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III. Effusion in the Pleasure-Ground on the Banks of the Bran, Near Dunkeld

WHAT He—who, 'mid the kindred throng
         Of Heroes that inspired his song,
         Doth yet frequent the hill of storms,
         The stars dim—twinkling through their forms!
         What! Ossian here—a painted Thrall,
         Mute fixture on a stuccoed wall;
         To serve—an unsuspected screen
         For show that must not yet be seen;
         And, when the moment comes, to part
         And vanish by mysterious art;
         Head, harp, and body, split asunder,
         For ingress to a world of wonder;
         A gay saloon, with waters dancing
         Upon the sight wherever glancing;
         One loud cascade in front, and lo!
         A thousand like it, white as snow—
         Streams on the walls, and torrent—foam
         As active round the hollow dome,
         Illusive cataracts! of their terrors
         Not stripped, nor voiceless in the mirrors,  
         That catch the pageant from the flood
         Thundering adown a rocky wood.
         What pains to dazzle and confound!
         What strife of colour, shape and sound
         In this quaint medley, that might seem
         Devised out of a sick man’s dream!
         Strange scene, fantastic and uneasy
         As ever made a maniac dizzy,
         When disenchanted from the mood
         That loves on sullen thoughts to brood!        
           O Nature—in thy changeful visions,
         Through all thy most abrupt transitions
         Smooth, graceful, tender, or sublime—
         Ever averse to pantomime,
         Thee neither do they know nor us
         Thy servants, who can trifle thus;
         Else verily the sober powers
         Of rock that frowns, and stream that roars,
         Exalted by congenial sway
         Of Spirits, and the undying Lay,        
         And Names that moulder not away,
         Had wakened some redeeming thought
         More worthy of this favoured Spot;
         Recalled some feeling—to set free
         The Bard from such indignity!
           The Effigies of a valiant Wight
         I once beheld, a Templar Knight;
         Not prostrate, not like those that rest
         On tombs, with palms together prest,
         But sculptured out of living stone,
         And standing upright and alone,
         Both hands with rival energy
         Employed in setting his sword free
         From its dull sheath—stern sentinel
         Intent to guard St. Robert’s cell;
         As if with memory of the affray
         Far distant, when, as legends say,
         The Monks of Fountain’s thronged to force
         From its dear home the Hermit’s corse,
         That in their keeping it might lie,    
         To crown their abbey’s sanctity.
         So had they rushed into the grot
         Of sense despised, a world forgot,
         And torn him from his loved retreat,
         Where altar—stone and rock—hewn seat
         Still hint that quiet best is found,
         Even by the 'Living’, under ground;
         But a bold Knight, the selfish aim
         Defeating, put the monks to shame,
         There where you see his Image stand    
         Bare to the sky, with threatening brand
         Which lingering NID is proud to show
         Reflected in the pool below.
           Thus, like the men of earliest days,
         Our sires set forth their grateful praise:
         Uncouth the workmanship, and rude!
         But, nursed in mountain solitude,
         Might some aspiring artist dare
         To seize whate’er, through misty air,
         A ghost, by glimpses, may present  
         Of imitable lineament,
         And give the phantom an array
         That less should scorn the abandoned clay;
         Then let him hew with patient stroke
         An Ossian out of mural rock,
         And leave the figurative Man—
         Upon thy margin, roaring Bran!—
         Fixed, like the Templar of the steep,
         An everlasting watch to keep;
         With local sanctities in trust,        
         More precious than a hermit’s dust;
         And virtues through the mass infused,
         Which old idolatry abused.
           What though the Granite would deny
         All fervour to the sightless eye;
         And touch from rising suns in vain
         Solicit a Memnonian strain;
         Yet, in some fit of anger sharp,
         The wind might force the deep—grooved harp
         To utter melancholy moans    
         Not unconnected with the tones
         Of soul—sick flesh and weary bones;
         While grove and river notes would lend,
         Less deeply sad, with these to blend!
           Vain pleasures of luxurious life,
         For ever with yourselves at strife;
         Through town and country both deranged
         By affectations interchanged,
         And all the perishable gauds
         That heaven—deserted man applauds;  
         When will your hapless patrons learn
         To watch and ponder—to discern
         The freshness, the everlasting youth,
         Of admiration sprung from truth;
         From beauty infinitely growing
         Upon a mind with love o’erflowing—
         To sound the depths of every Art
         That seeks its wisdom through the heart?
           Thus (where the intrusive Pile, ill—graced
         With baubles of theatric taste,  
         O’erlooks the torrent breathing showers
         On motley bands of alien flowers
         In stiff confusion set or sown,
         Till Nature cannot find her own,
         Or keep a remnant of the sod
         Which Caledonian Heroes trod)
         I mused; and, thirsting for redress,
         Recoiled into the wilderness.

MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND 1814

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