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THE BLIND GIRL OF CASTÈL-CUILLÈ.1

FROM THE GASCON OF JASMIN.

Only the Lowland tongue of Scotland might
Rehearse this little tragedy aright:
Let me attempt it with an English quill ;
And take, O reader, for the deed the will.

JASMIN, the author of this beautiful poem, is to the South of France what Burns is to the South of Scotland,—the representative of the heart of the people,-one of those happy bards who are born with their mouths full of birds (la bouco pleno d'aouzelous). He has written his own biography in a poetic form, and the simple narrative of his poverty, his struggles and his triumphs, is very touching. He still lives at Agen, on the Garonne; and long may he live there to delight his native land with native songs !

Those who may feel interested in knowing, something about “ Jasmin, Coiffeur”—for such is his calling-will find a description of his person and mode of life in the graphic pages of Béarn and the Pyrenees (Vol. i. p. 369, et seq.), by Louisa Stuart Costello, whose charming pen has done so much to illustrate the French provinces and their literature.

I.

At the foot of the mountain height

Where is perched Castèl-Cuillè,
When the apple, the plum, and the almond tree

In the plain below were growing white,

This is the song one might perceive
On a Wednesday morn of Saint Joseph's Eve:
• The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!”
This old Te Deum, rustic rites attending,

Seemed from the clouds descending;

When lo! a merry company
Of rosy village girls, clean as the eye,

Each one with her attendant swain,
Came to the cliff, all singing the same strain;
Resembling there, so near unto the sky,
Rejoicing angels, that kind Heaven has sent
For their delight and our encouragement

Together blending,
And soon descending
The narrow sweep
Of the hill-side steer,
They wind aslant
Toward Saint Amant,
Through leafy alleys
Of verdurous valleys
With merry sallies
Singing their chant:

“ The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,

So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!”
It is Baptiste, and his affianced maiden,
With garlands for the bridal laden!
The sky was blue; without one cloud of gloom,

The sun of March was shining brightly,
And to the air the freshening wind gave lightly

Its breathings of perfume.
When one beholds the dusky hedges blossom,
A rustic bridal, ah! how sweet it is!

To sounds of joyous melodies,
That touch with tenderness the trembling bosom,

A band of maidens
Gaily frolicking,
A band of youngsters
Wildly rollicking!

Kissing,

Caressing,
With fingers pressing,

Till in the veriest
Madness of mirth, as they dance,
They retreat and advance,

Trying whose laugh shall be loudest and merriest:
While the bride, with roguish eyes,
Sporting with them, now escapes and cries:

Those who catch me

Married verily

This year shail be!"
And all pursue with eager haste,

And all attain what they pursue,
And touch her pretty apron fresh and new,

And the linen kirtle round her waist.
Meanwhile, whence comes it that among
These youthful maidens fresh and fair,
So joyous, with such laughing air,
Baptiste stands sighing, with silent tonguci

And yet the bride is fair and young!
Is it Saint Joseph would say to us all,
That love, o'er-hasty, precedeth a fall?

0, no! for a maiden frail, I trow,

Never bore so lofty a brow!
What lovers! they give not a single caress!
To see them so careless and cold to-day,

These are grand people, one would say,
What ails Baptiste? what grief doth him oppress ?

F

It is, that, half way up the hill,
In yon cottage, by whose walls
Stand the cart-house and the stalls,
Dwelleth the blind orphan still,
Daughter of a veteran old;
And you must know, one year ago,
That Margaret, the young and tender,
Was the village pride and splendour,
And Baptiste her lover bold.
Love, the deceiver, them ensnared;
For them the altar was prepared;
But alas! the summer's blight,
The dread disease that none can stay,
The pestilence that walks by night,

Took the young bride's sight away.
All at the father's stern command was changed;
Their peace was gone, but not their love estrangeil;
Wearied at home, ere long the lover fled;
Returned but three short days ago,
The golden chain they round him throw,
He is enticed, and onward led
To marry Angela, and yet
Is thinking ever of Margaret.
Then suddenly a maiden cried,

“Anna, Theresa, Mary, Kate! Here comes the cripple Jane!” And by a fountain's sião A woman, bent and

gray
with

years,
Under the mulberry-trees appears,
And all towards her run, as fleet
As had they wings upon their feet.
It is that Jane, the cripple Jane,

Is a soothsayer, wary and kind.
She telleth fortunes, and none complain.

