Page images
PDF
EPUB

Roll with him in fierce dalliance intertwined. Sent forth in loud defiance of the foe.
But like a creature of some higher sphere

The enemy in shriller sounds returned
His sister came; she scarcely touched the rock, Their Akbar and the Prophet's trusted name.
So light was Hermesind's aerial speed.

The horsemen lowered their spears, the infantry Beauty and grace and innocence in her

Deliberately with slow and steady step (hissed, In heavenly union shone. One who had held Advanced; the bow-strings twang'd, and arrows The faith of elder Greece, would sure have thought And javelins hurtled by. Anon the hosts She was some glorious nymph of seed divine, Met in the shock of battle, horse and man (mace Oread or Dryad, of Diana's train

Conflicting: shield struck shield, and sword and The youngest and the loveliest: yea she seemed And curtle-axe on helm and buckler rung; Angel, or soul beatified, from realms

Armour was riven, and wounds were interchanged, Of bliss, on errand of parental love

And many a spirit from its mortal hold
To earth re-sent,-if tears and trembling limbs Hurried to bliss or bale. Well did the chiefs
With such celestial natures might consist.

of Julian's army in that hour support
Their old esteem; and well Count Pedro there

Enhanced his former praise; and by his side,
RODERICK IN BATTLE.

Rejoicing like a bridegroom in the strife,
My horse!

Alphonso through the host of infidels
My noble horse! he cried, with flattering hand Bore on his bloody lance dismay and death.
Patting his high arched neck! the renegade, But there was worst confusion and uproar,
I thank him for't, hath kept thee daintily!

There widest slaughter and dismay, where, proud Orelio, thou art in thy beauty still,

Of his recovered lord, Orelio plunged Thy pride and strength! Orelio, my good horse, Through thickest ranks, trampling beneath his feet Once more thou bearest to the field thy Lord, The living and the dead. Where'er he turns He who so oft hath fed and cherislied thee, The Moors divide and fly. What man is this, He for whose sake, wherever thou wert seen, Appalled they say, who to the front of war Thou wert by all men honoured. Once again Bareheaded offers thus his naked life? Thou hast thy proper master! Do thy part Replete with power he is, and terrible, As thou wert wont; and bear him gloriously, Like some destroying Angel! Sure his lips My beautiful Orelio,-to the last

Have drank of Kaf's dark fountain, and he comes The happiest of his fields !—Then he drew forth Strong in his immortality! Fly! fly! The scymitar, and waving it aloft,

They said, this is no human foe !-Nor less Rode toward the troops; its unaccustomed shape Of wonder filled the Spaniards when they saw Disliked him; Renegade in all thingsl cried How flight and terror went before his way, The Goth, and cast it from him; to the Chiefs And slaughter in his path. Behold, cries one, Then said, if I have done ye service here,

With what command and knightly ease he sits Help me, I pray you, to a Spanish sword!

The intrepid steed, and deals from side to side The trustiest blade that e'er in Bilbilis

His dreadful blows! Not Roderick in his power Was dipt, would not to-day be misbestowed Bestrode with such command and majesty On this right hand !–Go some one, Gunderick cried, That noble war-horse. His loose robe this day And bring Count Julian's sword. Whoe'er thou art, In death's black banner, shaking from its folds The worth which thou hast shown avenging him Dismay and ruin. Of no mortal mold Entitles thee to wear it. But thou goest

Is he who in that garb of peace affronts For battle unequipped ;-haste there and strip Whole hosts, and sees them scatter where he turns! Yon villian of his armour!

Auspicious Heaven beholds us, and some saint
Late he spake,

Revisits earth!
So fast the Moors came on. It matters not,
Replied the Goth; there's many a mountaineer,
Who in no better armour cased this day

THE HOLLY TREE.
Than his wonted leathern gipion, will be found

O Reader! hast thou ever stood to see In the hottest battle, yet bring off untouched

The Holly Tree? The unguarded life he ventures—Taking then

The eye that contemplates it well perceives Count Julian's sword, he fitted round his wrist

Its glossy leaves The chain, and eyeing the elaborate steel

Order'd by an intelligence so wise,
With stern regard of joy, the African

As might confound the atheist's sophistries.
Under unhappy stars was born, he cried,
Who tastes thy edge !—Make ready for the charge! Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen
They come they come !-On, brethren, to the field. Wrinkled and keen;
The word is Vengeance !

