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For passions link'd to forms so fair And stately, needs must have their share Of noble sentiment. But ill he lived, much evil saw, With men to whom no better law Nor better life was known; Deliberately and undeceived Those wild men's vices he received, And gave them back his own. His genius and his moral frame Were thus impair’d, and he became The slave of low desires : A man who without self-control Would seek what the degraded soul Unworthily admires. And yet he with no feign'd delight Ilad woo'd the maiden, day and night Had loved her, night and morn : What could he less than love a maid Whose heart with so much nature play'dSo kind and so forlorn ? Sometimes most earnestly he said, “O Ruth ! I have been worse than dead; False thoughts, thoughts bold and vain Encompass'd me on every side When İ, in confidence and pride, Had cross’d the Atlantic main. * Before me shone a glorious world Fresh as a banner bright, unfurl'd To music suddenly : I look'd upon those hills and plains, And seem'd as if let loose from chains To live at liberty ! “No more of this---for now, by thee, Dear Ruth ! more happily set free, With nobler zeal I burn; My soul from darkness is released Like the whole sky when to the east The morning doth return.'
Full soon that better mind was gone ; No hope, no wish remain'd, not one, They stirr'd him now no more ; New objects did new pleasure give, And once again he wish'd to live As lawless as before. Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared, They for the voyage were prepared, And went to the sea-shore : But, when they thither came, the youth Deserted his poor bride, and Ruth Could never find him more. God help thee, Ruth !-Such pains she had That she in half a year was mad And in a prison housed ; And there, with many a doleful song Made of wild words, her cup of wrong She fearfully caroused. Yet sometimes milder hours she knew, Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew, Nor pastimes of the May, - They all were with her in her cell ; And a clear brook with cheerful knell Did o'er the pebbles play. When Ruth three seasons thus had lain, There came a respite to her pain ; She from her prison fled ; But of the Vagrant none took thought ; And where it liked her best she sought Her shelter and her bread. Among the fields she breathed again : The master-current of her brain Ran permanent and free ; And, coming to the banks of Tone, There did she rest ; and dwell alone Under the greenwood tree. The engines of her pain, the tools That shaped her sorrow, rocks and pools, And airs that gently stir
The vernal leaves-she loved them still, Nor ever tax'd them with the ill Which had been done to her. A barn her Winter bed supplies; But, till the warmth of Summer skies And Summer days is gone, (And all do in this tale agree) She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree, And other home hath none. An innocent life, yet far astray ! And Ruth will, long before her day, Be broken down and old, Sore aches she needs must have! but less Of mind, than body's wretchedness, From damp, and rain, and cold. If she is prest by want of food She from her dwelling in the wood Repairs to a road-side ; And there she begs at one steep place, Where up and down with easy pace The horsemen-travellers ride. That oaten pipe of hers is mute Or thrown away: but with a flute Her loneliness she cheers ; This flute, made of a hemlock stalk, At evening in his homeward walk The Quantock woodman hears. I, too, have pass'd her on the hills Setting her little water-mills By spouts and fountains wildSuch small machinery as she turn'd Ere she had wept, ere she had mourn’d, A young and happy child ! Farewell ! and when thy days are told, Ill-fated Ruth! in hallow'd mould Thy corpse shall buried be: For thee a funeral bell shall ring, And all the congregation sing A Christian psalm for thee.
IVRITTEN AMONG THE
Many a green isle needs must be
Ah, many flowering islands lie
Through the dewy mist they soar
Beneath is spread like a green sea
Sun-girt City! thou hast been