Later Poems (2)
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ED.—Richard Cameron (1648?-1680) was a Presbyterian leader who resisted the Stuart monarchs. Born at Falkland, Fife, he was initially a parish school teacher and then a highly successful field preacher of the strict Presbyterian school, a Covenanter.  He spent some years in exile in the Netherlands when the authorities demanded that all preachers submit to the Crown's religion, but returned to Scotland in 1680 and issued with others, such as Donald Cargill, the Sanquhar Declaration calling for war against Charles II and the exclusion of his brother (later James II) from the succession.  Cameron was killed in a skirmish with government troops, at Aird's Moss near Cumnock during a government attempt to suppress the Covenanters.  The Sanquhar Declaration was among the first of a series of events that led to the Glorious Revolution and to the end of the reign of the Stuarts. After the accession of William III, Cameron's followers were pardoned and incorporated into the British Army as the Cameronian Regiment.

A PILGRIM of the wilds to-day,
    I lie by Cameron's stone,
And let my fancy roam and play,
    And take sweet flights alone.

Air's Moss lies stretching out its bound,
    All wild and weird to see;
And all the silence round and round
    Falls like a spell on me.

From Wellwood's low and distant vale,
    By fits a sudden wind
Comes upward with a weary wail,
    That still no rest can find.

The heath-fowl wing their rapid flight,
    The sailing curlew screams,
And on Cairntable's distant height
    A speck of sunshine gleams.

But here I lie and dream and brood,
    By Cameron's simple stone,
With all the soul of solitude
    In converse with my own.

O, sacred spot whereon I rest!
    The heather, with its bloom,
Seems conscious that its purple crest
    Is on a martyr's tomb.

For here stern men in one small band
    Set foot upon the sod,
And with red swords within their hand
    Stood up for faith and God.

But that dread time has fled away,
    As sinks a flooded stream,
And will not come again to-day,
    Except within a dream.

Down drops the mist upon the moss,
    As if God from on high
Had flung His winding sheet round those
    Whose hour was come to die.

Yet stern and firm they stood like men
    Who in the spirit knew
That, though the mist was all around,
    God's face was gleaming through.

And hark, like incense rising up,
    To deepen all the calm,
The voice of Hebrew David yet
    Within the grand old psalm.

And far across the moss it floats,
    Low, plaintive, wild, and sweet—
The music of the soul to God
    That rolls around His feet;

The heath-fowl stop their flight to hear,
    The curlews cease to scream,
And Nature listens all the while
    As if in one wide dream.

The wailing wind sinks down, and like
    A chidden thing is mute;
The very heather seems to feel
    The red dew at its root;

Ay, ere another hour be past,
    The red dew will be seen,
And with its purple stain the heath
    And make a darker green.

But still the glorious psalm goes forth,
    And fills the earth and sky,
Like some wild threnody for men
    To sing before they die.

Roll on, thou melody of God,
    And, wafted by the wind,
Take up to heaven the hearts of those
    Whose souls will come behind.

The psalm has died away, but hush!
    A deeper sound is heard,
At which rough cheeks flush up, and hearts
    Grow strangely touched and stirred.

It is the voice of Cameron
    That rises upward now—
I tell thee there is nought on earth
    Can blanch that fearless brow.

Mark ye the Bible in his hand,
    He holds it with such might
That, as he lifts it up on high,
    The finger tips grow white—

God's truth is graven on his heart
    As if by living fire,
He quails not, though each moment brings
    The wild, fierce troopers nigher;

The very moss beneath his feet
    Becomes as solid stone,
Whereon he stands erect to brave
    The world's worst wrath alone.

Talk not to me of noble deeds,
    When thou hast in thy land
A Covenanter on the hill,
    The Bible in his hand.

O, grandest manhood yet on earth!
    The dim far sunken time
Comes back again until we stand
    With angels in our prime.

O, failing one whose faith unfixed
    With every movement sways,
Look back, and in thy spirit kneel
    With Cameron as he prays.

Hush! far across the mass there comes
    The sudden neigh of steed,
As the rough trooper reins him in,
    And checks his hasty speed.

The clank of scabbard, too, on heel,
    The voice of high command,
That seems an echo warrant come
    To capture all the band.

And Cameron heard that sound, nor paled,
    But raised his hand on high
"My God, be near to us this day,
    And teach us how to die."

Then, turning to his band, he said,
    "The Bibles to your breast;
The hour is come in which your faith
    Must stand the last dread test.

"Unsheath your swords and fling at once
    The useless sheaths away,
The Bible is no shield 'gainst those
    Who come to kill and slay.

"Come, Hamilton, lift up thy head,
    Unbend that gloomy brow;
I tell thee, man, the crown of heaven
    Is half upon it now.

"I know it.   In a dream last night
    Heaven's doors were opened wide;
I saw myself before the Throne,
    And eight were by my side.

"I knew them.   Each had on his brow
    The martyr's diadem—
Ay, Paterson, thou well mayest look,
    For thou wert one of them.

"Dick, Fowler, Gray, and Gemmel, too,
    Stood in that mighty light,
And where each blood spot had been on
    That place grew wondrous bright.

"Then, lo! methought the same sweet psalm
    That we have sung this hour
Rose up and rolled through heaven's court
    A miracle of power.

"It ceased; and, kneeling down, I felt
    Laid on me ere I wist,
Soft as a summer's mid-day wind,
    The mighty palm of Christ.

"I tell thee Watson, when I woke,
    That touch was glowing there;
I could not sleep, but rose in awe,
    And passed the night in prayer.

"I prayed, and all the weight of earth
    Fell from me like a clod,
My very soul went out, and rose
    Half way to heaven and God.

"And all this day that touch of heaven
    Is on my head and brow;
It is the nail-pierced hand of Christ,
    I feel it even now.

"It burns and glows to strengthen me
    In this one hour so grim,
Nor will He take it off until
    I pass to stand by Him.

"Enough.   Gird up your loins who stand
    By Cameron's side to-day;
Shame on us if we shrink and let
    The props of faith give way!

"Lo, in the coming time, they yet
    Will point it out to men,
When God Himself set down His foot
    On moor and in the glen.

" 'Here,' they will say, 'our fellows stood
    Girt in their glorious faith,
And with the psalm upon their lips
    Went up to God through death.'

"In that time mighty iron things
    Will bound be into yoke,
And make their pathway through these hags
    Half hid in fire and smoke.

"But now—we stand like sentinels
    Within the waning night,
To seal with blood the law that gives
    Our kindred wider right.

"Then let them these poor hands cut off,
    And nail them up to view,
So be it that they point to Heaven,
    I care not what they do.

"Lift up this head upon a spike,
    Though but a clayey clod
It still may seem a finger-post
    To point the way to God."

Yes, noble Cameron, speak thou on,
    And nerve thy little band;
The sword is not one space too soon
    Within their strong right hand.

For lo, as if the taint of hell
    Were in the moorland calm,
There rises up with shout and oath
    The devil's godless psalm—

And leaping curses smite the air,
    And shouts come thick and fast,
As on they rush upon the band
    Still faithful to the last.

But, hark, "For God and Covenant,"—
    That glorious battle cry,
Hear how it peals from out the heart,
    And strikes against the sky.

Yea, let the horde of Satan come—
    They come to feel and see
How strong within the sight of God
    His faithful few can be.

They come with sudden plunge and shock,
    The foremost but to reel—
By heavens!   Earlshall shrinks back
    At Covenanters' steel!

His eye fills up with deeper thirst,
    His brow takes darker hue—
The black fiend seize these singing knaves,
    They fight like devils too."

Ay, double thrice that band, and they
    Would tame thy troopers' pride,
And show how Scotsmen fight for God
    Upon the mountain side—

But back they rush like wolves on sheep;
    Hear Cameron's voice again—
"Lord, take the ripe unto Thyself,
    And let the green remain."

Thou glorious one! fight on, nor faint—
    The buckler of the Lord
Must surely be before the breast
    When faith takes up the sword.

Dick, Gray, and Gemmel by his side,
    Strike out with dripping glaive;
At each firm stroke of their right hand
    A trooper finds his grave.

The God of Jacob sees them fight,
    The Mighty One who stands
And holds the earth and seas within
    The hollow of His hands.

The Lord of Hosts He will not turn
    From us His face to-day,
Though swift and strong on every side
    The devil comes to slay.

Back, Cameron, back! man, see you not
    Brave Hamilton is down?
"Yea, said I not that brow of his
    Felt heaven's golden crown?

"And, Watson, too, stretched at my feet,
    With bloody cheek and brow;
If there be truth in dreams, how bright
    Must be his raiment now!

"And Michael, he has fallen too,
    That Christ his wounds may bind;
Come, Paterson, stand thou by me,
    We will not lag behind."

O, well the mist upon the moss
    May darkly settle down,
And hide the struggle yet to be
    Ere Cameron wins the crown;

For in its folds the fight goes on,
    Swift blow on blow is dealt—
Steel rings against blue steel, and the
    Death-grips of men are felt.

The shout, "For God and Covenant,"
    Still rings against the sky,
While for each Covenanter dead
    Three troopers by him lie.

"Curse on that knave," hissed Earlshall,
    And darker grew his frown,
"What, will that braggart fear us all?
    Press on and cut him down."

Now, Cameron, by thy faith in God,
    Take with no coward hand
The crown of martyrdom, and head
    In heaven thy sainted band.

