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O Music! sphere-descended maid !
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid !
Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside ?
As in that loved Athenian bow'r
You learned an all-commanding pow'r,
Thy mimic soul, O nymph endeared,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
Arise as in that elder time,
Warm, energic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders, in that godlike age,
Fill thy recording sister's page:
'T is said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age,
Ev'n all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound.
O bid our vain endeavours cease:
Revive the just designs of Greece;
Return in all thy simple state;
Confirm the tales her sons relate !

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AN ODE ON THE POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS OF THE

HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND

CONSIDERED AS THE SUBJECT OF POETRY

I

H—thou return'st from Thames, whose naiads long

Have seen thee ling'ring, with a fond delay,

'Mid those soft friends whose hearts, some future day,
Shall melt, perhaps, to hear thy tragic song.
Go, not unmindful of that cordial youth

Whom, long endeared, thou leav'st by · Lavant's side;
Together let us wish him lasting truth,

And joy untainted, with his destined bride.
Go! nor regardless, while these numbers boast

5 ΙΟ

My short-lived bliss, forget my social name, 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 ev'ry vale

Shall prompt the poet, and his song demand:
To thee thy copious subjects ne'er shall fail;

Thou need'st but take the pencil to thy hand,
And paint what all believe who own thy genial land.

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II

25

There must thou wake perforce thy Doric quill:

'Tis Fancy's land to which thou sett'st thy feet, Where still, 't is said, the fairy people meet

20 Beneath each birken shade on mead or hill. There each trim lass that skims the milky store

To the swart tribes their creamy bowl allots; By night they sip it round the cottage door,

While airy minstrels warble jocund notes. There ev'ry herd, by sad experience, knows

How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly, When the sick ewe her summer food foregoes,

Or, stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie. Such airy beings awe th' untutored swain,

30 Nor thou, though learn'd, 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. 35

III

40

Ev'n yet preserved, 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.
At ev'ry pause, before thy mind possest,

Old runic bards shall seem to rise around,
With uncouth lyres, in many-coloured vest,

Their matted hair with boughs fantastic crowned: Whether thou bid'st the well-taught hind repeat

The choral dirge that mourns some chieftain brave,

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When ev'ry shrieking maid her bosom beat,

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 poured forth their bony swarms, And hostile brothers met to prove each other's arms.

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IV

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'Tis thine to sing, how, framing hideous spells,

In Sky's lone isle, the gifted wizard seer,
Lodged in the wintry cave with [

]
Or in the depth of Uist's dark forests, dwells;
How they whose sight such dreary dreams engross,

With their own visions oft astonished droop,
When o'er the wat'ry strath or quaggy moss

They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop,
Or if in sports, or on the festive green,
Their [

] glance some fated youth descry, Who now, perhaps, in lusty vigour seen

And rosy health, shall soon lamented die: For them the viewless forms of air obey,

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.

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V

.[This stanza, comprising 11. 70–86, was missing in the MS.)

VI

.[The first eight lines of this stanza, 11. 87–94 of the ode, were missing in the MS.)

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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,

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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.

VII

Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest indeed!
Whom, late bewildered in the dank, dark fen,

105 Far from his flocks and smoking hamlet then, To that sad spot (

] On him, enraged, the fiend, in angry mood,

Shall never look with Pity's kind concern, But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood

IIC
O’er its drowned bank, forbidding all return:
Or if he meditate his wished escape

To some dim hill that seems uprising near,
To his faint eye the grim and grisly shape,
In all its terrors clad, shall wild appear;

115 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?

His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force, And down the waves he floats, a pale and breathless corse. 120

VIII

For him, in vain, his anxious wife shall wait,

Or wander forth to meet him on his way;

For him, in vain, at to-fall of the day, His babes shall linger at th' unclosing gate. Ah, ne'er shall he return! Alone, if night

125 Her travelled limbs in broken slumbers steep, With dropping willows drest his mournful sprite

Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep; Then he, perhaps, with moist and wat'ry hand,

Shall fondly seem to press her shudd'ring cheek, 130 And with his blue-swoln face before her stand,

And, shiv'ring cold, these piteous accents speak: "Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils pursue

At dawn or dusk, industrious as before; Nor e'er of me one hapless thought renew,

135 While I lie welt'ring on the oziered shore, Drowned by the kelpie's wrath, nor e'er shall aid thee more !"

IX

Unbounded is thy range. With varied style

Thy Muse may, like those feath’ry tribes which spring

From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing 140 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: 145 Or thither, where, beneath the show'ry west,

The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid; Once foes, perhaps, together now they rest;

No slaves revere them, and no wars invade; Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour,

150 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 aërial council hold.

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160

But O, o'er all, forget not Kilda's race,

On whose bleak rocks, which brave the wasting tides,

Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides. Go, just as they, their blameless manners trace! Then to my ear transmit some gentle song

Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain, Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along,

And all their prospect but the wintry main. With sparing temp'rance, at the needful time,

They drain the sainted spring; or, hunger-prest, Along th’ Atlantic rock undreading climb,

And of its eggs despoil the solan's nest. Thus blest in primal innocence they live,

Sufficed and happy with that frugal fare Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give.

Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare; Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!

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XI

Nor need'st thou blush that such false themes engage

Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possest;

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