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Edinburgh When dark December glooms the day, And takes our autumn joys away; When short and scant the sun-beam throws, Upon the weary waste of snows, A cold and profitless regard, Like patron on a needy bard; When sylvan occupation's done, And o'er the chimney rests the gun, And hang, in idle trophy, near, The game-pouch, fishing-rod, and spear; .
When wiry terrier, rough and grim,
And greyhound with his length of limb,
And pointer, now employed no more,
Cumber our parlour's narrow floor ;
When in his stall the impatient steed
Is long condemned to rest and feed;
When from our snow-encircled home,
Scarce cares the hardiest step to roam,
Since path is none, save that to bring
The needful water from the spring;
When wrinkled news-page, thrice con’d o’er,
Beguiles the dreary hour no more,
And darkling politician, crossed,
Inveighs against the lingering post,
And answering house-wife sore complains
Of carriers' snow-impeded wains :
When such the country cheer, I come,
Well pleased, to seek our city home; .
For converse, and for books, to change
The Forest's melancholy range,
And welcome, with renewed delight,
The busy day, and social night.
Not here need my desponding rhyme Lament the ravages of time, As erst by Newark's riven towers, And Ettricke stripped of forest bowers.* True,—Caledonia's Queen is changed, Since on her dusky summit ranged, Within its steepy limits pent, By bulwark, line, and battlement, And flanking towers, and laky flood, Guarded and garrisoned she stood, Denying entrance or resort, Save at each tall embattled port; Above whose arch, suspended, hung Portcullis spiked with iron prong. That long is gone,—but not so long,
Since, early closed, and opening late,
Jealous revolved the studded gate ;
Whose task from eve to morning tide
A wicket churlishly supplied.
Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow,
Dun-Edin! O, how altered now,
When safe amid thy mountain court
Thou sitst, like Empress at her sport,
And liberal, unconfined, and free,
Flinging thy white arms to the sea,
For thy dark cloud, with umbered lower,
That hung o'er cliff, and lake, and tower,
Thou gleam'st against the western ray
Ten thousand lines of brighter day.
Not she, the championess of old, In Spenser's magic tale enrolled, She for the charmed spear renowned, Which forced each knight to kiss the ground, Not she more changed, when, placed at rest,
What time she was Malbecco's guest, *
She gave to flow her maiden vest;
When from the corslet's grasp relieved,
Free to the sight her bosom heaved;
Sweet was her blue eye's modest smile,
Erst hidden by the aventayle ;
And down her shoulders graceful rolled
Her locks profuse, of paly gold.
They who whilome, in midnight fight,
Had marvelled at her matchless might,
No less her maiden charms approved,
But looking liked, and liking loved.t
The sight could jealous pangs beguile,
And charm Malbecco's cares awhile ;
And he, the wandering Squire of Dames,
Forgot his Columbella's claims,
“And passion, erst unknown, could gain
The breast of blunt Sir Satýrane ;
,* See“ The Fairy Queen,” Book III. Canto IX.
+ “ For every one her liked, and every one her loved.”
SPENSER, as above.