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V. to a Highland Girl at Inversneyde, Upon Loch Lomond

SWEET Highland Girl, a very shower
         Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
         Twice seven consenting years have shed
         Their utmost bounty on thy head:
         And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
         Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
         This fall of water that doth make
         A murmur near the silent lake;
         This little bay; a quiet road
         That holds in shelter thy Abode—                    
         In truth together do ye seem
         Like something fashioned in a dream;
         Such Forms as from their covert peep
         When earthly cares are laid asleep!
         But, O fair Creature! in the light
         Of common day, so heavenly bright,
         I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,
         I bless thee with a human heart;
         God shield thee to thy latest years!
         Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;                    
         And yet my eyes are filled with tears.
           With earnest feeling I shall pray
         For thee when I am far away:
         For never saw I mien, or face,
         In which more plainly I could trace
         Benignity and home—bred sense
         Ripening in perfect innocence.
         Here scattered, like a random seed,
         Remote from men, Thou dost not need
         The embarrassed look of shy distress,              
         And maidenly shamefacedness:
         Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear
         The freedom of a Mountaineer:
         A face with gladness overspread!
         Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
         And seemliness complete, that sways
         Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
         With no restraint, but such as springs
         From quick and eager visitings
         Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach                  
         Of thy few words of English speech:
         A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
         That gives thy gestures grace and life!
         So have I, not unmoved in mind,
         Seen birds of tempest—loving kind—
         Thus beating up against the wind.
           What hand but would a garland cull
         For thee who art so beautiful?
         O happy pleasure! here to dwell
         Beside thee in some heathy dell;                    
         Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
         A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
         But I could frame a wish for thee
         More like a grave reality:
         Thou art to me but as a wave
         Of the wild sea; and I would have
         Some claim upon thee, if I could,
         Though but of common neighbourhood.
         What joy to hear thee, and to see!
         Thy elder Brother I would be,                    
         Thy Father—anything to thee!
           Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
         Hath led me to this lonely place.
         Joy have I had; and going hence
         I bear away my recompence.
         In spots like these it is we prize
         Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
         Then, why should I be loth to stir?
         I feel this place was made for her;
         To give new pleasure like the past,                  
         Continued long as life shall last.
         Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
         Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part:
         For I, methinks, till I grow old,
         As fair before me shall behold,
         As I do now, the cabin small,
         The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
         And Thee, the Spirit of them all!

MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND, 1803

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