Page images
PDF

But what is Gordon's beauteous face,
And what are Gordon's crosses,
To them who sit by Kirtle's braes
Upon the verdant mosses?
Alas that ever he was born!
The Gordon, couched behind a thorn,
Sees them and their caressing;
Beholds them blest and blessing.

Proud Gordon cannot bear the thoughts
That through his brain are travelling,—
And, starting up, to Bruce's heart
He launched a deadly javelin!
Fair Ellen saw it when it came,
And, stepping forth to meet the same,
Did with her body cover
The youth, her chosen lover.

And, falling into Bruce's arms.
Thus died the beauteous Ellen,
Thus, from the heart of her true love,
The mortal spear repelling.
And Bruce, as soon as he had slain
The Gordon, sailed away to Spain;
And fought with rage incessant
Against the Moorish crescent.

But many days, and many months,
And many years ensuing,
This wretched knight did vainly seek
The death that he was wooing:
So coming his last help to crave,
Heart-broken, upon Ellen's grave
His body he extended,
And there his sorrow ended.

Now ye, who willingly have heard
The tale I have been telling,
May in Kirkonnel churchyard view
The grave of lovely Ellen:
By Ellen's side the Bruce is laid;
And, for the stone upon its head,
May no rude hand deface it,
And its forlorn Hie Jacet I

TO A HIGHLAND GIRL.

Sweet Highland girl, a very shower

Of beauty is thy earthly dower 1

Twice seven consenting years have shed

Their utmost bounty on thy head:

And these gray rocks; this household lawn;

These trees, a veil just half withdrawn;

This fall of water, that doth make

A murmur near the silent lake;

This little bay, a quiet road

That holds in shelter thy abode;

In truth together do ye seem

Like something fashioned in a dream;

Such forms as from their covert peep

When earthly cares are laid asleep I

Yet, dream and vision as thou art,

I bless thee with a human heart:

God shield thee to thy latest years!

I neither know thee nor thy peers;

And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away;
For never saw I mien, or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered like a random seed,
Remote from men, thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress,
And maidenly shamefacedness:
Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a mountaineer.
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts, that lie beyond the reach
Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind,
Thus beating up against the wind.

What hand but would a garland cull
For thee, who art so beautiful?
Oh, happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways and dress,
A shepherd, thou a shepherdess!
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:
Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea: and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!

Thy elder brother I would be,
Thy father, anything to thee!

Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize
Our memory, feel that she hath eyes:
Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.%
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till 1 grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all!

GLEN-ALMAIN, OR, THE NARROW GLEN.

In this still place, remote from men,

Sleeps Ossian, in the Narrow Glen;

In this still place, where murmurs on

But one meek streamlet, only one,

He sang of battles, and the breath

Of stormy war, and violent death;

And should, methinks, when all was past,

Have rightfully been laid at last

Where rocks were rudely heaped, and rent

As by a spirit turbulent;

Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild,

And every thing unreconciled;

In some complaining, dim retreat, *
For fear and melancholy meet;
Hut this is calm; there cannot be
A more entire tranquillity.

Does then the bard sleep here indeed?
Or is it but a groundless creed!
What matters it?—I blame them not
Whose fancy in this lonely spot
Was moved; and in such way expressed
Their notion of its perfect rest.
A convent, even a hermit's cell
Would break the silence of this dell:
It is not quiet; is not ease;
But something deeper far than these:
The separation that is here
Is of the grave; and of austere
Yet happy feelings of the dead:
And, therefore, was it rightly said
That Ossian, last of all his race I
Lies buried in this lonely place.

STEPPING WESTWARD.

"What I you arestepping westward!"* "Yea."

Twould be a wildisk destiny,

If we, who thus together roam

In a strange land, and far from home,

Were in this place the guests of chance;

Vet who would stop, or fear to advance,

Though home or shelter he had none,

With such a sky to lead him on?

* The words of a woman's greeting to the poet by the side of Loch Katrine.

« PreviousContinue »