202. On the Death of Robert Dundas Esq. of Arniston
LONE on the bleaky hills the straying flocks
Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks;
Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains,
The gathering floods burst o’er the distant plains;
Beneath the blast the leafless forests groan;
The hollow caves return a hollow moan.
Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests, and ye caves,
Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves!
Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye,
Sad to your sympathetic glooms I fly;
Where, to the whistling blast and water’s roar,
Pale Scotia’s recent wound I may deplore.
O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear!
A loss these evil days can ne’er repair!
Justice, the high vicegerent of her God,
Her doubtful balance eyed, and sway’d her rod:
Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow,
She sank, abandon’d to the wildest woe.
Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den,
Now, gay in hope, explore the paths of men:
See from his cavern grim Oppression rise,
And throw on Poverty his cruel eyes;
Keen on the helpless victim see him fly,
And stifle, dark, the feebly-bursting cry:
Mark Ruffian Violence, distained with crimes,
Rousing elate in these degenerate times,
View unsuspecting Innocence a prey,
As guileful Fraud points out the erring way:
While subtle Litigation’s pliant tongue
The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong:
Hark, injur’d Want recounts th’ unlisten’d tale,
And much-wrong’d Mis’ry pours the unpitied wail!
Ye dark waste hills, ye brown unsightly plains,
Congenial scenes, ye soothe my mournful strains:
Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll!
Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul.
Life’s social haunts and pleasures I resign;
Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine,
To mourn the woes my country must endure—
That would degenerate ages cannot cure.
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