Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Pictures Of Memory


A small thatched cottage, moss grown old,
A low-browed, weather-beaten door,
Two windows small, that dimly light
The dusky walls and earthen floor.
From rafters, grimed with smoke and eld,
Hang bunch'd-up herbs, a triple row,
Shedding their strongly-scented breath
Through all the dingy room below.
Beside the southern casement sings,
Within his cage, a linnet grey;
Beneath, upon the window-seat,
A pot with flowering lupines gay.
A matron plies her spinning wheel;
With dancing feet, her little daughter
Trips to her side; her dark brown eyes
And dimpled cheeks are bright with laughter.
In fairy tales and ballad lore
The little maid had wondrous pleasure;
The tiny volume in her hand,
The last addition to her treasure.
With grave, kind look the mother gazed
Into her darling's beaming eyes:-
'My child such reading may amuse,
But will not make you good and wise.'
'Oh, you shall hear,' the child replies:
Then warbled clear an old Scotch ditty.
The mother's heart was moved; her eyes
Were brimming o'er with love and pity.
She smiled, and softly laid her hand
Upon the fair child's shining hair,
Who, like a dancing sunbeam, pass'd
Away into the summer air.

A little, lowly, flowery dell,
A sylvan nook, where fays may dwell-
In purple fairy thimbles hiding,
Till the moon in heaven is gliding;
And the silver runnel, glancing,
'Neath her beams is softly dancing-
Still dancing, to its own sweet tune,
Beneath the midnight sky of June.
Opening from the fairy dell,
How sweet the scene, and soft the spell
That Nature, in her blandest mood,
Has spread o'er this blest solitude!
Cushions, soft, of richest moss,
Of emerald hue, and velvet gloss,
And wilding briers, ablush with roses,
At every turn the path encloses;
While, drooping from the mossy trees-
Pouring rich nectar for the bees
From every honey-scented cell-
The eglantine perfumes the dell;
In richest purple bloom, a bed
Of fragrant mountain thyme is spread.
I pause to drink the odours sweet,
Crushed out beneath my careless feet.
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