Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GERTRUDE OF WYOMING; OR, THE PENNSYLVANIAN COTTAGE: 2, by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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GERTRUDE OF WYOMING; OR, THE PENNSYLVANIAN COTTAGE: 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A valley from the river shore withdrawn
Last Line: In all that slept beneath her soft voluptuous ray.
Subject(s): Massacres; Native Americans - Wars; Wyoming, Pennyslvania


I.

A VALLEY from the river shore withdrawn
Was Albert's home, two quiet woods between,
Whose lofty verdure overlooked his lawn,
And waters to their resting place serene
Came freshening, and reflecting all the scene:
(A mirror in the depth of flowery shelves;)
So sweet a spot of earth, you might (I ween)
Have guessed some congregation of the elves,
To sport by summer moons, had shaped it for themselves.

II.

Yet wanted not the eye far scope to muse,
Nor vistas opened by the wandering stream;
Both where at evening Alleghany views,
Through ridges burning in her western beam,
Lake after lake interminably gleam:
And past those settlers' haunts the eye might roam
Where earth's unliving silence all would seem;
Save where on rocks the beaver built his dome,
Or buffalo remote lowed far from human home.

III.

But silent not that adverse eastern path,
Which saw Aurora's hills th' horizon crown;
There was the river heard, in bed of wrath,
(A precipice of foam from mountains brown,)
Like tumults heard from some far distant town;
But softening in approach he left his gloom,
And murmured pleasantly, and laid him down
To kiss those easy curving banks of bloom,
That lent the windward air an exquisite perfume.

IV.

It seemed as if those scenes sweet influence had
On Gertrude's soul, and kindness like their own
Inspired those eyes affectionate and glad,
That seemed to love whate'er they looked upon;
Whether with Hebe's mirth her features shone,
Or if a shade more pleasing them o'ercast,
(As if for heavenly musing meant alone;)
Yet so becomingly th' expression past,
That each succeeding look was lovelier than the last.

V.

Nor guess I, was that Pennsylvanian home,
With all its picturesque and balmy grace,
And fields that were a luxury to roam,
Lost on the soul that looked from such a face!
Enthusiast of the woods! when years apace
Had bound thy lovely waist with woman's zone,
The sunrise path, at morn, I see thee trace
To hills with high magnolia overgrown,
And joy to breathe the groves, romantic and alone.

VI.

The sunrise drew her thoughts to Europe forth,
That thus apostrophized its viewless scene:
"Land of my father's love, my mother's birth!
The home of kindred I have never seen!
We know not other -- oceans are between:
Yet say, far friendly hearts! from whence we came,
Of us does oft remembrance intervene?
My mother sure -- my sire a thought may claim; --
But Gertrude is to you an unregarded name.

VII.

"And yet, loved England! when they name I trace
In many a pilgrim's tale and poet's song,
How can I choose but wish for one embrace
Of them, the dear unknown, to whom belong
My mother's looks, -- perhaps her likeness strong?
Oh, parent! with what reverential awe,
From features of thine own related throng,
An image of thy face my soul could draw!
And see thee once again whom I too shortly saw!'

VIII.

Yet deem not Gertrude sighed for foreign joy;
To soothe a father's couch her only care,
And keep his reverend head from all annoy:
For this, methinks, her homeward steps repair,
Soon as the morning wreath had bound her hair;
While yet the wild deer trod in spangling dew,
While boatman carolled to the fresh-blown air,
And woods a horizontal shadow threw,
And early fox appeared in momentary view.

IX.

Apart there was a deep untrodden grot,
Where oft the reading hours sweet Gertrude wore;
Tradition had not named its lonely spot;
But here, methinks, might India's sons explore
Their fathers' dust, or lift, perchance of yore,
Their voice to the Great Spirit: -- rocks sublime
To human art a sportive semblance bore,
And yellow lichens colored all the clime,
Like moonlight battlements, and tow'rs decayed by time.

X.

But high in amphitheatre above,
Gay-tinted woods their massy foliage threw:
Breathed but an air of heaven, and all the grove
As if instinct with living spirit grew,
Rolling its verdant gulfs of every hue;
And now suspended was the pleasing din,
Now from a murmur faint it swelled anew,
Like the first note of organ heard within
Cathedral aisles, -- ere yet its symphony begin.

XI.

It was in this lone valley she would charm
The lingering noon, where flowers a couch had strewn;
Her cheek reclining, and her snowy arm
On hillock by the pine-tree half o'ergrown:
And aye that volume on her lap is thrown,
Which every heart of human mould endears;
With Shakspeare's self she speaks and smiles alone,
And no intruding visitation fears,
To shame the unconscious laugh, or stop her sweetest tears.

XII.

And nought within the grove was heard or seen
But stock-doves plaining through its gloom profound,
Or winglet of the fairy humming-bird,
Like atoms of the rainbow fluttering round;
When lo! there entered to its inmost ground
A youth, the stranger of a distant land;
He was, to weet, for eastern mountains bound;
But late th' equator suns his cheek had tanned,
And California's gales his roving bosom fanned.

XIII.

