Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall ;

And, after many interruptions short
Ah ! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke ;

Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl : The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,

Unsought for was the help that did my life recal. The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke, The shriek that from the distant battle broke, The mine's dire earthquake, and the pallid host

Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain

Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory; Driven by the bomb's incessant thunder-stroke

I heard my neighbours in their beds complain To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish

Of many things which never troubled metossed,

Of feet still bustling round with busy glee, Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost !

Of looks where common kindness had no part,

Of service done with cold formality,

Fretting the fever round the languid heart,
Some mighty gulf of separation past,

And groans which, as they said, might make a dead I seemed transported to another world;

man start. A thought resigned with pain, when from the

mast The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,

These things just served to stir the slumbering And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled

sense, The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised. And from all hope I was for ever hurled. With strength did memory return ; and, thence For mefarthest from earthly port to roam Dismissed, again on open day I gazed, Was best, could I but shun the spot where man At houses, men, and common light, amazed. might come.

The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed;

The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired, And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)

And gave me food--and rest, more welcome, more That I, at last, a resting-place had found;

Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long,
Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned, Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly
And end my days upon the peaceful flood.'--

With panniered asses driven from door to door ;
To break my dream the vessel reached its bound; But life of happier sort set forth to me,
And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,

And other joys my fancy to allure— And near a thousand tables pined and wanted

The bag-pipe dinning on the the midnight moor food.

In barn uplighted ; and companions boon,

Well met from far with revelry secure

Among the forest glades, while jocund June
No help I sought, in sorrow turned adrift

Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock;

moon. Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift,

XLVII. Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.

But ill they suited me—those journeys dark I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock

O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch! From the cross-timber of an out-house hung :

To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark, Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock !

Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch. At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,

The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match, Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my

The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill, • tongue.

And ear still basy on its nightly watch,

Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill : So passed a second day; and, when the third Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were broodWas come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.

ing still. -In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,

XLVII. Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort;

What could I do, unaided and unblest? There, pains which nature could no more support, My father ! gone was every friend of thine :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows, Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes. The jolting road and morning air severe.

The wain pursued its way; and following near

In pure compassion she her steps retraced
Forthwith the pair passed on; and down they look Far as the cottage. “A sad sight is here,”
Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene

She cried aloud ; and forth ran out in haste Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook, The friends whom she had left but a few minutes That babbled on through groves and meadows

green; A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between ;

While to the door with eager speed they ran,
The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,

From her bare straw the Woman half upraised
And melancholy lowings intervene
Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,

Her bony visage-gaunt and deadly wan ;

No pity asking, on the group she gazed Some amid lingering shade, some touched by the

With a dim eye, distracted and amazed ; sun's rays.

Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.

Fervently cried the housewife_“God be praised, They saw and heard, and, winding with the road I have a house that I can call my own; Down a thick wood, they dropt into the vale ; Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone !" | Comfort by prouder mansions unbestowed Their wearied frames, she hoped, would soon


So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale : And busily, though yet with fear, untie
It was a rustic inn ;-the board was spread, Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet
The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail, And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
And lustily the master carved the bread,

Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear ; fed.

Then said—“ I thank you all; if I must die,

The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear; Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must | Till now I did not think my end had been so near.

part ; Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees. She rose and bade farewell ! and, while her heart Barred every comfort labour could procure, Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease, Suffering what no endurance could assuage, She left him there ; for, clustering round his knees, I was compelled to seek my father's door, With his oak-staff the cottage children played ; Though loth to be a burthen on his age. And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees But sickness stopped me in an early stage And banks of ragged earth ; beneath the shade Of my sad journey ; and within the wain Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed. They placed me—there to end life's pilgrimage,

Unless beneath your roof I may remain :

For I shall never see my father's door again.
A cart and horse beside the rivulet stood;
Chequering the canvas roof the sunbeams shone.
She saw the carman bend to scoop the flood

“ My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthenAs the wain fronted her wherein lay one,

some ; A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.

But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek The carman wet her lips as well behoved ;

May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb: Bed under her lean body there was none,

Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak Though even to die near one she most had loved

Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek. She could not of herself those wasted limbs have

Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea moved.

Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,

My husband served in sad captivity The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,

him free.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


LXXI. « A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,

She slept in peace,--his pulses throbbed and stopped, Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed ;

Breathless he gazed upon her face,-then took Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped, Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread; | When on his own he cast a rueful look. Till one was found by stroke of violence dead, His ears were never silent; sleep forsook Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie ;

His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead; A dire suspicion drove us from our shed ;

All night from time to time under him shook In vain to find a friendly face we try,

The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed ; Nor could we live together those poor boys and I ; And oft he groaned aloud, “O God, that I were


[ocr errors]

LXVIII. “ For evil tongues made oath how on that day The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot; My husband lurked about the neighbourhood;

And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care Now he had fled, and whither none could say, Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter And he had done the deed in the dark wood

brought, Near his own home !-but he was mild and good ; | Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer Never on earth was gentler creature seen ; He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair. He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.

The corse interred, not one hour he remained My husband's loving kindness stood between

Beneath their roof, but to the open air Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however A burthen, now with fortitude sustained, keen.”

He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet

reigned. LXIX. Alas! the thing she told with labouring breath The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness | Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared His hand had wrought ; and when, in the hour of For act and suffering, to the city straight death,

He journeyed, and forth with his crime declared : He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless “ And from your doom,” he added, “ now I wait, With her last words, unable to suppress

Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate.” His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive; Not ineffectual was that piteous claim : And, weeping loud in this extreme distress, “O welcome sentence which will end though late," He cried_“ Do pity me! That thou shouldst live He said, “ the pangs that to my conscience came I neither ask nor wish forgive me, but forgive !” | Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour ! is in thy


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

To tell the change that Voice within her wrought His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
Nature by sign or sound made no essay;

(Reader, forgive the intolerable thought) A sudden joy surprised expiring thought,

They hung not : no one on his form or face And every mortal pang dissolved away.

Could gaze, as on a show by idlers sought ; Borne gently to a bed, in death she lay;

No kindred sufferer, to his death-place brought Yet still while over her the husband bent,

By lawless curiosity or chance, A look was in her face which seemed to say,

When into storm the evening sky is wrought, “ Be blest ; by sight of thee from heaven was sent | Upon his swinging corse an eye can glance, Peace to my parting soul, the fulness of content.”

And drop, as he once dropped, in miserable trance.



A Tragedy.
(COMPOSED 1795-6.)




ELDRED, a Peasant.
WALLACE. of the Band of Borderers.

Peasant, Pilgrims, &c.


Female Beggar.


SCENE, Borders of England and Scotland.

TIME, the Reign of Henry III. READERS already acquainted with my Poems will recognise, in the following composition, some eight or ten lines, which I have not scrupled to retain in the places where they originally stood. It is proper however to add, that they would not have been used elsewhere, if I had foreseen the time when I might be induced to publish this Tragedy.

February 28, 1842.




Wil. Be cautious, my dear Master !
SCENE, road in a Wood.


I perceive WALLACE and LACY.

That fear is like a cloak which old men huddle Lacy. The Troop will be impatient ; let us hie | About their love, as if to keep it warm. Back to our post, and strip the Scottish Foray Wil. Nay, but I grieve that we should part. Of their rich Spoil, ere they recross the Border.

This Stranger, -Pity that our young Chief will have no part For such he is In this good service.


Your busy fancies, Wilfred, Wal.

Rather let us grieve Might tempt me to a smile ; but what of him ? That, in the undertaking which has caused

Wil. You know that you have saved his life. His absence, he hath sought, whate'er his aim,

I know it. Companionship with One of crooked ways,

Wil. And that he hates you !—Pardon me, per i From whose perverted soul can come no good

haps To our confiding, open-hearted, Leader.

That word was hasty, Lacy. True ; and, remembering how the Band Mar.

Fy! no more of it. have proved

Wil. Dear Master ! gratitude 's a heavy burden That Oswald finds small favour in our sight, To a proud Soul.—Nobody loves this OswaldWell may we wonder he has gained such power Yourself, you do not love him. Over our much-loved Captain.


I do more, Wal.

I have heard I honour him. Strong feelings to his heart Of some dark deed to which in early life

Are natural ; and from no one can be learnt His passion drove him—then a Voyager

More of man's thoughts and ways than his experience Upon the midland Sea. You knew his bearing Has given him power to teach : and then for courage In Palestine ?

And enterprise-what perils hath he shunned ! Lacy. Where he despised alike

What obstacles hath he failed to overcome! Mahommedan and Christian. But enough ; Answer these questions, from our common knowLet us begone--the Band may else be foiled.

(Exeunt. | And be at rest.

« AnteriorContinuar »