The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Outcast
“There is a race of people inhabiting the Vale of Lieze,
on the French side of the Pyrenees, who are supposed to be
descended from the Saracens, and are entirely excluded from
communion with the rest of mankind.—They are even obliged to
enter the churches by a separate door, and no one will make use
of the holy water which their touch has polluted.”
The vineyards of France ‘neath their fruitage were bending,
And spread their rich clusters of blue to the sun,
And high o'er the steep of the mountain ascending,
The soft voice of song, with wild merriment blending,
Told where the gay harvester's toil was begun.
The sun its last glance o'er the landscape was flinging,
And sounds from afar came distinctly and clear;
The birds from each covert their vespers were singing,
And far in the vale the deep convent-bell ringing,
Sent up its sad tones to the wanderer's ear.
He flung himself down with an aspect of sadness,
And listlessly gazed on the landscape below;
His spirit by scorn had been goaded to madness,
And now that bright scene, and those murmurs of gladness,
Seem'd rising before him to mock at his woe.
“Oh why,” he exclaim'd, as the bitter tear started,
“Oh why was I form'd with a bosom to feel!
Since thus I was doom'd from mankind to be parted,
An outcast on earth, lone, and desolate-hearted,
Too vile with the vilest in worship to kneel.
“And thou—loved and lost one—oh why didst thou nourish
The weed that was trampled by all, save by thee;
The gleamings of light in my young spirit cherish,
And waken high feelings and hopes but to perish,
And leave my dark fate doubly dreadful to me?
“In the hours of my slumber proud visions come o'er me,
And life for a moment seems brightly to smile,
The pathway of glory and fame is before me,
The noble caress, and the lovely adore me,
And every sad thought from my bosom beguile.
“But, ah! from those dreams soon and sadly I waken,
To find all around me thrice gloomy and drear;
To know that thou, too, from my arms hast been taken,
Thou blest and revered one, whose friendship unshaken,
The darkest, the saddest, of moments would cheer.
“Oh death! thou stern foe to the lovely and blooming,
Thou terror to those who are blessing and blest!
How freely this bosom would welcome thy coming,
How gladly, thy garment of darkness assuming,
Sink down into slumber and peace on thy breast!”