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To this fair Votaress, a fate
More mild doth Heaven ordain
Upon her Island desolate;
And words, not breathed in vain,
Might tell what intercourse she found,
Her silence to endear;
What birds she tamed, what flowers the ground Sent forth her peace to cheer.
To one mute Presence, above all,
Her soothed affections clung,
A picture on the cabin wall
By Russian usage hung—
The Mother-maid, whose countenance bright
With love abridged the day;
And, communed with by taper light,
Chased spectral fears away.
And oft, as either Guardian came,
The joy in that retreat
Might any common friendship shame,
So high their hearts would beat;
And to the lone Recluse, whate'er
They brought, each visiting
Was like the crowding of the year
With a new burst of spring.
But, when she of her Parents thought,
The pang was hard to bear;
And, if with all things not enwrought.
That trouble still is near.
Before her flight she had not dared
Their constancy to prove,
Too much the heroic Daughter feared
The weakness of their love.
Dark is the past to them, and dark
The future still must be,
Till pitying Saints conduct her bark
Into a safer sea-
Or gentle Nature close her eyes,
And set her Spirit free
From the altar of this sacrifice,
In vestal purity.
Yet, when above the forest-glooms
The white swans southward passed,
High as the pitch of their swift plumes
Her fancy rode the blast;
And bore her toward the fields of France
Her Father's native land,
To mingle in the rustic dance,
The happiest of the band!
Of those beloved fields she oft
Had heard her Father tell
In phrase that now with echoes soft
Haunted her lonely cell;
She saw the hereditary bowers,
She heard the ancestral stream;
The Kremlin and its haughty towers
Forgotten like a dream!
THE ever-changing Moon had traced
Twelve times her monthly round,
When through the unfrequented Waste
Was heard a startling sound;
A shout thrice sent from one who chased
At speed a wounded deer,
Bounding through branches interlaced,
And where the wood was clear.
The fainting creature took the marsh,
And toward the Island fled,
While plovers screamed with tumult harsh
Above his antlered head;
This, Ina saw; and, pale with fear,
Shrunk to her citadel;
The desperate deer rushed on,
Across the marsh, the game in view,
The Hunter followed fast,
Nor paused, till o'er the stag he blew
A death-proclaiming blast;
Then, resting on her upright mind,
Came forth the Maid-"In me
Behold," she said, "a stricken Hind
Pursued by destiny!
"From your deportment, Sir! I deem
That you have worn a sword,
And will not hold in light esteem
A suffering woman's word;
There is my covert, there perchance
I might have lain concealed,
My fortunes hid, my countenance
Not even to you revealed.
"Tears might be shed, and I might pray,
Crouching and terrified,
That what has been unveiled to day,
You would in mystery hide;
But I will not defile with dust
The knee that bends to adore
The God in heaven;-attend, be just;
This ask I, and no more!
"I speak not of the winter's cold,
For summer's heat exchanged,
While I have lodged in this rough hold,
From social life estranged;
Nor yet of trouble and alarms:
High Heaven is my defence;
And every season has soft arms
For injured Innocence.
"From Moscow to the Wilderness
It was my choice to come,
Lest virtue should be harbourless,
And honour want a home;
And happy were I, if the Czar
Retain his lawless will,
To end life here like this poor deer,
Or a lamb on a green hill.”
"Are you the Maid," the Stranger cried,
"From Gallic parents sprung,
Whose vanishing was rumoured wide,
Sad theme for every tongue;
Who foiled an Emperor's eager quest ?
You, Lady, forced to wear
These rude habiliments, and rest
Your head in this dark lair!"
But wonder, pity, soon were quelled;
And in her face and mien
The soul's pure brightness he beheld
Without a veil between:
He loved, he hoped,—a holy flame
Kindled 'mid rapturous tears;
The passion of a moment came
As on the wings of years.
"Such bounty is no gift of chance,' Exclaimed he; "righteous Heaven,
Preparing your deliverance,
To me the charge hath given.
The Czar full oft in words and deeds
Is stormy and self-willed;
But, when the Lady Catherine pleads,
His violence is stilled.