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On a green bank the holy seer is laid,
Where weaving branches cloud the chequered shade;
In solemn thought his hoary head's inclined,
And his white locks wave in the fanning wind.
"With reverend steps approaching, I began:
O blest with all that dignifies the man!
"I said: the prophet heavenward lifts his eyes,
With distant time, O youth! my soul's imprest;
Futurity is lab'ring in my breast;
Thy blood, which rolling down from Fergus came,
Passes through time, a pure untainted stream.
Albion shall in her pristine glory shine,
And, blessed herself, bless the Fergusian line.
Pale Albion trembling, and her monarch dead;
He falls, he falls; see how the tyrant lies!
Again I see contending chiefs come on,
And, as they strive to mount, they tear the throne;
To civil arms the horrid trumpet calls,
And Caledonia by her children falls.
The storm subsides to the calm flood of peace;
See each inwrapped untimely in his shroud,
For ever sleeping in his generous blood!
Who on thy mournful tomb refrains the tear?
Dark Faction grasps her in his sable arms,
And crushes down to death her struggling charms :
The rose, in all its gaudy livery drest,
Thus faintly struggles with the blust'ring west.
'Why mention him in whom th' eternal fates
Shall bind in peace the long-discording states?
"He spoke, and in the cave inclosed his age: In wonder lost, I leave the hermitage,
Measure with thoughtful steps my backward way,
While to the womb of night retires the day.
Pale doubtful twilight broods along the ground;
The forest nods its sleeping head around.
"Before my eyes a ghastly vision stood;
A mangled man, his bosom stained with blood!
Silent and sad the phantom stood confest,
And shewed the streaming flood-gates of his breast.
Then pointing to the dome his tardy hand,
As breezes sing through reeds their shrilly song.
Across the field I sweep my hasty way.
The men I arm; the firm barrier we ply,
And those who dare dispute the passage die.
With dying groans the lonely walls resound:
I on the guilty leader deal a wound;
Through his bright helm the sword its journey takes,
He falls, and thus with dying accents speaks:
'Just Heaven! in vain the wicked shun thy power; 205 Though late thy vengeance, yet the blow is sure.
This earth received the blood from off
A just return, my own, my own demands !
I fled, but fled, alas! pursued by fate:
I left with hasty steps the silent dead.
Alpin, the commerce of this world I leave;
Ten friendly youths the homely rites shall pay;
"He said: a qualm succeeds; tears fill my eyes, And woe securely shuts the gates of voice;
Silent and sad I hang the dying o'er,
And with warm tears intenerate his gore.
My brave, my only son!
"The chief resumes:
Since on the Severn's banks I met the war;
My clan in arms might then preserve their king;
But fate withstood; along in arms we ring.
An infant's cries, at distance, took my ear,
I went, found thee a helpless orphan there.'
The king, who long infixed in dumb surprise,
Th' astonished chiefs, congealed in dumb amaze,
Stiffened to silence, on each other gaze.
Sudden their cheeks are varied with surprise,
And glad disorder darted from their eyes.
As when before the swains, with instant sound,
The forky bolt descending tears the ground;
They stand; with stupid gaze each other eye:
So stood the chiefs oppressed with sudden joy.
Triumphant mount, though late, thy father's throne.
To thee with joy the sceptre I resign;
And waft the kingdom to the coming line."
He said and thus the youth: "I only know
And guide with steadier hand the regal car;
Resolved he spoke: bursts of applause around
While thus the king and noble chiefs rejoice,
A select band by Indulph's bounty fed,
To keep in song the mem'ry of the dead!
What hosts she conquered, and repelled what foes.
Through time in reg'lar series they decline,
And touch each name of the Fergusian line;
Great Caractacus, Fergus' awful sword;
That bravely lost his country, this restored :