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Her heart a little sacred shrine,
Where all the virtues meet; And holy hope and faith divine
Had claimed it for their seat.
She loved to raise her fragrant bower
Of wild and rustic taste, And there she screened each favorite flower
From every ruder blast.
And not a shrub or plant was there
But did some moral yield; For wisdom, by a father's care,
Was found in every field.
The trees, whose foliage fell away,
And with the summer died, He thought an image of decay
Might lecture human pride.
While fair, perennial greens that stood,
And braved the wintry blast,
Which shall forever last.
He taught her that the gaudiest flowers
Were seldom fragrant found,
Dropped useless on the ground;
While the sweet-scented rose shall last,
And still retain its power,
And beauty's shorter hour.
Her inoffensive day;
And oft retired to pray.
Embowered, she graced the woodland shades,
From courts and cities far, The pride of Caledonian maids,
The peerless northern star.
As shines that bright and lucid star,
The glory of the night, When, beaming through the cloudless air,
She sheds her silver light,
So Birtha shone! But, when she spoke,
The muse herself was heard, As on the ravished air she broke,
And thus her prayer preferred :
“O bless thy Birtha, Power Supreme,
In whom I live and move,
Whom more than life I love."
She starts to hear a stranger's voice,
And, with a modest grace,
And sees a stranger's face :
The stranger lost in transport stood,
Bereft of voice and power;
Sir Eldred of the Bower.
The virgin blush which spreads her cheek
With nature's purest dye, And all those dazzling beams which break
Like morning from her eye
He viewed them all, and as he viewed,
Drank deeply of delight;
And feasted on the sight.
With silent wonder long they gazed,
And neither silence broke; At length the smothered passion blazed;
Enamored Eldred spoke :
“O sacred virtue, heavenly power!
Thy wondrous force I feel : I gaze, I tremble, I adore,
Yet die my love to tell.
“My scorn has oft the dart repelled
Which guileful beauty threw;
Must every heart subdue.”
Quick on the ground her eyes were cast,
And now as quickly raised : Just then her father haply passed,
On whom she trembling gazed.
Good Ardolph's eye his Birtha meets
With glances of delight;
The young and graceful knight :
“O gallant youth, whoe'er thou art,
Right welcome to this place ! There's something rises at my heart
Which says I've seen that face.”
“ Thou generous knight,” the youth rejoined,
“ Though little known to fame, I trust I bear a grateful mind
Sir Eldred is my name."
“ Sir Eldred?” Ardolph loud exclaimed,
“Renowned for worth and power? For valor and for virtue famed,
Sir Eldred of the Bower?
“ Now make me grateful, righteous Heaven,
As thou art good to me,
Sir Eldred's son to see!”
Then Ardolph caught him by the hand,
And gazed upon his face,
With many a kind embrace.
Again he viewed him o'er and o'er,
And doubted still the truth,
Then thus addressed the youth:
“ The daughter of a neighboring knight
Did my fond heart engage;
Upon a fairer page.
“ His bosom felt an equal wound,
Nor sighed we long in vain;
In Hymen's holy chain.
“Thou wast Sir Eldred's only child,
Thy father's darling joy;
On me a blooming boy.
“But man has woes, has clouds of care,
That dim his star of life-
The earth's cold breast, my wife.
“Forgive, thou gentle knight, forgive ;
Fond, foolish tears will How;
And mourn its lot of wo.
“But grant, kind Heaven ! thou ne'er may'st know
The pangs I now impart, Nor ever feel the parting blow
That rives a husband's heart.
“Beside the blooming banks of Tay
My angel's ashes sleep;
Except to watch and weep?
“I bore my beauteous babes away,
With many a gushing tear;
And brought my darlings here.
“I watched my little household cares,
And formed their growing youth, And fondly trained their infant years
To piety and truth.”
“ Thy blooming Birtha here 1 see,
Sir Eldred straight rejoined ; “ But why thy son is not with thee,
Resolve my doubting mind.”
When Birtha did the question hear,
She sighed, but could not speak; And many a soft and silent tear
Strayed down her damask cheek.