Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Deserted Mansion

Damp and drear the lonely halls,
Faint the misty sunlight falls
Through the casement, soil'd and dim,
In the chambers, grey and grim.
On the once-fair-pictured wall
Spiders hang, and reptiles crawl:
Dust lies thick upon the floor,
Through the sounding corridor
Wailing, weird-like echoes swell,
Ringing desolation's knell.
Where the waxen tapers' blaze
Shone upon the jocund maze,
Where, on 'light fantastic toe,'
Dancers tripped it to and fro
To soft music's 'trancing strains,
Darkness now and silence reigns.
Wintry rains, with drip and plash,
Beat upon the mouldering sash,
Through each paneless crevice leaking,
On its broken hinges creaking
Rudely, swung by every blast;
Yet its tells of glories past.
Passing from the drawing-room,
Redolent of soft perfume,
Manly worth and maiden grace,
Through the bright and ample space,
Walked into a world of flowers-
Fair as bloomed in Eden's bowers.
Where the lovely blossoms now?
Ne'er to wreathe young beauty's brow,
Twine amid her shining hair,
Shall they gather blossoms there.
Many, many years are gone
Since that mansion, drear and lone,
Was the home of love and gladness,
Seldom dimm'd by lowering sadness.
But, alas! there came a time
When a foul and fearful crime
In that home was perpetrated.
Thus tradition hath it stated:-
Heirs had fail'd. Of all the line
Lived one orphan girl of nine-
Heiress sole of the domain;
But her guardian would obtain,
If the little maiden died,
What her life to him denied.
In the room that saw her birth,
Placed upon the marble hearth,
Stood one night a poisoned cup-
When he bade, she drank it up.
Ere his matin song the lark
Pour'd, the child lay cold and dark.
On that marble hearth remain,
Since that night the poison stain-
One dark circle, where was placed
The deadly cup. Ne'er effaced
Shall it be by mortal hand:
Token of the crime it stands.
Now I leave these halls of gloom,
Leave the horror-haunted room,
Out to breathe the balmy air,
Ah, the scene is very fair!
'Tis the glowing summer tide,
See the sparkling waters glide;
Gushing, singing as they flow
Through the lovely glen below.
Ah, what wealth of wilding flowers,
Wealth of blossom'd hawthorn bowers,
Where a thousand warblers sing
Till the glen's sweet echoes ring.
But the west begins to burn,
From the river's bank I turn,
Musing on my homeward way
On the teachings of the day.
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