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The Alien Boy

 'Twas on a Mountain, near the Western Main
An ALIEN dwelt.
A solitary Hut Built on a jutting crag, o'erhung with weeds, Mark'd the poor Exile's home.
Full ten long years The melancholy wretch had liv'd unseen By all, save HENRY, a lov'd, little Son The partner of his sorrows.
On the day When Persecution, in the sainted guise Of Liberty, spread wide its venom'd pow'r, The brave, Saint HUBERT, fled his Lordly home, And, with his baby Son, the mountain sought.
Resolv'd to cherish in his bleeding breast The secret of his birth, Ah! birth too high For his now humbled state, from infancy He taught him, labour's task: He bade him chear The dreary day of cold adversity By patience and by toil.
The Summer morn Shone on the pillow of his rushy bed; The noontide, sultry hour, he fearless past On the shagg'd eminence; while the young Kid Skipp'd, to the cadence of his minstrelsy.
At night young HENRY trimm'd the faggot fire While oft, Saint HUBERT, wove the ample net To snare the finny victim.
Oft they sang And talk'd, while sullenly the waves would sound Dashing the sandy shore.
Saint HUBERT'S eyes Would swim in tears of fondness, mix'd with joy, When he observ'd the op'ning harvest rich Of promis'd intellect, which HENRY'S soul, Whate'er the subject of their talk, display'd.
Oft, the bold Youth, in question intricate, Would seek to know the story of his birth; Oft ask, who bore him: and with curious skill Enquire, why he, and only one beside, Peopled the desart mountain ? Still his Sire Was slow of answer, and, in words obscure, Varied the conversation.
Still the mind Of HENRY ponder'd; for, in their lone hut, A daily journal would Saint HUBERT make Of his long banishment: and sometimes speak Of Friends forsaken, Kindred, massacred;-- Proud mansions, rich domains, and joyous scenes For ever faded,--lost! One winter time, 'Twas on the Eve of Christmas, the shrill blast Swept o'er the stormy main.
The boiling foam Rose to an altitude so fierce and strong That their low hovel totter'd.
Oft they stole To the rock's margin, and with fearful eyes Mark'd the vex'd deep, as the slow rising moon Gleam'd on the world of waters.
'Twas a scene Would make a Stoic shudder! For, amid The wavy mountains, they beheld, alone , A LITTLE BOAT, now scarcely visible; And now not seen at all; or, like a buoy, Bounding, and buffetting, to reach the shore! Now the full Moon, in crimson lustre shone Upon the outstretch'd Ocean.
The black clouds Flew stiffly on, the wild blast following, And, as they flew, dimming the angry main With shadows horrible ! Still, the small boat Struggled amid the waves, a sombre speck Upon the wide domain of howling Death! Saint HUBERT sigh'd ! while HENRY'S speaking eye Alternately the stormy scene survey'd And his low hovel's safety.
So past on The hour of midnight,--and, since first they knew The solitary scene, no midnight hour E'er seem'd so long and weary.
While they stood, Their hands fast link'd together, and their eyes Fix'd on the troublous Ocean, suddenly The breakers, bounding on the rocky shore, Left the small wreck; and crawling on the side Of the rude crag,--a HUMAN FORM was seen! And now he climb'd the foam-wash'd precipice, And now the slip'ry weeds gave way, while he Descended to the sands: The moon rose high-- The wild blast paus'd, and the poor shipwreck'd Man Look'd round aghast, when on the frowning steep He marked the lonely exiles.
Now he call'd But he was feeble, and his voice was lost Amid the din of mingling sounds that rose From the wild scene of clamour.
Down the steep Saint HUBRET hurried, boldly venturous, Catching the slimy weeds, from point to point, And unappall'd by peril.
At the foot Of the rude rock, the fainting mariner Seiz'd on his outstretch'd arm; impatient, wild, With transport exquisite ! But ere they heard The blest exchange of sounds articulate, A furious billow, rolling on the steep, Engulph'd them in Oblivion! On the rock Young HENRY stood; with palpitating heart, And fear-struck, e'en to madness ! Now he call'd, Louder and louder, as the shrill blast blew; But, mid the elemental strife of sounds, No human voice gave answer ! The clear moon No longer quiver'd on the curling main, But, mist-encircled, shed a blunted light, Enough to shew all things that mov'd around, Dreadful, but indistinctly ! The black weeds Wav'd, as the night-blast swept them; and along The rocky shore the breakers, sounding low Seem'd like the whisp'ring of a million souls Beneath the green-deep mourning.
Four long hours The lorn Boy listen'd ! four long tedious hours Pass'd wearily away, when, in the East The grey beam coldly glimmer'd.
All alone Young HENRY stood aghast : his Eye wide fix'd; While his dark locks, uplifted by the storm Uncover'd met its fury.
On his cheek Despair sate terrible ! For, mid the woes, Of poverty and toil, he had not known, Till then, the horror-giving chearless hour Of TOTAL SOLITUDE! He spoke--he groan'd, But no responsive voice, no kindred tone Broke the dread pause: For now the storm had ceas'd, And the bright Sun-beams glitter'd on the breast Of the green placid Ocean.
To his Hut The lorn Boy hasten'd; there the rushy couch, The pillow still indented, met his gaze And fix'd his eye in madness.
--From that hour A maniac wild, the Alien Boy has been; His garb with sea-weeds fring'd, and his wan cheek The tablet of his mind, disorder'd, chang'd, Fading, and worn with care.
And if, by chance, A Sea-beat wand'rer from the outstretch'd main Views the lone Exile, and with gen'rous zeal Hastes to the sandy beach, he suddenly Darts 'mid the cavern'd cliffs, and leaves pursuit To track him, where no footsteps but his own, Have e'er been known to venture ! YET HE LIVES A melancholy proof that Man may bear All the rude storms of Fate, and still suspire By the wide world forgotten!

Poem by Mary Darby Robinson
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