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Poems and Translations


On a Mountain near Balmae [1]

Aurora has open’d the portals of Day
 To the Sun in his chariot of fire,
Who stops his fierce steeds on thy mountain, Balmae!
 The conflict below to admire.
High swelling and foaming the white billows roll,—
 The winds with stern Neptune engage;
Like pleasure’s pure gales in the generous soul
 Transform’d to the tempest of rage.
No longer, soft breathing, they cheer with perfume
 The couch of some daughter of Love;
Or fragrance imbibe from the honey-sweet broom,
 Or sigh thro’ the glen or the grove.
Ah! see yon frail vessel, her anchorage broke,
 With rocks and with billows at strife—
She rises—now falls!—as a wretch without hope
 Is tost on the ocean of life.
But, moralist, next the brown highland review
 O’er-shading yon meadows of gold,
As painters relieve with a delicate hue,
 The tints which are glowing and bold.
Again from the brow of the mountain look down—
 So sternly it tow’rs o’er the scene,
That Nature, affrighted, to soften its frown,
 Has lent it a mantle of green.
And now as if proud of its velvet array,
 Its forehead it lifts to the sky;
And offers a kiss like a libertine gay,
 To ev’ry light cloud passing by.


The Wish

Mine be a cottage in a vale
Fann’d by the balmy southern gale;
A casement fring’d with woodbine round,
A milk-white hearth with roses crown’d;
There in calm ease and modest pride,
An ancient maiden shall preside;
There in a parlour trim and neat,
Gay Youth and smiling Age shall meet,
Some long-remember’d tune to hear,
Or tales of many a far-fled year;
Nor shall the white-hearth’s warmest side
To faithful Hannah[2] be denied;
Nor tho’s his feet are fleet no more,
Shall Florio want his oaten store.
At sunset in a little grove
Oft may its quiet owner rove,
(While vagrant honeysuckles climb,
’Midst strawb’ries wild and purple thyme)
And sometimes stop with melting eyes
Where playful Phillis buried lies;
Or, sighing, on his well known tree
View poor dead Robin’s effigy.
Be hers a garden with a screen
Of eglantine and holly green;
A tuft of moss to rest upon,
When Summer’s noontide heat is gone;
A beehive and a sunny bed
Where rosemary and myrtle spread;
For they when gaudy flow’rs decay,
Will with their humble mistress stay:
And only they, of all below,
May to her last long mansion go!


Inscription on a Seal Bearing an Emblem of Death

View well the solemn symbol here,
Th’ eternal Seal of Life’s career!
Remember! and with precept bland
Let Truth and Justice guide thy hand:
Securely form and fondly prize
The hand which Death alone unties;
And still on Virtue’s ample base
Immortal Friendship’s altar place:
But o’er the errors of a friend
As wide, as soft a veil extend,
With praise as rich his virtues greet
While yet with life his pulses beat,
As when in Death’s oblivious shade
Those virtues and those faults are laid.

  1. The residence of the writer’s uncle in Scotland. 
  2. An old and favorite servant.