The Robbers Tragedy

Burried in depths of an extensive wood
A mid night camp of dangerous robbers stood
Who there their light shunned revel oft did keep
When night & nature lost themselves in sleep
Their beds of ling & brakes & ferns were made
Spread in that dark & fear unfathomed shade
& had they been of feathers their black guest
Fear haunted guilt had made it ill for rest
While honesty an harmless shepherd lares
On the bare ground & sleeps away his cares
When ere the traveller past that dismal place
The night wind sighd of terror in his face
& as he crossed that dreer & lonely heath
At night he stilled his steps & held his breath
& if a cough anoyed him on that ground
He held his hand to stifle up the sound
Fear chilled to rustle by the thorn or brake
& shut the gates as if she feared to wake
The least small noise in that dull dismal shade
To startle midnight from the pause she made
For rumour made that lone & dreary spot
The robbers home — & murders neer for got
Haunted the memory of that place for years
When nought was left as evidence but fears
& had they know[n] real danger was so nigh
As shuddering fancy heard when winds blew high
The shrill & sudden whistle often come
At midnight from that woods oer hanging gloom
That from a camp of robbers such a sound
Did the old murdered farmers ear confound
Who dreaming like themselves of poachers near
Neer fled for safety from that place of fear
But kept his trotting pace till in the dell
The murderers whistle rung his passing bell
Had they known this who after down that glen
At midnight passed — that these same dreaded men
Haunted that wood with dark unaltered will
Night travellers to plunder wound or kill
When hopes of help are vain — the lonely heath
Is midnights bed nor heeds he life or death
The robbers shot is fired — deaths terror raves
But midnights sleep is dead as ancient graves
She neither heeds nor hears & echos round
Sleeps too & fears to catch the dreadful sound
When nought of nature wakens but the wind
That sighs & sighs & leaves its fears behind
For other winds again to meet & sigh
Till startled morning opes its weeping eye
& where the murdered fell at midnights hours
Hangs dews of morning upon every flower
Had they known this at such a dismal time
When wandering oer the heath that men of crime
So dark that midnight almost starts to day
From such dread scenes to get unknown away
Had they known then that men in that same wood
Whose hearts like wolves still lurked for human blood
Fear had nigh froze them to that dreadful ground
& swooning terror died at its own sound
Fear then had made flesh creep on every bone
& petrefied their very hearts to stone
& fancy now the place so much did fear
That weeds grew men upon that road so drear
& chirp of little birds in that lone glen
Where often taken as the voice of men
If sticks but crackled as the wanderer past
Thro trampled gaps their fancys stood aghast
& hastend as if somthing did pursue
Till their own step to running robbers grew

Mid night dread hour unblest with human voice
When fear een tries to walk without a noise
& at the little stir his own breath makes
With sudden starts of apprehension quakes

Poaching to which oft darker deeds belong
Was the first cloud that crossed his path with wrong
Dark was the woods & hoarse the midnight wind
& all unknown the thunder storm behind
Yet these he traverssed with undaunted heart
With men more skilled in this black lawless art
— He paused at first when on his startled eye
Tokens of terror from the mid night sky
Shot round them — stars would shoot & fall
Like ruined worlds that God to judgment call
& meteors that so lit the dismal sky
Had pins been on the ground — theyd seen them lie
He for a moment stopt with startled dread
& thought the skies were falling on his head
These sights to sleep & weary hinds unknown
At last by custom was as trifles grown
& falling stars unheeded fell at last
& meteors blazed — fears path was crossed & past
He called it midnights sunshine in his fun
& said it helped his aim to point the gun
No sights they notice & no sounds they hear
For danger made familiar parts with fear
& midnights glooms grow daylights common fare
Though heavens finger writes in fire " beware"
The sands they stand on grows a very rock
Till ruin sinks before they feel the shock

He came & went as midnight comes & shows
No path or step to tell us where it goes
His lonely ways mixed up his face with fear
& childern paused before they ventured near
& when he passed the shepherd boys at play
They took their taws & left his lonely way

Next on the list of plunderers we became
Starting as turpins upon lawless fame
We plundered houses — when their owners slept
& depredations like to secrets kept
But growing bold we threatened — & we dared
Night saw us then for any thing prepared
Our pistols they were loaded primed & slung
& robbers deeds as mighty feats we sung
& he who dared the most did win the fame
& stood as heroe in that desperate game
One house we entered & our hopes of gain
Had made resistance had we met it vain
Our hearts ambitions then were steeled & stood
On tip toe for the strife be as it would
But when we entered silence listened still
& in one room not dreaming yet of ill
Thank fate she never met it — sound & calm
A lady slept a child lay on her arm
Nuzzling & sleeping in her snowy breast
So sweet we could not rob it of its rest
& she the mother beautiful she lay
We could [not] take so sweet a life away
Sure such a deed had caused an endless night
& days full sorrows had no life for light
For in such lovely eyes bright still in gloom
Day may be said to sleep & light to come
& so I left the room with lighter tread
As if pale illness sickened in that bed
& I affraid to wake its sleepy rest
My own first feelings kindled in my breast
I was my self that night & the repose
Of woman slept — I still could hate her foes
For had she wakened there were hearts within
Whom innoscence & beauty could not win
To kindness so I wakened their alarms
By swearing men were rushing out with arms
& off we bursted some as fears unjailed
& some as furys where the booty failed
Yet that one night free from the lists of strife
Is now the sweetest memory of my life
Save those young harmless days before I knew
The midnight historys of a blacker crew

Yet what am I — a robber — & why bring
In robbers haunts so fair & sweet a thing
Men who will steal a purse a heart will steal
& beauty wakes the roughest hearts to feel
Why did I wrong her with the name of wife
& hate her as the dearest thing in life
For love like mine is nothing else but hate
To link bright beings to so dark a fate
Who if she knew one link that holds that tie
Her heart would chill with terrors all & die
Her ears would grow to adamant to hear
One word related of that tale of fear
Her soul would be on fire could she but see
One shadow of a — robbers history

Additional II

Thou wert my life from when hope borrowed light
But fear & doubt hath turned it all to night
What hast thou done to rise to such extreems
Tho innoscent may murder in their dreams
Yet waking thus & raving after fear
Distracts my thought I see no danger here
Yet tell me all & tho my heart should break
Ill love thee more then ever only speak
& should it break neath the dread mystery
Id never breatht but suffer death for thee

Thou wert the worlds one joy within my sight
So far from wrong I could have sworn the right
& must I now believe O must I now
See Cains dread curse upon thy burning brow
My Sun is in eclipse my only sun
No other joy have I now thine is done
Thy smiles were suns from whence mine borrowed light
& thou art doomed & yet it is not night
Nature is just as gay how can it be
That I [must] should mourn my all yet nothing mourn with me
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