Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Luggie: Past And Present

I have seen thy crystal waters
Mirror Beauty's sportive daughters;
Seen the village maiden there
Lave her brow and braid her hair-
Wade, till in the limpid pool
Her snowy feet shone pure and cool.
Peering through a clump of rushes,
'Neath the overhanging bushes,
That o'er the stream their shadows flung,
The water-hen led out her young-
The wildest, nimblest things alive-
How they swim, and wheel, and dive,
Slightest stir or whisper near
Quick as light they disappear!
Cleaving swift the mimic tide,
Shoals of minnows dart and glide.
Patient on the pebbly strand
See the watchful urchin stand-
Wand, and string, and crooked pin,
How he hauls the 'baggies' in!
Till some imp, his pleasure dashing,
Up the stream comes singing, plashing-
Flies the game, the sport is o'er-
The twain together leave the shore.
Tinkling, gushing, singing stream,
On thy banks I wont to dream;
To thy lulling music listening,
As I strayed my glad eyes glistening
With sweet tears. Then onward still,
Down the stream below the mill,
To the lone and lovely dell
Where the ringing echoes swell;
Where in robes of richest hue,
Pink and purple, gold and blue,
Smiling Flora reigns, and sheds
On her children's jewelled heads
The dewy fragrance, fresh and sweet,
That ever here the senses greet.
Straying through each sylvan nook,
With enraptured gaze I look
On the fair illumined page
Nature paints for youth and age;
Now that page is blurred and soiled-
Nature of her charms despoiled.
Now, ye twittering, warbling things-
All that coos, or chirps, or sings-
Fly, oh fly, ye may not dwell
In the Luggie's lovely dell!
The linnet and the finch again,
Piping blackbird's mellow strain,
We hear not-and the vesper thrush,
His small flirtations in the bush
Revealing, with a gush of song,
May not here his stay prolong.
Nests are gone from brake and bush;
Down the dell with whoop and rush,
Sooty imps from underground
Plunder, trample all around.
Flora mourns her children slain;
For their lives she sued in vain-
Primrose and the sweet blue bell
Lie murdered in the lonely dell;
And ragged robin's pinky hood
Gleams no more within the wood.
Why, you ask, does Nature fail?
Lo! the cause-the rail, the rail!
Luggie, by thy turbid stream
Never more shall poet dream-
Never village maiden there
Lave her brow and braid her hair-
Sportive youth his harmless pranks
Plays not on the cinder banks
That rise around thy fetid stream,
Where fire, and flame, and rushing steam
Burn, and blaze, and scream for aye.
There they know no Sabbath-day,
And the fiery, molten river
Night and day is running ever.
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