No grazing cattle through their prickly round
Vengeance was the word;

Can reach to wound; From man to man, and rank to rank it past,

But as they grow where nothing is to fear, By every heart enforced, by every voice

Smooth and unarm'd the pointless leaves appear.

EPITAPH.

I love to view these things with curious eyes, Sharing their hopes, and with a breathless joy And moralize:

Whose expectation touch'd the verge of pain, And in this wisdom of the Holly Tree

Following their dangerous fortunes? If such lore Can emblems see

Hath ever thrillid thy bosom, thou wilt tread, Wherewith perchance to make a pleasant rhyme, As with a pilgrim's reverential thoughts, One which may profit in the after-time.

The groves of Penshurst. Sidney here was born,

Sidney, than whom no gentler, braver man Thus, though abroad perchance I might appear His own delightful genius ever feign'd, Harsh and austere,

Illustrating the vales of Arcady To those who on my leisure would intrude

With courteous courage and with loyal loves. Reserved and rude,

Upon his natal day the acorn here Gentle at home amid my friends I'd be

Was planted. It grew up a stately oak, Like the high leaves upon the Holly Tree.

And in the beauty of its strength it stood
And should my youth, as youth is apt I know,

And flourish'd, when his perishable part
Some harshness show,

Had moulder'd dust to dust. That stately oak All vain asperities I day by day

Itself hath moulder'd now, but Sidney's fame
Would wear away,

Endureth in his own immortal works.
Till the smooth temper of my age should be
Like the high leaves upon the Holly Tree.

This to a mother's sacred memory
And as when all the summer trees are seen

Her son hath hallow'd. Absent many a year So bright and green,

Far over sea, his sweetest dreams were still The Holly leaves their fadeless hues display Of that dear voice which sooth'd his infancy: Less bright than they;

And after many a fight against the Moor But when the bare and wintry woods we see, And Malabar, or that fierce cavalry What then so cheerful as the Holly Tree?

Which he had seen covering the boundless plain

Even to the utmost limits where the eye So serious should my youth appear among

Could pierce the far horizon,-his first thought The thoughtless throng,

In safety was of her, who when she heard
So would I seem amid the young and gay

The tale of that day's danger, would retire
More
grave
than they,

And

pour her pious gratitude to Heaven That in my age as cheerful I might be

In prayers and tears of joy. The lingering hour As the green winter of the Holly Tree.

Of his return, long-look'd for, came at length,
And full of hope he reach'd his native shore.

Vain hope that puts its trust in human life!
INSCRIPTIONS.

For ere he came the number of her days
Was full. O reader, what a world were this,

How unendurable its weight, if they
Stranger! whose steps have reach'd this solitude, Whom Death hath sunder'd did not meet again!
Know that this lonely spot was dear to one
Devoted with no unrequited zeal
mo Nature. Here, delighted he has heard

ECLOGUE.
The rustling of these woods, that now perchance
Melodious to the gale of summer move;
And underneath their shade on yon smooth rock,

Stranger.
With grey and yellow lichens overgrown,

Old friend! why you seem bent on parish duty, Often reclined; watching the silent flow

Breaking the highway stones,—and 'tis a task Of this perspicuous rivulet, that steals

Somewhat too hard methinks for age like yours! Along its verdant course,- till all around

Old Man.
Had fill'd his senses with tranquillity,
And ever sooth'd in spirit he return'd

Why yes! for one with such a weight of years
A happier, better man. Stranger! perchance,

Upon his back—I've lived here, man and boy, Therefore the stream more lovely to thine eye

In this same parish, well nigh the full age Will glide along, and to the summer gale

Of man, being hard upon threescore and ten. The woods wave more melodious. Cleanse thou then

I can remember sixty years ago The weeds and mosses from this letter'd stone.

The beautifying of this mansion here,

When my late Lady's father, the old Squire,
FOR A TABLET AT PENSHURST.

