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Poem by Mary Robinson

The Deserted Cottage

Who dwelt in yonder lonely Cot,
Why is it thus forsaken?
It seems, by all the world forgot,
Above its path the high grass grows,
And through its thatch the northwind blows
--Its thatch, by tempests shaken.

And yet, it tops a verdant hill
By Summer gales surrounded:
Beneath its door a shallow rill
Runs brawling to the vale below,
And near it sweetest flowrets grow
By banks of willow bounded.

Then why is evry casement dark?
Why looks the Cot so chearless?
Ah ! why does ruin seem to mark
The calm retreat where LOVE should dwell,
And FRIENDSHIP teach the heart to swell
With rapture, pure and fearless?

There, far above the busy croud,
Man may repose in quiet;
There, smile, that he has left the proud,
And blest with liberty, enjoy
More than Ambitions gilded toy,
Or Follys sickning riot.

For there, the ever tranquil mind,
On calm Religion resting,
May in each lonely labyrinth find
The DEITY, whose boundless powr
Directs the blast, or tints the flowr--
No mortal foe molesting.

Stranger, yon spot was once the scene
Where peace and joy resided:
And oft the merry time has been
When Love and Friendship warmd the breast,
And Freedom, making wealth a jest,
The pride of Pomp derided.

Old JACOB was the Cottage Lord,
His wide domain, surrounding,
By Natures treasure amply stord;
He from his casement could behold
The breezy mountain, tingd with gold,
The varied landscape bounding!

The coming morn, with lustre gay,
Breathd sweetly on his dwelling;
The twilight veil of parting day
Stole softly oer his quiet shed,
Hiding the mountains misty head,
Where the night-breeze was swelling.

One lovely Girl, Old JACOB reard
And she was fair, and blooming;
She, like the morning Star, appeard,
Swift gliding oer the mountains crest,
While her blue eyes her soul confessd,
No borrowd rays assuming.

Twas hers, the vagrant lamb to lead,
To watch the wild goat playing:
To join the Shepherds tuneful reed,
And, when the sultry Sun rose high,
To tend the Herds, deep-lowing nigh,
Where the swift brook was straying.

One sturdy Boy, a younker bold,
Ere they were doomd to sever,
Maintaind poor JACOB, sick and old;
But now, where yon tall poplars wave,
Pale primroses adorn the grave--
Where JACOB sleeps, for Ever!

Young, in the wars, the brave Boy fell!
His Sister died of sadness!
But one remaind their fate to tell,
For JACOB now was left alone,
And he, alas ! was helpless grown,
And pind in moody madness.

At night, by moonshine would he stray,
Along the upland dreary;
And, talking wildly all the way,
Would fancy, till the Sun uprose,
That Heavn, in pity, markd the woes--
Of which his soul was weary.

One morn, upon the dewy grass
Poor JACOBs sorrows ended,
The woodlands narrow winding pass
Was his last scene of lonely care,
For, gentle Stranger, lifeless there--
Was JACOBS form extended!

He lies beneath yon Poplar tree
That tops the church-yard, sighing!
For sighing oft it seems to be,
And as its waving leaves, around,
With mornings tears begem the ground
The Zephyr trembles, flying!

And now behold yon little Cot
All dreary and forsaken!
And know, that soon twill be thy lot,
To fall, like Jacob and his race,
And leave on Times swift wing no trace,
Which way thy course is taken.

Yet, if for Truth and feeling known,
Thou still shalt be lamented!
For when thy parting sigh has flown,
Fond MEMRY on thy grave shall give
A tear --to bid thy VIRTUES live!

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb
  2. Stanzas Written under an Oak in Windsor Forest
  3. The Widows Home
  4. To Cesario
  5. Sonnet 44. Here Droops the Muse

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