Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Yet, when above the forest-glooms

The white swans southward passed, High as the pitch of their swift plumes

Her fancy rode the blast; And bore her toward the fields of France, 245

Her Father's native land, To mingle in the rustic dance,

The happiest of the band!

Of those beloved fields she oft

Had heard her Father tell 250

In phrase that now with echoes soft

Haunted her lonely cell;
She saw the hereditary bowers,

She heard the ancestral stream;
The Kremlin and its haughty towers 255

Forgotten like a dream!

PAKT IV.

The ever-changing Moon had traced

Twelve times her monthly round, When through the unfrequented Waste

Was heard a startling sound; 260

A shout thrice sent from one who chased

At speed a wounded deer,
Bounding through branches interlaced,

And where the wood was clear.

The fainting creature took the marsh, 265

And toward the Island fled,
While plovers screamed with tumult harsh

Above his antlered head;
This, Ina saw; and, pale with fear,

Shrunk to her citadel; 270

The desperate deer rushed on, and near

The tangled covert fell.

Across the marsh, the game in view,

The Hunter followed fast, Nor paused, till o'er the stag he blew 275

A death-proclaiming blast; Then, resting on her upright mind,

Came forth the Maid—" In me Behold," she said, "a stricken Hind

Pursued by destiny! 280

"From your deportment, Sir! I deem

That you have worn a sword, And will not hold in light esteem

A suffering woman's word; There is my covert, there perchance 285

I might have lain concealed, My fortunes hid, my countenance

Not even to you revealed.

"Tears might be shed, and I might pray,

Crouching and terrified, 290

That what has been unveiled to-day,

You would in mystery hide; But I will not defile with dust

The knee that bends to adore The God in heaven;—attend, be just; 295

This ask I, and no more!

"I speak not of the winter's cold

For summer's heat exchanged,
While I have lodged in this rough hold,

From social life estranged; 300

Nor yet of trouble and alarms:

High Heaven is my defence; And every season has soft arms

For injured Innocence.

"From Moscow to the Wilderness 305

It was my choice to come,
Lest virtue should be harbourless,

And honour want a home;
And happy were I, if the Czar

Retain his lawless will, 310

To end life here like this poor deer,

Or a lamb on a green hill."

"Are you the Maid," the Stranger cried,

"From Gallic parents sprung, Whose vanishing was rumoured wide, 315

Sad theme for every tongue;
Who foiled an Emperor's eager quest?

You, Lady, forced to wear
These rude habiliments, and rest

Your head in this dark lair!" 320

But wonder, pity, soon were quelled;

And in her face and mien
The soul's pure brightness he beheld

Without a veil between:
He loved, he hoped,—a holy flame 325

Kindled 'mid rapturous tears; The passion of a moment came

As on the wings of years.

"Such bounty is no gift of chance,"

Exclaimed he; "righteous Heaven, 330 Preparing your deliverance,

To me the charge hath given.
The Czar full oft in words and deeds

Is stormy and self-willed;
But, when the Lady Catherine pleads, 335

His violence is stilled.

"Leave open to my wish the course,

And I to her will go;
From that humane and heavenly source,

G-ood, only good, can flow." 340

Faint sanction given, the Cavalier

Was eager to depart,
Though question followed question, dear

To the Maiden's filial heart.

Light was his step,—his hopes, more light, 345

Kept pace with his desires;
And the fifth morning gave him sight

Of Moscow's glittering spires.
He sued:—heart-smitten by the wrong,

To the lorn Fugitive 350

The Emperor sent a pledge as strong

As sovereign power could give.

O more than mighty change! If e'er

Amazement rose to pain,
And joy's excess produced a fear 355

Of something void and vain;
'Twas when the Parents, who had mourned

So long the lost as dead,
Beheld their only Child returned,

The household floor to tread. 360

Soon gratitude gave way to love

Within the Maiden's breast; Delivered and Deliverer move

In bridal garments drest; Meek Catherine had her own reward; 365

The Czar bestowed a dower; And universal Moscow shared

The triumph of that hour.

Flowers strewed the ground; the nuptial feast

Was held with costly state; 370

And there, 'mid many a noble guest,

The Foster-parents sate; Encouraged by the imperial eye,

They shrank not into shade; Great was their bliss, the honour high 375

To them and nature paid!

1830.

« ПредишнаНапред »