Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Craignethan Castle

A Memory
The cloud of years is upward rolled
From memory's page, and I behold,
Craignethan gray, thy ivied walls,
Thy dusky vaults and roofless halls,
The low-browed arch where clotted slime
Of blood red hue, the spawn of time,
The opening clogs, and no one knows
To what it leads, or where it goes,-
The window highand hard to win
I see, where Cudie, peeping in,
Saw Jenny, wild with terror's throes,
Dash in his face the scalding brose.
'Twas on an eve in lovely May,
The radiant ruler of the day
Went calmly down the western skies
That flamed with gold and purple dyes;
I slowly climbed the ruined stair
And gained the summit,-scene so fair,
So rich, romantic, never met
My 'raptured eye-I see it yet.
Sick with perfume I bowed my head,
The castle's hoary front was spread
With sheets of blossomed wall-flower, swung
Like censors, whence dame Nature flung
Her sweetest incense on the breeze
That wooed with scented breath the trees.
I gazed far down the craggy steep
Where Nethan's winding waters sweep
So far below, her murmurs seem
The spirit voices in a dream.
The crumbling roof was greenly crowned
With brier and hazel twining round;
I broke a tasseled hazel spray
To wear as trophy of the day.
No drawbridge o'er the moat is seen,
Now dry and lined with verdure green,
Where apple blossoms, snowy pear,
Their petals shed; with lance and spear
Mailed warriors rode, with helmets doffed,
To Beauty's smiles and glances soft.
'Tis said, when hapless Mary fled
From Leven's halls, her royal head
She laid within the tapestried bower
Of Fairly Fair; that fairest flower,
Reft from her home, Lord Draffan bore
To Nethan's keep. Ah! long and sore
She mourned the bloody, vengeful day
That saw her sire her husband slay;
And she in prayer and tears to dwell
For aye in lonely convent cell.
Now slowly falls the misty cloud
O'er Memory's page, as in a shroud
Old memories lie till word or strain
Awakes them, and they live again.
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