Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Here you will find the Long Poem The Child Of The Islands - Autumn of poet Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

The Child Of The Islands - Autumn


BROWN Autumn cometh, with her liberal hand 
Binding the Harvest in a thousand sheaves: 
A yellow glory brightens o'er the land, 
Shines on thatched corners and low cottage-eaves, 
And gilds with cheerful light the fading leaves: 
Beautiful even here, on hill and dale; 
More lovely yet where Scotland's soil receives 
The varied rays her wooded mountains hail, 
With hues to which our faint and soberer tints are pale. 

For there the Scarlet Rowan seems to mock 
The red sea coral--berries, leaves, and all; 
Light swinging from the moist green shining rock 
Which beds the foaming torrent's turbid fall; 
And there the purple cedar, grandly tall, 
Lifts its crowned head and sun-illumined stem; 
And larch (soft drooping like a maiden's pall) 
Bends o'er the lake, that seems a sapphire gem 
Dropt from the hoary hill's gigantic diadem. 

And far and wide the glorious heather blooms, 
Its regal mantle o'er the mountains spread; 
Wooing the bee with honey-sweet perfumes, 
By many a viewless wild flower richly shed; 
Up-springing 'neath the glad exulting tread 
Of eager climbers, light of heart and limb; 
Or yielding, soft, a fresh elastic bed, 
When evening shadows gather, faint and dim, 
And sun-forsaken crags grow old, and gaunt, and grim. 

Oh, Land! first seen when Life lay all unknown, 
Like an unvisited country o'er the wave, 
Which now my travelled heart looks back upon, 
Marking each sunny path, each gloomy cave, 
With here a memory, and there a grave:-- 
Land of romance and beauty; noble land 
Of Bruce and Wallace; land where, vainly brave, 
Ill-fated Stuart made his final stand, 
Ere yet the shivered sword fell hopeless from his hand-- 

I love you! I remember you! though years 
Have fleeted o'er the hills my spirit knew, 
Whose wild uncultured heights the plough forbears, 
Whose broomy hollows glisten in the dew. 
Still shines the calm light with as rich a hue 
Along the wooded valleys stretched below? 
Still gleams my lone lake's unforgotten blue? 
Oh, land! although unseen, how well I know 
The glory of your face in this autumnal glow! 

I know your deep glens, where the eagles cry; 
I know the freshness of your mountain breeze, 
Your brooklets, gurgling downward ceaselessly, 
The singing of your birds among the trees, 
Mingling confused a thousand melodies! 
I know the lone rest of your birchen bowers, 
Where the soft murmur of the working bees 
Goes droning past, with scent of heather flowers, 
And lulls the heart to dream even in its waking hours. 

I know the grey stones in the rocky glen, 
Where the wild red-deer gather, one by one, 
And listen, startled, to the tread of men 
Which the betraying breeze hath backward blown! 
So,--with such dark majestic eyes, where shone 
Less terror than amazement,--nobly came 
Peruvia's Incas, when, through lands unknown, 
The cruel conqueror with the blood-stained name 
Swept, with pursuing sword and desolating flame! 

So taken, so pursued, so tracked to death, 
The wild free monarch of the hills shall be, 
By cunning men, who creep, with stifled breath, 
O'er crag and heather-tuft, on bended knee, 
Down-crouching with most thievish treachery; 
Climbing again, with limbs o'erspent and tired, 
Watching for that their failing eyes scarce see,-- 
The moment, long delayed and long desired, 
When the quick rifle-shot in triumph shall be fired. 

Look! look!--what portent riseth on the sky? 
The glory of his great betraying horns; 
Wide-spreading, many-branched, and nobly-high, 
(Such spoil the chieftain's hall with pride adorns.) 
Oh, Forest-King! the fair succeeding morns 
That brighten o'er those hills, shall miss your crest 
From their sun-lighted peaks! He's hit,--but scorn 
To die without a struggle: sore distrest, 
He flies, while daylight fades, receding in the West. 

Ben-Doran glows like iron in the forge, 
Then to cold purple turns,--then gloomy grey; 
And down the ravine-pass and mountain-gorge 
Scarce glimmers now the faintest light of day. 
The moonbeams on the trembling waters play, 
(Though still the sky is flecked with bars of gold 
And there the noble creature stands, at bay; 
His strained limbs shivering with a sense of cold, 
While weakness films the eye that shone so wildly bold. 

His fair majestic head bows low at length; 
And, leaping at his torn and bleeding side, 
The fierce dogs pin him down with grappling strength; 
While eager men come on with rapid stride, 
And cheer, exulting in his baffled pride. 
Now, from its sheath drawn forth, the gleaming knife 
Stabs his broad throat: the gaping wound yawns wide: 
One gurgling groan, the last deep sigh