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Alas the years ! how swift they roll,
How swift they fly to Death's dark goal!
And let them roll, and let them fly,
I die but once and let me die.
Arrived at last at twenty-two',
What honours rise upon my brow?"
What have I done to raise my name,
And send to future times my fame?
No matter what for this consoles,
That fame is but the breath of fools.
And what, alas ! a name can do,
When I am cold, when I am low?
Shall I come back to hear my lays
Excite the critic's after-praise ?
Behold me quoted in reviews,
Or posted up to fame in news ?
Let Fame deny or grant the bays,
No censure I shall .feel, nor praise.
1 Arrived at last at twenty-two.) Macpherson, in 1760, was just twenty-two when, on the publication of the Fragments, he resolved “ to send to future times his fame :” a phrase peculiarly his own, which he had not previously employed in the Fragments. VOL. II.
Why should I then destroy my peace,
Or purchase fame with loss of ease ?
But still the soft Aönian maid
Invites me, smiling, to the shade :
“ One song ere you lay by the lyre,
“ Myself my poet will inspire.”
Away !-I own your power no more,
Away!—thou prostituted whore.
Your charming simpers, artful smiles,
Persuasive voice, and little wiles,
No more shall cause me hunt for fame,
Or seek that empty shade- a name.
In vain we toil for lasting fame,
Or give to other times our name;
The bust itself shall soon be gone,
The figure moulder from the stone;
The plaintive strain, the moving lay,
Like those they mourn, at last decay:
My name a surer way shall live,
A surer way, my fair can give :
In her dear mem'ry let me live alone;
When Nisa dies, I wish not to be known.
SOME TRANSLATIONS FROM THE ERSE.
Behold, fair maid, what Nature could inspire,
When Albion's lovely dames confessed their fire ;
When love was stranger to the guise of art,
And virgins spoke the language of the heart;
When sweet simplicity, with charms displayed,
Confirmed the bands which beauty first had made.
On rocks they lived among the savage kind,
But little of the rock was in their mind;
They felt the call of nature in their heart,
And Pity wept when Beauty shot the dart:
Each maid, with sorrow, saw her conquests rise,
And drowned with tears the lightning of her eyes.
When the loved youth appeared with manly charms,
And called the blooming beauty to his arms;
But little of the rock was in their mind;
They felt the call of nature in their heart.] The same conceit is repeated in Oithona : “ My heart is not of that rock; nor my soul careless as that sea.” Vol. I. p. 525. The preceding short poem, “ The Monument,” is iodisputably Macpherson's. See Vol. I. p. 196.
To meet his generous flame the maid would fly,
Nor did the tongue, what eyes confessed, deny.
No toils could her from his dear side remove;
She shared his dangers, as she shared his love.
With him against the chace she bent the bow;
In fields of death with him she met the foe;
If pierced with wounds, a mournful sight he lay,
With tears she washed the gory tide away;
And decent in the tomb her hero laid,
And as she blessed him living, mourned him dead.
In thee, blest nymph, indulgent Nature joined
The face of beauty with the tender mind;
In thee the present virtues we behold,
With all the charms of Albion's dames of old :
But be their sorrow to themselves alone,
As thine their beauty, be their woes their own.
Too oft, in times of old, did war's alarms
Tear lovely Youth from Beauty's tolding arms !
Too oft the early tears of spouses flow,
And blooming widows beat their breasts of snow.
But when the happy youth of form divine,
At once the fav’rite of the world and thine,
Enjoys unrivalled all that heaven of charms,
Death, late descend !- Avoid him, hostile arms!
Let growing pleasures crown each rising year,
Still be that cheek unsullied with a tear;
That beart no pang but of affection know;
That ear be stranger to the voice of woe.
When Time itself shall bid that beauty fy,
And lightning arm no more that lovely eye;
May the bright legacy successive fall,
And thy loved sons and dau_hters share it all;
Thy sons be every virgin's secret care,
Thy lovely daughters like the mother fair;
The first in prudence emulate their sire;
The last, like thee, set all the world on fire,
WRITTEN IN THE HIGHLANDS.
The wind is up, the field is bare;
Some hermit lead me to his cell, Where Contemplation, lonely fair',
With blessed Content has chose to dwell.
Behold ! it opens to my sight,
Dark in the rock; beside the flood; . Dry fern around obstructs the light;
The winds above it move the wood a.
Reflected in the lake I sce
The downward mountains and the skies, The flying bird, the waving tree,
The goats that on the hills arise.
The grey-cloaked herd drives on the cow;
The slow-paced towler walks the heath ; A freckled pointer scours the brow;
A musing shepherd stands beneath.