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Dark green was that spot mid the brown mountain heather, Where the Pilgrim of Nature lay stretch'd in decay, Like the corpse of an outcast abandon'd to weather, Till the mountain-winds wasted the tenantless clay. Nor yet quite deserted, though lonely extended, For, faithful in death, his mute favourite attended, The much-loved remains of her master defended, And chased the hill-fox and the raven away.
How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber?When the wind waved his garment, how oft didst thou start? How many long days and long weeks didst thou number, Ere he faded before thee, the friend of thy heart? And, oh, was it meet, that,—no requiem read o'er him,— No mother to weep, and no friend to deplore him, And thou, little guardian, alone stretch'd before him,— Unhonour'd the Pilgrim from life should depart?
When a Prince to the fate of the Peasant has yielded, * *The tapestry waves dark round the dim-lighted hall;
With scutcheons of silver the coffin is shielded, And pages stand mute by the canopied pall:Through the courts, at deep midnight, the torches are gleaming;In the proudly-arch'd chapel the banners are beaming; Far adown the long aisle sacred music is streaming, Lamenting a Chief of the People should fall.
But meeter for thee, gentle lover of nature, To lay down thy head like the meek mountain lamb, When, wilder'd, he drops from some cliff huge in stature, And draws his last sob by the side of his dam. And more stately thy couch by this desert lake
lying, Thy obsequies sung by the grey plover flying, With one faithful friend but to witness thy dying, In the arms of Hellvellyn and Catchedicam.
Oh, say not, my love, with that mortified air,
Nor bid me to maids that are younger repair,
Though April his temples may wreathe with the vine,
Its tendrils in infancy curl'd, 'Tis the ardour of August matures us the wine, Whose life-blood enlivens the world.
Though thy form, that was fashion'd as light as a fay's, Has assumed a proportion more round, And thy glance, that was bright as a falcon's at gaze, Looks soberly now on the ground,—
Enough, after absence to meet me again,
Thy steps still with ecstasy move;
For me the kind language of love.
"O, Open the door, some pity to show, Keen blows the northern wind!The glen is white with the drifted snow, And the path is hard to find.
"No outlaw seeks your castle gate, From chasing the King's deer, Though even an outlaw's wretched state Might claim compassion here.
"A weary Palmer, worn and weak,
I wander for my sin;
A pilgrim's blessing win!
"I'll give you pardons from the Pope, And reliques from o'er the sea,—
Or if for these you will not ope,
1 [This, and the two following, were first published in Hadyn's Collection of Scottish Airs, vol. ii. Edin. 1806.]
"The hare is crouching in her form,
The hart beside the hind; An aged man, amid the storm,
No shelter can I find.
"You hear the Ettrick's sullen roar, Dark, deep, and strong is he, And I must ford the Ettrick o'er, Unless you pity me.
"The iron gate is bolted hard,
At which I knock in vain;
Who hears me thus complain.
"Farewell, farewell! and Mary grant,
When old and frail you be, You never may the shelter want,
That's now denied to me."
The Ranger on his couch lay warm, And heard him plead in vain;But oft amid December's storm, He'll hear that voice again:
For lo, when through the vapours dank, Morn shone on Ettrick fair, A corpse amid the alders rank, The Palmer welter'd there.