A Tale - Poem by John Logan
Where pastoral Tweed, renown'd in song,
With rapid murmur flows;
In Caledonia's classic ground,
The hall of Arthur rose.
A braver Briton never arm'd
To guard his native isle.
A gentler friend did never make
The social circle smile.
Twice he arose, from rebel rage
To save the British crown;
And in the field where heroes strove
He won him high renown.
But to the ploughshare turn'd the sword,
When bloody war did cease;
And in the arbour which he rear'd
He rais'd the song of peace.
An only daughter in his age
Solaced a father's care;
And all the country bless'd the name
Of Emily the Fair.
The picture of her mother's youth,
(Now sainted in the sky);
She was the angel of his age,
And apple of his eye.
Something unseen o'er all her form
Did nameless grace impart
A secret charm that won the way
At once into the heart.
Her eye the pure ethereal blue,
Than that did fairer show,
Whene'er she watch'd a father's look,
Or wept a lover's woe:
For now the lover of her youth
To Indian climes had roved,
To conquer fortune's cruel rage,
And match the maid he loved.
Her voice, the gentle tone of love,
The heart a captive stole;
The tender accent of her tongue
Went thrilling through the soul.
The graces that for nature fair
Present us mimic art,
The false refinements that refine
Away the human heart,
She knew not; in the simple robe
Of elegance and ease,
Complete she shone, and ever pleased
Without the thought to please.
Instruct tho' unplanted forest-crab
To leave its genius wild;
Subdue the monster of the wood,
And make the savage mild:
But who would give the rose a hue
Which nature has not given?
But who would tame the nightingale,
Or bring the lark from heaven?
The father, watching o'er his child,
The joy of fathers found;
And bless'd himself, he stretch'd his hand
To bless the neighbours round.
A patriarch in the vale of peace,
To all he gave the law;
The good he guarded in their rights
And kept the bad in awe.
Lord of his own paternal field,
His liberal dealt his store,
And call'd the stranger to his feast,
The beggar of his door.
But, ah! what mortal knows the hour
Of fate? a hand unseen
Upon the curtain ever rests,
And sudden shifts the scene.
Arthur was surety for his friend,
Who fled to foreign climes,
And left him to the gripe of law,
The victim of his crimes.
The sun, that rising, saw him lord
Of hill and valley round,
Beheld him, at his setting hour,
Without one foot of ground.
Forth from the hall, no longer his,
He is a pilgrim gone;
And walks a stranger o'er the fields
He lately call'd his own.
The blast of winter whistled loud
And shrill through the void hall;
And heavy on his hoary locks
The shower of night did fall.
Clasp'd in his daughter's trembling hand,
He journey'd sad and slow;
At times he stopp'd to look behind,
And tears began to flow.
Wearied, and faint, and cold, and wet,
To shelter he did hie;
'Beneath the covert of this rock,
My daughter, let us die!'
At midnight, in the weary waste,
In sorrows sat the pair;
She chaff'd his shivering hands, and wrung
The water from his hair.
The sigh spontaneous rose, the tear
No word of comfort could she speak,
Nor would she weep aloud.
'In yonder hall my fathers lived,
In yonder hall they died;
Now in that church-yard's aisle they sleep,
Each by his spouse's side.
'Oft have I made yon hall resound
With social, sweet delight;
And marked not the morning hour,
That stole upon the night.
'When there the wand'rers of the dark,
Reposing, ceas'd to roam;
'And strangers, happy in the hall,
Did find themselves at home:
'I little thought, that, thus forlorn,
In deserts I should bide,
And have not where to lay the head,
Amid the world so wide!'
A stranger, wandering through the wood,
Beheld the hapless pair;
Long did he look in silence sad,
Then shriek'd as in despair.
He ran, and lowly at the feet
Of his late lord he fell;
'Alas! my master, have I lived
To bid your house farewell!
'But I will never bid adieu
To him I prized so high:
As with my master I have lived,
I'll with my master die.
'I saw the summer-friend, who shared
The banquet in your hall,
Depart, nor cast one look behind
On the forsaken wall.
'I saw the daily, nightly guest,
The changing scene forsake:
Nor drop a tear, nor turn his steps
The long farewell to take:
'Then to the service of my lord
I vow'd a throbbing heart;
And in the changes of your life
To bear an humble part.
'Forgive the fond, officious zeal
Of one that loves his lord!
The new possessor of your field
A suppliant I implored.
'I told the treachery of your friend,
The story of your woe,
And sought his favour, when I saw
His tears begin to flow.
'I ask'd the hamlet of the hill,
The lone, sequester'd seat,
Your chosen haunt and favourite bower
To be your last retreat.
'I offer'd what was all your own
The gold I had in store;
Low at his feet I fell, and wept
That I could give no more.
'Your gold is yours, the generous youth
With gentle accent said;
Your master's be that little field,
And cheerful be his shed!
'Now Heaven has heard my prayer; I've wish'd
I could in part repay
The favours your extended hand
Bestow'd from day to day.
'I yet may see a garland green
Upon the hoary head;
Yet see my master bless'd, before
I dwell among the dead!'
In silence Arthur look'd to heaven,
And clasp'd his Edwin's hand;
The eyes of Emily in tears
Express'd affection bland.
From opening heaven the moon appear'd;
Fair was the face of night;
Bright in their beauty shone the stars;
The air was flowing light.
Arthur resumed the pilgrim's staff;
They held their lonely way
Dim through the forest's darksome bourne,
Till near the dawning day.
Then a long line of ruddy light,
That quiver'd to and fro,
Reveal'd their lone retreat, and closed
The pilgrimage of woe.
