THE MINSTREL’S TALES.
EDMUND AND HELEN.
Come, sit thee by me, love, and thou shalt hear
A tale may win a smile and claim a tear—
A plain and simple story told in rhyme,
As sang the minstrels of the olden time.
No idle Muse I’ll needlessly invoke—
No patron’s aid, to steer me from the rock
Of cold neglect round which oblivion lies;
But, loved one, I will look into thine eyes,
From which young poesy first touched my soul,
And bade the burning words in numbers roll;—
They were the light in which I learned to sing;
And still to thee will kindling fancy cling—
Glow at thy smile, as when, in younger years,
I’ve seen thee smiling through thy maiden tears,
Like a fair floweret bent with morning dew,
While sunbeams kissed its leaves of loveliest hue.
Thou wert the chord and spirit of my lyre—
Thy love the living voice that breathed—“aspire!”—
That smoothed ambition’s steep and toilsome height,
And in its darkest paths was round me, light.
Then, sit thee by me, love, and list the strain,
Which, but for thee, had still neglected lain.
Didst thou e’er mark, within a beauteous vale,
Where sweetest wild-flowers scent the summer gale,
And the blue Tweed, in silver windings, glides,
Kissing the bending branches on its sides,
A snow-white cottage, one that well might seem
A poet’s picture of contentment’s dream?
Two chestnuts broad and tall embower the spot,
And bend in beauty o’er the peaceful cot;
The creeping ivy clothes its roof with green,
While round the door the perfumed woodbine’s seen
Shading a rustic arch; and smiling near,
Like rainbow fragments, blooms a rich parterre;
Grey, naked crags—a steep and pine-clad hill—
A mountain chain and tributary rill—
A distant hamlet and an ancient wood,
Begirt the valley where the cottage stood.
That cottage was a young Enthusiast’s home,
Ere blind ambition lured his steps to roam;
He was a wayward, bold, and ardent boy,
At once his parents’ grief—their hope and joy.
Men called him Edmund.—Oft his mother wept
Beside the couch where yet her schoolboy slept,
As, starting in his slumbers, he would seem
To speak of things of which none else might dream.
Adown the vale a stately mansion rose,
With arboured lawns, like visions of repose
Serene in summer loveliness, and fair
As if no passion e’er was dweller there
Save innocence and love; for they alone
Within the smiling vale of peace were known.
But fairer and more lovely far than all,
Like Spring’s first flowers, was Helen of the