Came to the estate.
Are days of old familiar to thy mind,

Stranger. O reader? Hast thou let the midnight hour

Why then you have outlasted Pass unperceived, whilst thou in fancy lived All his improvements, for you see they're making With high-born beauties and enamour'd chiefs, Great alterations here.

IN A FOREST.

THE OLD MANSION-HOUSE.

Old Man.

Aye-great indeed! And if my poor old Lady could rise upGod rest her soul! 'twould grieve her to behold The wicked work is here.

[ocr errors]

Stranger.

They've set about it In right good earnest. All the front is gone ; Here's to be turf, they tell me, and a road Round to the door. There were some yew trees too Stood in the court

Old Man.

Aye, Master! fine old trees ! My grandfather could just remember back When they were planted there. It was my task To keep them trimm'd, and 'twas a pleasure to me; All straight and smooth, and like a great green wall! My poor old Lady many a time would come And tell me where to shear, for she had play'd In childhood under them, and 'twas her pride To keep them in their beauty. Plague, I say, On their new-fangled whimsies! we shall have A modern shrubbery here stuck full of firs And your pert poplar trees;–I could as soon Have plough'd my father's grave as cut them down!

Stranger. But 'twill be lighter and more cheerful now; A fine smooth turf, and with a gravel road Round for the carriage-now it suits my taste. I like a shrubbery too, it looks so fresh ; And then there's some variety about it. In spring the lilac and the snow-ball flower, And the laburnum with its golden strings Waving in the wind: and when the autumn comes The bright red berries of the mountain-ashi, With pines enough in winter to look green, And show that something lives. Sure this is better Than a great hedge of yew that makes it look All the year round like winter, and for ever Dropping its poisonous leaves from the under boughs Wither'd and bare !

Old Man.

Ah! so the new Squire thinks, And pretty work he makes of it! what 'tis To have a stranger come to an old house !

Stranger.

Come-come! all is not wrong; Those old dark windows

Old Man.

They're demolish'd too, As if he could not see through casement glass! The very red-breasts, that so regular Came to my Lady for her morning crums, Won't know the window now!

Stranger.

Nay they were small, And then so darken'd round with jessamine, Harbouring the vermin ;-yet I could have wish'd That jessamine had been saved, which canopied And bower'd and lined the porch.

Old Man.

It did one good To pass within ten yards when 'twas in blossom. There was a sweet briar too that grew beside; My Lady loved at evening to sit there And knit; and her old dog lay at her seet And slept in the sun; 'twas an old far urite dog,She did not love him less that he wa 'd And feeble, and he always had a pla. By the fire-side; and when he died e She made me dig a grave in the gardt him. Ah! she was good to all! a woeful day 'Twas for the poor when to her grave si

sent! Stranger. They lost a friend then ?

Old Man.

You're a s .nger here. Or you wouldn't ask that question. Were they sick? She had rare cordial waters, and for herbs She could have taught the Doctors. Then at winter When weekly she distributed the bread In the poor old porch, to see her and to hear The blessings on her! and I warrant them They were a blessing to her when her wealth Had been no comfort else. At Christmas, Sir! It would have warm'd your heart if you had seen Her Christmas kitchen,-how the blazing fire Made her fine pewter shine, and holly boughs So cheerful red,

and as for misseltoe,
The finest bough that grew in the country round
Was mark'd for Madam. Then her old ale went
So bountiful about! a Christmas cask,
And 'twas a noble one!-God help me, Sir!
But I shall never see such days again.

Stranger.
Things may be better yet than you suppose,
And you should hope the best.

Old Man.

It don't look well, These alterations, sir! I'm an old man, And love the good old fashions; we don't find Old bounty in new houses. They've destroyed

Stranger. It seems you know him not ?

Old Man.

No, sir, not I.
They tell me he's expected daily now;
But in my Lady's time he never came
But once,

for they were very distant kin.
If he had play'd about here when a child
In that fore court, and eat the yew-berries,
And sate in the porch threading the jesssamine

flowers Which fell so thick, he had not had the heart To mar all thus !