He enter'd, solemn, slow, and sad,
The destined hermitage,
A little and a lonely hut
To cover hapless age.
He clasp'd his daughter in his arms,
And kiss'd a falling tear;
'I have my all, ye gracious powers!
I have my daughter here!'
A sober banquet to prepare,
Emilia cheerful goes;
The fagot blazed, the window glanced,
The heart of age arose.
'I would not be that guilty man,
With all his golden store:
Nor change my lot with any wretch,
That counts his thousands o'er.
'Now here at last we are at home,
We can no lower fall;
Low in the cottage, peace can dwell,
As in the lordly hall.
'The wants of nature are but few;
Her banquet soon is spread:
The tenant of the vale of tears
Requires but daily bread.
'The food that grows in every field
Will life and health prolong:
And water from the spring suffice
To quench the thirsty tongue.
'But all the Indies, with their wealth,
And earth, and air, and seas,
Will never quench the sickly thirst,
And craving of disease.
'My humble garden to my hand
Contentment's feast will yield;
And in the season, harvest white
Will load my little field.
'Like nature's simple children, here,
With nature's self we'll live,
And of the little that is left,
Have something still to give.
'The sad vicissitudes of life
Long have I learn'd to bear;
But oh! my daughter, thou art new
To sorrow and to care!
'How shall that fine and flowery form,
In silken folds confined,
That scarcely faced the summer's gale,
Endure the wintry wind!
'Ah! how wilt thou sustain a sky
With angry tempest red!
How wilt thou bear the bitter storm
That's hanging o'er thy head!
'Whate'er thy justice dooms, O God!
I take with temper mild;
But oh! repay it thousand-fold
In blessings on my child!'
'Weep not for me, thou father fond!'
The virgin soft did say;
'Could I contribute to thy peace,
O, I would bless the day!
'The parent who provides for all
For us will now provide;
These hands have learn'd the gayer art
Of elegance and pride:
'What once amused a vacant hour,
Shall now the day engage;
And vanity shall spread the board
Of poverty and age.
'At eventide, how blithe we'll meet,
And, while the fagots blaze,
Recount the trifles of the time,
And dream of better days;
'I'll read the tragic tales of old,
To soothe a father's woes;
I'll lay the pillow for thy head,
And sing thee to repose.'
The father wept. 'Thy wondrous hand,
Almighty, I adore!
I had not known how bless'd I was,
Had I not been so poor!
'Now bless'd be God for what is left!
And bless'd for what is given!
Thou art an angel, O my child!
With thee I dwell in heaven!'
Then, in the garb of ancient times,
They trod the pastoral plain:
But who describes a summer's day,
Or paints the halcyon main?
One day, a wanderer in the wood
The lonely threshold press'd;
'Twas then that Arthur's humble roof
Had first received a guest.
The stranger told his tender tale:
'I come from foreign climes;
From countries red with Indian blood,
And stain'd with Christian crimes.
'O may Britannia never hear
What these sad eyes have seen!
May an eternal veil be drawn
That world and this between!
'No frantic avarice fired my soul,
And Heaven my wishes crown'd;
For soon a fortune to my mind
With innocence I found.
'From exile sad, returning home,
I kiss'd the sacred earth:
And flew to find my native woods,
And walls that gave me birth.
'To church on Sunday fond I went,
In hopes to mark, unseen,
All my old friends, assembled round
The circle of the green.
'Alas! the change that time had made!
My ancient friends were gone;
Another race possess'd the walls,
And I was left alone!
'A stranger among strangers, long
I look'd from pew to pew;
But not the face of one old friend
Rose imaged to my view.
'The horrid plough had razed the green
Where we have often play'd;
The axe had fell'd the hawthorn tree,
The school-boy's summer shade.
'One maid, the beauty of the vale,
To whom I vow'd my care,
And gave my heart, had fled away,
And none could tell me where.
'My cares and toils in foreign climes
Were for that peerless maid;
She rose in beauty by my side:
My toils were all repaid.
'By Indian streams I sat alone,
While on my native isle,
And on my ancient friends, I thought,
And wept the weary while.
' 'Twas she that cheer'd my captive hours,
She came in every dream,
As, smiling, on the rear of night,
Appears the morning beam.
'In quest of her, I wander wild,
O'er mountain, stream, and plain;
And, if I find her not, I fly
To Indian climes again.'
The father thus began: 'My son,
Mourn not thy wretched fate;
For he that rules in Heaven decrees
This life a mixed state.
'The stream that carries us along,
Flows through the vale of tears;
Yet, on the darkness of our day,
The bow of Heaven appears.
'The rose of Sharon, king of flowers,
Is fenced with prickles round:
Queen of the vale, the lily fair
Among the thorns is found.
'E'en while we raise the song, we sigh
The melancholy while;
And, down the face of mortal man,
The tear succeeds the smile.
'Nought pure or perfect her is found;
But, when this night is o'er,
Th' eternal morn will spring on high,
And we shall weep no more.
'Beyond the dim horizon far,
That bounds the mortal eye,
A better country blooms to view,
Beneath a brighter sky.'-
Unseen the trembling virgin heard
The stranger's tale of wo;
Then enter'd as an angel bright,
In beauty's highest glow.
The stranger rose - he look'd, he gazed -
He stood a statue pale;
His heart did throb, his cheek did change,
His faltering voice did fail.
At last, 'My Emily herself
Alive in all her charms!'
The father kneel'd; the lovers rush'd
To one another's arms.
In speechless ecstacy entranced
Long while they did remain;
They glow'd, they trembled, and they sobb'd,
They wept, and wept again.
The father lifted up his hands,
To bless the happy pair;
Heaven smiled on Edward the Beloved,
And Emily the Fair.
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