While airy minstrels warble jocund notes.
Highland Superstitions : Alexander MacGregor :
How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly,. Or, stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie. Nor thou, though learned, his homelier thoughts neglect;. 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 preserv'd, how often may'st thou hear,. Where to the pole the Boreal mountains run,. Taught by the father to his list'ning son. Strange lays, whose pow'r had charmed a Spenser's ear.
Old Runic bards shall seem to rise around,. Their matted hair with boughs fantastic crowned:. Whether thou bidd'st the well-taught hind repeat.
The choral dirge that mourns some chieftain brave,. And strewed with choicest herbs his scented grave;. Or whether, sitting in the shepherd's shiel,. Thou hear'st some sounding tale of war's alarms;. When, at the bugle's call, with fire and steel,. The sturdy clans pour'd forth their bonny swarms,. And hostile brothers met to prove each other's arms. In Skye's lone isle the gifted wizard seer,. Or in the depth of Uist's dark forest dwells:. How they, whose sight such dreary dreams engross,. With their own visions oft astonished droop,.
They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop. And rosy health, shall soon lamented die. Their bidding heed, and at their beck repair. They know what spirit brews the stormful day,. And heartless, oft like moody madness stare. To see the phantom train their secret work prepare. What though far off, from some dark dell espied,. His glimm'ring mazes cheer th' excursive sight,. Yet turn, ye wand'rers, turn your steps aside,. Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light! For watchful, lurking mid th' unrustling reed,. At those mirk hours the wily monster lies,. 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!
Shall never look with pity's kind concern,. But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood. O'er its drowned banks, forbidding all return. To some dim hill that seems uprising near,. In all its terrors clad, shall wild appear. Meantime, the wat'ry surge shall round him rise,. Poured sudden forth from ev'ry swelling source.
What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs?
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His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force,. And down the waves he floats, a pale and breathless corse. For him in vain his anxious wife shall wait,. His bairns shall linger at th' unclosing gate. Her travell'd limbs in broken slumbers steep,.
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With drooping willows dressed, his mournful sprite. Shall visit sad, perhaps, her silent sleep:. Then he, perhaps, with moist and watry hand,. Shall fondly seem to press her shudd'ring cheek,. And with his blue swoll'n face before her stand,. And, shiv'ring cold, these piteous accents speak:. While I lie welt'ring on the osiered shore,. Drown'd by the kaelpie's wrath, nor e'er shall aid thee more!
Thy Muse may, like those feath'ry tribes which spring. From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing.
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Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle,. To that hoar pile which still its ruin shows:.
In whose small vaults a pigmy-folk is found,. Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows,. And culls them, wond'ring, from the hallowed ground! The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid;. No slaves revere them, and no wars invade:. Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour,. The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold,. And forth the monarchs stalk with sov'reign pow'r,. In pageant robes, and wreathed with sheeny gold,. And on their twilight tombs aerial council hold.
On whose bleak rocks, which brave the wasting tides,. Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides! Go, just as they, their blameless manners trace! Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain,.
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