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Botany Bay Eclogues 02 - Elinor

by
 (Time, Morning.
Scene, the Shore.
) Once more to daily toil--once more to wear The weeds of infamy--from every joy The heart can feel excluded, I arise Worn out and faint with unremitting woe; And once again with wearied steps I trace The hollow-sounding shore.
The swelling waves Gleam to the morning sun, and dazzle o'er With many a splendid hue the breezy strand.
Oh there was once a time when ELINOR Gazed on thy opening beam with joyous eye Undimm'd by guilt and grief! when her full soul Felt thy mild radiance, and the rising day Waked but to pleasure! on thy sea-girt verge Oft England! have my evening steps stole on, Oft have mine eyes surveyed the blue expanse, And mark'd the wild wind swell the ruffled surge, And seen the upheaved billows bosomed rage Rush on the rock; and then my timid soul Shrunk at the perils of the boundless deep, And heaved a sigh for suffering mariners.
Ah! little deeming I myself was doom'd.
To tempt the perils of the boundless deep, An Outcast--unbeloved and unbewail'd.
Why stern Remembrance! must thine iron hand Harrow my soul? why calls thy cruel power The fields of England to my exil'd eyes, The joys which once were mine? even now I see The lowly lovely dwelling! even now Behold the woodbine clasping its white walls And hear the fearless red-breasts chirp around To ask their morning meal:--for I was wont With friendly band to give their morning meal, Was wont to love their song, when lingering morn Streak'd o'er the chilly landskip the dim light, And thro' the open'd lattice hung my head To view the snow-drop's bud: and thence at eve When mildly fading sunk the summer sun, Oft have I loved to mark the rook's slow course And hear his hollow croak, what time he sought The church-yard elm, whose wide-embowering boughs Full foliaged, half conceal'd the house of God.
There, my dead father! often have I heard Thy hallowed voice explain the wonderous works Of Heaven to sinful man.
Ah! little deem'd Thy virtuous bosom, that thy shameless child So soon should spurn the lesson! sink the slave Of Vice and Infamy! the hireling prey Of brutal appetite! at length worn out With famine, and the avenging scourge of guilt, Should dare dishonesty--yet dread to die! Welcome ye savage lands, ye barbarous climes, Where angry England sends her outcast sons-- I hail your joyless shores! my weary bark Long tempest-tost on Life's inclement sea, Here hails her haven! welcomes the drear scene, The marshy plain, the briar-entangled wood, And all the perils of a world unknown.
For Elinor has nothing new to fear From fickle Fortune! all her rankling shafts Barb'd with disgrace, and venom'd with disease.
Have pierced my bosom, and the dart of death Has lost its terrors to a wretch like me.
Welcome ye marshy heaths! ye pathless woods, Where the rude native rests his wearied frame Beneath the sheltering shade; where, when the storm, As rough and bleak it rolls along the sky, Benumbs his naked limbs, he flies to seek The dripping shelter.
Welcome ye wild plains Unbroken by the plough, undelv'd by hand Of patient rustic; where for lowing herds, And for the music of the bleating flocks, Alone is heard the kangaroo's sad note Deepening in distance.
Welcome ye rude climes, The realm of Nature! for as yet unknown The crimes and comforts of luxurious life, Nature benignly gives to all enough, Denies to all a superfluity, What tho' the garb of infamy I wear, Tho' day by day along the echoing beach I cull the wave-worn shells, yet day by day I earn in honesty my frugal food, And lay me down at night to calm repose.
No more condemn'd the mercenary tool Of brutal lust, while heaves the indignant heart With Virtue's stiffled sigh, to fold my arms Round the rank felon, and for daily bread To hug contagion to my poison'd breast; On these wild shores Repentance' saviour hand Shall probe my secret soul, shall cleanse its wounds And fit the faithful penitent for Heaven.

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