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With step-dame eye and frown severe
His hapless youth why didst thou view ; For all thy joys to him were dear,
And all his vows to thee were due : Nor greater bliss his bosom knew,
In opening youth's delightful prime, Than when thy favouring ear he drew
To listen to his chanted rhyme.
Thy lonely wastes and frowning skies
To him were all with rapture fraught; He heard with joy the tempest rise
That wak'd him to sublimer thought; And oft thy winding dells he sought,
Where wild flowers pour'd their rathe perfume, And with sincere devotion brought
To thee the summer's earliest bloom.
But, ah! no fond maternal smile
His unprotected youth enjoy'd ; His limbs inur'd to early toil,
His days with early hardships tried ; And more to mark the gloomy void,
And bid him feel his misery, Before his infant eyes would glide
Day-dreams of immortality.
Yet, not by cold neglect depress’d,
With sinewy arm he turn’d the soil, Sunk with the evening sun to rest,
And met at morn his earliest smile. Wak’d by his rustic pipe, meanwhile
The powers of fancy came along, And sooth'd his lengthen'd hour of toil
With native wit and sprightly song.
--Ah! days of bliss, too swiftly fled,
When vigorous health from labour springs, And bland contentment smooths the bed,
And sleep his ready opiate brings ; And hovering round on airy wings
Float the light forms of young desire, That of unutterable things
The soft and shadowy hope inspire. Now spells of mightier power prepare,
Bid brighter phantoms round him dance ; Let flattery spread her viewless snare,
And fame attract his vagrant glance : Let sprightly pleasure too advance,
Unveil'd her eyes, unclasp'd her zone, Till lost in love's delirious trance
He scorn the joys his youth has known. Let friendship pour her brightest blaze,
Expanding all the bloom of soul; And mirth concentre all her rays,
And point them from the sparkling bowl ; And let the careless moments roll
In social pleasures unconfind, And confidence that spurns control,
Unlock the ininost springs of mind. And lead his steps those bowers among,
Where elegance with splendour vies, Or science bids her favour'd throng
To more refin'd sensations rise : Beyond the peasant's humbler joys,
And freed from each laborious strife, There let him learn the bliss to prize That waits the sons of polish'd life.
Then whilst his throbbing veins beat high
With every impulse of delight, Dash from his lips the cup of joy,
And shroud the scene in shades of night: And let despair, with wizard light,
Disclose the yawning gulf below, And pour incessant on his sight,
Her spectred ills and shapes of woe:
And show beneath a cheerless shed,
With sorrowing heart and streaming eyes, In silent grief where droops her head,
The partner of his early joys; And let his infants' tender cries
His fond parental succour claim, And bid him hear in agonies
A husband and a father's name,
'Tis done, the powerful charm succeeds;
His high reluctant spirit bends ; In bitterness of soul he bleeds,
Nor longer with his fate contends.
As genius thus degraded lies;
That shrouds the Poet's ardent eyes.
---Rear high thy bleak majestic hills,
Thy shelter'd valleys proudly spread, And, Scotia, pour thy thousand rills,
And wave thy heaths with blossoms red; But never more shall poet tread
Thy airy heights, thy woodland reign, Since he the sweetest bard is dead
That ever breath'd the soothing strain.