網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

TO

GEORGE ELLIS, Esq.

Edinburgh. When dark December glooms the day And takes our autumn joys away; When short, and scant, the sunbeam 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 grayhound 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 conn'd o'er,
Beguiles the dreary hour no more,
And darkling politician, crossed,
Inveighs against the lingering post,
And answering housewife sore complains
Of carrier's 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,

* See Introduction to Capto II.

Since early closed, and opening late,
Jealous revolved the studded gate;
Whose task, from eve to morning tide,
A wicket curlishly supplied.
Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow,
Dun-Edin! O, how altered now,
When safe amid thy mountain court
Thou sit'st 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 eyes' modest smile,
Erst hidden by the aventayle;
And down her shoulders graceful rolled
Her locks profuse, of paly gold.

* See.“ The Fairy Queen.” Book III. Canto IX.

They who whilome, in midnight fight,
Had marvelled at her matchless might,
No less her maiden charms approved,
But looking liked, and liking loved.*
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 Satyrane;
Nor durst light Paridel advance,
Bold as he was, a looser glance,
She charmed, at once, and tamed the heart,
Incomparable Britomarte!

So thou, fair City! disarrayed
Of battled wall, and rampart's aid,
As stately seem'st, but lovelier far
Than in that panoply of war.
Nor deem that from thy fenceless throne
Strength and security are flown;
Still, as of yore, Queen of the North!
Still canst thou send thy children forth.
Ne'er readier at alarm-bell's call
Thy burghers rose to man thy wall,
Than now, in danger, shall be thine,
Thy dauntless voluntary line;
For fosse and turret proud to stand,
Their breasts the bulwarks of the land.

* “ For every one her liked, and every one her loved."

Spenser, as above.

Thy thousands, trained to martial toil,
Full red would stain their native soil,
Ere from thy mural crown there fell
The slightest knosp, or pinnacle.
And if it come, as come it may,
Dun-Edin! that eventful day,
Renowned for hospitable deed,
That virtue much with heaven may plead,
In patriarchal times whose care
Descending angels deign to share;
That claim may wrestle blessings down
On those who fight for the Good Town,
Destined in every age to be
Refuge of injured royalty;
Since first, when conquering York arose,
To Heary meek she gave repose,
Till late, with wonder, grief, and awe,
Great Bourbon's relics, sad she saw.

Truce to these thoughts !-for, as they rise,
How gladly I avert mine eyes,
Bodings, or true or false, to change,
For Fiction's fair romantic range,
Or for Tradition’s dubious light,
That hovers 'twixt the day and night:
Dazzling alternately and dim,
Her wavering lamp I'd rather trim,
Knights, squires, and lovely dames to see,
Creation of my fantasy,
Than gaze abroad on reeky fen,
And make of mists invading men.

« 上一頁繼續 »