isle of Pigmies; where it is reported that several miniature bones of the human species have been dug up in the ruins of a chapel there.
+ Icolmkill, one of the Hebrides, where nearly sizty of the ancient Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings are interred.
With sparing temperance at the needful time
They drain the scented spring; or, hunger-prest, Along th’ Atlantic rock, undreading, climb,
And of its eggs despoil the solan's * nest. Thus blest in primal innocence they live,
Suffic'd and happy with that frugal fare Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give.
Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare; Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!
Nor need'st thou blush that such false themes en
gage Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possest;
For not alone they touch the village breast, But fill'd in elder time th' historic page. There, Shakspeare's self, with ev'ry garland crown'd,
Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheen, In musing hour; his wayward sisters found,
And with their terrours dress’d the magic scene. From them he sung, when, ʼmid his bold design,
Before the Scot, afflicted, and aghast ! The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line
Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant pass'd. Proceed! nor quit the tales which, simply told,
Could once so well my answering bosom pierce ; Proceed, in forceful sounds, and colour bold,
The native legends of thy land rehearse; To such adapt thy lyre, and suit thy powerful verse.
An aquatic bird like a goose, on the eggs of which the inhabitants of St. Kilda, another of the Hebrides, chiefly subsist.
In scenes like these, which, daring to depart
From sober truth, are still to Nature true,
And call forth fresh delight to Fancy's view, Th' heroic Muse employ'd her Tasso's art. How have I trembled, when, at Tancred's stroke
Its gushing blood the gaping cypress pour'd! When each live plant with mortal accents spoke,
And the wild blast upheav'd the vanish'd sword ! How have I sat, when pip'd the pensive wind,
To hear his harp by British Fairfax strung! Prevailing poet! whose undoubting mind
Believ'd the magic wonders which he sung ! Hence, at each sound, imagination glows !
Hence, at each picture, vivid life starts here ! Hence his warm lay with softest sweetness flows ! Melting it flows, pure, murmuring, strong, and
clear, And fills th' empassion'd heart, and wins th' har.
All hail, ye scenes that o'er my soul prevail !
Ye splendid friths and lakes, which, far away,
Are by smooth Anan fill’d, or past’ral Tay, Or Don's * romantic springs, at distance, hail ! The time shall come, when I, perhaps, may tread Your lowly glens f o'erhung with spreading
broom; Or o'er your stretching heaths, by Fancy led ;
Or o'er your mountains creep, in aweful gloom !
• Three rivers in Scotland.