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“Both night and day I have watched the fair,
Eident a thousand years and mair.
Yes, I have watched o'er ilk degree,
Wherever blooms feminity,
And sinless virgin, free of stain
In mind and body, found I nane.
Never, since the banquet of time,
Found I virgin in her prime,
Till ance this bonny maiden I saw,
As spotless as the morning snaw:
Full twenty years she has lived as free
As the spirits that sojourn this country.
I have brought her away from the shares of men,
That sin or death she never may ken.”
They clasped her waist and her hands so fair ;
They kissed her cheek, and they combed her hair;
And round came many a blooming fere,
Saying, “ Bonny Kilmeny, ye're welcome here !
Women are freed of the littand scorn-
Oh blest be the day Kilmeny was born !
Now shall the land of the spirits see,
Now shall it know what a woman may be !
Many long year in sorrow and pain,
Many long year through the world we've gane,
Commissioned to watch fair womankind,
For it's they who nurse the immortal mind.
We have watched their steps as the dawning shone,
And deep in the greenwood walks alone,
By lily bower, and silken bed,
The viewless tears have o'er them shed;
Have soothed their ardent minds to sleep,
Or left the couch of love to weep.
We have seen! we have seen !-but the time mene come,
And the angels will blush at the day of doom !
Oh, would the fairest of mortal kind
Aye keep these holy truths in mind
That kindred spirits ilk motion see,
Who watch their ways with anxious ee,
And grieve for the guilt of humanity!
Oh, sweet to Heaven the maiden's prayer,
And the sigh that heaves a bosom so fair ;
And dear to Heaven the words of truth,
And the praise of virtue from beauty's mouth ;
And dear to the viewless forms of air,
The mind that kythes as the body fair!
Oh, bonny Kilmeny, free from stain,
If ever ye seek the world again-
That world of sin, of sorrow, and fear-
Oh tell of the joys that are waiting here !
And tell of the signs ye shall shortly see
Of the times that are now, and the times that shall be !"
They lifted Kilmeny, they led her away, And she walked in the light of a sunless day:
The sky was a dome of crystal bright,
The fountain of vision, and fountain of light;
The emerald fields were of dazzling glow,
And the flowers of everlasting blow.
Then deep in the stream her body they laid,
That her youth and beauty might never fade;
And they smiled on heaven when they saw her lie
In the stream of life that wandered by.
And she heard a song, she heard it sung,
She knew not where, but so sweetly it rung,
It fell on her ear like a dream of the morn:
“Oh blest be the day Kilmeny was born!
Now shall the land of the spirits see,
Now shall it know what a woman may be!
The sun that shines on the world sae bright--
A borrowed gleid frae the fountain of light-
And the moon that sleeks the sky sae dun,
Like a golden bow, or a beamless sun,
Shall wear away, and be seen nae mair,
And the angels shall miss them travelling the air.
But lang, lang after baith night and day,
When the sun and the world have flown away,
When the sinner has gone to his waesome doom,
Kilmeny shall smile in eternal bloom !”
They soofed her away to a mountain green,
To see what mortal never had seen ;
And they seated her high on a purple sward,
And bade her heed what she saw and heard;
And note the changes that spirits wrought,
For now she lived in the land of thought.
She looked, and she saw no sun nor skies,
But a crystal dome of a thousand dyes.
She looked, and she saw no land aright,
But an endless whirl of glory and light;
And radiant beings went and came
Far swifter than wind or the linkëd flame.
She hid her een frae the dazzling view--
She looked again, and the scene was new.
She saw a sun on a summer sky,
And clouds of amber sailing by ;
A lovely land beneath her lay,
And that land had lakes and mountains gray ;
And that land had valleys and hoary piles,
And merlit seas, and a thousand isles.
She saw the corn wave on the vale ;
She saw the deer run down the dale;
And many a mortal toiling sore-
And she thought she had seen the land before.
She saw a lady sit on a throne,
The fairest that e'er the sun shone on!
A lion licked her hand of milk,
And she held him in a leash of silk;
And a leifu maiden stood at her knee,
With a silver wand and melting ee.
But there came a leman out of the west,
To woo the lady that he loved best;
And he sent a boy her heart to prove,
And she took him in, and she called him Love;
But when to her breast he 'gan to cling,
She dreit the pain of the serpent's sting.
Then a gruff untoward gysart came,
And he hounded the lion on his dame,
And the leifu maid with the melting eye,
She dropped a tear, and passëd by;
while the queen frae the lion fled,
While the bonniest flower in the world lay dead,
A coffin was set on a distant plain,
And she saw the red blood fall like rain :
Then bonny Kilmeny's heart grew sair,
And she turned away, and durst look nae mair.
Then the gruff grim carle girned amain,
And they tramped him down, but he rose again ;
And he baited the lion to deeds of weir,
While he lapped the blood to the kingdom dear.
