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WILLIAM ERSKINE, Esq.
Ashestiel, Ettricke Forest.
Like April morning clouds, that pass,
Now in a torrent racing forth,
Now winding slow its silver train,
And ever swells again as fast,
When the ear deems its murmur past ;
Thus various, my romantic theme
Flits, winds, or sinks, a morning dream.
Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace
Of Light and Shade's inconstant race;
Need I to thee dear Erskine, tell,
I love the license all too well,
In sound now lowly, and now strong,
To raise the desultory song ?
Oft, when mid such capricious chime,
Some transient fit of loftier rhyme,
To thy kind judgment seemed excuse
many an error of the muse ;
Oft hast thou said, “ If still mis-spent,
Thine hours to poetry are lent,
Approach those masters, o'er whose tomb
Immortal laurels ever bloom :
Instructive of the feebler bard,
Still from the grave their voice is heard ; From them, and from the paths they shew'd, Chuse honoured guide and practised road; Nor ramble on through brake and maze,
With harpers rude of barbarous days.
« Or deem'st thou not our later time
Yields topic meet for classic rhyme?
For Brunswick's venerable hearse?
What! not a line, a tear, a sigh,
When valour bleeds for liberty ?-
Oh, hero of that glorious time,
Though martial Austria, and though all
The star of Brandenburgh arose !
Thou could'st not live to see her beam
For ever quenched in Jena's stream.
Lamented chief!-it was not given,
To thee to change the doom of heaven,
And crush that dragon in its birth,
Lamented chief !-not thine the power,
To save in that presumptuous hour,
And snatched the spear, but left the shield;
“ Or of the Red-Cross hero teach,
Dauntless in dungeon as on breach :
Alike to him the war that calls
It's votaries to the shattered walls,
Which the grim Turk besmeared with blood,
Against the Invincible made good;