1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Wooer's Visit.

The Lonely Hearth, and other Poems. By William Knox.

William Knox


Ten Spenserians present a brief domestic drama: "But though the appointed hour is fondly sought, | At every sound her little heart will beat, | And she will blush even at the very thought | Of meeting him whom she delights to meet" p. 82. Apparently William Knox's poem was inspired by the wooing episode in Robert Burns's "Cotter's Saturday Night"; the patriotic turn in the concluding stanza is imitated from that source. Falling upon hard times, Knox became a devotional poet patronized by Sir Walter Scott.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "William Knox, 1789-1825, a native of Roxburgh, Scotland, is perhaps better known through the medium of Sir Walter Scott's Diary than by hiw own poetical productions, a collection of which was published in 1818 under the title of The Lonely Hearth, and other Poems, 12mo." Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:1045.

W. Davenport Adams: "William Knox, poet (b. 1789, d. 1825), wrote The Lonely Hearth, Mariamne, A Visit to Dublin, Songs of Israel, and The Harp of Sion" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 330.



My native Scotland! how the youth is blest
To mark thy first star in the evening sky,
When the far curfew bids the weary rest,
And in his ear the milk-maid's wood-notes die!
O then unseen by every human eye,
Soon as the lingering day-light hath decayed,
Dear, dear to him o'er distant vales to hie,
While every head in midnight rest is laid,
To that endearing cot where dwells his favourite maid.

Though he has laboured from the dawn of morn,
Beneath the summer sun's unclouded ray,
Till evening's dew-drops glistened on the thorn,
And wild-flowers closed their petals with the day;
And though the cottage home be far away,
Where all the treasure of his bosom lies,
O he must see her, though his raptured stay
Be short — like every joy beneath the skies—
And yet be at his task by morning's earliest rise.

Behold him wandering o'er the moonlight dales,
The only living thing that stirs abroad,
Tripping as lightly as the breathing gales
That fan his cheek upon the lonesome road,
Seldom by other footsteps trode!
Even though no moon shed her conducting ray,
And light his night-path to that sweet abode,
Angels will guide the lover's dreariest way,
If but for her dear sake whose heart is pure as they.

And see him now upon the very hill,
From which in breathless transport he doth hail,
At such an hour so exquisitely still,
To him the sweetest, far the sweetest, vale
That e'er was visited by mountain gale.
And, O, how fondly shall be hailed by him,
The guiding lamp that never yet did fail—
That very lamp which her dear hand doth trim
To light his midnight way when moon and stars are dim.

But who shall tell what her fond thoughts may be,
The lovely damsel sitting all lone,
When every inmate of the house but she
To sweet oblivion of their cares have gone?
By harmless stealth unnoticed and unknown,
Behold her seated by her midnight fire,
And turning many an anxious look upon
The lingering clock, as if she would require
The steady foot of time to haste at her desire.

But though the appointed hour is fondly sought,
At every sound her little heart will beat,
And she will blush even at the very thought
Of meeting him whom she delights to meet.
Be as it may, her ear would gladly greet
The house-dog's bark that watched the whole night o'er,
And, O, how gently shall she leave her seat,
And gently step across the sanded floor,
With trembling heart and had, to ope the creaking door.

The hour is past — and still her eager ear
Hears but the tinkle of the neighbouring rill,
No human footstep yet approaching near
Disturbs the night-calm so serene and still,
That broods, like slumber, over dale and hill.
Ah! who may tell what phantoms of dismay
The anxious feelings of her bosom chill—
The wiles that lead a lover's heart astray—
The darkness of the night — the dangers of the way?

But, lo, he comes! and soon shall she forget
Her griefs, in sunshine of this hour of bliss;
Their hands in love's endearing clasp have met,
And met their lips in love's delicious kiss.
O, what is all the wealth of worlds to this!
Go — thou mayst cross each foreign land, each sea,
In search of honors, yet for ever miss
The sweetest boon vouchsafed by heaven's decree—
The heart that loves thee well, the heart that's dear to thee.

And may I paint their pleasures of yet to come,
When, like their hearts, their willing hands are joined,
The loving inmates of a wedded home,
For ever happy and for ever kind?
And may I paint their various charms combined
In the sweet offspring that around them plays,
Who — tho' on mountains with the bounding hind
Be rudely nursed — may claim a nation's praise,
And on their native hills some proud memorial raise?

My native Scotland! O thy northern hills,
Thy dark brown hills, are fondly dear to me;
And aye a warmth my swelling bosom fills
For all the filial souls that cling to thee—
Pure be their loves as human love can be,
And still be worthy of their native land
The little beings nursed beside their knee,
Who may at length their country's guardians stand,
And own the undaunted heart, and lift the conquered hand!

[pp. 79-84]