AN ODE, in Mrs. RATCLIFF’s manner.

I heard a voice from Etna’s side,
         Where o’er a Cavern’s mouth,
         That fronted to the South,
A chesnut spread its umbrage wide.
A Hermit, or a Monk, the man might be,
But him I could not see:
And thus the music flow’d along,
In melody most like an old Sicilian song.

There was a time when earth, and sea, and skies,
         The bright green vale and forest’s dark recess,
When all things lay before my eyes
         In steady loveliness.
But now I feel on earth’s uneasy scene
         Such motions as will never cease!
         I only ask for peace –
Then wherefore must I know, that such a time has been?

         A silence then ensu’d.
                  Till from the cavern came
                  A voice. It was the same:
And thus that mournful voice its dreary plaint renew’d.
Last night, as o’er the sloping turf I trod,
         The smooth green turf to me a vision gave:
                  Beneath my eyes I saw the sod,
                  The roof of ROSA’s grave.

My heart has need with dreams like these to strive,
For when I wak’d, beneath my eyes I found
                  That plot of mossy ground,
On which so oft we sate when ROSA was alive.
Why must the rock, and margin of the flood,
         Why must the hills so many flow’rets bear,
Whose colours to a wounded woman’s blood
         Such sad resemblance wear?

I struck the wound – this hand of mine!
         For, oh! thou Maid divine,
                  I loved to agony!
         The youth, whom thou call’dst thine,
                  Did never love like me.

         It is the stormy clouds above,
                  That flash so red a gleam
                  On yonder downward trickling stream;
         ’Tis not the blood of her I love.
The sun torments me from his western bed!
         O let him cease for ever to diffuse
         Those crimson spectre hues!
O let me lie in peace, and be for ever dead!

Here ceas’d the voice! In deep dismay,
Down thro’ the forest I pursu’d my way.
The twilight fays came forth in dewy shoon,
         Ere I within the cabin had withdrawn,
         The goat-herd’s tent upon the open lawn.
That night there was no moon!!
                                       CASSIANI, jun.

[SOURCE: Morning Post and Gazetteer, 13 October 1800, p. 3]

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