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Where was it that the famous flower
Of Yarrow Vale lay bleeding?
His bed perchance was yon smooth mound
On which the herd is feeding :
And haply from this crystal pool,
Now peaceful as the morning,
The water-wraith ascended thrice,
And gave his doleful warning.
Delicious is the lay that sings
The haunts of happy lovers,
The path that leads them to the grove,
The leafy grove that covers :
And pity sanctifies the verse
That paints, by strength of sorrow,
The unconquerable strength of love ;
Bear witness, rueful Yarrow!
But thou, that didst appear so fair
To fond imagination,
Dost rival in the light of day
Her delicate creation :
Meek loveliness is round thee spread,
A softness still and holy;
The grace of forest charms decayed,
And pastoral melancholy.
That region left, the vale unfolds
Rich groves of lofty stature,
With Yarrow winding through the pomp
Of cultivated nature;
And, rising from those lofty groves,
Behold a ruin hoary !
The shattered front of Newark's towers,
Renowned in Border story.
Fair scenes for childhood's opening bloom,
For sportive youth to stray in ;
For manhood to enjoy his strength;
And age to wear away in !
Yon cottage seems a bower of bliss,
A covert for protection
Of tender thoughts that nestle there
The brood of chaste affection !
How sweet on this autumnal day,
The wild wood-fruits to gather,
And on my true love's forehead plant
A crest of blooming heather !
And what if I enwreath'd my own!
'Twere no offence to reason ;
The sober hills thus deck their brows
To meet the wintry season.
I see—but not by sight alone,
Loved Yarrow, have I won thee ;
A ray of fancy still survives -
Her sunshine plays upon thee !
Thy ever youthful waters keep
A course of lively pleasure ;
And gladsome notes my lips can breathe,
Accordant to the measure.
The vapours linger round the heights,
They melt--and soon must vanish ;
Onc hour is theirs, nor more is mino
Sad thought ! which I would banish,
But that I know, where'er I go,
Thy genuine image, Yarrow!
Will dwell with me to heighten joy,
And cheer my mind in sorrow.
"With sacrifice, before the rising morn
Performed, my slaughtered lord have I required ;
And in thick darkness, amid shades forlorn,
Him of the infernal gods have I desired :
Celestial pity I again implore ;-
Restore him to my sight, great Jove, restore !”
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands :
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her countenance brightens—and her eye expands,
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows,
And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived ? O joy!
What doth she look on-whom doth she behold:
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence-his corporeal mould ?
It is--if sense deceive her not-'tis he !
And a god leads him-winged Mercury !
Mild Hermes spake, and touched her with his wand
That calms all fear : “Such grace hath crowned thy prayer.
Laodamia, that at Jove's command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air :
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space ;
Accept the gift ; behold him face to face !”
Forth sprang the impassioned queen her lord to clasp ;
Again that consummation she essayed ;
But unsubstantial form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The phantom parts—but parts to reunite
And reassume his place before her sight.
“ Protesilaus, lo! thy guide is gone !
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice :
This is our palace, -yonder is thy throne :
Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
This precious boon,--and blessed a sad abode."
“Great Jove, Laodamia, doth not leave
His gifts imperfect :-Spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive,
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain ;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.
“Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
Should die ; but me the threat could not withhold :
A generous cause a victim did demand ;
And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain ;
A self-devoted chief-by Hector slain.”
'Supreme of heroes-bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which then, when tens of thousands were depressed
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore ;