[from Island Minstrelsy, 1839]
The soft sounds of music arose : gladness brightened in the hall : the voice of Ullin was heard: Utha rejoiced in his presence, and demanded the Song of Grief. The big tears hung in her eye, when the soft Crimora spoke: Crimora, the daughter of Rinval, who dwelt at Latha's roaring stream.
SWEET ladye ! wouldst then bid me sing ?
Alas ! mine is a rustic lyre,
A lonely and negleeted thing,
Of mournful sound and broken string;
And may such to thine ear aspire?
It shallit will : but ill may I
Repay thy gentle courtesy.
Marvel not, ladye ! if my harp,
My island harp, hath lost a spell
And wails, as for some fated barque
Wails the sad sighing ocean shell:
Fate hath her webs of dark enwreathing,
And hearts and harps have wild bereaving.
Marvel not, ladye ! if I weep
When other eyes are lit with gladness
Eyes may be bright, smiles may be deep,
Yet silent breasts may be all madness
Sweet ladye! as thy sunny clime,
Bright be thy gentle spirit ever;
May'st thou not know the chilling time
When dear and priz'd affections sever
Oh! cloudless as thy southern skies,
And tearless, be thy pleading eyes !
YcsI have dreamings ; it may be
That like all else they may be vain;
Yetthat fair land of chivalry,
Thy land, doth ever haunt my brain;
And if that mortal coil might be
Like to the spirit wing'd and free,
Oh! I would seek those fairy bowers
In that rich clime of holiday,
Where sadness doth not shade the hours,
Where every heart is toujour gaie ;
I wouldbut oh! 'tis vain'tis vain !
Chain'd, chain'd and earthly as my strain,
Sweet ladye ! 'tis in vain! But oh!
When thou art far from Mannin's Isle,
My heart's cold isle, where tempests blow
And skies are seldom seen to smile
But yetwhere hearts are true and warm,
Despite dark skies or howling storm
Remember me ! remember me !
The Island minstrel who doth pine
For wings, to burst away and flee
Where no deluding glories shine;
Sweet ladye ! deem me not too wild,
For I am nature's mountain child.
I'm weary, I'm weary,
Weary of earth,
Weary of laughter,
Weary of mirth,
Weary of weeping
O'er happier years,
Weary of steeping
My couch with my tears.
I'm weary, I'm weary,
Weary of all;
The verdure is blighted,
The sweetness doth pall;
Weary of sighing,
Weary of heart,
Weary of drying
The tears as they start.
Weep for the weary heart
Shatter'd and lonely,
Which in no joy bath part
Save of grief only :
For whom earth's smiling face
Weareth but sorrow,
To whom comes weariness
With every morrow.
Oh, simple is my song, ladye !
Oh, simple is my song
It tells but of earth's woes, ladye!
Of bitterness and wrong,
Of secret griefs that pass not,
Of thoughts that madly burn,
For dear and buried memories,
For joys which ne'er return :
I shall but sad thine heart, ladye !
I shall but make thee sigh
With my poor melancholy song
Of doom and destiny
Oh, take; my lonely harp, ladye !
To other hearts than mine,
Where earth's hopes are not dead, ladye
Within a hollow shrine.
But ask song not of me, ladye !
For whom the world's cold breath
Hath nothing to bestow, ladye !
But weariness and death
Ay, false the smiling face, ladye!
And feign'd the warm embrace,
And empty every seeming joy,
With but one resting place;
And that is in the quiet grave
Where thought cannot intrude;
Oh! I would lay me down and be
For the poor earthworms food;
I would be food for them, ladye !
Not for malignant, vile,
Pestiferous, unholy hearts
That can, in wounding,smile, ladye !
But ladye, feel for me, for now
My spirit chafeth thro' much wrung;
Behold! its trace is on my brow,
Its bitterness is in my song ;
Oh, rise thee, Percy! rise, I pray,
And grace the festal board, for I
Cannot'tis vain that I essay
To site for aught but sympathy.
Then, ladye ! here let me resign
The harp to other hands than mine."
Young Percy rose; and from his brow
Shook back a cloud of glorious hair
An Alpine brow that rival'd snow,
A brow where no one withering care
Had press'd its signet;ay, he rose,
And gaily glancing round the hall
That speaking glance, which unto those
On whom its fondest beam might fall
Spoke,oh! a world of witchery!
Such as young hearts alone can feel
Ere time hath taught them mastery
Of miseries time cannot heal.
The Percy rose; and bending o'er
The weary Ethil's sad sweet verse,
He bade his soul essay to pour,
Like summer blossoms o'er a hearse,
A world of northern minstrelsy,
A wild, old ballad of the border,
Of days when Scotia's sons were free,
And lion-hearts " march'd in good order."
He sungand every sound was mute
Of days and deeds of chivalry;
He sungoh! sweet as lover's lute,
Ay, sweeter than ought else might be,
Came those soft wild bewitching notes,
Soft as the sigh of evening floats
In odours from the gay parterre,
Where bloom the beautifully fair
Rejoicing creatures of few hours,
The perishing but lovely flowers.