She promises one a village swain,
Another a happy wedding-day,
And the bride a lovely boy straightway.
All comes to pass as she avers ;
She never deceives, she never errs.
But for this once the village seer

Wears a countenance severe,
And from beneath her eyebrows thin and white

Her two eyes flash like cannons bright
Aimed at the bridegroom in waistcoat blue,
Who, like a statue, stands in view;
Changing colour, as well he might,
When the beldame, wrinkled and gray,
Takes the young bride by the haud,
And, with the tip of her reedy wand,

Making the sign of the cross, doth say:-

Thoughtless Angela, beware!
Lest, when thou weddest this false bridegroom,
Thou diggest for thyself a tomb!”
And she was silent; and the maidens fair
Saw from each eye escape a swollen tear;
But on a little streamlet silver-clear,

What are two drops of turbid rain ?
Saddened a moment, the bridal train

Resumed the dance and song again;
The bridegroom only was pale with fear;

And down green alleys
Of verdurous valleys,
With mcrry sallies,

They sang the refrain:" The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,

So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!'

II.

And by suffering worn and weary,
But beautiful as some fair angel yet,

Thus lamented Margaret,
In her cottage lone and dreary:-

“ He has arrived! arrived at last! Yet Jane has named him not these three days past;

Arrived! yet keeps aloof so far!
And knows that of my night he is the star!
Knows that long months I wait alone, benighted,
And count the moments since he went away!
Come ! keep the promise of that happier day,
That I may keep the faith to thee I plighted!
What joy have I without thee? what delight?
Grief wastes my life, and makes it misery;
Day for the others ever, but for me

For ever night! for ever night!
When he is gone 'tis dark! my soul is sad !
I suffer! O my God! come, make me glad.
When he is near, no thoughts of day intrude;
Day has blue heavens, but Baptiste has blue eyes !
Within them shines for me a heaven of love,
A heaven all happiness, like that above,

No more of grief ! no more of lassitude !
Earth I forget, - and heaven, and all distresses,
When seated by my side my hand he presses ;

But when alone, remember all !
Where is Baptiste ? he hears not when I call !

F%

A branch of ivy, dying on the ground,

I need some bough to twine around !
In pity come ! be to my suffering kind !
True love, they say, in grief doth more abound !

What then—when one is blind ?

" Who knows? perhaps I am forsaken! Ah! woe is me! then bear me to my grave!

O God! what thoughts within me waken!
Away! he will return! I do but rave !

He will return! I need not fear !
He swore it by our Saviour dear;
He could not come at his own will;
Is weary, or perhaps is ill!
Perhaps his heart, in this disguise,

Prepares for me some sweet surprise !
But some one comes! Though blind, my heart can see!
And that deceives me not ! 'tis he! 'tis he!"

And the door ajar is set,

And poor, confiding Margaret Rises, with outstretched arms, but sigh viess eyes ; 'Tis only Paul, her brother, who thus cries :

Angela the bride has passed !

I saw the wedding guests go by ;
Tell me, my sister, why were we not asked ?

For all are there but you and I!".
“ Angela married ! and not send
To tell her secret unto me!
0, speak! who may the bridegroom be?'

My sister, 'tis Baptiste, thy friend !”
A cry the blind girl gave, but nothing said ;
A milky whiteness spreads upon her cheeks;

An icy hand, as heavy as lead,
Descending, as her brother speaks,
Upon her heart, that has ceased to beat,

Suspends awhile its life and heat.
She stands beside the boy, now sore distressel,
A wax Madonna as a peasant dressed.

At length the bridal song again
Brings her back to her sorrow and pailu
“ Hark! the joyous airs are ringing !
Sister, dost thou hear them singing ?
How merrily they laugh and jest !
Would we were bidden with the rest!
I would don my hose of homespun gray,
And my doublet of linen striped and gay;
Perhaps they will come ; for they do not wed
Till to-morrow at seven o'clock, it is said !"

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