Bertram And Anna.

A poem by Thomas Gent

Stranger! if thou e'er did'st love,
If nature in thy bosom glows,
A Minstrel, rude, may haply move,
Thine heart to sigh for Anna's woes.

Lo! beneath the humble tomb,
Obscure the luckless maiden sleeps;
Round it pity's flowerets bloom,
O'er it memory fondly weeps.

And ever be the tribute paid!
The warm heart's sympathetic flow:
Richer by far, ill-fated maid!
Than all the shadowy pomp of woe.

The shadowy pomp to thee denied.
While pity bade thy spirit rest:
While superstition scowl'd beside,
And vainly bade it not be blest.

Ah! could I with unerring truth,
Inspir'd by memory's magic power,
Pourtray thee, grac'd in ripening youth,
With new enchantment, every hour;

When fortune smil'd, and hope was young,
And hail'd thee like the bounteous May,
Renewing still thy steps among
The faded flowers of yesterday.

All plaintive, then my lute should sound,
While fancy sigh'd thy form to see;
The list'ning maids should weep around,
And swains lament thy fate with me.

And, Stranger, thou who hear'st the tale,
By soft infection taught to mourn,
Would'st wet with tears the primrose pale,
That blooms beside her sylvan urn.

For she was fair as forms of love,
Oft by the 'rapt enthusiast seen,
Who slumbers midst the myrtle grove,
With spring's unfolding blossoms green.

All eloquent, her eyes express'd
Her heart to each fine feeling true:
For in their orbs did pity rest,
Suffusing soft their beamy blue.

And silence, pleas'd, his reign resign'd.
Whene'er he heard her vocal tongue;
And grief in slumbers sweet reclin'd,
As on his ear its accents hung.

But vain the charms that grac'd the maid,
The eye where pity lov'd to reign,
The form where fascination play'd,
The voice that breath'd enchantment, vain!

Unequal, all their syren power,
To win from fate it's frown away:
When Bertram came in luckless hour
To sigh, to flatter, to betray!

He came, inform'd in every art,
That makes th'incautious virgin weep:
Beguiles the unsuspecting heart,
And lulls mistrust to silken sleep.

His tale she heard, nor thought the while,
That falshood such a tale could tell:
That dark deceit could e'er defile,
The tongue that talk'd of truth so well.

He woo'd, he wept, 'till all was won,
Then, as the spring-born zephyrs fly,
He fled, he left her, lost! undone!
In penitential tears to die.

Oh! could she live, condemn'd to feel,
The insults of exulting scorn?
Relentless as the three-edg'd steel!
Illicit pleasure's eldest-born!

Who 'mid despair's impervious gloom,
Should bid her soul's sad wand'rings cease:
Th'extinguish'd spark of hope relume,
And sooth the penitent to peace?

She saw her aged mother bow,
Subdued by exquisite distress:
For every hope was faded now,
And life a weary wilderness.

She saw her in the cold earth laid,
And not a tear was seen to start,
And not a sigh the pangs allay'd,
That agoniz'd her bursting heart.

And when the mournful rite was done,
A sculptur'd woe, she seem'd to move:
As close she clasp'd her infant son,
The pledge of faithless Bertram's love.

While slow she pac'd the lone church-yard,
With pity's accents, soft and sad,
We strove to win her fix'd regard,
But vainly strove, for Ann was mad!

'Lorn, listless, like a wither'd flower,
Blown o'er the plain by every blast,
Impell'd by fancy's fitful power,
The lovely, luckless, victim past.

'Till, left alone, the wood she sought,
Where first her Bertram's vows she heard,
And first with soft affection fraught,
His vows return'd, to Heaven prefer'd.

Each scene she trac'd, to memory dear,
Tho' memory lent a feeble ray,
Reason's benighted bark to steer,
Thro' dark distraction's stormy way.

At length, where yon translucent tide,
Meanders slow the meads among:
Reclining on its sedgy side,
Thus to her sleeping babe she sung:

"Sweet cherub! on the green bank rest,
And balmy may thy slumbers be;
For tempests tear thy mother's breast,
Alas! it cannot pillow thee.

"I'll wander 'till thy sire I've found,
I'll lure his footsteps where you lie;
While mantling waters murmur round,
And wild-winds sing your lullaby.

"Haply, shalt thou, his scorn subdue,
Thy helpless innocence to save;
But if unmov'd, he turns from you,
I'll lead him to my mother's grave

"Sure, waken'd there, remorse shall rise,
And bid his perjur'd bosom shed,
That tender tear, my heart denies,
Cold, icy cold, congeal'd, and dead."

Then, wildly through each well-known way
Again she fled, the youth to seek:
Nor paus'd, 'till Cynthia's mournful ray,
Play'd paly, on her paler cheek.

Once more she sought the river's side,
The goal of her accomplish'd way,
Where, 'whelm'd beneath the rising tide,
Her heart's dissever'd treasure lay!

Amaz'd! convuls'd! she shriek'd! she sprung!
She clasp'd it in its wat'ry bed!
The dirge of death the night-blasts sung;
The morn, in tears, beheld them dead.

Their pale remains with pious care,
Beneath the vernal turf we laid;
Remembrance loves to linger there,
And weep beneath the willow shade.

And oft, the fairest flowers of spring,
What time the hours of toil are spent,
The village youths and virgins bring,
To grace her moss-clad monument.

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