And then the liquid measure died
Like evening's breath o'er summer's tide.
The Percy's wild lament was o'er;
The song had ceas'd; his harp was hush'd ;
That harp which could so well restore
The memory of brave hearts crush'd,
And high hopes wither'd, and the days
of Caledonia's brightest story,
When fame was prodigal of bays,
And fate was prodigal of glory.
The measure ceased; but every heart
Thrill'd to the minstrel's witching art,
And every pulse and every brain
Felt kindling at the wild sad strain.
The ladye rose, and gave the lyre
Into the hand of Rosabel,
And bade the Island girl aspire
To sing as sweetly and as well.
A simple girl was she, and wild
As the young breeze on Crogga's hill;
Rude nature's own enthusiast child,
With feelings like the bursting rill
Which nought could fetter, save the frost
Of cold despair. Yet well she knew
That all her hopes of fame were lost;
So deeply in those eyes of blue
Beamed the pure feelings of the soul,
The eloquence hearts might not brook.
She gave her musings to control,
And tremblingly the lyre she took
And touch'd the strings. A low faint sound,
A deeply melancholy strain
Fell on the listening ears around;
Poor Rosabel ! 'twas all in vain.
"Alas!" she sigh'd, " I cannot sing,
My heart and lyre have lost a string ;
" Oh ladye ! no, I cannot sing;
My lyre is tuneless, and my heart
Is but a silent chordless thing;
I cannot sing ; for thou, thou art
The very soul of mirthful glee,
A dancing, warbling, merrie fairy;
Such Such may'st thou ever, ever be,
Nor ever feel of life aweary
Weary ?oh, no ! to thee 'tis bright
And beautiful and fair and gay;
Long may the cloudless spirit's light
Shed all its lustre o'er thy way.
No, no ! I may not sing, for thou
Art happy !happy ?There is not
One shadow, ladye, o'er thy brow.
Then, be thy minstrel's grief forgot;
It shall not taint thee. Rest, my heart!
Cast by thy weariness awhile
YesI must tax my minstrel art
For the dear sake of Mona's Isle.
Yet, ladye ! 'tis a very pain
To feel that I must sing in vain."
THAT eye is brightly beautiful,
That brow is free from care,
There is no sorrow in that heart,
And life to him is fair;
His young free soul is bounding now
With hopes and thoughts that burn,
And he bursts away in manhood's might
But when will he return ?
Oh ! when will he return, ladye ?
Oli ! when will he return?
That voice is like wild melody,
That heart is gay and free,
And that hyacinthine hair, ladye !
Waves like a silken sea
That voice will pass away from us
But long in hope's deep urn
Shall rest the cherish'd memories:
Oh! when shall he return ?
Oh l when shall he return, ladye?
Oh l when shall he return
The battle field is far, ladye !
The gory field is cold;
And many a gallant bosom there
Shall rest beneath the mould
The young, the brave, the gay, the free!
Give me a glorious urn
To shrine the dust of those young hearts
That never may return
That never may return, ladye !
That never may return.
And mustoh! must he fall, ladye ?
Oh l say not he must die;
Oh l say not that cold death must dull
The light of that blue eye
shall he not come again, ladye?
Shall he not come again,
With the wreath of glory on his brow,
Andbut my song is vain!
For when shall he return, ladye?
Oh! when shall he return ?
Go forth, go forth, young minstrel !
Unto the fearful fight;
Nerved be thy arm with giant strength ,
Strong be thy spirit's might;
And the thousand hearts that love thee
Shall breathe one fervent prayer ;
Oh! thro' the shield of that strong love
Nothing can blight thee there.
He willhe must return, ladye !
He musthe must return.
" Ladye ! my simple song is done;
Thy heart untouch'd, my wreath unwon;
Oh! I was vain to touch the lyre,
And vainer, vainer to aspire
To think to wake one feeble tone;
I should have felt, I should have known
That woman's weakness could not raise
One tone to win the meed of praise.
Oh, fatal dream of poesy
Flyfly away afar from me ;
I must not yield me to thy spells
In thy enchanted empire dwells
But sorrow and intense regret;
Their seal is o'er my spirit set
Oh, fatal dreams of poesy!
Ye do but blight my destiny;
Ye bid me hope, ye bid me sing,
And such strange glamour o'er me fling,
As fires my soul and racks my brain;
And it is mockerybittervain!"
She ceased her melancholy song,
And bent her pale brow o'er her lyre,
Whilst the fair sadden'd spellbound throng
Kept silence reverend and long,
Without a feeling or desire
Beyond regarding Rosabel
As mistress of some mystic spell.
At length the ladye kindly said,
" Thine be the meed of fame, sweet maid;
The laurel'd wreath of song be thine
But let not mournful ivy twine
Its fibres with thine Island songs :
Forget the memory of %vrongs :
We know that we must suffer here ;
There is but one unsorrowing sphere
And there, when earth's turmoil is done,
A brighter wreath and lyre are won,
A lasting fame which nought can shade,
An amaranth wreath which ne'er will fade.
