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Away he lies; and now for bloody deeds,
Black suits of armour, masks, and foaming steeds :
The giant falls ; bis recreant throat I seize,
And from his corslet take the massy keys :-
Dukes, lords, and knights in long procession move,
Released from bondage with my virgin love :-
She comes ! she comes in all the charms of youth,
Unequalled love and unsuspected truth !
Ah ! happy he who thus, in magic themes,
O'er worlds bewitched, in early rapture dreams,
Where wild enchantment waves her potent wand,
And fancy's beauties fill her fairy land;
Where doubtful objects strange desires excite,
And fear and ignorance afford delight,
But lost, for ever lost, to me these joys,
Which reason scatters and which time destroys,
Too dearly bought : maturer judgment calls
My busied mind from tales and madrigals ;
My doughty giants all are slain or fled,
And all my knights, blue, green, and yellow, dead.
No more the midnight fairy tribe I view,
All in the merry moonshine tippling dew;
E'en the last lingering fiction of the brain,
The church-yard ghost, is now at rest again;
And all these wayward wanderings of my youth,
Fly reason's power and shun the light of truth.
With fiction then does real joy reside,
And is our reason the delusive guide ?
Is it then right to dream the syrens sing ?
Or mount enraptured on the dragon's wing?
No, 'tis the infant mind, to care unknown,
That makes th' imagined paradise its own;
Soon as reflections in the bosom rise,
Light slumbers vanish from the clouded eyes :
The tear and smile, that once together rose,
Are then divorced; the head and heart are foes ;
Enchantment bows to wisdom's serious plan,
And pain and prudence make and mar the man.
While thus, of power and fancied empire vain, With various thoughts my mind I entertain ;
While books my slaves, with tyrant hand I seize,
Pleased with the pride that will not let them please s
Sudden I find terrific thoughts arise,
And sympathetic sorrow fills my eyes ;
For, lo! while yet my heart admits the wound,
I see the critic army ranged around.
Foes to our race ! if ever ye have known
A father's fears for offspring of your own ;-
If ever, smiling o'er a lucky line,
Ye thought the sudden sentiment divine,
Then paused and doubted, and then, tired of doubt,
With rage as sudden dash'd the stanza out;-
If, after fearing much and pausing long,
Ye ventured on the world your labour'd song,
And from the crusty critics of those days,
Implored the feeble tribute of their praise ;
Remember now, the fears that moved you then,
And, spite of truth, let mercy guide your pen.
What vent'rous race are ours ! what mighty foes
Lie waiting all around them to oppose !
What treacherous friends betray them to the fight !
What dangers threaten them !-yet still they write :
A hapless tribe! to every evil born,
Whom villains hate and fools affect to scorn :
Strangers they come, amid a world of woe,
And taste the largest portion ere they go.
Pensive I spoke, and cast mine eyes around, The roof, methought, return'd a solemn sound; Each column seem'd to shake, and clouds, like smoke, From dusty piles and ancient volumes broke; Gathering above, like mists condensed they seem, Exhaled in Summer from the rushy stream ; Like flowing robes they now appear, and twine Round the large members of a form divine; His silver beard, that swept his aged breast, His piercing eye, that inward light express'd, Were seen, but clouds and darkness veil'd the rest. Fear chill'd my heart: to one of mortal race, How awful seem'd the genius of the place ! So in Cimmerian shores, Ulysses saw His parent-shade, and shrunk in pious awe; Like him I stood, and wrapt in thought profound, When from the pitying power broke forth a solemn sound :
“ Care livas with all; no rules, no precept save
The wise from woe, no fortitude the brave;
Grief is to man as certain as the grave :
Tempests and storms in life's whole progress rise,
And hope shines dimly through o'erclouded skies;
Some drops of comfort on the favoured fall,
But showers of sorrow are the lot of all:
Partial to talents, then, shall Heav'n withdraw
Th' afflicting rod, or break the general law ?
Shall he who soars, inspired by loftier views,
Life's little cares and little pains refuse?
Shai. 've not rather feel a double share
Of mortal woe, when doubly arm’d to bear?
Hard is his fate who builds his peace of mind
On the precarious mercy of mankind :
Who hopes for wild and visionary things,
And mounts o'er unknown seas with vent'rous wings.
But as, of various evils that befall
The human race, some portion goes to all ;
To him perhaps the milder lot's assign'd,
Who feels bis consolation in his mind;
And, lock'd within his bosom, bears about
A mental charm for every care without.
E'en in the pangs of each domestic grief,
Or health or vigorous hope affords relief;
And every wound the tortured bosom feels,
Or virtue bears, or some preserver heals ;
Some generous friend, of ample power possest;
Some feeling heart, that bleeds for the distrest;
Some breast that glows with virtues all divine;
Some noble Rutland, misery's friend and thine.
“ Nor say, the muses' song, the Poet's pen,
Merit the scorn they meet from little men.
With cautious freedom if the numbers flow,
Not wildly high, not pitifully low;
If vice alone their honest aims oppose,
Why so ashamed their friends, so loud their focs ?
Happy for men in every age and clime,
If all the sons of vision dealt in rhyme,
Go on then, son of vision! still pursue
The airy dreams; the world is dreaming too.
Ambition's lofty views, the pomp of state,
The pride of wealth, the splendour of the great,
Stript of their mask, their cares and troubles known
Are visions far less happy than thy own :
Go on! and, while the sons of care complain,
Be wisely gay and innocently vain ;
While serious souls are by their fears undone,
Blow sportive bladders in the beamy sun,
And call them worlds ! and bid the greatest show
More radiant colours in their worlds below:
Then, as they break, the slaves of care reprove,
And tell them, such are all the toys they love."
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
My lov’d, my honour'd, much respected friend !
No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride I scorn each selfish end,
My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise : To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene ; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways ;
What Aitken in a cottage would have been ; Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween.
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sough;
The short'ning winter-day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh ;
The black’ning trains o' craws to their repose ; The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,
This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects bis spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
expectant wee-things, toddlin', stacher thro'
To meet their dad wi' flichterin' noise an' glee. His wee bit ingle blinkin' bonnilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary, carking cares beguile,
An' makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.