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Lydford Bridge Verse

Lydford Bridge Verse

LYDFORD BRIDGE

STREAM of the mountain! never did the ray

Of the high summer pierce the gloom profound

Whence rise the startling and eternal sounds

Of thy mad, tortur’d waters! Beautiful

Are thy sister streams – most beautiful-

And rill and river lift their sweet tones all

Rejoicing; but for thee has horror shap’d

A bed, and curs’d the spot with cries that awe

The soul of him who listens! From the brink

The traveller hies, and meditates aghast,

How, e’en when winter tenfold horrors flung

Around the gulph, a fellow being-here-

Through darkness plung’d to death!

His fate is still

Fresh in the memory of the aged swain,

And in upland cottages the tale

Is told with deep emotion; for the more

Of life rose o’er that suicide is rich

And lovely promise, as the vernal day

O’er nature oft; though thus it closed, abrupt

As the shades drop upon Ausonian fields

When rains the black volcano! Hapless youth!

The dæmon that in every age has won

Millions of souls-won thine. If gaming hold

On high her fascinating lure, let man

Beware;-to conquer is to flee. He heard

Who perish’d here,-he heard the tempter’s tale

Bewitching; and from Play’s short dream awoke

To misery. Swift though the burning brain

Shot the dread purpose, and remorse and shame

Heated his blood to madness. Should he dare

The world’s dread sneer, and be loathed mark

For its unsparing finger?- rather rush

To death and to forgetfulness;- thus breath’d

The lying fiend. In vain that fateful night

Rag’d the loud winters storm,- the victim fled

From friends and home. The lightening o’er his path

Flash’d horribly-the thunder peel’d-the winds

Mournfully blew; yet still his desperate course

He held; and fierce he urg’d his gallant steed

For many a mile. The torrent lifted high

Its voice,- he plung’d not yet into the beast

Of the dark waters! By the cliff he pass’d,-

He sprang not from it-gloomier scenes than these,

And death more terrible, his spirit sought-

The caverns of the Lyd!

Why seek’d the man

A weary of the world to quit it thus?-

To leap through horrors to the vast unknown,

And haste to dread eternity by ways

That make the heart-blood of the living chill

To think on?-To the destin’d goal he swept

With eye unflinching and with soul unawed,

Through the wild night; by precipice and peak

Tremendous,- over bank, and bridge, and ford-

Breasted the torrent- climb’d the treacherous brink-

Scal’d the rock-crested hill, and burst anon

Into the valley, where a thousand streams,

Born of the mountain storm, with arrowy speed

Shot madly by. His spirit scorn’d them all-

Those dangers and those sounds- for he was strong

To suffer; and one master aim possess’d,

With an unnatural and resistless power,

That lost, lost victim!- On he sternly plung’d

Amid the mighty tumult;-o’er his brow

Quicker and brighter stream’d the lightening;-loud

And louder spoke the thunder; still, on-on

He press’d his steed- the frightful gulf at last,

Was won,-the river foam’d above the dead!

N. T. CARRINGTON

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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