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O Music! sphere-descended maid,
ODE ON THE DEATH OF MR. THOMSON.1
In yonder grave a druid lies,
Where slowly winds the stealing wave;
In yon deep bed of whispering reeds
May love through life the soothing shade.
The scene of the following stanzas is supposed to lie on the Thames, near Richmond.
Then maids and youths shall linger here,
To hear the woodland pilgrim's knell.
Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore
When Thames in summer wreaths is drest, And oft suspend the dashing oar,
To bid his gentle spirit rest!
And oft, as ease and health retire
But thou, who own'st that earthy bed,
That mourn beneath the gliding sail?
Yet lives there one whose heedless eye
Shall scorn thy pale shrine glimmering near? With him, sweet bard, may fancy die, And joy desert the blooming year.
But thou, lorn stream, whose sullen tide
Whose cold turf hides the buried friend!
And see-the fairy valleys fade;
Dun night has veiled the solemn view!
The genial meads, assigned to bless
Thy life, shall mourn thy early doom; Their hinds and shepherd-girls shall dress, With simple hands, thy rural tomb.
■ Richmond Church, in which Thomson was buried.
Long, long, thy stone and pointed clay
AN ODE ON THE POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND1.
Inscribed to Mr. Home, Author of Douglas.
Home, thou return'st from Thames, whose naiads long
'Mid those soft friends, whose hearts, some future day, Shall melt, perhaps, to hear thy tragic song.
Go, not unmindful of that cordial youth 2
Go! nor regardless, while these numbers boast
But think far off how, on the southern coast, I met thy friendship with an equal flame!
Fresh to that soil thou turn'st, whose every vale
To thee thy copious subjects ne'er shall fail;
1 The text here given is that in which this ode was first printed, in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1780. Of the passages within brackets some were supplied in that version, to fill up lacunæ, by Dr. Carlyle, and some are from the later editions.
" Mr. John Barrow, who introduced Home to Collins.
There must thou wake perforce thy Doric quill;
To the swart tribes their creamy bowl allots;
While airy minstrels warble jocund notes. There every herd, by sad experience, knows
How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly, When the sick ewe her summer food forgoes,
Or, stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie. Such airy beings awe the untutored swain :
Nor thou, though learned, his homelier thoughts neglect; Let thy sweet muse the rural faith sustain ;
These are the themes of simple, sure effect, That add new conquests to her boundless reign, And fill, with double force, her heart-commanding strain.
Ev'n yet preserved, how often may'st thou hear,
With uncouth lyres, in many-coloured vest,
Whether thou bid'st the well-taught hind repeat
Or whether, sitting in the shepherd's shiel',
'Tis thine to sing, how, framing hideous spells,
How they, whose sight such dreary dreams engross,
When, o'er the watery strath, or quaggy moss, They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop.
Or, if in sports, or on the festive green,
For them the viewless forms of air obey;
They know what spirit brews the stormful day,
[Stanza v, and half of stanza vi, are missing in the MS.] What though far off, from some dark dell espied, His glimmering mazes cheer the excursive sight,
Yet turn, ye wanderers, turn your steps aside, Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light;
For watchful, lurking, 'mid the unrustling reed, At those mirk hours the wily monster lies,
And listens oft to hear the passing steed,
And frequent round him rolls his sullen eyes,
If chance his savage wrath may some weak wretch surprise.
Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest indeed!
Whom late bewildered in the dank, dark fen, Far from his flocks and smoking hamlet then! To that sad spot [his wayward fate shall lead :]
On him, enraged, the fiend in angry mood, Shall never look with pity's kind concern,
But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood O'er its drowned banks, forbidding all return.
1 Inserted from the later editions.