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MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND 1814

IV. YARROW VISITED

SEPTEMBER 1814



(See "Yarrow Unvisited.")
          AND is this--Yarrow?--'This' the Stream
          Of which my fancy cherished,
          So faithfully, a waking dream?
          An image that hath perished!
          O that some Minstrel's harp were near,
          To utter notes of gladness,
          And chase this silence from the air,
          That fills my heart with sadness!

          Yet why?--a silvery current flows
          With uncontrolled meanderings;                              10
          Nor have these eyes by greener hills
          Been soothed, in all my wanderings.
          And, through her depths, Saint Mary's Lake
          Is visibly delighted;
          For not a feature of those hills
          Is in the mirror slighted.

          A blue sky bends o'er Yarrow vale,
          Save where that pearly whiteness
          Is round the rising sun diffused,
          A tender hazy brightness;                                   20
          Mild dawn of promise! that excludes
          All profitless dejection;
          Though not unwilling here to admit
          A pensive recollection.

          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,                                30
          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!                                40

          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,                               50
          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!                                    60
          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 enwreathed my own!
          'Twere no offence to reason;                                70
          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.                                   80

          The vapours linger round the Heights,
          They melt, and soon must vanish;
          One hour is theirs, nor more is mine--
          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.


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