MICHAEL HOWE’S LAMENT

Scene–Michael Howe’s Marsh, near Anstey Barton, Van Diemen’s Land.

Through pathless wilds condemn’d to roam,

Untrod, perchance, by other feet,

No more I find a tranquil home,

Nor dare my fellow-mortals meet.

My gloomy brow is seamed by care,

And deep remorse weighs down my soul;

My days are pass’d in dark despair,

The nights in draining Mis’ry’s bowl!

I cannot sleep; for phantoms dire

Torment my mind with hideous dreams:

I may not kindle cheerful fire,

Lest covert foe discern its gleams.

The glorious sun recedes from sight,

And in the western wave declines;

But vainly spreads the shroud of night

O’er one oppress’d by countless crimes!

For me in vain mild Luna’s ray,

With splendour soft, illumes the scene;

Her beams serve only to betray

My last sad refuge–the ravine!

I know I must submissive bend,

Stern destiny! to my mischance,

And feel that an untimely end

Will terminate life’s fleeting dance.

And yet most gladly would I yield,

Nor seek my worthless life to save;

If I could on the battle-field

Have met my wish–a warrior’s grave!

But darksome visions often cross

My frenzied brain with image dread,

That shows my own deserted corpse

Expos’d to view, without the head.

Anon, prophetic dreams reveal

My hapless relics strew’d around

The flesh has formed the eagle’s meal,

The bones lie scatter’d on the ground!

No requiem’s solemn pealing note

Will rise for me, nor funeral knell–

No friendly hand a stone devote

To mark the spot where Michael fell!

Alas! when I my breath resign,

The wild dog’s bay will be my dirge;

Nor will the priest, with prayer benign,

For my last soul a pardon urge.

Oh, that I never had been born!–

Or, being born, had died while young!

Then had I scap’d, this life forlorn,

Nor been by hopeless mis’ry wrung.

But wherefore thus at Fate repine,

When my complaint is lost in air?

Or, pleading low at Mercy’s shrine,

Echo reverberates–Despair!

W.H.B

Sourced from: The Courier (Hobart, Tas.) July 15, 1842.

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