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Last came Joy's ecstatic trial.
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
But soon he saw the brisk awak'ning viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the
best. They would have thought, who heard the strain, 85
They saw in Tempe's vale her native maids Amidst the vestal sounding shades, To some unwearied minstrel dancing, While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings, Love fram'd with Mirth a gay fantastic round; Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound, And he, amidst his frolic play, 92 As if he would the charming air repay, Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.
O Music, sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
As in that lov'd Athenian bow'r
You learn’d an all-commanding pow'r,
Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear'd,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
Arise as in that elder time,
Warm, energic, chaste, sublime !
Thy wonders, in that godlike age,
Fill thy recording sister's page. —
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age,
Ev’n all at once together found,
Caecilia's mingled world of sound.
O bid our vain endeavours cease,
Revive the just designs of Greece,
Return in all thy simple state,
Confirm the tales her sons relatel
ON THE POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND, CONSIDERED AS THE SUBJECT OF POETRY
H–, thou return'st from Thames, whose naiads long Have seen thee ling'ring, with a fond delay, 'Mid those soft friends, whose hearts, some future day,
ODE ON SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS 275
Shall melt, perhaps, to hearthy tragic song.
Go, not unmindful of that cordial youth 5
Whom, long-endear'd, thou leav'st by Lavant's
Together let us wish him lasting truth,
And joy untainted, with his destined bride.
Go! nor regardless, while these numbers boast
My short-liv'd bliss, forget my social name; 10
But think, far off, how on the Southern coast
I met thy friendship with an equal flame!
Fresh to that soil thou turn'st, whose ev'ry vale
Shall prompt the poet, and his song demand:
To thee thy copious subjects ne'er shall fail; 15
Thou need'st but take the pencil to thy hand,
And paint what all believe who own thy genial
'Tis thine to sing, how, framing hideous spells,
In Sky's lone isle the gifted wizard seer,
Lodg'd in the wintry cave with Fate's fell
Or in the depth of Uist's dark forests dwells:
How they whose sight such dreary dreams en-
With their own visions oft astonish'd droop,
When o'er the wat'ry strath or quaggy moss
They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop;
Or if in sports, or on the festive green, 61
Their [destined] glance some fated youth descry,
Who, now perhaps in lusty vigour seen
And rosy health, shall soon lamented die.
For them the viewless forms of air obey, 65
Their bidding heed, and at their beck repair.
They know what spirit brews the stormful day,
And, heartless, oft like moody madness stare
To see the phantom train their secret work pre-
pare. - 69
[To monarchs dear, some hundred miles astray,'
Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow !
The seer, in Sky, shriek'd as the blood did flow,
When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay!
As Boreas threw his young Aurora forth,
In the first year of the first George's reign,
And battles rag'd in welkin of the North, 76
They mourn’d in air, fell, fell Rebellion slain!
And as, of late, they joy'd in Preston's fight,
Saw at sad Falkirk all their hopes near crown'd,
They rav'd, divining, thro’ their second sight, 80
Pale, red Culloden, where these hopes were
Illustrious William | Britain's guardian name!
One William sav'd us from a tyrant's stroke;
He, for a sceptre, gain'd heroic fame;
But thou, more glorious, Slavery's chain hast
To reign a private man, and bow to Freedom's
1 This Ode was first published after the death of Collins. The bracketed passages are missing in the original and are here supplied from an unauthorized edition, London, 1788.
These, too, thou’lt sing ! for well thy magic Muse
Can to the topmost heav'n of grandeur soar!
Or stoop to wail the swain that is no more 1
Ah, homely swains! your homeward steps ne'er
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 tho' far off, from some dark dell espied, 95
His glimm'ring mazes cheer th' excursive sight,
Yet turn, ye wand'rers, 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, 1oo
And listens oft to hear the passing steed,
And frequent round him rolls his sullen eyes,
If chance his savage wrath may some weak wretch
Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest indeed! 104
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 11o
O'er its drown'd bank, 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 terrors clad, shall wild appear. 115
Meantime, the wat'ry surge shall round him rise,
Pour'd sudden forth from ev’ry swelling source.
What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs?
His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly
And down the waves he floats, a pale and breath-
less corse. 12C
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,
His babes shall linger at th' unclosing gate.
Ah, ne'er shall he return 1 "Alone, if night 125
Her travell'd limbs in broken slumbers steep,
With dropping willows drest, his mournful sprite
Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep:
Then he, perhaps, with moist and wat'ry hand,
Shall fondly seem to press her shudd'ring cheek
And with his blue-swoln face before her stand,
And, shiv'ring cold, these piteous accents speak:
Unbounded is thy range; with varied style
Thy Muse may, like those feath'ry tribes which
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 ! 145
Or thither, 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's solemn hour, 152
The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold,
And forth the monarchs stalk with sov’reign pow'r,
In pageant robes, and wreath'd with sheeny
And on their twilight tombs aerial council hold.
For not alone they touch the village breast, But fill'd in elder time th' historic page. 175 There Shakespeare's self, with ev'ry garland crown'd, – [Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheens)— In musing hour, his wayward Sisters found, And with their terrors drest the magic scene. From them he sung, when, 'mid his bold design, Before the Scot afflicted and aghast, 181 The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line Thro' the dark cave in gleamy pageant past. Proceed, nor quit the tales which, simply told, Could once so well my answ'ring bosom pierce; Proceed! in forceful sounds and colours bold, The native legends of thy land rehearse; 187 To such adapt thy lyre and suit thy pow'rful verse.
In scenes like these, which, daring to depart
From sober truth, are still to nature true, 190
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
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;
[The MS. lacks a line here.] too, “
Hence his warm lay with softest sweetness flows;
Melting it flows, pure, num’rous, strong, and
And fills th’ impassion'd heart, and wins th’ har-
monious ear. - 205
All hail, ye scenes that o'er my soul prevail,
Ye [splendid] friths and lakes which, far away,
Are by smooth Annan 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, o'erhung with spreading
broom, 2 II
Or o'er your stretching heaths by fancy led:
[The MS. lacks a line here.]
Then will I dress once more the faded bow'r,
Where Jonson sat in Drummond’s [classic]
Or crop from Tiviot's dale each [lyric flower]
And mourn on Yarrow's banks [where Willy's
Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs That roofless tower invade, s' We came, while her enchanting Muse 'The radiant moon above us held: Till, by a clamorous owl compell'd She fled the solemn shade.
But hark! I hear her liquid tone!
Now Hesper guide my feet!
Down the red marl with moss o'ergrown,
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane
Which leads to her retreat. 3o
See the green space: on either hand
Enlarged it spreads around:
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends o'er half the level mead,
Enclosed in woods profound.
Hark! how through many a melting note
She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!