All that my lady loved! her favourite walk That's gone to the great pond; the trees I learnt
Grubb'd up, and they do say that the great row To climb are down; and I see nothing now
Of elms behind the house, which meet a-top, That tells me of old times,-except the stones
They must fall too. Well! well! I did not think In the church-yard. You are young, sir, and I hope
To live to see all this, and 'tis perhaps

Have many years in store,—but pray to God A comfort I sha'n't live to see it long.

You mayn't be left the last of all your friends. Stranger.

Stranger. But sure all changes are not needs for the worse, Well! well! you've one friend more than you're My friend?

aware of. Old Man,

If the Squire's taste don't suit with yours, I warrant

That's all you'll quarrel with: walk in and taste Mayhap they mayn't, sir :—for all that

His beer, old friendl and see if your old lady I like what I've been used to. I remember

Ere broach'd a better cask. You did not know me, All this from a child up, and now to lose it,

But we're acquainted now. 'Twould not be easy 'Tis losing an old friend. There's nothing left

To make you like the outside; but within, As 'twas;—I go abroad and only meet

That is not changed, my friend! you'll always find With men whose fathers I remember boys; The brook that used to run before my door,

The same old bounty and old welcome there.

[ocr errors]

WALTER SCOTT.

[merged small][ocr errors]

THE LAST MINSTREL. The way was long, the wind was cold, The Minstrel was infirm and old; His withered cheek, and tresses gray, Seemed to have known a better day; The harp, his sole remaining joy, Was carried by an orphan boy. The last of all the bards was he, Who sung of Border chivalry. For, well-a-day! their date was fled, His tuneful brethren all were dead; And he, neglected and oppressed, Wished to be with them, and at rest. No more, on prancing palfrey borne, He carolled, light as lark at morn; No longer courted and caressed, High placed in hall, a welcome guest, He poured, to lord and lady gay, The unpremeditated lay: Old times were changed, old manners gone; A stranger filled the Stuarts' throne; The bigots of the iron time Had called his harmless art a crime. A wandering Harper, scorned and poor, He begged his bread from door to door; And tuned, to please a peasant's ear, The harp a king had loved to hear. He passed where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower: The Minstrel gazed with wishful eyeNo humbler resting-place was nigh. With hesitating step, at last, The embattled portal-arch he passed, Whose ponderous grate and massy bar Had oft rolled back the tide of war, But never closed the iron door Against the desolate and poor. The Duchess marked his weary pace, His timid mien, and reverend face, And bade her page the menials tell, That they should tend the old man well: For she had known adversity, Though born in such a high degree; In pride of power, in beauty's bloom, Hnd wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb.

The humble boon was soon obtain'd; The aged Minstrel audience gained. But, when he reached the room of state, Where she, with all her ladies, sate, Perchance he wished his boon denied : For, when to tune his barp he tried, His trembling hand had lost the ease, Which marks security to please; And scenes, long past, of joy and pain, Came wildering o'er his aged brainIle tried to tune his harp in vain. The pitying Duchess praised its chime, And gave him heart, and gave him time, Till every string's according glee Was blended into harmony. And then, he said, he would full fain He could recall an ancient strain, He never thought to sing again. It was not framed for village churls, But for high dames and mighty earls; He had played it to King Charles the Good, When he kept court in Holyrood; And much he wished, yet feared, to try, The long-forgotten melody. Amid the strings his fingers strayed, And an uncertain warbling made, And oft he shook his hoary head. But when he caught the measure wild, The old man raised his face, and smiled; And lightened up his faded eye, With all a poet's ecstacy! In varying cadence, soft or strong, He swept the sounding chords along: The present scene, the future lot, His toils, his wants, were all forgot: Cold diffidence and age's frost, In the full tide of song were lost; Each blank, in faithless memory void, The poet's glowing thought supplied ; And, while his harp responsive rung, 'Twas thus the Latest Minstrel sung.

[ocr errors]

When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride:
And he began to talk anon,
Of good Earl Francis, dead and gone,
And of Earl Walter, rest him God!
A braver ne'er to battle rode;
And how full many tale he knew,

MARGARET AT HER FATHER'S BIER. Can piety the discord heal,

Or staunch the death-feud's enmity? Can Christian lore, can patriot real,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »