Percy's Reliques - Bryan and Pereene,

Bryan and Pereene,

A WEST-INDIAN BALLAD.

            This piece is founded on a real fact, that happened in the island of St. Christopher's about the middle of the last century. The Editor owes the following stanzas to the friendship of Dr. James Grainger,[ 1] who was an eminent physician in that island when this tragical accident happened, and died there much honoured and lamented in 1767. To this ingenious gentleman the public are indebted for the fine Ode on Solitude, printed in the fourth volume of Dodsley's Miscelllanies, p. 229, in which are assembled some of the sublimest images in nature. The reader will pardon the insertion of the first stanza here, for the sake of rectifying the two last lines, which were thus given by the author;

"O Solitude, romantic maid,
Whether by nodding towers you tread.
Or haunt the desart's trackless gloom,
Or hover o'er the yawning tomb,
Or climb the Andes' clifted side,
Or by the Nile's coy source abide,
Or starting from your half-year's sleep
From Hecla view the thawing deep,
Or at the purple dawn of day
Tadmor's marble wastes survey," &c.

alluding to the account of Palmyra published by some late ingenious travellers, and the manner in which they were struck at the first sight of those magnificent ruins by break of day.

THE north-east wind did briskly blow,
The ship was safely moor'd;
Young Bryan thought the boat's-crew slow,
And so leapt over-board.

Pereene, the pride of Indian dames,
His heart long held in thrall;
And whoso his impatience blames,
I wot, ne'er lov'd at all.

A long long year, one month and day
He dwelt on English land,
Nor once in thought or deed would stray,
Tho' ladies sought his hand.

For Bryan he was tall and strong,
Right blythsome roll'd his een,
Sweet was his voice whene'er he sung,
He scant had twenty seen.

But who the countless charms can draw,
That grac'd his mistress true?
Such chums the old world seldom saw,
Nor oft I ween the new.

Her raven hair plays round her neck,
Like tendrils of the vine;
Her cheeks red dewy rose buds deck,
Her eyes like diamonds shine.

Soon as his well-known ship she spied,
She cast her weeds away,
And to the palmy shore she hied,
All in her best array.

In sea-green silk so neatly clad,
She there impatient stood;
The crew with wonder saw the lad
Repel the foaming flood.

Her hands a handkerchief display'd,
Which he at parting gave;
Well pleas'd the token he survey'd,
And manlier beat the wave.

Her fair companions, one and all,
Rejoicing crowd the strand;
For now her lover swam in call,
And almost touch'd the land.

Then through the white surf did she haste,
To clasp her lovely swain;
When, ah! a shark bit through his waist:
His heart's blood dy'd the main!

He shriek'd! his half sprang from the wave,
Streaming with purple gore,
And soon he found a living grave,
And ah! was seen no more.

Now haste, now haste, ye maids, I pray,
Fetch water from the spring:
She falls, she swoons, she dies away,
And soon her knell they ring.

Now each May morning round her tomb,
Ye fair, fresh flowerets strew,
So may your lovers scape his doom,
Her hapless fate scape you.

NOTES

1. Author of a poem on the Culture of the Sugar-Cane, &c.,

 

Previous Next