Page images

And yet he with no feign'd delight
Had woo'd the Maiden, day and night
Had lov'd her, night and morn;
What could he less than love a Maid
Whose heart with so much nature play'd
So kind and so forlorn?

But now the pleasant dream 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 hous'd,

And there, exulting in her wrongs,

Among the music of her songs

She fearfully carouz'd.

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 wild brook with chearful 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.
Vol. II. H

Among the fields she breath'd again:
The master-current of her brain
Ran permanent and free, And to the pleasant Banks of Tone* She took her way, to dwell alone
Under the greenwood tree.

The engines of her grief, the tools
That shap'd 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.

* The Tone is a River of Somersetshire at no great distance from the Quantock Hills. These Hills, which are alluded to a few Stanzas below, are extremely beautiful, and in most places richly covered with Coppice woods.

A Barn her -winter bed supplies,

But till the warmth of summer skies

And summer days is gone,

(And in this tale we all agree)

She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,

And other home hath none.

If she is press'd 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 wild,
Such small machinery as she turn'd
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourn'd
A young and happy Child!

Farewel! and when thy days are told
Ill-fated Ruth! in hallow'd mold
Thy corpse shall buried be,
For thee a funeral bell shall ring,
And all the congregation sing
A Christian psalm for thee.

« PreviousContinue »