Scottish, Antiquarian, Scotland


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  Grian Press

The Shepherdess' Dream


WHERE Lorn's wild hills, in lonely grandeur rise
From th' Atlantic shore, till lost amid the skies,
Immensely throwing, while young morning smiles,
Their dark'ning shadows o'er the distant isles;
Here, near the border of a ragged wood,
The young Maria's rural cottage stood.

Soon as the night to western skies was borne,
And early cock proclaim'd the op'ning morn,
Forth stray'd the blooming maid, with all her train
Of bleaters, nibbling o'er th' empurpled plain.
High on the summit's brow, or braky glen,
Or heathy dale, or near the grassy fen,
Or on the hill, they fed, where blue bells hung
Their nodding heads, high throned the sweet lark sung,
While rocks around, with lows and bleatings rung.

Here stray'd the shepherdess, while blazing day
Awoke the warbling choir and flow'rets gay.
Deep in the shade she shunn'd the sultry air,
Or kept from startling sweep her milky care,
Till in the sea bright Phoebus' chariot rolled,
Then, singing, wore them homewards to the fold.

Near her lone cottage rose the rugged shore,
Where foaming billows raved with ceaseless roar;
High, grim, and dreadful, hung the gloomy steep,
And tower'd black threat'ning o'er the low-sunk deep.
And now 'twas night—the maid in bed reclined,
The following prospect open'd on her mind.

She dream'd, that careless in the noontide ray,
Stretch'd on a flow'ry bank, she sleeping lay,
When some kind voice, soft whisper'd in her ear,
"Maria! rise, thy flock hath left thee here"—
Sudden she started, found herself alone,
Around all silent, and her bleaters gone.
She snatch'd her crook, flew o'er the lonely dale,
Plung'd through the brook, and gazed adown the vale;
But nought appeared. Again she sought the heath,
Each creek, each hollow view'd with panting breath;
Till, toil'd and faint, the airy steep she gains,
And views enraptured, views them on the plains—
Cows, sheep, and goats, at once burst on her eye,
Some crop the herbs, while others peaceful lie,
Her little heart expands in an exulting cry.
Yet still she thought, between her and the flock,
Arose a shelvy, black, impervious rock,
Which oft she strove to pass, but strove in vain,
Some pow'r unseen still pull'd her back again.
With toil fatigued she view'd them as they fed,
And on the rock reclined her heavy head.
  Thus dream'd the maid, and waking midst the night,
Beheld, good gods! beheld a horrid sight.
High on a rock's dread verge, hung o'er the main,
Whose far-sunk surge wheel'd round her giddy brain,
Amazed she found herself, half-clad, alone;
Her hand laid leaning on a jutting stone,
Dark was the night, save where the shrouded moon,
'Midst dusky clouds, shone on the waste aroun',
And show'd the horrid steep, a dreadful sight,
Cliff hung o'er cliff, in grim stupendous height.
Back from the threat'ning scene she headlong fled,
Lest the whole mass might yield beneath her tread:
Then raised the maid to heav'n her streaming eyes,
And pour'd her grateful soul in fervent sighs,
To that kind Pow'r, who feeble mortals keeps,
Whose eye, all-seeing, slumbers not nor sleeps;
To whom each being owes all that he hath,
Each pulse's throb, and each returning breath,
Implor'd his presence still to guard her path,
Then, rising, sought her cot along the lonely heath.