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Methought that still with tramp and clang
The gate-way's broken arches rang ;
Still, with vain fondness, could I trace, Anew, each kind familiar face, That brightened at our evening fire ; From the thatched mansion's grey-haired Sire, Wise without learning, plain and good, And sprung of Scotland's gentler blood; Whose eye in age, quick, clear, and keen, Shewed what in youth its glance had been ; Whose doom discording neighbours sought, Content with equity unbought ; To him the venerable Priest, Our frequent and familiar guest, Whose life and manners well could paint Alike the student and the saint ; Alas! whose speech too oft I broke With gambol rude and timeless joke: For I was wayward, bold, and wild, A self-will’d imp, a grandame's child; But half a plague, and half a jest, Was still endured, beloved, carest.
From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask The classic poet's well-conned task ? Nay, Erskine, nay—on the wild hill Let the wild heathbell flourish still ; Cherish the tulip, prune the vine, But freely let the woodbine twine, And leave untrimmed the eglantine : Nay, my friend, nay—since oft thy praise Hath given fresh vigour to my lays, Since oft thy judgment could refine My flattened thought, or cumbrous line, Still kind, as is thy wont, attend, And in the minstrel spare the friend. Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale, Flow forth, flow unrestrained, my tale !