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XXVII.

THE THORN.

« THERE is a Thorn—it looks so old,
In truth, you'd find it hard to say
How it could ever have been young,
It looks so old and gray.
Not higher than a two years' child
It stands erect, this aged Thorn;
No leaves it has, no thorny points;
It is a mass of knotted joints,
A wretched thing forlorn.
It stands erect, and like a stone
With lichens it is overgrown.

Like rock or stone, it is o'ergrown
With lichens to the very top,
And hung with heavy tufts of moss,
A melancholy crop:
Up from the earth these mosses creep,
And this poor Thorn they clasp it round
So close, you'd say that they were bent
With plain and manifest intent
To drag it to the ground;
And all had joined in one endeavour
To bury this poor Thorn for ever.

High on a mountain's highest ridge,
Where oft the stormy winter gale
Cuts like a scythe, while through the clouds
It sweeps from vale to vale;
Not five yards from the mountain path,
This Thorn you on your left espy;
And to the left, three yards beyond,
You see a little muddy Pond
Of water, never dry;
I've measured it from side to side :
'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide.

And, close beside this aged Thorn,
There is a fresh and lovely sight,
A beauteous heap, a Hill of moss,
Just half a foot in height.
All lovely colours there you see,
All colours that were ever seen;
And mossy net-work too is there,
As if by hand of lady fair
The work had woven been;
And cups, the darlings of the eye,
So deep is their vermilion dye.

Ah me! what lovely tints are there!
Of olive green and scarlet bright,
In spikes, in branches, and in stars,
Green, red, and pearly white.
This heap of earth o'ergrown with moss,
Which close beside the Thorn you see,
So fresh in all its beauteous dyes,
Is like an infant's grave in size,
As like as like can be:
But never, never any where,
An infant's grave was half so fair.

Now would you see this aged Thorn,
This Pond, and beauteous Hill of moss,
You must take care and choose your time
The mountain when to cross.
For oft there sits, between the Heap
That's like an infant's grave in size,
And that same Pond of which I spoke,
A Woman in a scarlet cloak,
And to herself she cries,
“ Oh misery! oh misery!
Oh woe is me! oh misery!”

At all times of the day and night
This wretched Woman thither goes;
And she is known to every star,
And every wind that blows;
And there beside the Thorn she sits
When the blue daylight's in the skies,
And when the whirlwind's on the hill,
Or frosty air is keen and still,
And to herself she cries,
« Oh misery! oh misery!
Oh woe is me! oh misery!"

- Now wherefore, thus, by day and night,
In rain, in tempest, and in snow,
Thus to the dreary mountain-top
Does this poor Woman go?
And why sits she beside the Thorn
When the blue daylight's in the sky,
Or when the whirlwind's on the hill,
Or frosty air is keen and still,
And wherefore does she cry ? -
Oh wherefore? wherefore ? tell me why
Does she repeat that doleful cry?”

“ I cannot tell ; I wish I could;
For the true reason no one knows:
But if you'd gladly view the spot,
The spot to which she goes ;
The Heap that's like an infant's grave,
The Pond--and Thorn, so old and gray,
Pass by her door—'tis seldom shut-
And, if you see her in her hut,
Then to the spot away !
I never heard of such as dare
Approach the spot when she is there."

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