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"But haply, for my year of grace
Is not yet passed away,
Might I still hope to win thy love,
No longer would I stay."
"Now farewell grief, and welcome joy
Once more unto my
For since I've found thee, lovely youth,
We never more will part."
DESCRIPTION OF EDWIN, THE MINSTREL BOY.
ND yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy.
Deep thought oft seemed to fix his infant eye.
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy;
Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad,
And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours stared and sighed, yet blessed the lad; Some deemed him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled;
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped,
Or roamed at large the lonely mountain's head,
Or where the maze of some bewildered stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phoebus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.
The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring:
His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
To work the woe of any living thing,
By trap or net, by arrow or by sling;
These he detested; those he scorned to wield;
He wished to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field,
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees on high, amidst the encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine;
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies?
Ah, no! he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.
And oft he traced the uplands to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn:
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn
And villager abroad at early toil:
But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb, When all in mist the world below was lostWhat dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime, Like shipwrecked mariner on desert coast, And view the enormous waste of vapour, tost In billows, lengthening to the horizon round, Now scooped in gulfs, with mountains now embossed! And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound!
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene.
In darkness and in storm he found delight;
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene,
The southern sun diffused his dazzling shene.
Even sad vicissitude amused his soul;
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wished not to control.
Oft when the winter storm had ceased to rave,
He roamed the snowy waste at even, to view
The cloud stupendous, from the Atlantic wave
High-towering, sail along the horizon blue;
Where, 'midst the changeful scenery, ever new,
Fancy a thousand wondrous forms descries,
More wildly great than ever pencil drew;
Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size,
And glittering cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise.
Thence musing onward to the sounding shore,
The lone enthusiast oft would take his way,
Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar
In black array
Of the wide-weltering waves.
When sulphurous clouds rolled on the autumnal day, Even then he hastened from the haunt of man,
Along the trembling wilderness to stray,
What time the lightning's fierce career began,
And o'er heaven's rending arch the rattling thunder ran.
Responsive to the sprightly pipe, when all
In sprightly dance the village youth were joined,
Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall,
From the rude gambol far remote reclined,
Soothed with the soft notes warbling in the wind.
Ah then, all jollity seemed noise and folly!
To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refined,
Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy,
When with the charm compared of heavenly melancholy!
Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
Alas! how is that rugged heart forlorn!
Is there, who ne'er those mystic transports felt
Of solitude and melancholy born?
He needs not woo the Muse; he is her scorn,
The sophist's rope of cobweb he shall twine;
Mope o'er the schoolman's peevish rage; or mourn,
And delve for life in Mammon's dirty mine;
Sneak with the scoundrel fox, or grunt with glutton swine.
For Edwin, Fate a nobler doom had planned;
Song was his favourite and first pursuit.
The wild harp rang to his adventurous hand,
And languished to his breath the plaintive flute.
His infant muse, though artless, was not mute.
Of elegance as yet he took no care;
For this of time and culture is the fruit;
And Edwin gained at last this fruit so rare: As in some future verse I purpose to declare.
Meanwhile, whate'er of beautiful or new,
Sublime, or dreadful, in earth, sea, or sky,
By chance, or search, was offered to his view,
He scanned with curious and romantic eye.
Whate'er of lore tradition could supply
From Gothic tale, or song, or fable old,
Roused him, still keen to listen and to pry.
At last, though long by penury controlled,
And solitude, his soul her graces 'gan unfold.
Thus on the chill Lapponian's dreary land,
For many a long month lost in snow profound,
When Sol from Cancer sends the season bland,
And in their northern cave the storms are bound;
From silent mountains, straight, with startling sound,
Torrents are hurled; green hills emerge; and lo!
The trees with foliage, cliffs with flowers are crowned;
Pure rills through vales of verdure warbling go;
And wonder, love, and joy, the peasant's heart o'crflow.