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Some withered stalks, she gathered in the spring :
When any asked the cause, she smiled and said,
They were her sisters, and would come and watch
when she was dead. She never spoke
Of her deceiver, father, mother, home,
Or child, or heaven, or hell, or God, but still
In lonely places walked, and ever gazed
Upon the withered, stalks, and talked to them ;
Till wasted to the shadow of her youth,
With wo too wide to see beyond she died :
Not unatoned for by imputed blood,
Nor by the spirit that mysterious works,
Unsanctified. Aloud her father cursed
That day his guilty pride which would not own
A daughter whom the God of heaven and earth,
Was not ashamed to call his own; and he
Who ruined her read from her holy look,
That pierced him with perdition manifold,
His sentence burning with windictive fire.
Time speeds away-away-away :
Another hour-another day-
Another month—another year-
Drop from us like the leaflets sear ;
Drop like the life-blood from our hearts ;
The rose-bloom from the cheek departs,
The tresses from the temples fall,
The eye grows dim and strange to all.
Time speeds away-away-away :
Like torrent in a stormy day,
He undermines the stately tower,
Uproots the tree, and snaps the flower ;
And sweeps from our distracted breast
The friends that loved--the friends that blessed :
And leaves us weeping on the shore,
To which they can return no more.
Time speeds away-away-away:
No eagle through the skies of day,
No wind along the hills can flee
So swiftly or so smooth as he.
Like fiery steed—from stage to stage
He bears us on—from youth to age ;
Then plunges in the fearful sea
Of fathomless Eternity.
The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old ;
His withered cheek, and tresses gray,
Seemed to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy ;
The last of all the bards was he,
Who sung of Border chivalry.
For, well-a-day! their date was fed,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them, and at rest.
No more, on prancing palfrey borne,
He carolled, light as lark at morn ;
No longer courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He poured, to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay:
Old times were changed, old manners gone ;
filled the Stuarts' throne:
The bigots of the iron time
Had called his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door!
And tuned, to please a peasant's ear,
The harp, a king had loved to hear.
He passed where Newark's stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower :
The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye--
No humbler resting-place was nigh.
With hesitating step, at last,
The embattled portal-arch he past,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bar
Had oft rolled back the tide of war,
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The Duchess marked his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her
the menials tell, That they should tend the old man welt:
For she had known adversity,
Though born in such a high degree ;
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb!
When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride :
And, would the noble Duchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to bear
He could make music to her ear.
The humble boon was soon obtained ;
The aged Minstrel audience gained.
But, when he reached the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies sate,
Perchance he wished his boon denied ;
For, when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please :
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his harp in vain.