« PreviousContinue »
And higher still above the bower,
Where he is perched, from yon lone Tower
The Hall-clock in the clear moonshine
With glittering finger points at nine.
- Ah! who could think that sadness here
Hath any sway? or pain, or fear?
A soft and lulling sound is heard
Of streams inaudible by day;
The garden pool's dark surface, stirred
By the night insects in their play,
Breaks into dimples small and bright;
A thousand, thousand rings of light
That shape themselves and disappear
Almost as soon as seen: -- and lo!
Not distant far, the milk-white Doe:
The same fair Creature who was nigh
Feeding in tranquillity,
When Francis uttered to the Maid
His last words in the yew-tree shade ; -
The same fair Creature, who hath found
Her way into forbidden ground;
Where now, within this spacious plot
For pleasure made, a goodly spot,
With lawns and beds of flowers, and shades
Of trellis-work in long arcades,
And cirque and crescent framed by wall
Of close-clipt foliage green and tall,
Converging walks, and fountains gay,
And terraces in trim array, —
Beneath yon cypress spiring high,
With pine and cedar spreading wide,
Their darksome boughs on either side,
In open moonlight doth she lie;
Happy as others of her kind,
That, far from human neighbourhood,
Range unrestricted as the wind,
Through park, or chase, or savage wood.
But where at this still hour is she,
The consecrated Emily?
Even while I speak, behold the Maid
Emerging from the cedar shade
To open moonshine, where the Doe
Beneath the cypress-spire is laid ;
Like a patch of April snow,
Upon a bed of herbage green,
Lingering in a woody glade,
Or behind a rocky screen;
Lonely relic! which, if seen
By the Shepherd, is passed by
With an inattentive eye.
- Nor more regard doth she bestow
Upon the uncomplaining Doe !
Yet the meek Creature was not free, Erewhile from some perplexity : For thrice hath she approached, this day, The thought-bewildered Emily; Endeavouring, in her gentle way, Some smile or look of love to gain, Encouragement to sport or play ; Attempts which by the unhappy Maid Have all been slighted or gainsaid. Yet is she soothed: the viewless breeze Comes fraught with kindlier sympathies : Ere she had reached yon rustic Shed
Hung with late-flowering woodbine, spread
Along the walls and overhead
The fragrance of the breathing flowers
Revives a memory of those hours
When here, in this remote Alcove,
(While from the pendent woodbine came
Like odours, sweet as if the same)
A fondly-anxious Mother strove
To teach her salutary fears
And mysteries above her years.
- Yes, she is soothed: - an Image faint -
And yet not faint — a presence bright
Returns to her ;-'tis that blest Saint
Who with mild looks and language mild
Instructed here her darling Child,
While yet a prattler on the knee,
To worship in simplicity
The invisible God, and take for guide
The faith reformed and purified.
'Tis flown — the vision, and the sense
Of that beguiling influence !
“ But oh! thou Angel from above,
Thou Spirit of maternal love,
That stood'st before my eyes, more clear
Than Ghosts are fabled to appear
Sent upon embassies of fear;
As thou thy presence hast to me
· Vouchsafed, in radiant ministry
Descend on Francis : — through the air
Of this sad earth to him repair,
Speak to him with a voice, and say,
" That he must cast despair away!'”
Then from within the embowered retreat
Where she had found a grateful seat
Perturbed she issues. — She will go;
Herself will follow to the war,
And clasp her father's knees ; — ah, no!
She meets the insuperable bar,
The injunction by her Brother laid ;
His parting charge -- but ill obeyed !
That interdicted all debate,
All prayer for this cause or for that ;
All efforts that would turn aside
The headstrong current of their fate :
Her duty is to stand and wait;
In resignation to abide
The shock, AND FINALLY SECURE
O'ER PAIN AND GRIEF A TRIUMPH PURE.
- She knows, she feels it, and is cheered ;
At least her present pangs are checked.
- But now an ancient Man appeared,
Approaching her with grave respect.
Down the smooth walk which then she trod
He paced along the silent sod,
And greeting her thus gently spake,
“ An old Man's privilege I take;
Dark is the time - a woeful day!
Dear daughter of affliction, say
How can I serve you ? point the way.
“Rights have you, and may well be bold : You with my Father have grown old In friendship; — go - from him — from me — Strive to avert this misery. This would I beg; but on my mind A passive stillness is enjoined.
-If prudence offer help or aid,
On you is no restriction laid ;
You not forbidden to recline
With hope upon the Will divine.”
“ Hope,” said the Sufferer's zealous Friend," “ Must not forsake us till the end. — In Craven's wilds is many a den, To shelter persecuted men: Far under ground is many a cave, Where they might lie as in the grave, Until this storm hath ceased to rave; Or let them cross the River Tweed, And be at once from peril freed !”
-“ Ah tempt me not !” she faintly sighed; “I will not counsel nor exhort, -With my condition satisfied ; But you, at least, may make report Of what befalls ; — be this your task This may be done ; - 'tis all I ask !”.
She spake — and from the Lady's sight The Sire, unconscious of his age, Departed promptly as a Page Bound on some errand of delight. - The noble Francis — wise as brave, Thought he, may have the skill to save : With hopes in tenderness concealed, Unarmed he followed to the field. Him will I seek: the insurgent Powers Are now besieging Barnard's Towers, — “ Grant that the Moon which shines this night May guide them in a prudent flight !”