Think on thy dream last night, and feel
    Once more within the mist
Upon thy head, as though thou wert
    A child, the hand of Christ.

Ay, let me catch that eye of thine
    That, flashing, sees afar
The heavens unfold and show the throne
    By which thy fellows are.

The crown at last! he sinks, my God!
    The very moorland calls
Up to the misty sky above
    That noble Cameron falls.

He falls, but not within his blood,
    Upon the mossy sod,
He falls into the arms of Christ
    That lift him up to God.




THOSE simple daisies which you view,
    Last year, when summer winds did wave,
And clouds were white with sunshine, grew
    Upon the Ettrick Shepherd's grave.

But not of him they speak, nor draw
    My thoughts back to that early time
When, rapt in that one dream, he saw
    The shadows lift from fairy clime.

Nor yet of Ettrick, as it goes
    To join the Yarrow's haunting tone,
That each may murmur as it flows
    A music something like his own.

Nor even of Saint Mary's Lake,
    Amid those hills from which he drew
The legendary past, to wake
    Its far-off melodies anew.

No; not of these I think, though each
    Is rich in spells of magic song;
These daisies touch a chord to which
    All sadder thoughts of death belong.

And so I turn, and for a space
    Within the sacred Past I stand,
To feel the sunshine of a face,
    The kindly pressure of a hand.

All just the same as when she* gave
    These dead flowers as a welcome thing;
Alas! and now upon her grave
    The grass is thinking of the spring.

It seems but as a day since then—
    How slow, yet swift, the years have sped—
And here, beside the streets of men,
    She slumbers with the holy dead.

She should have lain among the hills,
    In some old churchyard, where each sound
Is of the wind, the tinkling rills,
    And cry of lonely things around;

Or where old ballads grew to life,
    Far back within the shadowy years,
That sang of rugged Border strife,
    Or passions born of love and tears.

For, loyal to their old-world chords,
    She felt her heart in unison
With all their rich but simple words,
    That took new music from her own.

True woman of the faithful heart,
    And kindly as the summer air;
A nature such as could impart
    Its genial presence everywhere.

In her the friend was friend indeed;
    A larger sense of sympathy,
That overstepped the pales of creed,
    Drew her to all in charity.

And now this death that waits for each,
    An unseen shade by all, has come;
The Scottish music of her speech,
    So sweet, is now for ever dumb.

So pass the leal ones of this earth,
    To leave us with a holier claim;
To touch us with their spirit-birth,
    And whisper they are still the same.

These simple flowers of withered hue,
    Last year when summer winds did wave,
Were plucked by her because they grew
    Upon the Ettrick Shepherd's grave.

This year, when summer pours her light,
    And daisies are to beauty blown,
Some hands will pluck their blossoms white,
    Because they grow upon her own.

* Jean Logan Watson, author of "Bygone Days in Our Village," "Round the Grange Farm," and other books full of quaint simplicity and freshness, and breathing from every page the delightful personality of the writer.  Her sudden death was deeply felt by a large circle of friends, and has left a blank that can never be filled.  She died 7th October, 1885, and sleeps in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh.—A. A.

ED.—The Yarrow is a river in the Borders in the south east of Scotland. It is a tributary of the River Ettrick and is renowned for its salmon fishing.  The Ettrick, also known locally as Wild Ettick, is a fast-flowing river whose course passes through the villages of Ettrick and Ettrickbridge, and the historic town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders to form a tributary of the River Tweed.




THE deid sleep soun' in the auld kirkyaird,
    At the fit o' the hills sae steep;
They dream sweet dreams aneath the swaird,
    An' lang an' still is their sleep.

The whaup comes doon wi' an eerie cry,
    An' the peesweep flaps a' day,
But they canna wauken the deid that lie
    At rest in their shroods o' clay.

The grass grows lang an' waves at the heid
    An' fit o' each sunk thruch-stane,
"Oh, waes me," it sighs, "for the faithfu' deid
    That canna come back again."

Then the win's tak' it up an' they cry to me,
    As I lie on the grassy swaird,
"We ha'e ane that kent hoo to live an' dee,
    And he sleeps in the auld kirkyaird."

For when hate like a clud hung owre the lan',
    For the faith that his faithers knew,
He took to the hills, wi' the sword in his han',
    To fecht for the gude an' true.

An' when the storm o' his life grew still
    They laid him doon to his rest,
In the auld kirkyaird at the fit o' the hill,
    Wi' the green swaird on his breast,

An' what though nae stane can be seen at his heid,
    There is Ane wha dwalls abune,
That kens o' his grave where the grasses wave,
    Wi' its kindly heart within.

An' when at the last the trumpet blast
    Shall bid the heavens be bared,
Then God will min' o' that ae leal heart
    That sleeps in the auld kirkyaird.




I DREAM this nicht, an' my thochts gae back
    To that happy time sae early,
When we twa stood in the simmer licht
    On the narrow brig o' Glenairlie.
The mavis was thrang in the Eliock wuds,
    An' O, he pipit rarely;
But sweeter than a', love sang to us twa,
    On the narrow brig o' Glenairlie.

The Nith ran doon wi' a happy soun',
    By the hazel bushes hingin',
Then slippit into a pool to hear
    The rich, deep mavis-singin'.
The lilt that he sang in the Eliock wuds
    Beat a' the ithers fairly;
But sweeter than a', love sang to us twa,
    On the narrow brig o' Glenairlie.

The Nith still rins wi' the same low soun',
    By the hazel bushes hingin';
The mavis still lilts in the Eliock wuds,
    But we dinna heed his singin'.
But what wad we gie to hear ance mair
    The sang we miss sae sairly;
That sweeter than a', love sang to us twa,
    That day on the brig o' Glenairlie.




THE hills remain; they lift their brows
    Against the splendour of the skies;
The dawn a paler crimson grows,
    Each night the purple sunlight dies.

The sea still rolls to Homer's song,
    The clouds re-shape themselves and flow;
The voices of the wind are strong,
    They come and pass unseen, and go.

Spring with a new life round her feet,
    A thousand buds to shape are blown;
And Summer with her perfect heat,
    Completing all she smiles upon.

Autumn that bends her drooping brow,
    And weaves dead leaves within her hair;
And Winter underneath the bough,
    With all his snowflakes resting there.

The streams still flash from hill and glen,
    They reach the rivers and are one;
They moan to reach the sea, as when
    The Memnon murmured to the sun.

These still remain, but we, alas,
    Who watch the changes day by day—
This doom is on us that we pass,
    We only go a little way.




I STOOD in the summer evening
    By the side of the Pastor's Pool;
Above, the manse in the woodland
    Lay hid in the shadows cool.

The Nith ran on with a murmur
    That was soft and sweet to the ear,
For the streams that we heard in childhood
    Are the streams that we always hear.

Beside me the gray-haired pastor
    Stood; and the light from the west
Fell down on his head like a blessing
    Ere the sun sank into his rest.

His voice was low and gentle,
    And the light in his kindly eye
Was that which was touching the river,
    The field, the wood, and the sky.

And round by the dear old churchyard,
    Where the dead sleep night and day,
From the single street of the village
    Came the voices of children at play.

We heard their shouts of laughter
    Take the air so sweet and still,
And ever above in the sunlight
    Was the churchyard on the hill.

Then a sadness came over the pastor,
    And a silence between us lay;
For he too was busy thinking
    As he heard the children play.

Was he thinking of one who had vanished
    And gone to his early rest,
When life and the dreams of manhood
    Were stirring within his breast;

Who, full of the promise and eager
    For the life that lay before,
Grew weary, and voice and footstep
    Were heard in the manse no more?

Ah, yes; for the mists of a sorrow
    Rose up in his kindly eyes,
And their glance grew dim, as the twilight
    Takes the light from out the skies.

Then his voice grew softer and softer,
    For his talk was of solemn things,—
Of this life with its lights and shadows,
    And death with dust on his wings;

Of the struggle and battle onward
    With weary stumbling tread,
Our eyes on the dim sad future,
    And our feet on the graves of the dead;

Of the thoughts that rise upward within us
    And fly to the dim to be,
As the rivers that rising inland
    Forever rush to the sea.

But over all in his converse,
    In his voice's rise and fall,
Was the light that Hope has kindled
    Round the shores of death for us all.

And still as he talked that evening,
    The sunset sank away,
While round by the dear old churchyard
    Came the voices of children at play.

Ah, often here in the city,
    When weary of all the street,
My thoughts fly back to the woodland
    And the manse in its shadows sweet.

Then again I stand for a moment,
    In the light of a waking dream;
The gray-haired pastor beside me,
    And at our feet the stream:

All just as we stood that evening,
    When the west was soft and red;
And again I see the sunshine
    Like a blessing upon his head.




OH, Jenny, she is fair an' braw,
    An' Daisy fu' o' lovin' wiles;
Then Mary has a broo o' snaw,
    An' lips an' cheeks just made for smiles.
I lo'e the three wi' a' my will,
    For roun' my heart their spells are thrown;
But there's anither dearer still,
    My bonnie Nannie Nicolson!

I like to look on Effie's face,
    Where spring an' simmer wed their beams;
An' Annie sweet in stately grace,
    She moves through a' my wauken dreams.
I lo'e the five, though weel I ken
    That I can only wed wi' one.
O, tell me where it a' will en',
    My bonnie Nannie Nicolson!

The sheep may wan'er where they like,
    Or at dyke-sides lie doon an' dee;
My faithfu' collie, honest tyke,
    He won'ers what's gane wrang wi' me.
I've lost mysel' amang them a',
    I wish this weary life were done;
O, come to me, an' set me free,
    My bonnie Nannie Nicolson!




WHAT fretting loads we mortals bear
    Through life, whose fading rainbows mock
And Time, who drives a splendid pair
    Of steeds he never will unyoke,
Sweeps his lean fingers through our hair,
    He scarcely leaves a decent lock,
Yet chide him not, if still he spare
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

We each must have our little care
    To add by contrast to our joke,
A laugh that spreads in vain its snare
    To catch the lips of solemn folk.
Well, let us walk through all the fair,
    And watch the crowds that sway and shock;
They follow what we see elsewhere—
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

Dreamers of dreams in ships of air,
    Whose keels have never entered dock,
I wish you may have sounder ware
    Than did Alnaschar when he woke!
Statesmen, when strife is high, forswear
    For half an hour the wordy stroke,
I fain would hint of better fare—
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke!


Prince, when you weary of the chair
    From which you govern realms and folk,
Your faithful bard would have you share
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.




WE are the slaves of those that died
    A thousand years ago;
We walk in all our little pride,
    We walk and do not know.

Dead hands are still within our hands,
    They lead us on and on;
And never nearer do they stand,
    Than when we are alone.

They give us thoughts, they give us creeds,
    Born of a distant day,
And highest gifts for highest needs,
    We cannot fling away.

They build an unseen wall around,
    And though we do not know,
We walk within its narrow bound,
    That hems us as we go.

Some stronger spirits that burst out,
    And seek another shade;
They come at times with half a doubt,
    To see the wreck they made.

How strange it is, that, far and wide,
    And wander as we will,
Dead men still stand on either side,
    To grasp and mould us still!




HERE in the city as I sit,
    The twilight filling all the room,
I dream, and as my fancies flit,
    They weave this picture on their loom:—

A little hamlet, clean and fair,
    On either side soft green-clad hills,
And on their foreheads, here and there,
    A rocky pathway for the rills;

A hamlet of a single street,
    From end to end the children play,
And workers sit, for rest is sweet
    After the labour of the day.

A river in the Western beam
    Turns silver as it murmurs on;
I hear its music, and I dream,
    For boyhood mingles with its tone.

And more than boyhood—youth is there,
    And years of toil upon the line;
But yet to me those years were fair
    And sweet with what of song is mine.

For all behind the little town,
    Four threadlike metals glance and gleam,
Where, hourly, thunder up and down
    Swart genii of the land of steam.

They roar and rush in wild desire,
    And, moaning in their deep despair,
Belch forth from hearts of molten fire
    Smoke-pythons to the shaking air.

What marvel, then, that I was stirred
    Within that narrow clanging clime;
That through my songs there should be heard
    The ring of wheels within their rhyme.

The twilight deepens on apace,
    The vision fades away from me;
But yet another takes its place,
    I look, and this is what I see:—

A church and churchyard on the hill,
    Where the white sentinels are seen
Guarding the dead that sleep their fill
    Beneath their little tents of green.

A sacred spot to me, for there,
    Beside a single thorn, the dust
Of those I held as good and fair
    Sleep on in perfect love and trust.

They took their youth to higher lands
    That mortal eye has never seen;
I cannot reach them with my hands,
    Or whisper to them what has been.

I only know that, far apart,
    They cannot share my hopes and fears;
That somewhere heart may answer heart,
    That theirs is not an eye for tears.

So let them sleep; the grasses grow
    Above them; they sleep not alone;
And sweet that sleep would be to know
    A mother's dust is with their own.

For she, too, wearied, fell asleep,
    And rests beside them as was meet,
For after eighty years the deep
    Long silence of the grave is sweet.

I, too, can see, with fears that haunt
    From out the years that are to be,
A dull, cold light that falls aslant
    A grave that will be made for me.

So be it, for the shadow slips
    That muffles all, and death above,
A smile of pity on his lips,
    Shakes dust upon the dreams we love.

And then we pass to join the dead,
    To share the silence which they crave,
While the great world with iron tread
    Roars on and never heeds a grave.

Away with visions! let them sink;
    Weak moments have their weaker thought,
And weakest of them all to shrink
    In fear, nor front our common lot.

The city stirs: outside I hear
    The passionate fervour of the street;
It comes like music to my ear,
    O, life is strong, and life is sweet;

And there its thousand pulses, rife
    With vigour, ring their perfect tone,
I, too, must mingle with that life
    That I may strengthen all my own.




LANGSYNE, when life was bonnie,
    An' a' the skies were blue,
When ilka thocht took blossom,
    An' hung its head wi' dew,
When winter wasna winter,
    Though snaws cam' happin' doon;
Langsyne, when life was bonnie,
    Spring gaed a twalmonth roun'.

Langsyne, when life was bonnie,
    An' a' the days were lang,
When through them ran the music
    That comes to us in sang,
We never wearied liltin'
    The auld love-laden tune;
Langsyne, when life was bonnie
    Love gaed a twalmonth roun'.

Langsyne, when life was bonnie,
    An' a' the warld was fair,
The leaves were green wi simmer,
    For autumn wasna there.
But listen hoo they rustle,
    Wi' an eerie, weary soun',
For noo, alas, 'tis winter
    That gangs a twalmonth roun'.




The Rev. John Donaldson, M.A., Kirkconnel.
"Ave Atque Vale."

A BROODING quiet rests to-day
    On all the well-known hills around;
Spring lingers slowly by the way,
    Like one who listens for a sound.

In front she sends a messenger,
    A softer feeling through the air,
And in bright nooks beloved of her,
    She plants a primrose here and there.

The earth is waiting for the life
    That stirs to-day, and not in vain,
The promise of the spring is rife
    With consecrations of the rain.

And here once more, as in a dream,
    I stand and watch the sunshine glance
Upon the ripples of the stream
    That glides and murmurs by the manse.

But deep upon the Pastor's Pool
    A sense of loss and shadow lies;
To me this sweet spring day is full
    Of death and all its mysteries.

The manse is silent; not for him
    Spring with her wand of wondrous spell;
He sleeps amid the silence dim—
    The good gray head we knew so well.

The dear, old pastor, kind and wise,
    Large-hearted, full of quiet grace,
The kindliness within his eyes,
    The sympathy upon his face.

The old-world courtliness of speech,
    The tender spirit quickly stirred;
The large experience that could teach,
    And claim for all a kindly word.

Broad as the Master whom he served,
    And tolerant as the summer air;
The pity that nor failed nor swerved
    Was with him, and was always there.

High culture born of classic lore,
    A richer culture of the heart,
A quiet scorn of aught that wore
    The mean device of idle art.

Through all these gifts and learning ran,
    Deep down and in a simple way,
The manliness that made the man,
    As light completes and makes the day.

Such was our friend we shall not see,
    Yet sweet the friendship that has been;
I speak to him—he speaks to me
    Across the grave that lies between.

To-night the manse receives its dead,
    To-night his slumbers will be fair;
To-night around that good gray head
    The darkness will be sacred there.

To-morrow with his kindred dust
    His own shall lie; the grass will grow
Above him; earnest of that trust
    And faith he held that sleeps below.

Around him, and beneath the stone
    Whereon their simple name appears,
In rain and sunshine slumber on
    The dead of those long fifty years.

He stood beside them when their brow
    Grew white beneath the shadowy hand
Of that last terror—death, and now
    He comes to join their silent band.

And he will sleep with them through all
    The seasons as they come and go;
Spring, blushing as her footsteps fall,
    And winter with his drifts of snow.

The years will wax and wane, and bring
    Their breathing space of Sabbaths still;
But other voices then will sing
    Within the church upon the hill.

And stranger forms will press the grass,
    Where headstones mark the dead below,
Or read, half careless, as they pass,
    The dim remembered names they show.

Change, change in this mysterious din
    Of human life that smiles or grieves;
Time sitting at his loom takes in
    New colours in the web he weaves.

So be it; but the years in store
    May bring whatever is most meet;
But we behind shall see no more
    His gracious presence in the street.

And I, his friend, no more shall hear
    The rich deep music of his speech,
Except when Fancy cheats the ear
    By placing it within my reach.

Shall never see his kindly eyes
    Light up with welcome; for the last
Farewell is taken; darkness lies
    On him and them, and all is past.

Henceforth the churchyard on the hill,
    Dear to us all, and pure and fair,
Shall in our hearts be dearer still
    Because the Pastor slumbers there.




I SAT in the house of the master,
    With the Pentland Hills in view,
And in at the open window
    The light of summer shone through.

Our talk was of singers and sages,
    But ever through all our words
There ran, like the sweetest of music,
    The twitter and song of the birds.

The room was alive with their singing—
    Then what was our speech to theirs?
For they sang without our sorrows,
    They sang without our cares.

And one on the master's finger,
    He piped the sweetest of all,
In his heart was the joy of summer,
    In his voice its madrigal.

And I said to myself, "O, poet,
    The songs that I hear from thee,
Are those that I yearn and strive for,
    But their music is hidden from me.

"I stand on ways that are trodden
    With the weary tramp of feet;
And the hollow sound of their marching
    Have made my own less sweet.

"For I hear, not the swell of triumph,
    Nor the eager shouts of my kind;
I only hear the murmur
    Of those who have fallen behind.

"For I, too, linger and listen
    And dream, while far ahead
The heavy columns are marching,
    But behind are the sick and the dead.

"My songs have therefore the echo
    Of the weary ones who lie
By the wayside, watching the columns
    That are daily marching by."

But that bird on the master's finger,
    That tiny feathered thing,
Was the best of all the poets,
    For he sang as they cannot sing.

In his voice was the throb and rapture
    Which they struggle in vain to reach,
For their's but bear the burden
    That is under human speech.

They sing, but what is their singing?
    And what are their paltry words
To the music that had no sadness
    In the house of the singing birds?

Oh, what would I give for the music
    That would chase all sorrow away,
As that bird's on the master's finger,
    And to sing as he sang that day!




COME let us lift our voice, and sing
    A song to greet the May,
When aft the woodland echoes ring,
    And light and shadow play.
The grass is springing at our feet,
    The fleecy cloud is seen,
Then let us sing a song for May
    When all the fields are green.

A thrill of life is in the air,
    Whose breathing is the wind,
It comes and goes, and everywhere
    A music stays behind.
A thousand leaves burst into leaf
    Where late no bud was seen;
Then let us sing a song for May
    When all the fields are green.

The spirit of the May is here—
    It walks from place to place,
And where it rests its unseen feet
    A flower upturns its face.
The joy of life and love is rife
    To crown her summer's queen;
Then let us sing a song for May
    When all the fields are green.




O BONNIE Toshie Norrie
    To Inverard is gane,
An' wi' her a' the sunshine
    That made us unco fain.
The win' is cauld an' gurly,
    An' winter's in the air,
But where dwells Toshie Norrie,
    O, it's aye simmer there!

O, bonnie Toshie Norrie,
    What made you leave us a'?
Your hame is no' the Hielands,
    Though there the hills are braw.
Come back wi' a' your daffin',
    An' walth o' gowden hair,
For where dwells Toshie Norrie,
    O, it's aye simmer there!

O, bonnie Toshie Norrie,
    The winter nichts are lang,
An' aft we sit an' weary
    To hear an auld Scots sang;
Come back, and let your music,
    Like sunshine, fill the air,
For where dwells Toshie Norrie,
    O, it's aye simmer there!




FAR down within my heart she stands
With downcast eyes and folded hands,

And singing as she sang that day
Within a village far away.

Amid the winter wind and rain
A simple song with sad refrain,

Such as a poet sings with lips
Half closed by sorrow's finger tips.

And still the old-world melody
Comes with its burden unto me.

I hear it in the thronging street
And in the sound of human feet.

But who the singer, in whose heart
So much of sorrow had a part,

That all his song with tears was wet,
And dim with shadowy regret?

We know not.   What to him was name,
And all the idle voice of fame?

Far better that his song was sung
To haunt the heart and ear and tongue,

As in that village far away
Beneath a sky of gloomy grey,

I heard it with its sad refrain
Amid the winter wind and rain.




    IF I were somewhat younger
        In years—say twenty-five;
    And you a little older,
        Then love might surely thrive,
And bind about your brow in time,
The orange flower instead of rhyme.

    My years are in their autumn,
        When all the trees are bare;
    But yours are in their springtime,
        When all is sweet and fair,
And Hope is holding out to you
Her blossoms that are ever new.

    Your feet are on the roses,
        And mine upon dead leaves;
    Your winds have low sweet music,
        And mine a sound that grieves;
The blossom of your life is sweet,
But mine—its leaves are at my feet.




I LIKE to see in graceful row
    My modest pipes upon the wall,
For there they make a dainty show,
    And ever ready at my call.
I praise them with a smoker's drawl
    To friends, but when they go away
I put them back, and, free from thrall,
    I take the ever-ready clay.

Your meerschaum makes the fancy glow
    As up the bowl the colours crawl;
But still there is the inward throe
    For fear of blotch or sudden fall.
Your briar can stand an overhaul,
    Does yeoman service night or day;
I smoke them both; but after all
    I take the ever-ready clay.

It matters not what visions grow
    From hookahs, whether short or tall,
Chibouques in bearded lips, and slow,
    Soul-soothing whiffs for great and small.
Somehow upon the taste they pall,
    Whether from Stamboul or Cathay;
Smoke them who will in Turkish hall,
    I take the ever-ready clay.


Friends, when the evening fire is low,
    When visions have their best display,
Put past your briar and meerschaum—so—
    And take the ever-ready clay.




O MAVIS singin' in the wood,
    When a' the hills are white wi' snaw;
O mavis singin' in the wood,
    Though cauld win's wither as they blaw,
I dinna see on hedge or tree
    A single bud to herald spring,
Nor fin' the Wast win' touch my cheek,
    An' yet ye sing, an' yet ye sing.

O mavis liltin' in the wood,
    Ye sing frae where I canna see,
Yet ilka note that swells thy throat
    Brings simmer nearer unto me.
The sunshine sweetens roun' the cloud,
    The gowans wauken at my feet,
The win' turns round frae East to Wast,
    Ye sing sae sweet, ye sing sae sweet.




I LIFT this old Communion Cup,
And, lo!—what visions gather up
Like white clouds on a summer day
When all the winds have fled away!

For I can deem its sacred rim
May have been touched by Balfour grim;
Or Peden, in whose fitful eye
Rose up the light of prophecy;
Or Cameron, ere the heather knew
On wild Aird's Moss a darker hue;
Or Renwick, in the dew of youth,
Before he gave his life for truth.

I hear, far out among the hills,
Whose voices are the lonely rills,
The bleat of sheep, the curlew's cry,
The wail of winds that wander by.
I see a band of earnest men
For whom Truth waves her torch again,
To draw them onward with its fire,
To dare to struggle and aspire.
The simple faith to worship God
In the old ways their fathers trod
Has brought them there; and now they stand,
As outlaws in their native land,
To claim that right, and nature there
Joins in the spirit of their prayer.

I mark their faces stern and keen,
And eyes that flash forth what they mean.
A sword is in each strong right hand,
Ready to leap forth at command.
A Bible in the left—the Crown
For which they fight—and eyebrows down
In that stern will that cannot bend,
But dares and suffers to the end.

I look again, and maidens there
Bloom forth like summer sweet and fair.
Beside their lovers sit, who know
That one swift onset of the foe
Might change the coming bridal wreath
To cypress and the leaves of death.
And sober matrons, in whose eyes
Fear, with its troubled shadow lies,
For husbands, sons, whose blood ere night
May dye the bracken with its blight.

Hush! upward on the moorland calm,
The wailing pathos of the psalm,
And far along the bleak, grey hill
It floats in echoes, then is still.
Hark to the preacher.   Eyes are there,
And hearts that hang upon the prayer;
And treasure, as a miser seeks
To hoard his gold, the words he speaks.
O, sacred task, to speak to men
Who turn and search for truth again.
No higher task has yet been given,
Than bearing messages from heaven.

The vision sinks to rise again
On flashing swords and dying men;
Gray heads have fallen low, and eyes
Stare blindly to the passive skies;
The psalm has sunk amid the yell
Of curses from the mouth of hell.
The very Bible on the green
Lies torn and open, and between
The leaves, where promises are fair,
It's owner's blood is resting there.
"How long," was once the cry of old,
When men who rose were stern and bold;
How long?   'Tis not for us to think,
God knows it; let the vision sink.

So ran my thoughts, that, thronging up,
At sight of this Communion Cup,
Made pictures till the inward eye
Saw underneath a lonely sky
Gray-bearded men and matrons trim,
Touch with hushed lips its holy rim,
Till in the spirit Fancy lent
To colour all her dream, I bent,
And, part of all the sacred scene,
Touched with my own where theirs had been.




THE hills in the Hielands are bonnie,
    Wi' the licht an' the shadow at play;
An' the winds that mak' redder the heather
    Far up on the cliff an' the brae.
The white clouds are floatin' abune them,
    Like snawdrifts that never can fa',
The hills in the Hielands are bonnie,
    The hills in the Hielands are braw!

The streets o' the city grow weary
    For want o' the glint an' the sheen;
An' the wast wind has never a murmur
    O' woods that are wavin' wi' green:
But O, for the bound o' the red deer,
    An' the curlew that bugles to a';
The hills in the Hielands are bonnie,
    The hills in the Hielands are braw.

I sigh for the roar o' the river
    Far down in the depths o' the glen,
The rush an' the whirr o' the blackcock
    As he springs frae the side o' the ben;
For the sweep o' the sky-cleavin' eagle,
    Whose wings are the bounds o' his law—
The hills in the Hielands are bonnie,
    The hills in the Hielands are braw.

Then, O, to be up in the Hielands,
    Where the winds draw not bridle nor stay;
Where the forests are tossing their banners,
    An' the breckans are thick on the brae.
Where the loch lies in shadow or sunshine,
    Or leaps to the winds as they blaw;
The hills in the Hielands are bonnie,
    The hills in the Hielands are braw.




I WALK the old familiar ways
    Beside my native stream,
I think of half-forgotten days,
    And as I think I dream.

O, early years when Hope was fair,
    As any bride could be,
When all the blossom in her hair
    I thought would bloom for me.

She stood beside me as I wrought
    Within the four-foot way;
She walked beside me as I thought,
    And toil was far away.

I heard her speak; no sweeter voice
    Could touch a human ear;
I heard, and could not but rejoice,
    It was so sweet to hear.

But weary years, long weary years,
    Have come and fled since then;
And I have had my hopes and fears,
    Within the streets of men.

The orange blossom, too, has shed
    Its bloom upon the air,
The wreath that clasped her glowing
    Is now no longer there.

Yet, walking in the old dear ways
    This sunless summer day,
A sadness crowns those early days
    I would not wish away.




"WITHIN a mile o' Edinburgh toon,"
Beneath the gray of an afternoon,
    When the wind was bleak in its blowing,
He sang from the top of a leafless tree
A song of hope and of spring to be,
    And of flowers by the pathways growing.

The gray of the sky that was overhead,
Lay like a veil of the colour of lead
    On the Pentland hills before me;
It touched the hills beyond the Forth,
It was east and west, and south and north,
    And to pensive sadness bore me.

I thought if I could flutter a wing,
Like that glorious bird, and try to sing,
    My note would be one of sorrow;
It would ring with the pain of things that die,
Of the dreams that pass and the hopes that fly,
    Of the night and not of the morrow.

But he—he sang when no leaf was seen,
When the hedges had never a breath of green
    To hint where the buds would be springing.
Thou fool! he was all to himself and strong,
And though there was summer far down in his
    He sang for the sake of the singing.




JUST a peep from a carriage window,
    As we stood for a moment still,
Just one look—and no more—till the engine
    Gave a whistle sharp and shrill.

But I saw in that moment the heather,
    That lay like a purple sheet
On the hills that watch over the hamlet
    That sleeps like a child at their feet.

O, sweet are those hills when the winter
    Flings round them his mantle of snow,
And sweet when the sunshine of summer
    Sets their fair green bosoms aglow.

But sweeter and grander in autumn,
    When the winds are soft with desire,
When the buds of the heather take blossom,
    And run to their summits like fire.

And still as we tore through the valley,
    With shrieks now and then as of scorn,
Though the uplands were golden with harvest,
    And lasses were lifting the corn;

Though the river lay gleaming like silver,
    Or dark in the shadows that fell
From trees that were spreading their branches
    Like sorcerers weaving a spell,

I saw each and all through the heather
    That purple lay spread like a sheet
On the hills that watch over the hamlet,
    That sleeps like a child at their feet.




O, BONNIE Bessie Logan
    Is dainty, young, and fair;
The very wind that's blawin',
    It lingers in her hair.
Sae lichtsome is her footstep
    As she comes o'er the lea;
But bonnie Bessie Logan
    Is owre young for me.

O, bonnie Bessie Logan,
    The lads are at the stile,
Or half-way up the loanin'
    To catch your winsome smile;
I fain wad be amang them,
    If sic a thing could be,
But bonnie Bessie Logan
    Is owre young for me.

O, bonnie Bessie Logan,
    I saw you late yestreen;
A rose was on your bosom,
    And love was in your een.
I doot the lad that pu'd it
    Is sure to win his plea,
For bonnie Bessie Logan
    Is owre young for me.




(From the German of Schienenleger.)

I STAND with my shoulder to shoulders,
    In the long, sad battle of life;
I keep in the ranks of my fellows,
    I add my voice to the strife.

The fight is a stumbling onward,
    Where each must stand to his part;
Though he feels the warm blood trickling
    From an unseen wound in his heart.

At times when the marching is over,
    And the tents are pitched for the night,
I can hear the poets singing
    Somewhere from an unseen height.

They sing of love and gladness,
    Of the golden primal plan,
Of the forging of bosom to bosom,
    And the brotherhood of man.

But I who am weary and footsore,
    And faint from the wounds that bleed,
I turn away from their singing,
    I am out of touch with their creed.

But still I can hear their music,
    Like the rise and fail of the wind,
And it wakens the dim, far voices
    Of the years that are left behind.

Then I whisper—"O, ye poets
    That stand on the hills of life,
Your eyes are upon the battle,
    But ye stand apart from the strife.

"Ye know not the deep, fierce anger
    Of the columns that rally and wheel;
Ye are out of the reach of the bullet,
    And beyond the sweep of the steel.

"But I who lay claim to no laurel,
    I bow to the will of the Fates,
Take my place in the ranks of my fellows
    And accept their 'loves and their hates."




WHY, hang it all, let life go by,
    It is but bubbles we pursue;
They burst at last, and then we sigh
    And pay what folly claims as due.
We have our time to smile and sigh,
    Who knows the false from all the true?
Let us enjoy before we die,
    Churchwardens and a friend or two.

For these are things that will not fly
    Nor fade, as other pleasures do;
Nay, trust me, for I would not lie—
    At least I would not lie to you.
There is a time when earth and sky
    Unite—when lovers bill and coo—
A happy time; but let us try
    Churchwardens and a friend or two.

Alas! what grief when you descry
    White strangers—just a very few—
Among your hair.   A friendly eye
    Detects them, though you never knew.
Well, let them come, nor look awry,
    But trust the gods to pull you through;
They'll do it if they but supply
    Churchwardens and a friend or two.


Prince should your royal eyes espy
    A white hair—this is entre nous
Remember you are very nigh
    Churchwardens and a friend or two.




THE great Earth said to the poet,
    "What are your paltry wrongs,
That still you must worship your sorrows,
    And fashion them into songs?

"You see your fellows go downward,
    You watch the decay of the leaf;
But yours is not the secret,
    Or yours would not be the grief.

"I, too, have many sorrows,
    But I let their voices be heard
In the roar of the winds and oceans
    When my great strong bosom is stirred.

"But still in the rush of the whirlwind,
    In the sway and surge of the sea,
There is not in all their music
    One touch of pity for me.

"The stern, swift years stride onward,
    As a battle column will range,
And ever in front their outposts,
    With their miracles of change.

"The rivers widen their channels,
    The seas have their grasp on the land;
I watch the beginnings of planets,
    I know and I understand.

"Men pass as the shadows on mountains,
    They come to me for their rest;
I lay them into my bosom,
    As an infant is laid to the breast.

"I lull them into a silence
    Till nothing can be so sweet;
They slumber, and are forgotten
    In the echoes of other feet.

"For race follows race, and they vanish,
    And I have no sound that grieves;
What tree would blossom and flourish
    If it thought of its last year's leaves?

"I am struck with the lightnings of cannon,
    And rent with the earthquake of wars,
I yearn and look upward for pity,
    Which can only be had of the stars.

"I hear the poets wailing,
    But my ear is deaf to their moan,
They dimly guess at my meaning,
    But their sorrow is all their own.

"I have a purpose within me,
    As a body has the soul,
But I care not to utter its message
    When I understand the whole.

"You watch your fellows go downwards,
    You see the decay of the leaf,
But yours is not the secret,
    Or yours would not be the grief."




WE danced at night in the farm-house,
    While, fifty yards away,
We could hear the rush of the engines
    When the fiddle had ceased to play.

But up got the lads and lasses
    With many a merry glance;
And down went they all through the mazes
    Of the dear old country dance.

There were gentle whispers and touches
    Love only can hear and feel;
And pressure of dainty fingers
    In the changes of the reel.

But the old man sat in the arm-chair,
    By the fire that was sinking fast;
In his eyes was the look of the dreamer
    Who is thinking of the past.

And I sat and watched the shadows
    Of the firelight sink and flee,
But my thoughts were of him and his
    And what those dreams could be.

Were they thick with the well-reaped harvest
    Of those long, dim eighty years?
The shadows of vanished sunbeams,
    The mists of long-shed tears?

The changes all around him,
    The homely customs fled;
Of his long past youth and manhood,
    Of his friends with the lonely dead?

Were his thoughts of her who was with him
    In the flower of her noble life,
Of her who had stood beside him
    A true and a tender wife?

Did he feel once more the children
    Lay their hands upon his knee?
Did he see in their eyes the promise
    Of what each one would be?

Ah, vain is each idle question
    That may spring from our hopes and fears;
We cannot know the thinking
    Of him who is eighty years.

The old man sat in his arm-chair,
    And still on his kindly face
The sinking firelight flickered,
    And the thoughts I could not trace.

And still danced the lads and the lasses,
    While, fifty yards away,
We could hear the roar of the engines
    When the fiddle had ceased to play.




IN quiet, holy light she stands,
But not for her the folded hands.

She scorns the life that moves apart
In selfish solitude of heart,

But knits herself to tasks that bend
Their footsteps to some noble end.

Here is a life of deeds from which
She keeps the hollow fame of speech!

She cares not for the praise or blame
That whirls, like wind, around a name.

She holds no creed; within her breast
The spirit of Christ hath perfect rest;

And thus she sees with fearless sight
The shadow lying by the light,

Nor turns away, for in her eyes
Dwells the blue calm of summer skies,

Whose soft and tender glories fall,
Not over one, but over all.




A GLADNESS pulses through the earth,
    And with a gentle sound
The rain comes down to give green birth
    To all the buds around.

It is a tender afternoon,
    As sweet as sweet can be,
And all the winds are in one tune—
    They sing their songs to me.

I see the river full of light
    That, gliding slowly by,
Takes onward with it to the sight
    A little breadth of sky.

The birds are up and on the wing,
    They pipe by glen and wood,
They have but one sweet wish to sing,
    Nor wonder why they should.

A tender spirit over all,
    Like one vast blessing lies,
And where his unseen fingers fall,
    A thousand wonders rise.

For field and tree and waving grass
    Flush into green and blow—
The earth is younger than it was
    A thousand years ago.




As of old the river is singing,
    The woods are thick and green,
The wind is swaying the branches,
    That the light may fall between.

From the grass at my feet are peeping
    The sweet forget-me-nots,
Their azure heads are hanging
    With the dews of their own pure thoughts.

There is no change in the river,
    No change in the green of the tree,
Yet a something that cannot be spoken
    Is resting on all that I see.

As of old the river is flowing,
    And summer is heard in its tide;
I pace along the footpath,
    But a dead man walks by my side.

There is no whisper spoken,
    I hear no footsteps fall;
But I know in my heart he is with me
    By the silence that settles on all.

In that silence a strange sad longing
    For what we can never attain
Wells up, as a streamlet rises
    In a sudden fall of the rain.

There is no whisper spoken,
    No sound of human speech,
But spirit is touching spirit,
    And each is looking at each.

His with the full, clear vision
    Of those who have done with the years;
Mine, with the shadow of sorrow,
    And the mists of human tears.

Up and down by the river
    That flows and will always flow;
Up and down in the sunlight,
    With footsteps sad and slow;

Up and down in the sunlight,
    That falls on all that I see;
My heart alive with its longings,
    And a dead man walking with me.




THE humble bee is hiding
    In the blossom's golden cells;
He, and he only, can tell me
    Where the queen of the fairies dwells.

He is out on a royal message,
    He has her high command
To bring his tribute of honey
    To her table in fairyland.

And this is why he is ranging
    From blossom to blossom to-day;
He is busy making nectar
    For the lips of elf and fay.

He will carry the golden treasure
    To all their kith and kin,
To a bank in a wood where a portal
    Will open to let him in.

This 'tiniest of portals
    Lies hid as violets hide,
Two blue-bells stand as sentries,
    They guard it on either side.

He will hum, as he enters, the password,
    And they—they will nod in the sun,
Then stand again to their duty,
    And this is all that is done.

I, too, have seen this portal,
    And a child can understand
That there is no other doorway
    To the realms of fairyland.




THE little village sleeps to-day,
Save but for children at their play.
The white clouds show their snowy breast
Above Glen-Aylmer's grassy crest.
And far away on Corsencon
A single shadow rests alone;
While Nith, shrunk into quietude,
Hath not one voice to make one brood.
All rests to-day; and as I lie,
With idle heart and idle eye,
I dream, and as I dream I hear
The brawling Dochart in my ear.

He sings; and all the silence fills
With outlines of the Highland Hills.
I smell the heather which they wind
About them, as in wish to bind
Upon their brows a purple wreath
To veil their craggy fronts beneath.
Ben Lawers looks upon Loch Tay
Hid half in mist, and far away
Ben More uprears his shoulder grim,
As if the whole belonged to him.
And farther on Schiehallion seeks
A misty mantle for his peaks.
These rise, but ever in my ear
The angry Dochart I can hear.

Thou river rushing on to seek
A barrier for thy wrath to wreak
Itself upon, wert thou the source
Of all that sullen fire and force
That leapt within the veins of those
Who held their own and slew their foes?
Perchance they took their stubborn pride
And thirst of rapine from thy tide!
Vain question! they have passed away
From Highland glen and Highland brae,
And take their sleep by thee, nor hear
Thy torrents thunder in their ear.

There, too, amid the hills they deem
That Fingal rests and dreams his dream,
The mists descend, and leave a trace
Of dews upon his resting-place.
They weep soft tears upon the stone
That seem but shed for him alone;
Meet place it is for Highland chief,
The wild winds lift their voice of grief,
And wail for him who rests beneath
Their coronachs of gloom and death.
For fancy sees the warrior grim
Still lying huge of arm and limb,
His broadsword resting by his side,
Whose keen edge shore the foeman's pride.
His white beard like a mantle holds
His heart within its snowy folds.
Vain fancy!—sheath and steel are rust,
And he himself is into dust.
No more the battle-slogans rend
The air, nor from the hills descend
The rushing clans with sudden cry,
The fire of conflict in their eye,
Before the thunder of whose way
The lightnings of the broadsword's play.
All, all have gone, and sunk and still
And peaceful as the windless hill,
Upon whose side they take their rest,
The heather waving o'er their breast.

Thou Highland girl that dwellest by
The Lochy, with its softer sigh,
Far from thy gentle life be still
The tempest of the cloudy hill;
The winds of heaven be in thy hair,
With fragrance of the heather there;
Thy dark, sweet eyes be still as bright,
With all their charms of liquid light.
Quick be thy foot, and light thy heart,
And thou thyself be still a part
Of all that calm and beauty seen
In wood and strath, in glen and green.
And in the night when slumber brings
Its dreams to thee of happy things
That, bending, touch with finger tips
The parted crimson of thy lips;
Still may there murmur through them all,
The gentle Lochy's rise and fall.

O, friend of mine,* to whom I owe
What only I myself can know,
Those scenes grow very dear to me,
Because I looked on them with thee,
And thou—dost thou remember still
The sunshine warm on loch and hill;
The clouds that rose within our ken,
Like messengers from Ben to Ben;
The headlong waterfalls that broke
To die in drifts of spray and smoke;
The long still nights when darkness came,
With far-off murmurs through the same,
The lonely bird that, somewhere, smote
The silence with a single note;
The hush of streams whose monotone
Drew down the silence as its own?
Thou dost; and those long walks in which
The way grew light with quips of speech,
For Ossian's song in parody
Was heard; and many a travestie
Of sober rhyme was made to play
Its part to fit our holiday.

How those three summer days come back,
With all their sunshine in their track.
And Highland lake and hill and sky
Grow dear to all my dreaming eye,
But dearer each and all to me
Because I looked on them with thee.

* Mr Andrew Stewart, editor of "The People's Friend."




I STOOD upon the four-foot way
    Amid the haunts I knew so well,
The sunshine of an April day
    Was over all with tender spell.

The primrose and the violet,
    That little fairy of the grass,
On sloping hill and bank were set
    To show which way the spring did pass.

Across the river, from a tree
    Whose top was in the balmy air,
A mavis sang—he sang to me—
    And field and wood grew still more fair.

I stood like one who dreams, nor cares
    To mingle with the life around,
But lives within the realms he shares,
    And will not overstep their bound.

For all my inner life was stirred,
    As in the golden time of thought,
Till, as I live, again I heard
    The cuckoo sing his double note.

It came behind me from the hill,
    The voice and spirit of the spring;
And I, to keep the magic still,
    I did not turn to hear him sing.

Why shatter all the simple creed
    Of boyhood? for I held it then
That he—this bird—came at their need,
    And brought the gift of spring to men.

That he was mateless, only he—
    A single voice, a double call
That sent a thrill of prophecy,
    With coming summer through it all,

That were he seen by mortal eye
    The charm' would fail, and there would
A brighter glory from the sky,
    A greener colour from the grass.

An idle thought perchance to think,
    And yet the pity of it seems
The man should rise and snap the link
    And strike the boy from out his dreams.

The loss is his; for, looking back
    Through all the years he left behind,
A sunshine settles on the track
    His footsteps never more will find.

And all along the four-foot way,
    That sunny day in perfect spring,
The past was with me like the day,
    And lent my thoughts their swiftest wing.

And I looked back, and, looking, felt
    This manhood, with its rougher strife,
Pass, as the summer mists, and melt
    In that clear light of earlier life.

And I once more upon the line
    Stood as a toiler; heard the crash
Of engines; saw their muscles shine
    Like sunshine through the steam and

Knew the red secret of the birth
    Of those huge things that pant and beat,
Who toil for men, and span the earth,
    And shriek for spaces for their feet.

They gave me songs to sing: I sang
    Their splendours as they flashed along;
The roar of wheels on rails that rang
    And shot their echoes through my song;

The white smoke-serpents, coil on coil,
    That shot up at each monster's will—
And I was happy then, for toil
    Was sweet, but song was sweeter still.

I heard it through the eager day
    In whispers, but when all the night
Fell, and the stars were on their way,
    It broke into a keen delight.

And then I sang: my songs may be
    Of simple note and feeble wing;
The bird that sits upon the tree—
    He pipes though no one hears him sing.

And yet it were a pleasant thought
    When death has flung his mists between,
To think that in these fields should float
    A little touch of what has been.

A memory for friends to keep
    Till, as the quick, sad years go by,
They, too, pass onward to their sleepy
    And dying with them as they die.




I SAT—in church, of course—and heard
    The parson thunder forth his sermon:
"The text!" you say—well that's absurd,
    You ask me what I am not firm on.
But entre nous, remember that,
    For I am half afraid of libel,—
My text was in the pew, where sat
    Sweet Jenny busy with her Bible.

Of course, you saw that charming girl—
    By Jove, those eyes of hers were witching;
And then what lips! and, O, each curl—
    No wonder that I thought of hitching.
Had I been with her in the pew
    And touched her hand, without a falter
I should have risen full in view
    And thought I stood before the altar.

The sermon might be good or bad;
    Good, I should say—I knew the preacher—
But really, Jenny, though it's sad
    To say it, was my only teacher.
I looked into her soft brown eyes,
    And, as I saw their gospels beaming,
I thought of far-off Paradise,
    And dreamt, and Eve was in my dreaming.

What meetings we had by the stile,
    When sunset made the earth a glory:
The clasp of hands, the tender smile,
    The whisper and the old, old story.
Oh! love and youth, and all the power
    That beats strong as a wave that's tidal;
The golden ring, the orange flower,
    And all the passion of the bridal.

I saw myself a happy man,
    And rich, though owning scarce a penny;
A home that love itself might plan,
    An angel in it—that was Jenny.
Around her all the air took light,
    She was, as Patmore sings divinely—
"The Angel in the House," so bright,
    And ruling my affairs benignly.

Years came and went, and all the rest,
    And, though my hair was growing thinner,
I had that curve about the vest
    Which spoke of the domestic dinner.
Gone, too, the ways that youth will range,
    Ere manhood brings us to an anchor,
And in their place—no bad exchange—
    A growing balance with my banker.

My lot was such from day to day,
    That any little whiff of trouble
But came to make, when passed away,
    My simple, sober pleasures double.
I had—but here there came a flaw
    That overset my fancy's cradle,
I turned, and at my elbow saw
    A douce Scots elder with the ladle.

Gone was my dream that was so sweet;
    I felt just like that Eastern fellow
Who kicked his basket with his feet
    And lost what nearly turned him yellow.
Well, well, "we are such stuff," supply
    The rest yourself—I took a penny,
And in the ladle with a sigh
    Dropped it, and all my hopes of Jenny.




I LIE an' look doon on the clachan,
    This best o' a' simmer days,
An' doon by the side o' the burnie
    The lasses are bleachin' their claes.

I hear them lauchin' an' daffin',
    I catch the skance o' their feet
As they rin wi' their cans for mair water
    To jaw on the snaw o' the sheet.

Then ane starts liltin' an' singin',
    And the sang comes up to the heicht;
It's a' aboot lads and their lasses
    That coort in the lown o' the nicht;

The lads an' the lasses coortin'
    Aneath the spread o' the birk,
Or castin' sheeps' een at ilk ither
    As they stan' at the psalms in the kirk.

An' O, but the sang comes bonnie,
    On a gliff o' the win' up the brae,
An' as sweet as the scent in the meadows
    When fowk are teddin' their hay.

Then anither ane sang, but her singin'
    Brocht the warm tears into my een;
For an auld-warld sorrow was sabbin'
    In an' oot through the words atween.

A sang o' a deid knicht lyin'
    At the back o' a rickle o' stanes;
An' you heard the deid grass rustle,
    An' the sugh o' the win' through his banes.

A licht dee'd oot o' the sunshine,
    A shadow fell doon on the hill;
The win' held its breath for a moment,
    An' the grass beside me was still.

A' this by an unkenned singer,
    An' O, but the heart was sair
For the knicht away in the muirlands,
    An' the grass growin' up through his hair.

How strange that an old-world ballad,
    Away far back in the years,
Should still have the same sad magic,
    To touch the source of our tears.

An' a' this is mine as I listen,
    This best o' a' simmer days;
Hearin' naething ava' but the liltin'
    O' lasses thrang bleachin' their claes.




GREY tree within the churchyard old,
    Why stir thy leaves to-night?
Why moan thy branches in the cold
    And shake as with affright?

The grass grows rank, and dull decay
    Eats with its mossy stains
The stones where names are worn away
    By centuries of rains.

But there has come no change for thee
    Save what each season forms;
Broad summer ever fair to see,
    And winter with its storms.

Thou, too, hast seen the young and old
    Laid in their last, long rest,
Thy leaves have fallen on their mould
    Like blessings on their breast.

And thou hast heard, amid the calm
    Of long past Sabbath days,
The preacher's voice, the sound of psalm
    That rose in humble praise.

But now instead of psalm on high
    Thou hast the curlew shrill,
The bleating of the sheep that lie
    Along Glen Aylmer Hill.

The shadow of the sailing cloud,
    The long, long summer day,
The whisper of the stream, half loud,
    That tinkles on its way.

Grey tree within the churchyard old,
    How stir thy leaves to-night,
How moan thy branches in the cold,
    Why shake as with affright?

Why should I think of thee within
    The narrow eager street,
Who standest far from all the din,
    Where every sound is sweet.

The rippling streamlet half in view,
    The curlew loud and shrill;
The shepherd's sudden whistle to
    His helpmate on the hill:

All these are sweet, and I could sleep
    Like any wearied child,
Were I but there one day to keep
    A tryst amid the wild.

Perchance my early dreams that sunk,
    As ships gone down at sea
When the wild waves with hate are drunk,
    Might come again to me.

And I should steep myself in rest,
    As trees when winds have fled,
And draw the canker from the breast,
    The fever from the head.

The thoughts that only come to chill,
    As all such thoughts must do,
And fling on lonely stream and hill
    A sadder light to view;

A sense of something passed away,
    A look that speaks of tears,
Such looks as lovers give when they
    Meet after many years.

Come back, come back, O, early dreams,
    When love and hope were high;
Come back, thou voice within the streams,
    Thou light within the sky.

Touch, as ye touched in days of old,
    Each mute though breathing thing;
And wove with sunshine as with gold,
    A link from spring to spring.

Bring back those hours in which I bent,
    And heard in tender awe
Love speak with passionate tones, that sent
    A thrill through all I saw.

They come not—nay, will never come—
    Though springs bloom to the last;
The voices that I heard are dumb,
    They were but for the past.

Grey tree within the churchyard old,
    How sound thy leaves to-night!
How moan thy branches in the cold,
    And toss in wild affright!

Thou know'st the storm in all its might,
    The spring and summer thrills;
And thou hast known the staid delight
    That beams along the hills.

But thou hast never known the keen
    Wild throbbing of the street,
Nor heard in narrow ways between,
    The sound of pitiless feet.

Thou hast not heard the low, sad cry
    Of pent-up breathing life;
The rush of passions fierce and high—
    The winds of human strife.

Thou hast not known our human fears—
    The fears we cannot name;
Nor hast thou felt the doom of tears
    That follows wrong and shame.

These must be ours, but thine are still
    The murmur of the stream,
The light and shadow on the hill,
    The sunshine and the gleam.




Written by the Poet for the toast of the Editor of "The People's Friend," Mr Andrew Stewart, at the Dinner and Presentation to Mr James Nicholson, Glasgow, January 12th, 1895.

THE years have sped since first we met,
    Here, in the city's toil and roar;
Brief space in looking back, and yet,
    Those years now number twenty-four.

What changes have they brought to all—
    What thoughts that make for higher ends,
What shadows that perforce must fall,
    To make us only closer friends.

Perchance this were a fitting time
    To gently touch with kindly hand
Those brothers of a band of rhyme
    Now silent in the other land.

One in whose soul the city rang *
    With throbbings as at fever-heat;
Whose song was as an anvil-clang,
    Heard far above the rush of feet.

He, turning from the toil and strife
    With half-ignoble thoughts of rest,
Sank when the sun of midmost life
    Had scarcely turned to face the west.

Another, keen, and swift, and bold.
    With ready jest and quip to tell—
A bright Mercutio grown old,
    He, too, has bidden us farewell.

And others who have left the light,
    The light that death can only stem,
Perchance are with us here to-night,
    Because to-night we think of them.

They whisper in our inner ear,
    Faint, as befits a spirit tongue,
And far down in our heart we hear,
    Their ave atque vale sung.

So be it—they have passed, and we,
    Who still are forward in the strife,
Must close our thinning ranks, and see
    We keep pace in the march of life,

And only halt a space to greet
    Some noble brother in the fight;
One to whom worthy praise is meet
    As is our honoured guest to-night.

He, too, has seen with eager eye
    Truth ready with her trumpet blast;
He too, though falling out to die,
    Will grasp his colours to the last.

But I—I wander from my theme—
    I turn again, O, friend to thee;
The guider of my early dream,
    Whose hand was first held out to me.

For I was all alone—no voice
    Had touch of sympathy with mine,
Till through the clang of railway noise
    A voice came, and that voice was thine.

It spoke of cheer, it whispered hope
    To one who, half afraid to climb,
Stood looking at the rugged slope
    Where lay his little field of rhyme.

And so he strove, well pleased to hear,
    From where the railway echoes rang,
His songs had fallen upon thy ear,
    And then it was to thee he sang.

The toil was naught; it only made
    Song sweeter when the shadows fell,
And all the valleys lay in shade,
    And all the hills he knew so well.

Enough; the years have sped along;
    For what they brought with them, O friend,
A rough camp-follower of song
    Will thank thee to the very end.

* Alex, G. Murdoch.
James Smith.




SAFT fa's the sun on Anwoth Hills
    When simmer smiles an' a' is fair;
But what is licht to them or me,
    When she I lo'e is bidin' there?
The licht that's in her bonnie een
    Is mair than simmer unto me;
Sweet Jenny, pride o' Anwoth Hills,
    The Lily o' the Banks o' Cree.

When morning o'er the Solway breaks
    In purple smiles, and seas and skies
Touch each in love, and earth again
    Becomes a balmy paradise;
A dearer licht to me than a'
    Is that which beams frae Jenny's ee;
Sweet Jenny, pride o' Anwoth Hills,
    The Lily o' the Banks o' Cree.

Fu' bonnilie in Kirkdale glen
    The primrose peeps frae grassy nook,
An' modestly the violet blows,
    As if afraid to meet your look;
But fairer far than ony flower,
    By wimplin' burn or grassy lea,
Is Jenny, pride o' Anwoth Hills,
    The Lily o' the Banks o' Cree.




I STAND alone on the hillside,
    The scent of heather about;
I am so free of the city
    That I leap and dance and shout.

The curlew and the lapwing,
    They look for a moment at me,
Then they whoop and dive together,
    For they understand my glee.

I can fancy I hear them singing
    As I see them flying along—
"Here is a weary old fellow
    Who is still in love with our song.

"Let us sing him our shrillest and wildest,
    That it may sink in his heart,
And be with him again in the city
    When he turns his face to depart."

And over moss and moorland,
    They swoop and wheel and sing,
Till the very ferns beside me
    Begin to quiver and swing.

And ever, as if from dreamland,
    The wind brings this echo along—
"Here is a weary old fellow,
    Who is still in love with our song."




I HEAR the voices of singers,
    Whose songs stir the pulses of men;
They stand on their mountains of vision,
    Each answers each other again.

They are rapt in a whirlwind of passion;
    They rise white-lipped at a wrong;
The world turns half round to listen,
    For they are the eagles of song.

But between the gusts of their music
    And the pomp and march of their words
There comes from the depth of the woodland
    The chirp and the twitter of birds.

They sing, and their songs are the sweeter
    If no one is standing nigh,
For what should they care for us mortals,
    When they sing to the earth and the sky.

And I who toil by the wayside,
    In the weary dust and heat,
I pause for a moment to listen,
    For the singing is soft and sweet.

It breathes of the spirit of gladness,
    And sunshine that flickers and plays;
Of streams that chatter and murmur
    Through the length of the summer days.

What of the songs of the singers
    That float from the heights above?
What of the songs of the woodlands
    That are full of light and of love?

The songs from the mountains of vision,
    They thrill my ear and depart,
But the twitter that comes from the woodland
    Sinks deep down into my heart.




I WISH my little life had been
    In concert with each lowly thing,
To wander where the fields are green
    And beating with the pulse of spring.

To feel the summer send its blood
    Through all the earth, until my own
Took newer life, and, like a bud,
    Burst into blossom fully blown.

To watch the dying of each year,
    Not as we sit by dying men,
But knowing winter dull and drear
    Would pass, and after life again

To walk through all the changing round
    Of seasons till my winter came,
And I had reached the utmost bound
    Of life, then sink, as sinks a flame.

And rest within some quiet place,
    Where all day long, from day to day,
The seasons as they came would trace
    Their certain changes where I lay.



(To Sir Noel Paton.)

ED.—Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1821 - 1901), Scottish painter, studied at the Royal Academy.  He was initially associated with the Pre-Raphaelites.  He later produced mythological and historical scenes, and was successful with his religious pictures.  Paton also produced a certain amount of sculpture, more notable for design than for searching execution.  Elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1847, a full member in 1850, he was knighted in 1867.  In 1878 the Edinburgh University conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.  Paton was a poet of merit, as his Poems by a Painter (1861) and Spindrift (1867) exemplifies. He was also well known as an antiquary, his hobby, being the collection of arms and armour.

Oberon and the Mermaid
Sir Joseph Noel Paton, 1883.

I LAY in the depths of dreamland,
    Above me the sky was clear,
And only a single blue-bell
    Was nodding close to my ear.

I watched it swaying and bending,
    As if a fairy's hand
Had lightly touched it in passing
    To her home in fairyland.

Then all at once from the blossom
    That was nodding at my head
Came the tiniest of voices,
    And this was what it said—

"O, poet, dreaming in dreamland,
    With eyes half hid by the hand,
Well is it for one sweet moment
    Thou canst enter our own sweet land.

"But bring not the toil of the city
    To this realm of sinless elves,
For a single echo would alter
    The law that rules ourselves.

"We care not at all for mortals,
    For their nature is not as ours;
We are spirits that haunt the woodland,
    And our kinsfolk are the flowers.

"The seasons pass, but we know not,
    For us no rough winds blow;
We do not know the meaning
    Of the falling of the snow.

"We come with the flowers of summer,
    We fade with the flowers that die;
But we come up again when April
    Smiles up at the blue of the sky.

"We cannot be seen of mortals,
    For their purer vision is gone,
And this is why we may always
    Be seen of the flowers alone.

"But what of the dreaming painter
    Who came to us in his youth?
He saw us hold our revels,
    For his heart was the heart of truth.

"What of the grand old painter
    Is he weary of cities and men?
Will he never come back to our revels
    In our fairyland again?

"He saw us play in the moonlight,
    He saw us dance by the stream,
He held our hands for a moment,
    Does he still remember his dream?'

And I, who was idly lying
    Where the dreams rose dim and sweet,
Heard the whisper of the blue-bell
    And thus made answer meet—

"The painter is still in the city,
    In the throng of the streets of men,
But the thoughts in his bosom wander
    To your haunts by stream and glen.

"He still can hear you calling,
    Though his hair is as white as snow,
For the heart in the old man's bosom
    Is the heart of long ago.

"In his quiet hours he is dreaming
    Of the moonlight falling between
The trees that make arches together
    For the march of your Fairy Queen.

"He hears in such moments of silence
    A tiny trumpet blown
Far off in the realms of dreamland,
    And he knows that it is your own.

"Then his fancy sees the procession
    Wind downward by the streams,
And full on the little pennons
    A touch of moonlight gleams.

"He sees the blossoms waving
    Their banners of yellow and blue,
While the humble bee is piping
    A march to guide it through.

"Then it halts for a single moment
    On a spot of brighter green,
And the painter feels on his forehead
    The lips of the Fairy Queen,

"As light as when in the silence
    The petal falls from the cup,
And not a breath is stirring,
    Yet the painter wakens up.

"He smiles at his freaks of fancy,
    If freaks of fancy they seem;
But the tears are wet on his eyelids,
    For he still remembers his dream.

"But his thoughts are sadder and higher
    In the streets of toiling men;
He has turned from his early visions,
    And will never come back again.

"No more will he see you playing
    In the moonlight's tender glow,
Though the heart that beats in his bosom
    Is the heart of long ago."

Then a sigh went through the woodland,
    A long soft sigh of regret;
It bowed the head of the primrose,
    And it touched the violet.

It shook the leaves of the bindweed
    Where the summer shadows were cool;
It stirred the tiniest ripple
    On the mirror of the pool.

I woke, but was it from dreamland,
    And where had my fancies been:
Was it the blue-bell's whisper,
    Or that of the Fairy Queen?




ED.—John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895) was one of one of the best-known Scotsmen of his time.  Born in Glasgow and educated in Aberdeen, his first degree from Marischal College, Aberdeen was followed by three 'Wanderjahre' spent at the Universities of Göttingen and Berlin and in Rome.  In 1839 he was appointed Professor of Humanity at Marischal College, Aberdeen and in 1860 he achieved his ambition when he was appointed to the Chair of Greek at the University of Edinburgh.  At Edinburgh he became a charismatic teacher and a popular lecturer on many subjects.  His death was the occasion for a national day of mourning, and his funeral stopped the City of Edinburgh in its tracks.

See also 'Blackie on Democracy.'

LAST of the Scots his country knew so well,
    And loved and honoured, ripe and full of years
    He slips into his rest, amid our tears
As still we stand, nor care to say farewell.
True heart that beat full stroke to the rich spell
    Of Scottish song, and all that most endears
    The loyal heart to heart to make them peers
Takes newer strength beneath the passing knell.
Sleep thou in kindly soil, as best beseems
    A Scot; thou hast no other wish to crave.
Far happier thou than he* who dreamt his dreams,
Then passed to where the dreams and shadows flee.
He sleeps afar, where night and day the sea
    Circles and moans beneath his mountain grave.

* Robert Louis Stevenson.




I TRIED the gowfin' when at Troon,
    The links are bonnie there to see,
A warm September day flung doon
    Its licht to gladden heart an' ee;
I had a cleek alang wi' me,
    I made it wheel, I wasna slack,
Then to the caddie said, "Now tee
    The ba', an' stan' a wee bit back."

A' games o' skill come never wrang
    To ane wha has the nerve an' han',
Its just like croonin' a bit sang,
    Or what a fule micht understan';
A' that ye need is just the plan,
    An' where to fix a steady ee,
Then whirl the cleek, an' strike, an' than
    Gang on to where the ba' may be.

I swung on high my shinin' cleek,
    I struck, the caddie turned his back;
I thocht it better no' to speak,
    Nor enter into ony crack.
But what a day to ha'e a walk,
    Sae saft the turf, see green an' sweet,
An' then the sea laid oot a track
    O' white waves to my very feet.

I dinna think I need to say
    What mair I did in sic a case,
Some things are better hid away,
    It gi'es ane better heart o' grace.
A bunker is an awfu' place,
    An' tries the temper weel nae doot,
Ye dicht the sweit frae aff your face,
    An' tine a' houps o' gettin' oot.

My frien' wha took me roun' the links,
    An' got the cleek for me that day,
I aften wonder what he thinks
    When he looks back upon my play.
I did my best to mak' my way,
    But, O, my shuider-banes were sair,
In fact, it's waur than mawin' hay,
    My fingers—but I'll say nae mair.

They tell this story still at Troon,
    That just when nicht begins to fa',
They hear a voice, wi' eerie soun',
    That cries oot, "Ha'e ye seen a ba'?"
An' then a cleek plays clink, an' a'
    The san' springs up twa yairds or three—
What can that story mean ava',
    And did that voice belang to me?

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