A happiness no care can dull,
With hopes for ever beautiful.
Rise, pensive drooping Rosabel!
Thou dost despond, and 'tis not well;
I know thy feelingsknow each thought
That are to almost frenzy wrought;
I know thou broodest overmuch;
But there is misery for such,
A misery imshar'd, unfelt
By few indeed;and there is woe
For those who have so deeply dwelt
O'er griefs that unto poison grow
And Rosabel ! I'd have thee note
That to the upas' tainted breast
There is but one true antidote
One balmone never failing rest.
Look up and smile, dear Rosabel !
For the strange sadness of thy spell
Hath cast a shadow over all,
And silence holds the festal hall ".
Come forth, young mirthful Isadore !
And bring thy merry bosom here:
Come, let thy joyous tones restore
The merriment and festive cheer:
Come, touch thy lute ;be gladbe gay ;
A right enlivening roundelay.
Young Isadore step'd gaily forth:
She was a rare and lovely thing;
A blossom from the cold bleak North,
Like snowdrop of the early spring.
And Isadore threw back the tresses
That waved in light profusion down
Her neck, where such fond chaste caresses
Were courted by the snowy down;
For softer than the cygnet's breast,
And prouder, was that envied rest.
A mirthful girl was Isadore ;
With exquisitely sweet blue eyes;
And while murmuring softly o'er
Her favourite songs and symphonies,
She look'd like being not of earth,
So strange that mood amid her mirth.
At length some sweet and happy thought
Brought her a vision of the Isle,
Some dear remembrance finely wrought
There gleam'd one soulpervading smile:
And the fair creature o'er the throng
Pour'd the full soul of Island song.
Knowest thou that green spot 'mid the billows of ocean,
Whose valleys are wild, and whose mountains are bare,
The shrine of my heart's deep undying devotion,
The lone lovely mistgem of Mannin Mae Lear?*
Knowest thou where Holm Peel's proud ruins rise hoary,
Where ghosts of the princely at dead midnight moan?
Knowest thou where Rushen still frowneth in glory?
Hast thou heard where the death-shot laid low Illiam Dhoane ?
Knowest thou the glens which the elf race inhabit,
Where brightly their tiny lamps burn as of yore ?
Knowest thou "Quocunque jeceris stabit?"
Or the dread Moddey Doe of the wild western shore?
Knowest thou the spot where the rose and the thistle
The leek and the shamrock are lovelily blent,
Where shrill on the hills is the hollow wind's whistle,
Where fairies by moonlight dance over the bent ?
'Tis Mona the lone! where the silver mist gathers
Pale shroud whence our wizard-chief watches unseen
O'er the breezy, the bright, the lov'd home of my fathers;
Oh Mannin, my graih my erte! Mannin veg veen!
'Tis Mona the lone! thro' whose wild Curraghts roaming,
I've lingered to list to the oaten pipe's strain;
Where enchanted I've gazed on the rustics at gloaming,
Bedight in dear simple keeir lheah and karane.
'Tis the spot where my spirit exultingly wander'd
'Mid nature's own solitudes, breezy, and bare ;
Where shrin'd in Glenaldyn's recesses I've ponder'd,
Enraptured o'er legends of Mannin Mac Lear.
And gentle and kind are its brillianteyed daughters
My vision ne'er brought me one other more fair ;
The' lovely and noble have come o'er the waters,
Give me the Manks maid with the dark flowing hair.
Then hail to thee, happy home!gem of the ocean!
Oh, thine are the youths honest-hearted and free
Ever free in each generous soul-felt emotion
As the wing of the eagle, or foam of the sea.
Then hail to thee, happy home!land of my fathers!
Proud nest of fam'd chieftains !blest isle of the fair!
The hills, the wild hills, where the fairy mist gathers
Oh Mannin, my grain my tree! Mannin Mac Lear !
With the patriot's fire my bosom is beating;
All my soul's with my lute;then, wise critic, forbear!
Deem not your rude minstrel barbaric, unweeting,
But smile on a scion of Mannin Mac Lear.
* * * * *
Kind smiles be thine, young Isadore !
Kind smiles from all be ever thine;
Sooth, but thou canst full well restore
Mona's proud days of " auld lang syne :"
Sing on, young minstrel of the isle!
Thine by thy country's brightest smile.
Come round us, spirits of the dead!
Come to your mist-clad island home;
And all a spirit's blessing shed
On your lone dwelling 'mid the foam.
Their holiest smiles be thine, sweet one!
Those mightiest masters of the spell
The glorious host of warriors gone
They who fought bravely and died well
Ay, be their spiritblessings thine;
And may sweet flowers for ever twine
Their richest blossoms round thy brow,
And oh! be ever gay as now."
The lady rose. * * * *
*Monan or Manninan Mac Lear, king of Ulster. Him the Manks believe their founder and legislator, and have him in great reputation for his wisdom.Sacheveril.