But the lion grew strong, and danger preef,
When crowned with the rose and the clover leaf;
Then he laughed at the carle, and chased him away,
To feed with the deer on the mountain gray :
He growled at the carle, and he gecked at heaven;
But his merk was set, and his erilis given.
Kilmeny a while her een withdrew-
She looked again, and the scene was new.
She saw around her, fair unfurled,
One-half of all the glowing world,
Where oceans rowed, and rivers ran,
To bound the aims of sinful man.
She saw a people, fierce and fell,
Burst from their bounds like fiends of hell;
The lily grew, and the eagle flew,
And she herkit on her ravening crew.
The widows wailed, and the red blood ran,
And she threatened an end to the race of man:
She never lenit, nor stood in awe,
While claught by the lion's deadly paw.
Oh! then the eagle swinkit for life,
And brainzelit up a mortal strife ;
But flew she north, or flew she south,
She met with the gowl of the lion's mouth.
With a mooted wing, and waefu' mane,
The eagle sought her eiry again ;
But lang may she cower in her bloody nest,
And lang, lang sleek her wounded breast,
Before she sey another flight,
To play with the norlan lion's might.
To sing of the sights Kilmeny saw,
So far surpassing nature's law,
The songster's voice would sink away,
And the string of his harp would cease to play.
But she saw that the sorrows of man were by,
And all was love and harmony;
That the stars of heaven fell lonely away,
Like the flakes of snow on a winter day.
Then Kilmeny begged again to see
The friends she had left in her own country,
To tell of the place where she had been,
And the glories that lay in the land unseen;
To warn the living maidens fair-
The loved of Heaven, the spirits' care-
That all whose minds unmelit remain,
Shall bloom in beauty when time is gane.
With distant music, soft and deep,
They lulled Kilmeny sound asleep;
And when she wakened, she lay her lane,
All happed with flowers in the greenwood wene.
When seven lang years had come and fled,
When grief was calm, and hope was dead,
When scarce was remembered Kilmeny's name,
Late, late in the gloamin', Kilmeny cam hame!
And oh her beauty was fair to see,
But still and steadfast was her ee;
Her seymar was the lily flower,
And her cheek the moss-rose in the shower ;
And her voice like the distant melody
That floats along the twilight sea.
But she loved to raik the lonely glen,
And kept away from the haunts of men;
Her holy hymns unheard to sing,
To suck the flowers, and drink the spring.
But wherever her peaceful form appeared,
The wild beasts of the hill were cheered;
The wolf played lithely round the field,
The lordly bison lowed and kneeled,
The dun-deer wooed with manner bland,
And cowered beneath her lily hand.
And when at eve the woodlands rung,
When hymns of other worlds she sung,
In ecstacy of sweet devotion,
Oh then the glen was all in motion !
The wild beasts of the forest came,
Broke frae their bughts and folds the tame,
And goved around, charmed and amazed ;
Even the dull cattle crooned and gazed,
And murmured, and looked with anxious pain
For something the mystery to explain.
The buzzard came with the throstle-cock,
The corby left her houf in the rock,
The blackbird along with the eagle flew,
The hind came tripping o'er the dew;
The wolf and the kid their raik began,
And the fox, and the lamb, and the leveret ran ;
The hawk and the heron above them hung,
And the merl and the mavis forhooyed their young;
And all in a peaceful ring were hurled
It was like an eve in a sinless world !
When a month and a day had come and gane,
Kilmeny sought the greenwood wene;
There laid her down on the leaves sae green;
But Kilmeny on earth was never mair seen.
But oh the words that fell from her mouth
Were words of wonder and words of truth;
But all the land was in fear and dread,
For they knew not whether she was living or dead.
It wasna her hame, she couldna remain ;
She left this world of sorrow and pain,
And returned to the land of thought again. Our next specimen, which is in a different measure, is a tradition of the western isles, representing a conflict of the affections :
Came ye by Ora's verdant steep,
That smiles the restless ocean over?
Heard ye a suffering maiden weep?
Heard ye her name a faithful lover?
Saw ye an aged matron stand
O'er yon green grave above the strand,
Bent like the trunk of withered tree,
Or yon old thorn that sips the sea ?
Fixed her dim eye, her face as pale
As the mists that o'er her flew :
Her joy is fled like the flower of the vale,
Her hope like the morning dew!
That matron was lately as proud of her stay
As the nightiest monarch of sceptre or sway:
Oh, list to the tale! 'tis a tale of soft sorrow,
Of Malcolm of Lorn and young Ann of Glen-Ora.
The sun is sweet at early morn,
Just blushing from the ocean's bosom ;
The rose that decks the woodland thorn
Is fairest in its opening blossom.
Sweeter than opening rose in dew,
Than vernal flowers of richest hue,
Than fragrant birch or weeping willow,
Than red sun resting on the billow-
Sweeter than aught to mortals given
The heart and soul to prove
Sweeter than aught beneath the heaven,
The joys of early love!