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WILLIAM AND HELEN.
[1796.1] IMITATED FROM THE "LENORE" OF BURGER.
The Author had resolved to omit the following version of a well-known Poem, in any collection which he might make of his poetical trifles. But the publishers having pleaded for its admission, the Author has consented, though not unaware of the disadvantage at which this youthful essay (for it was written in 1795) must appear with those which have been executed by much more able hands, in particular that of Mr. Taylor, of Norwich, and that of Mr. Spencer.
1 [the Chase, and William And Helen. Two Ballads from the German of Gottfried Augustus Burger. Edinburgh: Printed by Mundell and Son, Royal Bank Close, for Manners and Miller, Parliament Square; and sold by T. Cadell, junr., and W. Davies, in the Strand, London. 1796. 4to.—See "Essay on Imitations of the Ancient Ballad," in Border Minstreky, vol. iv. pp. 55-62.J
The following Translation was written long before the Author saw any other, and originated in the following circumstances: A lady of high rank in the literary world read this romantic tale, translated by Mr. Taylor, in the house of the celebrated Professor Dugald Stewart of Edinburgh. The Author was not present, nor, indeed, in Edinburgh, at the time; but a gentleman who had the pleasure of hearing the ballad, afterwards told him the story, and repeated the remarkable chorus—
"Tramp! tramp! across the land they speede,
Splash! splash! across the sea;
Dost fear to ride with me!"
In attempting a translation then intended only to circulate among friends, the present Author did not hesitate to make use of this impressive stanza; for which freedom he has since obtained the forgiveness of the ingenious gentleman to whom it properly belongs.
WILLIAM AND HELEN.
From heavy dreams fair Helen rose, And eyed the dawning red:
"Alas, my love, thou tarriest long! O art thou false or dead ?"—
With gallant Fred'rick's princely power
Our gallant host was homeward bound
With many a song of joy; Green waved the laurel in each plume,
The badge of victory.
v. And old and young, and sire and son, To meet them crowd the way, With shouts, and mirth, and melody, The debt of love to pay.
VI. Full many a maid her true-love met, And sobb'd in his embrace, And flutt'ring joy in tears and smiles Array'd full many a face.
Nor joy nor smile for Helen sad;
She sought the host in vain; For none could tell her William's fate,
If faithless, or if slain.
The martial band is past and gone;
She rends her raven hair, And in distraction's bitter mood
She weeps with wild despair.
"O rise, my child," her mother said,"Nor sorrow thus in vain;A perjured lover's fleeting heart No tears recall again."—
x."O mother, what is gone, is gone, What's lost for ever lorn:Death, death alone can comfort me;O had ^ne'er been born!
"O break, my heart, O break at once!
Drink my life-blood, Despair!No joy remains on earth for me, For me in heaven no share."—
"O enter not in judgment, Lord!"
The pious mother prays; "Impute not guilt to thy frail child!
She knows not what she says.
"O say thy pater noster, child!
O turn to God and grace! His will, that turn'd thy bliss to bale,
Can change thy bale to bliss."—