Fair maid, I'd quarrel with my Muse,
Could she, when thou dost ask, refuse
To sing that lovely mountain-girt retreat
Where gen'rous youth to arms are train'd,
And warlike Science is attain'd,
And where high Art and wildest Nature meet.
In Fancy's dream I love to stray
Where, late, you sylph-like, led the way,
With tread elastic as a mountain deer,
Thro' winding path or rocky nook,
While oft we paus'd, with eager look
At distant prospect or at objects near.
Hark! 'Tis the early cannon's sound
Gives voice to ev'ry hill around,
And warns th' encampment of the op'ning day.
At this loud call, in haste I rise,
Ere yet the sun lights up the skies,
Or ling'ring vapours melt before his ray.
The rock-built mountains I behold,
Uprising, silent, grand, and bold,
From out the glassy stream that noiseless glides,
While not a zephyr o'er it breathes
Or checks the mist that lightly wreathes
Its scarf around the mountain's shaggy sides.
The dusk of morn that shades each hill,
The scene all solemn, grave and still,
The aspect, phantom-like, that marks the whole,
With dreamy thoughts o'ershade the mind
And call up visions, undefin'd,
And lift to awe-touch'd extasy the soul.
But soon the sun, with golden beam,
Awakes me from this morning dream,
And bids me hasten to the stirring camp,
Where troops in even ranks appear,
And martial music fills the ear,
And prancing steeds their foaming bridles champ.
But I would warn each maiden fair,
With timely caution, to beware,
While she delighted views this brilliant show,
Lest from some gallant gay cadet
A heart-wound she unconscious get;
The source whence many a bitter tear may flow.
Thence as, in musing mood, I stray,
And wear the vacant hours away,
Mid Nature's wildness or fair works of Art,
An object, sudden, meets my eye,
Which fails not to enkindle high
A flame within each patriot soldier's heart.
It is the monumental stone
With Kosciusko's name alone
Within a simple wreath of laurel trac'd.
A single word that utters more
Than choicest lines of pompous lore,
Or sculptur'd bust with high-wrought trophies grac'd.
While yet the day affords me time,
The neighboring heights I slowly climb,
And gaze on all the varied scene below.
I hear the martial band again
Pour out its bold inspiring strain,
While distance gives the tones a softer flow.
The clouds that deck the welkin blue,
And glow with ev'ry loveliest hue;
The temperate air that gently breathes around;
The full content of ev'ry sense;
All give a feeling so intense,
That still on earth some glimpse of Heav'n is found.
Sweet maid, if e'er by any chance
Thou weary of the rout and dance,
Or aught, in Fashion's round, like surfeit find,
Then hie thee to such scenes as these;
For Nature's charms ne'er cease to please,
And though they fill, can never cloy the mind.
Oct. 5, 1844.