A steed, whose rein hung loosely o'er his arm,
He led dismounted; ere his leisure pace,
Amid the brown leaves, could her ear alarm,
Close he had come, and worshipped for a space
Those downcast features: -- she her lovely face
Uplift on one, whose lineaments and frame
Wore youth and manhood's intermingled grace:
Iberian seemed his boot -- his robe the same,
And well the Spanish plume his lofty looks became.

XIV.

For Albert's home he sought -- her finger fair
Has pointed where the father's mansion stood.
Returning from the copse he soon was there;
And soon has Gertrude hied from dark-green wood;
Nor joyless, by the converse, understood
Between the man of age and pilgrim young,
That gay congeniality of mood,
And early liking from acquaintance sprung;
Full fluently conversed their guest in England's tongue.

XV.

And well could he his pilgrimage of taste
Unfold, -- and much they loved his fervid strain.
While he each fair variety retraced
Of climes, and manners, o'er the eastern main.
Now happy Switzer's hills, -- romantic Spain, --
Gay lilied fields of France, -- or, more refined,
The soft Ausonia's monumental reign;
Nor less each rural image he designed
Than all the city's pomp and home of human kind.

XVI.

Anon some wilder portraiture he draws;
Of Nature's savage glories he would speak, --
The loneliness of earth that overawes, --
Where, resting by some tomb of old Cacique,
The lama-driver on Peruvia's peak,
Nor living voice nor motion marks around;
But storks that to the boundless forest shriek,
Or wild-cane arch high flung o'er gulf profound,
That fluctuates when the storms of El Dorado sound.

XVII.

Pleased with his guest, the good man still would ply
Each earnest question, and his converse court;
But Gertrude, as she eyed him, knew not why
A strange and troubling wonder stopped her short.
"In England thou hast been, -- and, by report,
An orphan's name (quoth Albert) may'st have known.
Sad tale! -- when latest fell our frontier fort, --
One innocent -- one soldier's child -- alone
Was spared, and brought to me, who loved him as my own.

XVIII.

"Young Henry Waldegrave! three delightful years
These very walls his infant sports did see,
But most I loved him when his parting tears
Alternately bedewed my child and me:
His sorest parting, Gertrude, was from thee;
Nor half its grief his little heart could hold;
By kindred he was sent for o'er the sea,
They tore him from us when but twelve years old,
And scarcely for his loss have I been yet consoled!"

XIX.

His face the wanderer hid -- but could not hide
A tear, a smile, upon his cheek that dwell;
And "Speak! mysterious stranger!" Gertrude cried;
"It is! -- it is! -- I knew -- I knew him well!
'Tis Waldegrave's self, of Waldegrave come to tell!"
A burst of joy the father's lips declare;
But Gertrude speechless on his bosom fell;
At once his open arms embraced the pair,
Was never group more blest in this wide world of care.

XX.

"And will ye pardon, then," replied the youth,
"Your Waldegrave's feigned name, and false attire?
I durst not in the neighborhood, in truth,
The very fortunes of your house inquire;
Lest one that knew me might some tidings dire
Impart, and I my weakness all betray;
For, had I lost my Gertrude and my sire,
I meant but o'er your tombs to weep a day,
Unknown I meant to weep, unknown to pass away.

XXI.

"But here ye live, ye bloom, -- in each dear face,
The changing hand of time I may not blame;
For there, it hath but shed more reverend grace,
And here, of beauty perfected the frame,
And well I know your hearts are still the same --
They could not change -- ye look the very way,
As when an orphan first to you I came.
And have ye heard of my poor guide, I pray?
Nay, wherefore weep ye, friends, on such a joyous day?"

XXII.

"And art thou here? or is it but a dream?
And wilt thou, Waldegrave, wilt thou leave us more?"
"No, never! thou that yet dost lovelier seem
Than aught on earth -- than ev'n thyself of yore --
I will not part thee from thy father's shore;
But we shall cherish him with mutual arms,
And hand in hand again the path explore
Which every ray of young remembrance warms,
While thou shalt be my own, with all thy truth and charms?"

XXIII.

At morn, as if beneath a galaxy
Of over-arching groves in blossoms white,
Where all was odorous scent and harmony,
And gladness to the heart, nerve, ear, and sight:
There, if, oh, gentle Love! I read aright
The utterance that sealed thy sacred bond,
'Twas listening to these accents of delight.
She hid upon his breast those eyes, beyond
Expression's power to paint, all languishingly fond --

XXIV.

"Flower of my life, so lovely, and so lone!
Whom I would rather in this desert meet,
Scorning, and scorned by fortune's power, than own
Her -- pomp and splendors lavished at my feet!
Turn not from me thy breath, more exquisite
Than odors cast on heaven's own shrine -- to please --
Give me thy love, than luxury more sweet,
And more than all the wealth that loads the breeze,
When Coromandel's ships return from Indian seas."

XXV.

Then would that home admit them -- happier far
Than grandeur's most magnificent saloon,
While, here and there, a solitary star
Flushed in the darkening firmament of June;
And silence brought the soul-felt hour, full soon,
Ineffable, which I may not portray;
For never did the hymenean moon
A paradise of hearts more sacred sway,
In all that slept beneath her soft voluptuous ray.





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