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Anna Jane Vardill

The Prisoners of Mount St. Michael

Mount St. Michael, in Normandy, is surrounded by a quicksand, and bears upon its summit an abbey within a fortress, which is still a secret state-prison.

Linger, brief winter-sun, awhile,
On the lonely peak of St. Michael's pile!
For never where Bourbon’ gardens smile
 Have happier slaves or wiser met;—
These sands that circle our prison-tower,
 Are they falser than those the courtier treads?
Yon thicket where wolves and bandits cower,
 Is it darker than those his treason spreads?
If Fame and Fortune are in our debt,
The world will reckon, let us forget.

Why should we fight with the angry wave,
 When soon it will waft us safe to shore?
Our ship from the rock we could not save,
 But we feel the blow of that rock no more:
We are still the same gay gallant crew
 That joyous fellowship held on board,
When the blandest breezes of summer blew,
 And the riches of hope were with us stored—
Let them who scatter'd the precious freight
The wreck remember, but we'll forget.

Is this a prison?—’tis but a home
 Where Fate has lodged us without a care:
The wretch who toils for a gilded dome,
 Will sleep less sweetly and safely there.
Shall we deplore the dreary void,
 And see the last of Life's roses fall?
They are not lost that have been enjoy'd:—
 We know we have gather'd and worn them all.
Life's evening dew may one rose-leaf wet,
Then let us the coming night forget.

Or let us like Persia's proudest kings
 Welcome this dark eve of the year;—
It is the Last,—and of earthly things
 Ever the last should be most dear.
There is no sadness in the thought
That our last hour is arriving here;
For of all the blisses our souls have caught,
 The latest moment was always near;
And to know the loveliest sun would set,
Made us its spots and its clouds forget.

Oh! when we look on the friends that live,
 And think how early their light may close,
Shall we not every shade forgive,
 And bless the sunshine that round them glows!
It is the last,—for though days return,
 The touch of that glow will return no more;
We may new joys from new moments learn,
 But never the same we have felt before:—
We may tread on the spot where first we met,
But shall we not wish we could forget?

Lovely Garonne—in the deep blue sky,
 When the moon bends down as if fond of earth,
I shape, while her snow-white clouds roll by,
 The hills of the land that gave me birth:
And her floating light is like the joy
 That over my youth's sweet stillness spread,
The meek pure love of a mother's eye
 On hours of loneliness brighter shed:—
Only that soft light lingers yet,
While all in the thankless world forget,


The European Magazine, Vol. 81, January 1822, pp. 26-27