O THOU ! to whom each thought unchanging tends,
To thee these lines a wretched captive sends.
In vain did love our tender hearts unite;
Hymen in vain prepare the nuptial rite:
His torch extinguish’d, torn his flowery chain,
Far other bands thy hapless bride detain.
A cruel tyrant’s hate our bliss destroys,
And withers, ere their bloom, our promis’d joys.
The gay-rigg’d vessel spread her silken sails,
And skimm’d the level deep with prosperous gales.
Some power, to love propitious, smooth’d the seas;
The sportive zephyrs breath’d a gentle breeze.
Round the tall bark the strong-wing’d herons fly;
And the loud sea-mew sends a hoarser cry.
Fearless around the finny nations play,
And bask and wanton in the solar ray:
Now to the view their silver scales unfold,
Or azure coats, bespangled thick with gold.
Fearless of ill, we gaze with curious eyes,
To mark where WALLIA’S woody mountains rise.
Already fancy views the rocky strand,
And joyful crowds, that hail us safe to land.
First, to my longing eyes the prince appears;
High o’er the throng his graceful form he rears;
With rapturous joy receives me from the main,
The destin’d partner of his happy reign.
O ye false hopes, that cheated mortals trust:
Ye baseless fabrics, form’d of painted dust;
At distance seen, ye charm the unwary eye;
But, ah! our eager grasp delusive fly.
While thus secure we gayly glide along,
Sooth’d with the dashing waves and seamen’s song,
Like stone fierce tiger, ambush’d for his prey,
The hostile vessel intercepts our way.
To us, unarm’d, and unsuspecting ill,
Useless alike the attempts of force or skill.
O EDWARD , born the scourge of all my race;
EDWARD , the author of my dire disgrace;
By thee my warlike father press’d the plain;
By thee my brother fell, untimely slain.
An infant exile by thy dread command,
Ere scarce I saw, I lost my native land:
A foreign clime the helpless wanderer bred,
By strangers cherish’d, and by strangers fed.
What wretched fate my adverse star ordains,
That gives me back my country, but in chains?
Dear native isle, long lost, alas! and mourn’d;
I come, a captive to thy shores return’d.
Freed from his thraldom is the inglorious crew,
Alone must I the tyrant’s vengeance rue,
Yet ’twas LEWELLYN’S pride he strove to tame;
And thro’ my wrongs facilitate his aim:
Else had the haughty EDWARD’S eagle-eyes
Look’d down contemptuous on so mean a prize.
For thy lov’d sake what various ills I prove!
With threats the tyrant would subdue my love.
In vain his threats my faithful heart assail;
Nor fears, nor flatteries o’er my truth prevail.
In vain their winning arts the courtiers try
And strive to shine in ELEONORA’S eye.
Tho’ theirs the studied phrase, the smile of art,
Thine is the honest courtship of the heart.
No more they boast the open manly grace,
That once adorn’d each free-born BRITON’S face.
In ASIA’S silken robes their limbs are drest;
And on their bosoms shines the embroider’d vest.
Their waving locks ambrosial sweets exhale,
And gayly wanton in the whispering gale.
In starry belts their gaudy swords are worn,
And less defend their wearers than adorn;
A haughty race, luxurious, vain and proud,
At feasts intemperate, in riots loud.
Hence WALLIA’S simple manners they despise,
And view her hardy sons with scornful eyes.
The tyrant EDWARD , fond of lawless sway,
Would force each free-born nation to obey.
For this he dares to shake the GALLIC throne,
And claim unconquer’d SCOTIA for his own.
Ev’n now unwelcome rumours reach mine ears;
Pierce my sad heart, and fill my soul with fears;
That thou art doom’d this haughty lord to greet,
And fall an abject vassal at his feet.
Too well I know LEWELLYN’S generous soul
But ill can stoop to EDWARD’S stern control;
That, ever true to honour’s sacred laws,
Thou liv’st the faithful champion of her cause.
Tho’ I these generous sentiments approve,
Yet sure some claims belong to tender love!
If haughty EDWARD’S mandate you deride,
Here must your captive lover long abide;
And, left in hopeless bondage, waste away
The tedious night, the slow-consuming day;
Till youth, and all its transient glories fled,
She sinks forgotten with the nameless dead.
Thy people’s dangers thy compassion claim:
When such the motive, who the deed can blame?
Tho’ true their hearts, and warlike are their hands;
Yet few in number are thy faithful bands.
Ah! think how wide-extended EDWARD’S reign;
How circumscrib’d, alas! thy small domain.
Judge not, that ENGLISH valour I o’errate;
‘Tis from their numbers I predict thy fate.
When swarms of locusts overspread the plain,
All human force and human skill are vain:
The crowds resistless seize their destin’d prey;
And sure destruction marks their dreadful way.
Not glory claims alone the fighting field;
More lasting honours prudent counsels yield.
In vain may strength her fearless front oppose,
While wisdom’s gentler arts disarm her foes.
Oft, when the hand of brutal courage fails,
The winning power of eloquence prevails.
Yield then, LEWELLYN ; own this potent lord;
And EDWARD is thy friend, thy bride restor’d:
Peace shall again revisit WALLIA’S shores;
And smiling plenty pour her ample stores.
Loving and lov’d, our days shall glide away;
And, join’d in death, one tomb receive our clay.
But, if these peaceful counsels you despise,
Let them not sink me in LEWELLYN’S eyes;
If not your praise, your pity let them move;
Nor too severely blame the faults of love.
Too plain my fond advice, which love reveals,
And shows the pangs my trembling bosom feels.
For, ah! no dauntless heart this breast contains;
Nor MONTFORT’S courage swells his daughter’s veins:
To all my sex’s fears and doubts resign’d,
Myself the weakest of the weaker kind.
I dread, alas! thine honour’s rigid claim;
Yet more I dread thy censure and thy blame.
Let heaven my future destiny decide,
If EDWARD’S captive, or LEWELLYN’S bride;
Still may thy love my pride, my boast remain,
To bless my freedom, or to gild my chain.
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