Poems and Lyrics (4)

Home Up Life & Writings Editorials Main Index Site Search
 


 

 THE SICK CHILD'S DREAM.


O! mither, mither, my head was sair,
    And my een wi' tears were weet;
But the pain has gane for evermair,
    Sae, mither, dinna greet:
And I ha'e had sic a bonnie dream,
    Since last asleep I fell,
O' a' that is holy an' guid to name,
    That I've wauken'd my dream to tell.

I thought on the morn o' a simmer day
    That awa' through the clouds I flew,
While my silken hair did wavin' play
    'Mang breezes steep'd in dew;
And the happy things o' life and light
    Were around my gowden way,
As they stood in their parent Heaven's sight
    In the hames o' nightless day.

An' sangs o' love that nae tongue may tell,
    Frae their hearts cam' flowin' free,
Till the starns stood still, while alang did swell
    The plaintive melodie;
And ane o' them sang wi' my mither's voice,
    Till through my heart did gae
That chanted hymn o' my bairnhood's choice
    Sae dowie, saft, an' wae.

Thae happy things o' the glorious sky
    Did lead me far away,
Where the stream o' life rins never dry,
    Where naething kens decay;
And they laid me down in a mossy bed,
    Wi' curtains o' spring leaves green,
And the name o' God they praying said,
    And a light came o'er my een.

And I saw the earth that I had left,
    And I saw my mither there;
And I saw her grieve that she was bereft
    O' the bairn she thought sae fair;
And I saw her pine till her spirit fled—
    Like a bird to its young one's nest—
To that land of love ; and my head was laid
    Again on my mither's breast.

And, mither, ye took me by the hand,
    As ye were wont to do;
And your loof, sae saft and white, I fand
    Laid on my caller brow;
And my lips you kiss'd, and my curling hair
    You round your fingers wreath'd;
And I kent that a happy mither's prayer
    Was o'er me silent breath'd—

And we wander'd through that happy land,
    That was gladly glorious a';
The dwellers there were an angel-band,
    And their voices o' love did fa'
On our ravish'd ears like the deein' tones
    O' an anthem far away,
In a starn-lit hour, when the woodland moans
    That its green is turn'd to grey.

And, mither, amang the sorrowless there,
    We met my brithers three,
And your bonnie May, my sister fair,
    And a happy bairn was she;
And she led me awa' 'mang living flowers,
    As on earth she aft has done;
And thegither we sat in the holy bowers
    Where the blessed rest aboon;—

And she tauld me I was in paradise,
    Where God in love doth dwell—
Where the weary rest, and the mourner's voice
    Forgets its warld-wail;
And she tauld me they kent na dule nor care:
    And bade me be glad to dee,
That yon sinless land and the dwellers there
    Might be hame and kin to me.

Then sweetly a voice came on my ears,
    And it sounded sae holily,
That my heart grew saft, and blabs o' tears
    Sprung up in my sleepin' e'e;
And my inmost soul was sairly moved
    Wi' its mair than mortal joy;—
'Twas the voice o' Him who bairnies loved
    That wauken'd your dreamin' boy!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE MOTHER.


THERE'S a tear within my e'e, lassie—
    A sorrow in my heart;
And I canna smile on thee,
    Though dear to me thou art.

My mither's dead an' gane,
    An' I am lanely now;
An' the friendless there is nane
    To love, save God an' you.

My mither's dead an' gane;
    She has been a' to me:—
O! I wish when we were ane
    I may be sae to thee.

'Mang cauld an' hunger's waes
    She nurtured me wi' care;
An' to gi'e me meat an' claes
    She toil'd baith lang and sair.

She toil'd an' ne'er thought lang,
    An' keepit hersel' fu' cauld,
That I might couthie gang
    When winter winds were bauld.

She lived for heaven's land,
    An' guid she gart me lo’e;
An' she tauld me aye to stand,
    Wi' the faithfu' an' the true.

She lived in povertie—
    A widow lane was she;
But her deein' words to me
    Were, "Haud by honestie."

The puir maun joy resign—
    A puir man's wife was she;
An', like her, when thou art mine,
    A puir man's bride thou'lt be.

We ha'e love, but naething mair;
    An' if frae thee I'm ta'en,
Thou'lt hae to struggle sair,
    Like her that's dead an' gane.

Thou'lt ha'e to struggle sair,
    To nurture men like me,
Baith toil an' scorn to bear—
    The puir folk's destinie.

But there comes a restin' day—
    She's soundly sleepin' now:—
The joyfu' an' the wae
    Are ane when life is through!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE BEREAVED.


They're a' gane thegither, Jeanie—
    They're a' gane thegither;
Our bairns aneath the cauldrife yird
    Are laid wi' ane anither.
Sax lads and lasses death has ta’en
    Frae father an' frae mither;
But O! we mauna greet an' mane—
    They're a' on hie thegither, Jeanie—
    They're a' on hie thegither.

Our eild will now be drearie, Jeanie—
    Our eild will now be drearie:
Our young an' bonnie bairns ha'e gane,
    An' left our hame fu' eerie.
'Neath age's hand we now may grane—
    In poortith cauld may swither:
The things that toddled but an' ben
    Are a' on hie thegither, Jeanie—
    Are a' on hie thegither.

Now sorrow may come near us, Jeanie—
    Now sorrow may come near us:
The buirdly chields are lyin' low
    Wha wadna let it steer us.
The bonnie lasses are awa'
    Wha came like sun-glints hither,
To fill wi' joy their faither's ha'—
    They're a' on hie thegither, Jeanie—
    They're a' on hie thegither.

