Mary Robinson ( )

Poor Marguerite

Swift, oer the wild and dreary waste
A NUT-BROWN GIRL was seen to haste;
Wide waving was her unbound hair,
And sun-scorchd was her bosom bare;
For Summers noon had shed its beams
While she lay wrappd in fevrish dreams;
While, on the witherd hedge-rows side,
By turns she slept, by turns she cried,
Ah ! where lies hid the balsam sweet,
To heal the wounds of MARGUERITE?

Dark was her large and sunken eye
Which wildly gazd upon the sky;
And swiftly down her freckled face
The chilling dews began to pace:
For she was lorn, and many a day,
Had, all alone, been doomd to stray,
And, many a night, her bosom warm,
Had throbbd, beneath the pelting storm,
And still she cried, the rain falls sweet,
It bathes the wounds of MARGUERITE.

Her garments were by briars torn,
And on them hung full many a thorn;
A thistle crown, she muttring twind,
Now darted on,--now lookd behind--
And here, and there, her arm was seen
Bleeding the tatterd folds between;
Yet, on her breast she oft displayd
A faded branch, that breast to shade:
For though her senses were astray,
She felt the burning beams of day:

She felt the wintry blast of night,
And smild to see the morning light,
For then she cried, I soon shall meet
The plighted love of MARGUERITE.

Across the waste of printless snow,
All day the NUT-BROWN GIRL would go;
And when the winter moon had shed
Its pale beams on the mountains head,
She on a broomy pillow lay
Singing the lonely hours away;
While the cold breath of dawnlight flew
Across the fields of glittring dew:--
Swift oer the frozen lake she past
Unmindful of the driving blast,
And then she cried the air is sweet--
It fans the breast of MARGUERITE.

The weedy lane she Iovd to tread
When stars their twinkling lustre shed;
While from the lone and silent Cot
The watchful Cur assaild her not,
Though at the beggar he would fly,
And fright the Travller passing by:
But she, so kind and gentle seemd,
Such sorrow in her dark eyes beamd,
That savage fierceness could not greet
With less than love,--POOR MARGUERITE!

Oft, by the splashy brook she stood
And sung her Song to the waving wood;
The waving wood, in murmurs low,
Filld up the pause of weary woe;
Oft, to the Forest trippd along
And inly hummd her frantic Song;
Oft dancd mid shadows Evning spread
Along the whispring willow-bed.
And wild was her groan,
When she climbd, alone--
The rough rocks side,
While the foaming tide,
Dashd rudely against the sandy shore,
And the lightning flashd mid the thunders roar.

And many a time she chacd the fly,
And mockd the Beetle, humming by;
And then, with loud fantastic tone
She sang her wild strain, sad--alone.
And if a stranger wanderd near
Or pausd the frantic Song to hear,
The burthen she would soft repeat,
Who comes to soothe POOR MARGUERITE?

And why did she with sun-burnt breast,
So wander, and so scorn to rest?
Why did the NUT-BROWN MAIDEN go
Oer burning plains and wastes of snow?
What bade her fevrish bosom sigh,
And dimmd her large and hazle eye?
What taught her oer the hills to stray
Fearless by night, and wild by day?
What stole the hour of slumber sweet--
From the scorchd brain of MARGUERITE.

Soon shalt thou know; for see how lorn
She climbs the steep of shaggy thorn--
Now on the jutting cliff she stands,
And clasps her cold,--but snow-white hands.
And now aloud she chaunts her strain
While fiercely roars the troublous main.
Now the white breakers curling shew
The dread abyss that yawns below,
And still she sighs, the sound is sweet,
It seems to say, POOR MARGUERITE!

Here will I build a rocky shed,
And here Ill make my sea-weed bed;
Here gather, with unwearied hands--
The orient shells that deck the sands.
And here will I skim oer the billows so high,
And laugh at the moon and the dark frowning sky.
And the Sea-birds, that hover across the wide main,
Shall sweep with their pinions, the white bounding plain.--
And the shivering sail shall the fierce tempest meet,
Like the storm, in the bosom of POOR MARGUERITE!

The setting Sun, with golden ray,
Shall warm my breast, and make me gay.
The clamours of the roaring Sea
My midnight serenade shall be!
The Cliff that like a Tyrant stands
Exulting oer the wave lashd sands,
With its weedy crown, and its flinty crest,
Shall, on its hard bosom, rock me to rest;
And Ill watch for the Eagles unfledgd brood,
And Ill scatter their nest, and Ill drink their blood;
And under the crag I will kneel and pray
And silver my robe, with the moony ray:
And who shall scorn the lone retreat
Which Heaven has chose, for MARGUERITE?

Here, did the exild HENRY stray
Forcd from his native land, away;
Here, here upon a foreign shore,
His parents, lost, awhile deplore;
Here find, that pitys holy tear
Could not an alien wandrer chear;
And now, in fancy, he would view,
Shouting aloud, the rabble crew--
The rabble crew, whose impious hands
Tore asunder natures bands!--
I see him still,--He waves me on!
And now to the dark abyss hes gone--
He calls--I hear his voice, so sweet,--
It seems to say--POOR MARGUERITE!

Thus, wild she sung! when on the sand
She saw her long lost HENRY, stand:
Pale was his cheek, and on his breast
His icy hand he, silent, prest;
And now the Twilight shadows spread
Around the tall cliffs weedy head;
Far oer the main the moon shone bright,
She markd the quivring stream of light--
It dancd upon the murmring wave
It dancd upon--her HENRYS Grave!
It markd his visage, deathly pale,--
His white shroud floating in the gale;
His speaking eyes--his smile so sweet
That won the love--of MARGUERITE!

And now he beckond her along
The curling moonlight waves among;
No footsteps markd the slanting sand
Where she had seen her HENRY stand!
She saw him oer the billows go--
She heard the rising breezes blow;
She shriekd aloud ! The echoing steep
Frownd darkness on the troubled deep;
The moon in cloudy veil was seen,
And louder howld the night blast keen!--
And when the morn, in splendour dressd,
Blushd radiance on the Eagles nest,
That radiant blush was doomd to greet--
The lifeless form --of MARGUERITE!

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 13. Bring, Brick to Deck My Brow
  2. Ode to Melancholy
  3. Ode to Valour
  4. Sonnet 9. Ye, Who in Alleys Green
  5. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb

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