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If age had tamed the passions' strife, And fate had cut my ties to life, Here, have I thought, 'twere sweet to dwell, And rear again the chaplain's cell, Like that same peaceful hermitage, Where Milton longed to spend his age 'Twere sweet to mark the setting day, On Bourhope's lonely top decay; And, as it faint and feeble died, On the broad lake, and mountain's side, To say, "Thus pleasures fade away; Youth, talents, beauty, thus decay, And leave us dark, forlorn, and grey;"— Then gaze on Dryhope's ruined tower, And think on Yarrow's faded Flower: And when that mountain-sound I heard, Which bids us be for storm prepared,— The distant rustling of his wings, As up his force the Tempest brings, 'Twere sweet, ere yet his terrors rave, To sit upon the Wizard's grave; That Wizard Priest's, whose bones are thrust From company of holy dust; On which no suu-beam ever shines— (So superstition's creed divines,) Thence view the lake, with sullen roar, Heave her broad billows to the shore; And mark the wild swans mount the gale, Spread wide through mist their snowy sail, And ever stoop again, to lave Their bosoms on the surging wave: Then, when against the driving hail No longer might my plaid avau, Back to my lonely home retire, And light my lamp, and trim my fire: There ponder o'er some mystic lay, Till the wild tale had all its sway, And, in the bittern's distant shriek, I heard unearthly voices speak, And thought the Wizard Priest was come, To claim again his ancient home! And bade my busy fancy range, To frame him fitting shape and strange, Till from the task my brow I cleared, And smiled to think that I had feared.
But chief, 'twere sweet to think such life, (Though but escape from fortune's strife,) Something most matchless good, and wise, A great and grateful sacrifice; And deem each hour, to musing given, A step upon the road to heaven.
Yet him, whose heart is ill at ease, Such peaceful solitudes displease:
He loves to drown his bosom's jar
Amid the elemental war:
And my black Palmer's choice had been
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Lochskene.
There eagles scream from isle to shore;
Down all the rocks the torrents roar;
O'er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven;
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow,
Thunders the viewless stream below,
Diving, as if condemned to lave
Some demon's subterranean cave,
Who, prisoned by enchanter's spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer's form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn;
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the Giant's Grave,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.
Marriot, thy harp, on Isis strung, To many a Border theme has rung: Then list to me, and thou shalt know Of this mysterious Man of Woe.
The breeze, which swept away the smoke,
Round Norham Castle rolled,
As Marmion left the Hold.
It freshly blew, and strong,
It bore a bark along.
As she were dancing home;
The merry seamen laughed, to see
Furrow the green sea-foam.
'Twas sweet to see these holy maids,
Their first flight from the cage,
Their wonderment engage.
With many a benedicite;
And would for terror pray;
Reared o'er the foaming spray: And one would still adjust her veil, Disordered by the summer gale, Perchance lest some more worldly eye Her dedicated charms might spy; Perchance, because such action graced Her fair-turned arm and slender waist. Light was each simple bosom there, Save two, who ill might pleasure share,— The Abbess, and the Novice Clare.
The Abbess was of noble blood,