Swift, o'er the wild and dreary waste
A NUT-BROWN GIRL was seen to haste;
Wide waving was her unbound hair,
And sun-scorch'd was her bosom bare;
For Summer's noon had shed its beams
While she lay wrapp'd in fev'rish dreams;
While, on the wither'd hedge-row's side,
By turns she slept, by turns she cried,
"Ah ! where lies hid the balsam sweet,
"To heal the wounds of MARGUERITE?"
Dark was her large and sunken eye
Which wildly gaz'd upon the sky;
And swiftly down her freckled face
The chilling dews began to pace:
For she was lorn, and many a day,
Had, all alone, been doom'd to stray,
And, many a night, her bosom warm,
Had throbb'd, beneath the pelting storm,
And still she cried, "the rain falls sweet,
"It bathes the wounds of MARGUERITE.
Her garments were by briars torn,
And on them hung full many a thorn;
A thistle crown, she mutt'ring twin'd,
Now darted on,--now look'd behind--
And here, and there, her arm was seen
Bleeding the tatter'd folds between;
Yet, on her breast she oft display'd
A faded branch, that breast to shade:
For though her senses were astray,
She felt the burning beams of day:
She felt the wintry blast of night,
And smil'd to see the morning light,
For then she cried, "I soon shall meet
"The plighted love of MARGUERITE.
Across the waste of printless snow,
All day the NUT-BROWN GIRL would go;
And when the winter moon had shed
Its pale beams on the mountain's head,
She on a broomy pillow lay
Singing the lonely hours away;
While the cold breath of dawnlight flew
Across the fields of glitt'ring dew:--
Swift o'er the frozen lake she past
Unmindful of the driving blast,
And then she cried "the air is sweet--
"It fans the breast of MARGUERITE.
The weedy lane she Iov'd to tread
When stars their twinkling lustre shed;
While from the lone and silent Cot
The watchful Cur assail'd her not,
Though at the beggar he would fly,
And fright the Trav'ller passing by:
But she, so kind and gentle seem'd,
Such sorrow in her dark eyes beam'd,
That savage fierceness could not greet
With less than love,--POOR MARGUERITE!
Oft, by the splashy brook she stood
And sung her Song to the waving wood;
The waving wood, in murmurs low,
Fill'd up the pause of weary woe;
Oft, to the Forest tripp'd along
And inly humm'd her frantic Song;
Oft danc'd mid shadows Ev'ning spread
Along the whisp'ring willow-bed.
And wild was her groan,
When she climb'd, alone--
The rough rock's side,
While the foaming tide,
Dash'd rudely against the sandy shore,
And the lightning flash'd mid the thunder's roar.
And many a time she chac'd the fly,
And mock'd the Beetle, humming by;
And then, with loud fantastic tone
She sang her wild strain, sad--alone.
And if a stranger wander'd near
Or paus'd the frantic Song to hear,
The burthen she would soft repeat,
"Who comes to soothe POOR MARGUERITE?
And why did she with sun-burnt breast,
So wander, and so scorn to rest?
Why did the NUT-BROWN MAIDEN go
O'er burning plains and wastes of snow?
What bade her fev'rish bosom sigh,
And dimm'd her large and hazle eye?
What taught her o'er the hills to stray
Fearless by night, and wild by day?
What stole the hour of slumber sweet--
From the scorch'd brain of MARGUERITE.
Soon shalt thou know; for see how lorn
She climbs the steep of shaggy thorn--
Now on the jutting cliff she stands,
And clasps her cold,--but snow-white hands.
And now aloud she chaunts her strain
While fiercely roars the troublous main.
Now the white breakers curling shew
The dread abyss that yawns below,
And still she sighs, "the sound is sweet,
"It seems to say, POOR MARGUERITE!"
"Here will I build a rocky shed,
"And here I'll make my sea-weed bed;
"Here gather, with unwearied hands--
"The orient shells that deck the sands.
"And here will I skim o'er the billows so high,
"And laugh at the moon and the dark frowning sky.
"And the Sea-birds, that hover across the wide main,
"Shall sweep with their pinions, the white bounding plain.
"And the shivering sail shall the fierce tempest meet,
"Like the storm, in the bosom of POOR MARGUERITE!
"The setting Sun, with golden ray,
"Shall warm my breast, and make me gay.
"The clamours of the roaring Sea
"My midnight serenade shall be!
"The Cliff that like a Tyrant stands
"Exulting o'er the wave lash'd sands,
"With its weedy crown, and its flinty crest,
"Shall, on its hard bosom, rock me to rest;
"And I'll watch for the Eagle's unfledg'd brood,
"And I'll scatter their nest, and I'll drink their blood;
"And under the crag I will kneel and pray
"And silver my robe, with the moony ray:
"And who shall scorn the lone retreat
"Which Heaven has chose, for MARGUERITE?
"Here, did the exil'd HENRY stray
"Forc'd from his native land, away;
"Here, here upon a foreign shore,
"His parents, lost, awhile deplore;
"Here find, that pity's holy tear
"Could not an alien wand'rer chear;
"And now, in fancy, he would view,
"Shouting aloud, the rabble crew--
"The rabble crew, whose impious hands
"Tore asunder nature's bands!--
"I see him still,--He waves me on!
"And now to the dark abyss he's gone--
"He calls--I hear his voice, so sweet,--
"It seems to say--POOR MARGUERITE!"
Thus, wild she sung! when on the sand
She saw her long lost HENRY, stand:
Pale was his cheek, and on his breast
His icy hand he, silent, prest;
And now the Twilight shadows spread
Around the tall cliff's weedy head;
Far o'er the main the moon shone bright,
She mark'd the quiv'ring stream of light--
It danc'd upon the murm'ring wave
It danc'd upon--her HENRY'S Grave!
It mark'd his visage, deathly pale,--
His white shroud floating in the gale;
His speaking eyes--his smile so sweet
That won the love--of MARGUERITE!
And now he beckon'd her along
The curling moonlight waves among;
No footsteps mark'd the slanting sand
Where she had seen her HENRY stand!
She saw him o'er the billows go--
She heard the rising breezes blow;
She shriek'd aloud ! The echoing steep
Frown'd darkness on the troubled deep;
The moon in cloudy veil was seen,
And louder howl'd the night blast keen!--
And when the morn, in splendour dress'd,
Blush'd radiance on the Eagle's nest,
That radiant blush was doom'd to greet--
The lifeless form --of MARGUERITE!
Top Mary Darby Robinson Poems