1 AN o'ergrown wood my wandering steps invade,
2 With surface mantled in untrodden snow;
3 Dire haunt, for none but savage monsters made,
4 Where frosts descend, and howling tempests blow.
5 Here, from the search of busy mortals stray'd,
6 My woe-worn soul shall hug her galling chain:
7 For sure, no forest boasts too deep a shade,
8 No haunt too wild for misery to remain.
9 O my Aminta! dear distracting name!
10 Late all my comfort, all my fond delight;
11 Still writhes my soul beneath its torturing flame,
12 Still thy pale image fills my aching sight!
13 When shall vain memory slumber o'er her woes?
14 When to oblivion be her tale resign'd?
15 When shall this fatal form in death repose,
16 Like thine, fair victim, to the dust consign'd?
17 Again the accents faulter on my tongue;
18 Again to tear the conscious tear succeeds;
19 From sharp reflection is the dagger sprung,
20 And Nature, wounded to the center, bleeds.
21 Ye bitter skies! upon the tale descend —
22 Ye blasts! tho' rude your visits, lend an ear —
23 Around, ye gentler oaks, your branches bend,
24 And, as ye listen, drop an icy tear.
25 'Twas when the step with conscious pleasure roves,
26 Where round the shades the circling woodbines throng;
27 When Flora wantons o'er th' enamell'd groves,
28 And feather'd choirs indulge the amorous song.
29 Inspir'd by duteous love, I fondly stray'd,
30 Two milk-white doves officious to ensnare:
31 Beneath a silent thicket as they play'd,
32 A grateful present for my softer fair.
33 But ah! in smiles no more they met my sight,
34 Their ruffled heads lay gasping on the ground:
35 Where (my dire emblem) a rapacious Kite
36 Tore their soft limbs, and strew'd their plumes around.
37 The tear of pity stole into my eye;
38 While ruder passions in their turn succeed;
39 Forbid the victims unreveng'd to die,
40 And doom the author of their wrongs to bleed.
41 With hasty step, enrag'd, I homewards ran,
42 (Curse on my speed!) th' unerring tube I brought:
43 That fatal hour my date of woe began,
44 Too sharp to tell — too horrible for thought —
45 Disastrous deed! — irrevocable ill! —
46 How shall I tell the anguish of my Fate!
47 Teach me, remorseless monsters, not to feel,
48 Instruct me, fiends and furies, to relate!
49 Wrathful behind the guilty shade I stole,
50 I rais'd the tube — the clamorous woods resound —
51 Too late I saw the idol of my soul,
52 Struck by my aim, fall shrieking to the ground!
53 No other bliss her soul allow'd but me;
54 (Hapless the pair that thus indulgent prove)
55 She sought concealment from a shady tree,
56 In amorous silence to observe her love.
57 I ran — but O! too soon I found it true! —
58 From her stain'd breast life's crimson stream'd apace —
59 From her wan eyes the sparkling lustres flew —
60 The short-liv'd roses faded from her face!
61 Gods! — could I bear that fond reproachful look,
62 That strove her peerless innocence to plead! —
63 But partial death awhile her tongue forsook,
64 To save a wretch that doom'd himself to bleed.
65 While I distracted press'd her in my arms,
66 And fondly strove t' imbibe her latest breath;
67 "O spare, rash love, she cry'd, thy fatal charms,
68 " Nor seek cold shelter in the arms of death.
69 "Content beneath thy erring hand I die.
70 " Our fates grew envious of a bliss so true;
71 "Then urge not thy distress when low I lie,
72 " But in this breath receive my last adieu! "—
73 No more she spake, but droop'd her lily head!
74 In death she sicken'd — breathless — haggard — pale —
75 While all my inmost soul with horror bled,
76 And ask'd kind vengeance from the passing gale.
77 Where slept your bolts, ye lingering lightnings say?
78 Why riv'd ye not this self-condemned breast? —
79 Or why, too passive earth, didst thou delay,
80 To stretch thy jaws, and crush me into rest? —
81 Low in the dust the beauteous corse I plac'd,
82 Bedew'd and soft with many a falling tear;
83 With sable yew the rising turf I grac'd,
84 And bade the cypress mourn in silence near.
85 Oft as bright morn's all-searching eye returns,
86 Full to my view the fatal spot is brought;
87 Thro' sleepless night my haunted spirit mourns,
88 No gloom can hide me from distracting thought.
89 When, spotless victim, shall my form decay?
90 This guilty load, say, when shall I resign?
91 When shall my spirit wing her chearless way,
92 And my cold corse lie treasur'd up with thine?