(c. 1798/1800)

ANN RADCLIFFE (1764–1823)

         Oh! stream beloved by those,
         With Fancy who repose,
And court her dreams ’mid scenes sublimely wild,
         Lulled by the summer-breeze,
         Among the drowsy trees
Of thy high steeps, and by thy murmurs mild,

         My lonely footsteps guide,
         Where thy blue waters glide,
Fringed with the Alpine shrub and willow light;
         ’Mid rocks and mountains rude,
         Here hung with shaggy wood,
And there upreared in points of frantic height.

         Beneath their awful gloom,
         Oh! blue-eyed Nymph, resume
The mystic spell, that wakes the poet’s soul!
         While all thy caves around
         In lonely murmur sound,
And feeble thunders o’er these summits roll.

         O shift the wizard scene
         To banks of pastoral green
When mellow sun-set lights up all thy vales;
         And shows each turf-born flower,
         That, sparkling from the shower,
Its recent fragrance on the air exhales.

         When Evening’s distant hues
         Their silent grace diffuse
In sleepy azure o’er the mountain’s head;
         Or dawn in purple faint,
         As nearer cliffs they paint,
Then lead me ’mid thy slopes and woodland shade.

         Nor would I wander far,
         When Twilight lends her star,
And o’er thy scenes her doubtful shades repose;
         Nor when the Moon’s first light
         Steals on each bowery height,
Like the winged music o’er the folded rose.

         Then, on thy winding shore,
         The fays and elves, once more,
Trip in gay ringlets to the reed’s light note;
         Some launch the acorn’s ring,
         Their sail &150; Papilio’s wing,
Thus shipped, in chace of moon-beams, gay they float.

         But, at the midnight hour,
         I woo thy thrilling power,
While silent moves the glow-worm’s light along,
         And o’er the dim hill-tops
         The gloomy red moon drops,
And in the grave of darkness leaves thee long.

         Even then thy waves I hear,
         And own a nameless fear,
As, ’mid the stillness, the hight winds do swell,
         Or (faint from distance) hark
         To the lone watch-dog’s bark!
Answering a melancholy far sheep bell.

         O! Nymph fain would I trace
         Thy sweet awakening grace,
When summer dawn first breaks upon thy stream;
         And see thee braid thy hair;
         And keep thee ever there,
Like thought recovered from an antique dream!

[Ann Radcliffe, Posthumous Works, in Gaston de Blondeville (London: Henry Colburn, 1826), vol. 4, pp. 236–8]

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