Anna Jane Vardill

LOMOND'S ISLE

A SCOTCH TALE

Soft blew the gale on Lomond’s tide
While Duncan steer’d his blooming bride,
As on the waving helm reclin’d
She gave her loose lock to the wind;
And smil’d to see the lucid stream
Catch from her eye another gleam.
 “Now urge the boat—the tide is slow—
Yon envious larches hide our foe;
His oars are swift—his sails are wide—
He skims beneath yon mountain’s side:
Ah! now his bugle’s note I hear—
His plume—his milk-white plume is near!
Haste, or a cruel kinsman’s pow’r
Will close in blood our bridal hour!”
 “Nay, Mona, shew thy beauty’s light
And cheer with smiles thy faithful knight:
’Tis but the milk-white solan laves
His clashing pinion in the waves;
’Tis but a distant goatherd’s bell
Wakes echo in the winding dell.
Yon isle whose cluster’d willows lean
So lowly o’er their mirror green,
Shall yield us in its silent breast
A haven of untroubled rest.
Amid the rocks which round it rise
Like giant guards of paradise,
The chapel’s holy relics still
Shall flying lovers guard from ill.
 “Believe my faith! our humble pray’r
May win a richer blessing there
Than list’ning angels ever lent
To vows on golden altars spent:—
And he whose hallow’d hand shall twine
Our plighted hearts in bonds divine,
Bears in his brow no wintry frown
To wither rosy Pleasure’s crown.—
O fear him not! …. tho’ years of care
Have blanch’d his cheek and thin’d his hair,
Yet well my noble Brother loves
To bless the heart which Beauty moves;
For once he fondly hop’d to trace
A smile like thine in Beauty’s face.—
Perhaps o’er love’s deluded trust.
Perhaps o’er friendship laid in dust,
He mourns;—for oft with hollow eye
He gazes on the fading sky;
Or prints, with slow and palsied hand,
An image on the silver sand:
But, dearest, soon they bright eye’s beam
Shall cheer his clouded fancy’s dream,
And teach him on yon mould’ring shore
To gaze on lifeless shapes no more.”
 The lover ceas’d—with bolder stroke
His oar the sparkling crystal broke,
While brighter than the current’s brim
Soft Fancy’s mirror shone for him.
Starts Mona now?—’tis but the surge
Moans on the rocky rampart’s verge,
As safe beneath the islet’s side
Led by the waning moon they glide:—
Now, Lady, trust thy pilot’s hand,
The bounding boat has touch’d the strand!
 Such tints her ice-cold cheek adorn
As steal upon the frozen morn;
Such tints as best in Beauty’s cheek
Tell of the doubt that dares not speak.
 “Why shrinks my love?—yon torch’s ray
Is near to gild our level way:
The pastor of the sacred isle
Awaits us with a brother’s smile.
See, from his ivied casement’s height
The blazing beacon lends us light!
The faggot, dear to midnight mirth,
Burns cheerly on his social hearth,
And from his heart tho cold it seems,
The richest balm of kindness streams,
As Nature’s frolic pencil shews
In frozen spar its rainbow hues;
Or as old Neva’s rock retains
A thousand rubies in its veins.—
He comes!—thy smile will sweeter prove
Blest by a gentle brother’s love:
Our joy will fairer blossoms give
If Arthur sees and bids them live!”
 She sighs—but now the sigh is past!
The guiding torch approaches fast;
The Priest of Lomond’s lonely isle
Comes with a guardian-brother’s smile—
A lover’s hand has half withdrawn
From Mona’s cheek the shading lawn
And half-reveal’d its rosy glow,
And half her bending neck of snow.
But why is Arthur’s form unseen
Beneath his sable mantle’s screen,
As o’er their path, with palsied hand
He waves his half-extinguish’d brand?—
The pressure of that hand might spread
The icy dew which damps the dead!
O’er his pale cheek and hollow eye
Loose locks their ebon shade supply—
A glance she dares not look upon
Is there—it glistens, and is gone!
So mute, so wan, the shrouded ghost
Stalks on a drear and deathful coast!
Now from the chapel’s sainted ground
His footsteps call a boding sound—
The mould’ring aisle is dim and damp,
Scarce burns the lone funereal lamp—
It brightens now with lurid glare
While Arthur breathes the nuptial pray’r.
His task is done—the sable veil
Falls from the visage stern and pale—
 “Depart!—thy far-sought prize possess—
Thou could’st not see and love her less!
Thou knew’st not in how dire a chain
Thy brother liv’d and lov’d in vain!
I thought—’twas but a dream of heav’n!
That Mona’s faith to me was given;
But I will slumber now, and dream
That her’s to thee may faithful seem.
I give thee at this holy shrine
The wand’ring heart which once was mine!
It is not rage which burns my brow—
It is not grief—I scorn them now!
But bear her farther from my soul
Than yonder flames that mock the pole!—
Away!—thy guilty Syren hide—
Thy ruin’d brother’s faithless bride—
Away! lest in his burning brain
No trace of nature’s law remain!”
 Hears Mona yet?—her mantle’s fold
Is still in gasping Duncan’s hold:
But she is gone—already now
She trembles on the loose rock’s brow,
While Duncan, dumb, with glaring eye
Sees but the glance that bids him die.
’Tis Arthur starts—’tis Arthur calls
As in the whelming wave she falls—
“Turn, Mona, to a brother’s breast!
Return, sweet Mona, and be blest!”
He flies—her floating veil is there,
Her tresses quiver still in air:
He plunges in the watry bed,
And grasps the raiment of the dead.

The pang is past—O’er Mona’s woes
Unvex’d, the silent waters close:
On Lomond’s isle the chaple grey
Still tells of Duncan’s bridal day,
And still along that lonely shore
The stranger sees a hermit hoar
Who gazes on the watry glass
And bids a long-lov’d image pass:—
But Duncan’s eye no record shows
Of blighted love or cherish’d woes;
He shuns the dim and silent hour,
And talks of peace in Wisdom’s bow’r;
But when the purple bowl he fills
While mirth resounds and music trills,
He sees in Lomond’s glassy tide
A ruin’d Brother’s buried Bride.

V.

The European Magazine, Vol. 67, January 1815, pp. 55-56