Page images

The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair.
His birth no oracle or seer foretold:
No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,

Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth.

And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy; Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye. Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy. Silent, when glad; affectionate, though shy; And now his look was most demurely sad, And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why. The neighbours star'd and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad; Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believ'd him mad.

But why should I his childish feats display? Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled: Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray Of squabbling imps, but to the forest sped, Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head; Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led, There would he wander wild, till Pœbus' beam, Shot from the western cliff, releas'd the weary team.

The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.

His heart, from cruel sport estrang'd, would bleed
To work the wo of any living thing,

By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested, those he scorn'd to wield:
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field;

And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.

Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees, on high, amidst the encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine:
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And echo swells the chorus to the skies-
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign

For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies? Ah! no he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.

And oft he trac'd the uplands to survey,

When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim gleaming, on the smoky lawn;
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil-

But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.

And oft the craggy cliff, he lov❜d to climb,

When all in mist the world below was lost. What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast, And view th' enormous waste of vapour, toss'd In billows, lengthening to the horizon round, Now scoop'd in gulfs, with mountains now emboss'd! And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound.

In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle, and each dreadful scene.
In darkness, and in storm, he found delight:
Nor less, than when on ocean wave serene
The southern sun diffus'd his dazzling sheen.
Even sad vicissitude amus'd his soul:
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,

A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish'd not to control.

"O ye wild groves,-O where is now your bloom!" (The Muse interprets thus his tender thought—) "Your flowers, your verdure, and your balmy gloom, "Of late so grateful in the hour of drought!

"Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought "To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake? "Ah! why has fickle chance this ruin wrought? "For now the storm howls mournful thro' the brake, "And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake.

"Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool, "And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crown'd!

"Ah! see the unsightly slime, and sluggish pool, "Have all the solitary vale imbrown'd;

"Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound; "The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray : "And, hark! the river bursting every mound, "Down the vale thunders, and with wasteful sway "Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter'd rocks away.

"Yet such the destiny of all on earth: "So flourishes and fades majestic Man. "Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth, "And fostering gales awhile the nursling fan. "O smile, ye heavens, serene! ye mildews wan, "Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime, "Nor lessen of his life the little span.

"Borne on the swift, tho' silent, wings of Time, "Old-age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.

"And be it so. Let those deplore their doom, "Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn. "But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb, "Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn. "Shall spring to these sad scenes no more return? "Is yonder wave the sun's eternal bed?

"Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn, "And spring shall soon her vital influence shed; "Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead.

"Shall I be left abandoned in the dust, "When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive? "Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust, "Bid him, tho' doom'd to perish, hope to live? "Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive "With disappointment, penúry, and pain?— "No; Heaven's immortal spring shall yet arrive; "And man's majestic beauty bloom again, [reign." "Bright thro' the eternal year of Love's triumphant

This truth sublime his simple sire had taught,
In sooth, 'twas almost all the shepherd knew,
No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
Nor ever wish'd his Edwin to pursue.

[view, "Let man's own sphere," quoth he, "confine his "Be man's peculiar work his sole delight." And much, and oft, he warn'd him to eschew Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right, By pleasure unsubdued, unawed by lawless might.

"And, from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Wo, "O never, never turn away thine ear, "Forlorn in this bleak wilderness below,

"Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear! "To others do (the law is not severe)

"What to thyself thou wishest to be done.

"Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear,

"And friends and native land; nor those alone;

"All human weal and wo learn thou to make thine own."

« PreviousContinue »