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Let not dank Willk 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 though far off, from some dark dell espied, 95
His glimmering mazes cheer the excursive sight, Yet turn, ye wanderers, turn your steps aside,
Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light; For watchful, lurking, 'mid the unrustling reed,
At those mirk hours the wily monster lies, 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!
Whom late bewilder'd in the dank, dark fen, 105
Far from his flocks, and smoking hamlet, then! To that sad spot where hums the sedgy weed :
On him, enraged, the fiend in angry mood, Shall never look with pity's kind concern,
But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood 110 O'er its drown'd banks, forbidding all return !
Ver 100. At those sad hours the wily monster lies ; * A fiery meteor, called by various names, such as Will with the Wisp, Jack with the Lantern, etc. It hovers in the air over marshy and fenny places.
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.
Meantime the watery surge shall round him rise, Pour'd sudden forth from every swelling source !
What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs? His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force, And down the waves he floats, a pale and breath
Or wander forth to meet him on his way;
His babes shall linger at the unclosing gate! Ah, ne'er shall he return! Alone, if night
Her travel'd limbs in broken slumbers steep, With drooping willows drest, his mournful sprite
Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep: Then he, perhaps, with moist and watery hand, 129
Shall fondly seem to press her shuddering cheek, And with his blue swoln face before her stand,
And, shivering cold, these piteous accents speak:
Ver. 124. His babes shall linger at the cottage gate !
127. With dropping willows drest, his mournful sprite 130. Shall seem to press her cold and shuddering
Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils pursue,
At dawn or dusk, industrious as before; Nor e'er of me one helpless thought renew,
While I lie weltering on the osier'd shore, Drown'd by the Kelpie's' wrath, nor e'er shall aid
thee more !”
Unbounded is thy range; with varied skill Thy muse may, like those feathery tribes which spring
139 From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle,
To that hoar pile” which still its ruins shows : In whose small vaults a pigmy folk is found,
Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows, And culls them, wondering, from the hallow'd
ground ! Or thịther," where, beneath the showery west,
The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid ;
Ver. 133. Proceed, dear wife, thy daily toils pursue,
135. Nor e'er of me one hapless thought renew,
138. Unbounded is thy range ; with varied stile | The water fiend.
m One of the Hebrides is called the Isle of Pigmies ; where it is reported, that several miniature bones of the human species have been dug up in the ruins of a chapel there.
Icolmkill, one of the Hebrides, where near sixty of the ancient Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings are interred.
Once foes, perhaps, together now they rest,
No slaves revere them, and no wars invade: Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour, 150
The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold, And forth the monarchs stalk with sovereign power, In pageant robes, and wreath'd with sheeny
gold, And on their twilight tombs aërial council hold.
But, oh, o'er all, forget not Kilda's race,
tides, Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides. Go! just, as they, their blameless manners trace!
Then to my ear transmit some gentle song, Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain, 160
Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along, And all their prospect but the wintry main.
With sparing temperance, at the needful time, They drain the scented spring; or, hunger-prest,
Along the Atlantic rock, undreading climb, 165 And of its eggs despoil the solan’so nest.
Ver, 164. They drain the sainted spring; or, hunger-prest,
• An aquatic bird like a goose, on the eggs of which the inhabitants of St. Kilda, another of the Hebrides, chiefly subsist.
Thus, blest in primal innocence, they live Sufficed, and happy with that frugal fare
Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give. Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare; 170
Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!
Nor need'st thou blush that such false themes
engage Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possest;
For not alone they touch the village breast, But fill’d, in elder time, the historic page. 175 There, Shakespeare's self, with every garland
crown'd, Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheen,
In musing hour; his wayward sisters found, And with their terrors drest the magic scene. 179
From them he sung, when, 'mid his bold design, Before the Scot, afflicted, and aghast !
The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant pass'd.
Proceed! nor quit the tales which, simply told, Could once so well my answering bosom pierce;
Proceed, in forceful sounds, and colours bold, The native legends of thy land rehearse; To such adapt thy lyre, and suit thy powerful verse.
In scenes like these, which, daring to depart
From sober truth, are still to nature true,