1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Cunningham

Anonymous, "Lines, written on reading a volume of beautiful rural Ballads and Songs, just published" Scots Magazine 75 (September 1813) 696.



Sweet are the songs from Southern land,
That float upon the gales of even;
Sweet, as when rung by high command
An Angel smites his harp in Heaven.

Now sadly slow the echoes die,
In all the Minstrel's thrilling art,
Now wakes the tear on beauty's eye
Melting to love the feeling heart.

These songs crest bard from wizard old,
Under the walls on Cluden's shore;
Has many a tale romantic told
Of deeds achieved in days of yore.

Where Nith meanders down the vale,
Around Lincluden's hallowed towers;
Oft has thy sadly plaintive tale
Beguil'd the Pilgrim's weary hours.

And oft beside her murmuring wave
That beckon'd to the moon's bright beam,
Hast thou with sorrow fenc'd the grave
Where glory vanish'd like a dream.

Save when that mighty Son of Song
Quench'd in the death his hallow'd fire,
Her spirit breath'd upon the tongue
The inspiration of the Lyre.

Nor may his shade at vision'd hour,
As o'er his dew-wet sod he bends,
Deride the efforts of that power
Which Prophet like to thee descends.

For dear to Nature and to Truth
Thy wild harp wakes its melody;
Sweet as the holy hymns of youth
Or Mermaid carroling the sea.

Oh! wake by some time-hallowed tower
The choral requiem of the brave;
Where Beauty bends at twilight hour
And weeps o'er valour's bloody grave.

Yes, wake a strain shall never die,
Of battles fought, of kingdoms won;
Where triumphs Albion's chivalry
Beneath the sword of Wellington!

That future ages yet may stand
With joy to list that deathless strain;
How shrunk the Tyrant's bloody band
Before the guardian powers of Spain.

And as their children con the song
With glowing souls, — amid the gale,
Tell them, that harp resistless strong
Was Allan's bard of Nithisdale.