William Taylor Collins
Eclogue the Fourth Agib
SCENE, a Mountain in Circassia TIME, Midnight
In fair Circassia, where, to love inclined,
Each swain was blest, for every maid was kind!
At that still hour, when awful midnight reigns,
And none but wretches haunt the twilight plains;
What time the moon had hung her lamp on high,
And passed in radiance through the cloudless sky:
Sad o'er the dews two brother shepherds fled,
Where wildering fear and desperate sorrow led.
Fast as they pressed their flight, behind them lay
Wide ravaged plains and valleys stole away.
Along the mountain's bending sides they ran,
Till faint and weak Secander thus began.
O stay thee, Agib, for my feet deny,
No longer friendly to my life, to fly.
Friend of my heart, O turn thee and survey,
Trace our sad flight through all its length of way!
And first review that long-extended plain,
And yon wide groves, already passed with pain!
Yon ragged cliff whose dangerous path we tried,
And last this lofty mountain's weary side!
Weak as thou art, yet hapless must thou know
The toils of flight, or some severer woe!
Still as I haste, the Tartar shouts behind,
And shrieks and sorrows load the saddening wind:
In rage of heart, with ruin in his hand,
He blasts our harvests and deforms our land.
Yon citron grove, whence first in fear we came,
Droops its fair honours to the conquering flame:
Far fly the swains, like us, in deep despair,
And leave to ruffian bands their fleecy care.
Unhappy land, whose blessings tempt the sword,
In vain, unheard, thou call'st thy Persian Lord!
In vain thou court'st him, helpless to thine aid,
To shield the shepherd and protect the maid.
Far off in thoughtless indolence resigned,
Soft dreams of love and pleasure soothe his mind:
Midst fair sultanas lost in idle joy,
No wars alarm him and no fears annoy.
Yet these green hills, in summer's sultry heat,
Have lent the monarch oft a cool retreat.
Sweet to the sight is Zabran's flowery plain,
And once by maids and shepherds loved in vain!
No more the virgins shall delight to rove
By Sargis' banks or Irwan's shady grove:
On Tarkie's mountain catch the cooling gale,
Or breathe the sweets of Aly's flowery vale:
Fair scenes! but ah! no more with peace possessed,
With ease alluring and with plenty blest.
No more the shepherds' whitening tents appear,
Nor the kind products of a bounteous year;
No more the date with snowy blossoms crowned,
But Ruin spreads her baleful fires around.
In vain Circassia boasts her spicy groves,
For ever famed for pure and happy loves;
In vain she boasts her fairest of the fair,
Their eyes' blue languish and their golden hair!
Those eyes in tears their fruitless grief must send;
Those hairs the Tartar's cruel hand shall rend.
Ye Georgian swains that piteous learn from far
Circassia's ruin and the waste of war:
Some weightier arms than crooks and staves prepare,
To shield your harvests and defend your fair:
The Turk and Tartar like designs pursue,
Fixed to destroy and steadfast to undo.
Wild as his land, in native deserts bred,
By lust incited or by malice led,
The villain-Arab, as he prowls for prey,
Oft marks with blood and wasting flames the way;
Yet none so cruel as the Tartar foe,
To death inured and nursed in scenes of woe.
He said, when loud along the vale was heard
A shriller shriek and nearer fires appeared:
The affrighted shepherds through the dews of night,
Wide o'er the moonlight hills, renewed their flight.
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