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Yet still, when May with fragrant feet
Hath wander'd o'er your meads of gold, That dirge I hear so simply sweet
Far echo'd from each evening fold.
'Twas in the pride of William's day,
When Scotland's honours flourish'd still, That Moray's earl, with mighty sway,
Bare rule o'er many a Highland hill. And far for him their fruitful store
The fairer plains of Carron spread; In fortune rich, in offspring poor,
An only daughter crownd his bed. Oh! write not poor-the wealth that flows
In waves of gold round India's throne, All in her shining breast that glows,
To Ellen's charms were earth and stone. For her the youth of Scotland sigh'd,
The Frenchman gay, the Spaniard grave, And smoother Italy applied,
And many an English baron brave. In vain by foreign arts assail'd,
No foreign loves her breast beguile. And England's honest valour fail'd,
Paid with a cold but courteous smile.
“Ah! wo to thee, young Nithisdale,
That o'er thy cheek those roses stray'd Thy breath, the violet of the vale,
Thy voice, the music of the shade!
“Ah! wo to thee, that Ellen's love
Alone to thy soft tale would yield ! For soon those gentle arms shall prove
The conflict of a ruder field.”
'Twas thus a wayward sister spoke,
And cast a rueful glance behind,
And mounted on the moaning wind.
She spoke and vanish'd ; more unmoved
Than Moray's rocks, when storms invest, The valiant youth by Ellen loved,
With aught that fear or fate suggest. For love, methinks, hath power to raise
The soul beyond a vulgar state; Th' unconquer'd banners he displays
Control our fears and fix our fate.
'Twas when, on summer's softest eve,
Of clouds that wander'd west away, Twilight with gentle hand did weave
Her fairy robe of night and day; When all the mountain gales were still,
And the waves slept against the shore, And the sun, sunk beneath the hill,
Left his last smile on Lammermore;
Led by these waking dreams of thought,
That warm the young, unpractised breast, Her wonted bower sweet Ellen sought, And Carron murmur'd near, and soothed her
There is some kind and courtly sprite
That o'er the realm of fancy reigns, Throws sunshine on the mask of night,
And smiles at slumber's powerless chains;
'Tis told, and I believe the tale,
At this soft hour that sprite was there, And spread with fairer flowers the vale,
And fill'd with sweeter sounds the air. A bower he framed (for he could frame
What long might weary mortal wight: Swift as the lightning's rapid flame
Darts on the unsuspecting sight).
Such bower he framed with magic hand,
As well that wizard bard hath wove, In scenes where fair Armida's wand
Waved all the witcheries of love :
Yet was it wrought in simple show;
Nor Indian mines nor Orient shores Had lent their glories here to glow,
Or yielded here their shining stores. All round a poplar's trembling arms
The wild rose wound her damask flower; The woodbine lent her spicy charms,
That loves to weave the lover's bower.
The ash, that courts the mountain air,
In all her painted blooms array'd, The wilding's blossom blushing fair,
Combined to form the flowery shade.
With thyme that loves the brown hill's breast,
The cowslip's sweet, reclining head,
Was all the fairy ground bespread.
Beside him sleeps the warrior's bow.
He bends to Ellen-(gentle sprite,
Thy sweet, seductive arts forbear) He courts her arms with fond delight,
And instant vanishes in air.
Hast thou not found, at early dawn,
Some soft ideas melt away,
The sprite of dreams hath bid thee stray! Hast thou not some fair object seen,
And, when the fleeting form was past, Still on thy memory found its mien,
And felt the fond idea last?
Thou hast; and oft the pictured view,
Seen in some vision counted vain, Has struck the wondering eye anew,
And brought the long-lost dream again. With warrior-bow, with hunter's spear,
With locks adown his shoulder spread, Young Nithisdale is ranging near
He's ranging near yon mountain's head. Scarce had one pale moon pass'd away,
And fill'd her silver urn again,
Afar from all his woodland train,
And, all to shun the fervid hour,
And found the visionary bower.
THOMAS GRAY. 1716–1771.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Her Henry's holy shade;
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields beloved in vain,
A stranger yet to pain!
As, waving fresh their gladsome wing,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
The paths of pleasure trace,
The captive linnet which enthral !
Or urge the flying ball ?