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In the broad day, a weeping Magdalene.
Now she is not; the swelling turf reports 815
Of the fresh shower, but of poor Ellen's tears
Is silent; nor is any vestige left

Of the path worn by mournful tread of her Who, at her heart's light bidding, once had moved

In virgin fearlessness, with step that seemed 820
Caught from the pressure of elastic turf
Upon the mountains gemmed with morning

In the prime hour of sweetest scents and airs. Serious and thoughtful was her mind; and yet,


By reconcilement exquisite and rare,
The form, port, motions, of this Cottage-girl
Were such as might have quickened and in-

A Titian's hand, addrest to picture forth
Oread or Dryad glancing through the shade 829
What time the hunter's earliest horn is heard
Startling the golden hills.

A wide-spread elm Stands in our valley, named THE Joyful Tree; From dateless usage which our peasants hold Of giving welcome to the first of May By dances round its trunk.-And if the sky 835 Permit, like honours, dance and song, are paid To the Twelfth Night, beneath the frosty stars Or the clear moon. The queen of these gay sports,

If not in beauty yet in sprightly air, Was hapless Ellen.-No one touched the ground 840

So deftly, and the nicest maiden's locks
Less gracefully were braided ;-but this praise,
Methinks, would better suit another place.

"She loved, and fondly deemed herself beloved.

-The road is dim, the current unperceived, 845
The weakness painful and most pitiful,
By which a virtuous woman, in pure youth,
May be delivered to distress and shame.

Such fate was hers. The last time Ellen

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Among her equals, round THE JOYFUL TREE, 850
She bore a secret burthen; and full soon
Was left to tremble for a breaking vow,-
Then, to bewail a sternly-broken vow,
Alone, within her widowed Mother's house.
It was the season of unfolding leaves,
Of days advancing toward their utmost length,
And small birds singing happily to mates
Happy as they. With spirit-saddening power
Winds pipe through fading woods; but those
blithe notes

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Strike the deserted to the heart; I speak 860 Of what I know, and what we feel within.

-Beside the cottage in which Ellen dwelt Stands a tall ash-tree; to whose topmost twig

A thrush resorts, and annually chants,
At morn and evening from that naked perch, 865
While all the undergrove is thick with leaves,
A time-beguiling ditty, for delight
Of his fond partner, silent in the nest.

'Ah why,' said Ellen, sighing to herself, 'Why do not words, and kiss, and solemn



And nature that is kind in woman's breast,
And reason that in man is wise and good,
And fear of him who is a righteous judge;
Why do not these prevail for human life,
To keep two hearts together, that began


Their spring-time with one love, and that have need

Of mutual pity and forgiveness, sweet

To grant, or be received; while that poor bird— O come and hear him! Thou who hast to me Been faithless, hear him, though a lowly creature,


One of God's simple children that yet know not
The universal Parent, how he sings
As if he wished the firmament of heaven
Should listen, and give back to him the voice
Of his triumphant constancy and love;
The proclamation that he makes, how far
His darkness doth transcend our fickle light!'


'Such was the tender passage, not by me Repeated without loss of simple phrase, Which I perused, even as the words had been Committed by forsaken Ellen's hand 891 To the blank margin of a Valentine, Bedropped with tears. 'Twill please you to be told

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That, studiously withdrawing from the eye
Of all companionship, the Sufferer yet
In lonely reading found a meek resource:
How thankful for the warmth of summer days,
When she could slip into the cottage-barn,
And find a secret oratory there;
Or, in the garden, under friendly veil
Of their long twilight, pore upon her book
By the last lingering help of the open sky
Until dark night dismissed her to her bed!
Thus did a waking fancy sometimes lose
The unconquerable pang of despised love. 905


"A kindlier passion opened on her soul When that poor Child was born. Upon its face

She gazed as on a pure and spotless gift
Of unexpected promise, where a grief
Or dread was all that had been thought of,—


Far livelier than bewildered traveller feels,
Amid a perilous waste that all night long
Hath harassed him toiling through fearful storm,
When he beholds the first pale speck serene
Of day-spring, in the gloomy east, revealed, 915
And greets it with thanksgiving. Till this


Thus, in her Mother's hearing Ellen spake,
There was a stony region in my heart;
But He, at whose command the parched rock
Was smitten, and poured forth a quenching


Hath softened that obduracy, and made
Unlooked-for gladness in the desert place,
To save the perishing; and, henceforth, I


The air with cheerful spirit, for thy sake,
My Infant! and for that good Mother dear, 925
Who bore me; and hath prayed for me in


Yet not in vain; it shall not be in vain.'
She spake, nor was the assurance unfulfilled;
And if heart-rending thoughts would oft return,
They stayed not long. The blameless Infant


The Child whom Ellen and her Mother loved
They soon were proud of; tended it and nursed;
A soothing comforter, although forlorn;
Like a poor singing-bird from distant lands;
Or a choice shrub, which he, who passes by 935
With vacant mind, not seldom may observe
Fair-flowering in a thinly-peopled house,
Whose window, somewhat sadly, it adorns,

Through four months' space the Infant
drew its food

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From the maternal breast; then scruples rose; Thoughts, which the rich are free from, came and crossed


The fond affection.

She no more could bear
By her offence to lay a twofold weight
On a kind parent willing to forget
Their slender means: so, to that parent's care
Trusting her child, she left their common home,
And undertook with dutiful content
A Foster-mother's office.


"Tis, perchance,
Unknown to you that in these simple vales
The natural feeling of equality
Is by domestic service unimpaired;
Yet, though such service be, with us, removed
From sense of degradation, not the less
The ungentle mind can easily find means
To impose severe restraints and laws unjust, 955
Which hapless Ellen now was doomed to feel:
For (blinded by an over-anxious dread
Of such excitement and divided thought
As with her office would but ill accord)
The pair, whose infant she was bound to nurse,
Forbad her all communion with her own: 961
Week after week, the mandate they enforced.
-So near! yet not allowed upon that sight
To fix her eyes-alas! 'twas hard to bear!
But worse affliction must be borne-far worse;
For 'tis Heaven's will-that, after a disease 966
Begun and ended within three days' space,
Her child should die; as Ellen now exclaimed,
Her own-deserted child!—Once, only once,
She saw it in that mortal malady;
And, on the burial-day, could scarcely gain
Permission to attend its obsequies.



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