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To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.
O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child !
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires ! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand !
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me, of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still,
Ev'n in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's streams still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way ;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither'd cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The Bard may draw his parting groan.
Our bugles sang truce-for the night-cloud had lower'd,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky; And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd,
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.
When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain, At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw ;
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.
Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far I had roam'd on a desolate track, Till Autumn—and sunshine arose on the way
To the house of my fathers, that welcomed me back.
I flew to the pleasant fields, travers’d oft
In life's morning march, when my
bosom was young; I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.
Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
my home and my weeping friends never to part; My little ones kiss'd me a thousand times o'er,
And wife sobbed aloud in her fulness of heart.
Stay-stay with us !-rest! thou art weary and worn !"
(And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay ;) But sorrow return’d with the dawning of morn, And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away!
He who hath bent him o'er the dead
Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress,
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,)
And mark'd the mild angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there,
The fix'd yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And but for that sad shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now,
And but for that chill changeless brow,
Where cold Obstruction's apathy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
Yes, but for these, and these alone,
Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
The first, last look by death reveal'd!
Such is the aspect of this shore;
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more!
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb;
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
Spark of that fame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherish'd
Clime of the unforgotten brave !
Whose land from plain to mountain-cave
Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave!
Shrine of the mighty! can it be,
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven, crouching slave;
Say, is not this Thermopylæ ?
These waters blue that round
Oh servile offspring of the free-
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis !
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Arise, and make again your own;
Snatch from the ashes of your sires
The embers of their former fires;
And he who in the strife expires
Will add to theirs a name of fear
That Tyranny shall quake to hear,
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame:
For Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeath'd by bleeding Sire to Son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page,
Attest it many a deathless age !
While kings, in dusty darkness hid,
Have left a nameless pyramid;
Thy heroes, though the general doom
Hath swept the column from their tomb,
A mightier monument command,
The mountains of their native land !
There points thy Muse to stranger's eye
of those that cannot die !
'Twere long to tell, and sad to trace,
Each step from splendour to disgrace;
Enough—no foreign foe could quell
Thy soul, till from itself it fell;
Yes! Self-abasement paved the way
To villain-bonds and despot-sway.
As thus the snows arise, and foul, and fierce,
All winter drives along the darken'd air;
In his own loose revolving fields, the swain
Disaster'd stands; sees other hills ascend,
Of unknown, joyless brow; and other scenes,
Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain :
Nor finds the river, nor the forest, hid
Beneath the formless wild; but wanders on
From hill to dale, still more and more astray,
Impatient, flouncing through the drifted heaps,
Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth
In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul !
What black despair, what horror fills his heart !
When for the dusky spot, which fancy feign'd
His tufted cottage rising through the snow,
He meets the roughness of the middle waste,
Far from the track and bless'd abode of man!
While round him night resistless closes fast,
And every tempest, howling o'er his head,
Renders the savage wilderness more wild.
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind,
Of cover'd pits, unfathomably deep,
A dire descent! beyond the power of frost;
Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge
Smooth'd up with snow; and what is land, unknown,
What water, of the still unfrozen spring,
In the loose marsh or solitary lake,
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils.
These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks
Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift
Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death,
Mix'd with the tender anguish nature shoots
Through the wrung bosom of the dying man,
His wife, his children, and his friends unseen.
In vain for him th' officious wife prepares
The fire fair blazing, and the vestment warm ;
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire,
With tears of artless innocence. Alas!
Nor wife, nor children, more shall he behold,
Nor friends, nor sacred home.