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LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

ON THE EVE OF A NEW YEAR

                                   I

          SMILE of the Moon!--for so I name
          That silent greeting from above;
          A gentle flash of light that came
          From her whom drooping captives love;
          Or art thou of still higher birth?
          Thou that didst part the clouds of earth,
          My torpor to reprove!

                                   II

          Bright boon of pitying Heaven!--alas,
          I may not trust thy placid cheer!
          Pondering that Time to-night will pass
          The threshold of another year;
          For years to me are sad and dull;
          My very moments are too full
          Of hopelessness and fear.

                                  III

          And yet, the soul-awakening gleam,
          That struck perchance the farthest cone
          Of Scotland's rocky wilds, did seem
          To visit me, and me alone;
          Me, unapproached by any friend,
          Save those who to my sorrows lend
          Tears due unto their own.

                                   IV

          To-night the church-tower bells will ring
          Through these wild realms a festive peal;
          To the new year a welcoming;
          A tuneful offering for the weal
          Of happy millions lulled in sleep;
          While I am forced to watch and weep,
          By wounds that may not heal.

                                   V

          Born all too high, by wedlock raised
          Still higher--to be cast thus low!
          Would that mine eyes had never gazed
          On aught of more ambitious show
          Than the sweet flowerets of the fields
          --It is my royal state that yields
          This bitterness of woe.

                                   VI

          Yet how?--for I, if there be truth
          In the world's voice, was passing fair;
          And beauty, for confiding youth,
          Those shocks of passion can prepare
          That kill the bloom before its time;
          And blanch, without the owner's crime,
          The most resplendent hair.

                                  VII

          Unblest distinction! showered on me
          To bind a lingering life in chains:
          All that could quit my grasp, or flee,
          Is gone;--but not the subtle stains
          Fixed in the spirit; for even here
          Can I be proud that jealous fear
          Of what I was remains.

                                  VIII

          A Woman rules my prison's key;
          A sister Queen, against the bent
          Of law and holiest sympathy,
          Detains me, doubtful of the event;
          Great God, who feel'st for my distress,
          My thoughts are all that I possess,
          O keep them innocent!

                                   IX

          Farewell desire of human aid,
          Which abject mortals vainly court!
          By friends deceived, by foes betrayed,
          Of fears the prey, of hopes the sport;
          Nought but the world-redeeming Cross
          Is able to supply my loss,
          My burthen to support.

                                   X

          Hark! the death-note of the year
          Sounded by the castle-clock!
          From her sunk eyes a stagnant tear
          Stole forth, unsettled by the shock;
          But oft the woods renewed their green,
          Ere the tired head of Scotland's Queen
          Reposed upon the block!
                                                              1817.


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