« PreviousContinue »
But clouds and envious darkness hide
A form not doubtfully deserted :—
Their transient mission o'er,
Oh, say to what blind region flee
These shapes of awful phantasy?
To what untrodden shore?
Less than divine command they spurn;
But this we from the mountains learn,
And this the valleys show,
That never will they deign to hold
Communion where the heart is cold
To human weal and woe.
The man of abject soul in vain
Shall walk the Marathonian plain;
Or thrid the shadowy gloom,
That still invests the guardian pass,
Where stood, sublime, Lconidas,
Devoted to the tomb.
Nor deem that it can aught avail
For such to glide with oar or sail
Beneath the piny wood,
Where Tell once drew, by Uri's lake,
His vengeful shafts—prepared to slake
Their thirst in tyrant's blood.
IN THE PLEASURE-GROUND ON THE BANKS OF THE BRAN, NEAR DUNKELD.
What he—who mid the kindred throng
Of heroes that inspired his song,
Doth yet frequent the hill of storms,
The stars dim-twinkling through their forms!
What! Ossian here—a painted thrall,
Mute fixture on a stuccoed wall;
To serve, an unsuspected screen
For show that must not yet be seen:
And, when the moment comes, to part
And vanish by mysterious art;
Head, harp, and body, split asunder,
For ingress to a world of wonder;
A gay saloon, with waters dancing
Upon the sight wherever glancing;
One loud cascade in front, and lo I
A thousand like it, white as snow—
Streams on the walls, and torrents foam
As active round the hollow dome,
Illusive cataracts! of their terrors
Not stripped, nor voiceless in the mirrors,
That catch the pageant from the flood
Thundering adown a rocky wood!
Strange scene, fantastic and uneasy
As ever made a maniac dizzy,
When disenchanted from the mood
That loves on sullen thoughts to brood!
O Nature, in thy changeful visions,
Through all thy most abrupt transitions,
Smooth, graceful, tender, or sublime,
Ever averse to pantomime,
Thee neither do they know nor us,
Thy servants, who can trifle thus;
Else surely had the sober powers
Of rock that frowns, and stream that roars,
Exalted by congenial sway
Of spirits, and the undying lay,
And names that moulder not away,
Awakened some redeeming thought
More worthy of this favoured spot *
Recalled some feeling—to set free
The bard from such indignity!
The effigies of a valiant wight
I once beheld, a Templar knight;
Not prostrate, not like those that rest
On tombs, with palms together pressed,
But sculptured out of living stone,
And standing upright and alone,
Doth hands with rival energy
Employed in setting his sword free
From its dull sheath—stern sentinel
Intent to guard St. Robert's cell;
As if with memory of the affray
Far distant, when, as legends say,
The monks of Fountains thronged to force
From its dear home the hermit's corse,
That in their keeping it might lie,
To crown their abbey's sanctity.
So had they rushed into the grot
Of sense despised, a world forgot,
And torn him from his loved retreat,
Where altar-stone and rock-hewn seat
Still hint that quiet best is found,
Even by the living, underground;
But a bold knight, the selfish aim
Defeating, put the monks to shame,
There where you see his image stand
Bare to the sky, with threatening brand,
Which lingering Nid is proud to show
Reflected in the pool below.
Thus, like the men of earliest days, Our sires set forth their grateful praise;
Uncouth the workmanship, and rude!
But, nursed in mountain solitude.
Might some aspiring artist dare
To seize whate'er, through misty air,
A ghost, by glimpses, may present
Of imitable lineament,
And give the phantom such array
As less should scorn the abandoned clay;
Then let him hew, with patient stroke,
An Ossian out of mural rock,
And leave the figurative man
Upon thy margin, roaring Bran!
Fixed, like the Templar of the steep,
An everlasting watch to keep;
With local sanctities in trust;
More precious than a hermit's dust;
And virtues through the mass infused,
Which old idolatry abused.
What though the granite would deny
All fervour to the sightless eye;
And touch from rising suns in vain
Solicit a Memnonian strain;
Yet, in some fit of anger sharp,
The wind might force the deep-grooved harp
To utter melancholy moans
Not unconnected with the tones
Of soul-sick flesh and weary bones;
While grove and river notes would lend,
Less deeply sad, with these to blend I
Vain pleasures of luxurious life,
For ever with yourselves at strife;
Through town and country both deranged
By affectations interchanged,
And all the perishable gauds
That heaven-deserted man applauds;
When will your hapless patrons learn
To watch and ponder—to discern
The freshness, the eternal youth,
Of admiration sprung from truth;
From beauty infinitely growing
Upon a mind with love o'erflowing;
To sound the depths of every art
That seeks its wisdom through the heart?
Thus (where the intrusive pile, ill-graced
With baubles of theatric taste,
O'erlooks the torrent breathing showers
On motley bands of alien flowers,
In stiff confusion set or sown,
Till Nature cannot find her own,
Or keep a remnant of the sod
Which Caledonian heroes trod)
I mused; and, thirsting for redress,
Recoiled into the wilderness.
THE DEPARTURE OF SIR WALTER SCOTT
FROM ABBOTSFORD FOR NAPLES.
A Trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,
Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light
Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height:
Spirits of power, assembled there, complain
For kindred power departing from their sight:
While Tweed best pleased in chanting a blithe strain,
Saddens his voice again, and yet again.
Lift up your hearts, ye mourners! for the might
Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes;
Blessings and prayers in nobler retinue