Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Cousin Aggie: A Memory

The seal of sixty summers now,
Cousin Aggie, marks thy brow,
If beneath Canadian skies
Still thou livest. Mayhap thou lies
Within the forest's shadow dark,
Where never sculptured stone shall mark
Thy last, thy lonely resting-place,
Thou 'best and loveliest of thy race!'
Children oft we roamed together
'Mongst the blue-bells and the heather;
Peeping in the moorfowl's nest-
Her wild bright eye and speckled breast,
Quailed not at our presence near-
No living thing of us had fear;-
Happy time, ne'er to return,
'When we twa paidl'd in the burn,
When the simmer days were fine,
In the days o' auld-langsyne.'
Time on stealthy pinions flew-
Cousin Aggie taller grew-
Her form in mould of classic grace
Was cast: and ah! how fair her face!
How soft her eye! how sweet her smile!
And wooers came: not long the while
Young Hamilton bore off the prize:
Her hand, with blushes, tears, and sighs,
She gave to him she loved so well
In yon lone cot in fair Dalziel.
'Twas early morn when they were wed,
Yet ere the noon of day had sped,
With clinging arms, and tender fears,
She from her mother's bosom tears
Herself away-she must not bide,
The ship is waiting wind and tide,
With all her snowy wings unfurl'd,
To bear them to the Western World.
The bridegroom pressed her to his side,
'My own,' he said, 'my ocean bride,
Thy all for me thou hast resigned,
And I devote love, life, and mind
To thee; and I, this voyage past,
Shall find a home for thee at last
On free Columbia's virgin soil,
Where we shall love, and live, and toil.'
But fortune, in an evil hour,
Gave them into a villain's power.
The tale I cannot tell aright,
But that they took a hasty flight
Across a frozen lake-their store
Of worldly goods was sent before-
The ice gave way, the loaded wains
Went down. What now for them remains
But love, and hope, that gave them strength:
They had the will, the way at length
They found to the Canadian shore,
Nor dreamed of deeper loss in store.
Upon a chosen spot of land,
Their log-house built; the holy band
Of wedded love more strong and dear
Had grown in danger, loss, and fear.
One day they left their forest home
Along the lake some miles to roam;
Returning looked they for the spot
Where stood at morn their lonely cot;
A thin blue smoke rose on the air,
A pile of smouldering ashes where
Your all consumed lies-hapless pair!-
But love and hope forbade despair.
Dear Cousin Aggie, once, no more,
I heard that thou thy troubles o'er-
A wife beloved, a mother dear,
Adorn'd thy calm domestic sphere;
O! dearest cousin, I would know,
For it is long, so long ago,
And I did love thee passing well
Since I of thee or thine heard tell;-
Thee, yet alive, I dearly greet;
If gone before, we soon shall meet.
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