Robert Southey

(1774 - 1843 / Bristol / England)

Botany Bay Eclogues 02 - Elinor


(Time, Morning. Scene, the Shore.)

Once more to daily toil--once more to wear
The weeds of infamy--from every joy
The heart can feel excluded, I arise
Worn out and faint with unremitting woe;
And once again with wearied steps I trace
The hollow-sounding shore. The swelling waves
Gleam to the morning sun, and dazzle o'er
With many a splendid hue the breezy strand.
Oh there was once a time when ELINOR
Gazed on thy opening beam with joyous eye
Undimm'd by guilt and grief! when her full soul
Felt thy mild radiance, and the rising day
Waked but to pleasure! on thy sea-girt verge
Oft England! have my evening steps stole on,
Oft have mine eyes surveyed the blue expanse,
And mark'd the wild wind swell the ruffled surge,
And seen the upheaved billows bosomed rage
Rush on the rock; and then my timid soul
Shrunk at the perils of the boundless deep,
And heaved a sigh for suffering mariners.
Ah! little deeming I myself was doom'd.
To tempt the perils of the boundless deep,
An Outcast--unbeloved and unbewail'd.

Why stern Remembrance! must thine iron hand
Harrow my soul? why calls thy cruel power
The fields of England to my exil'd eyes,
The joys which once were mine? even now I see
The lowly lovely dwelling! even now
Behold the woodbine clasping its white walls
And hear the fearless red-breasts chirp around
To ask their morning meal:--for I was wont
With friendly band to give their morning meal,
Was wont to love their song, when lingering morn
Streak'd o'er the chilly landskip the dim light,
And thro' the open'd lattice hung my head
To view the snow-drop's bud: and thence at eve
When mildly fading sunk the summer sun,
Oft have I loved to mark the rook's slow course
And hear his hollow croak, what time he sought
The church-yard elm, whose wide-embowering boughs
Full foliaged, half conceal'd the house of God.
There, my dead father! often have I heard
Thy hallowed voice explain the wonderous works
Of Heaven to sinful man. Ah! little deem'd
Thy virtuous bosom, that thy shameless child
So soon should spurn the lesson! sink the slave
Of Vice and Infamy! the hireling prey
Of brutal appetite! at length worn out
With famine, and the avenging scourge of guilt,
Should dare dishonesty--yet dread to die!

Welcome ye savage lands, ye barbarous climes,
Where angry England sends her outcast sons--
I hail your joyless shores! my weary bark
Long tempest-tost on Life's inclement sea,
Here hails her haven! welcomes the drear scene,
The marshy plain, the briar-entangled wood,
And all the perils of a world unknown.
For Elinor has nothing new to fear
From fickle Fortune! all her rankling shafts
Barb'd with disgrace, and venom'd with disease.
Have pierced my bosom, and the dart of death
Has lost its terrors to a wretch like me.

Welcome ye marshy heaths! ye pathless woods,
Where the rude native rests his wearied frame
Beneath the sheltering shade; where, when the storm,
As rough and bleak it rolls along the sky,
Benumbs his naked limbs, he flies to seek
The dripping shelter. Welcome ye wild plains
Unbroken by the plough, undelv'd by hand
Of patient rustic; where for lowing herds,
And for the music of the bleating flocks,
Alone is heard the kangaroo's sad note
Deepening in distance. Welcome ye rude climes,
The realm of Nature! for as yet unknown
The crimes and comforts of luxurious life,
Nature benignly gives to all enough,
Denies to all a superfluity,
What tho' the garb of infamy I wear,
Tho' day by day along the echoing beach
I cull the wave-worn shells, yet day by day
I earn in honesty my frugal food,
And lay me down at night to calm repose.
No more condemn'd the mercenary tool
Of brutal lust, while heaves the indignant heart
With Virtue's stiffled sigh, to fold my arms
Round the rank felon, and for daily bread
To hug contagion to my poison'd breast;
On these wild shores Repentance' saviour hand
Shall probe my secret soul, shall cleanse its wounds
And fit the faithful penitent for Heaven.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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