In the kirkyard they're sleepin', Jeanie—
    In the kirkyard they're sleepin':
It maybe grieves their happy souls
    To see their parents weepin'.
They're on to bigg a hame for us,
    Where flowers like them ne'er wither,
Amang the stars in love an' bliss—
    They're a' on hie thegither, Jeanie—
    They're a' on hie thegither.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE PARTING.


MY heart is sad and wae, mither,
    To leave my native land—
Its bonnie glens—its hills sae blue—
    Its memory-hallow'd strand—
The friends I've lo'ed sae lang and weel—
    The hearts that feel for me:
But, mither, mair than a' I grieve
        At leavin' thee.

The hand that saft my bed has made
    When I was sick an' sair,
Will carefully my pillow lay
    And hand my head nae mair.
The eon that sleeplessly could watch
    When I was in my pain,
Will ne'er for me from night to dawn,
        E'er wake again.

There's kindness in the warld, mither,
    An' kindness I will meet;
But nane can be what thou hast been—
    Nane's praise can be sae sweet;
Nae ither e'er can love thy son
    Wi' love akin to thine—
An' nane can love thee, mither dear,
        Wi’ love like mine.

I'll keep thee in my inmost soul
    Until the day I dee;
For saft, saft is my mither's hand,
    An' kindly is her e'e;
An' when God-sent spirits far away
    To him my soul shall bear,
My deepest joy will be to meet
        My mither there.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE GRAVE OF BURNS.


By a kirkyard-yett I stood, while many enter'd in,
Men bow'd wi' toil an age—wi' haffets auld an' thin;
An' 'ithers in their prime, wi' a bearin' proud an' hie;
An' maidens, pure an' bonnie as the daisies o' the lea;
An' matrons wrinkled auld, wi' lyart heads an' grey;
An' bairns, like things o'er fair for death to wede away.

I stood beside the yett, while onward still they went,—
The laird frae out his ha', an' the shepherd frae the bent:
It seem'd a type o' men, an' o' the grave's domain;
But these were livin' a', an' could straight come forth again.
An' of the bedral auld, wi' meikle courtesie,
I speer'd what it might mean? an' he bade me look an' see.

On the trodden path that led to the house of worshipping,
Or before its open doors, there stood nae livin' thing;
But awa' amang the tombs, ilk comer quickly pass'd,
An' upon ae lowly grave ilk seekin' e'e was cast.
There were sabbin' bosoms there, and proud yet soften'd
        eyes,
An' a whisper breathed around, "There the loved and
        honour'd lies."

There was ne'er a murmur there—the deep-drawn breath
        was hush'd,—
And o'er the maiden's cheek the tears o' feelin' gush'd;
An' the bonnie infant face was lifted as in prayer;
An' manhood's cheek was flushed wi' the thoughts that
        movin' were:
I stood beside the grave, and I gazed upon the stone,
And the name of "ROBERT BURNS" was engraven thereupon.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE VILLAGE CHURCH.


GOD'S lowly temple! place of many prayers!
    Grey is thy roof, and crumbling are thy walls;
    And over old green graves thy shadow falls,
To bless the spot where end all human cares!

The sight of thee brings gladness to my heart;
    And while beneath thy humble roof I stand,
    I seem to grasp an old familiar hand,
And hear a voice that bids my spirit start.

Long years ago, in childhood's careless hour,
    Thou wast to me e'en like a grandsire's knee—
    From storms a shelter thou wast made to be—
I bound my brow with ivy from thy tower.

The humble-hearted, and the meek and pure
    Have, by the holy worship of long years,
    Made thee a hallowed place; and many tears,
Shed in repentance deep, have blessed thy floor.

Like some all-loving good man's feeling heart,
    Thy portal hath been opened unto all;
    A treasure-house, where men, or great or small,
May bring their purest, holiest thoughts, thou art!

Church of the village!   God doth not despise
    The torrent's voice in mountain valleys dim,
    Nor yet the blackbird's summer morning hymn;
And He will hear the prayers from thee that rise.

The father loves thee, for his son is laid
    Among thy graves; the mother loves thee too,
    For 'neath thy roof, by love time-tried and true,
Her quiet heart long since was happy made.

The wanderer in a far and foreign land,
    When death's last sickness o'er him revels free,
    Turns his heart homeward, ever unto thee,
And those who, weekly, 'neath thy roof-tree stand.

Lowly thou art; but yet, when time is set,
    Will He who loves what wicked men despise—
    Who hears the orphan's voice, that up doth rise
In deep sincerity—not thee forget!

Lone temple! did men know it—unto thee
    Would pilgrims come, more than to battle plains;
    For thou hast lightened human woes and pains,
And taught men's souls the truth that makes them free!

The distant sound of thy sweet Sabbath bell
    O'er meadows green no more shall come to me,
    Sitting beneath the lonely forest tree—
Church of my native village! fare-thee-well!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
A DIRGE.


SLEEP on, sleep on, ye resting dead;
        The grass is o'er ye growing
In dewy greenness.   Ever fled
From you hath care; and, in its stead,
Peace hath with you its dwelling made,
        Where tears do cease from flowing.
                                    Sleep on!

Sleep on, sleep on: ye do not feel
        Life's ever-burning fever—
Nor scorn that sears, nor pains that steel
And blanch the loving heart, until
'Tis like the bed of mountain-rill
        Which waves have left for ever!
                                    Sleep on!

Sleep on, sleep on: your couch is made
        Upon your mother's bosom;
Yea, and your peaceful lonely bed
Is all with sweet wild-flowers inlaid;
And over each earth-pillowed head
        The hand of Nature strews them.
                                    Sleep on!

Sleep on, sleep on: I would I were
        At rest within your dwelling,—
No more to feel, no more to bear
The world's falsehood and its care—
The arrows it doth never spare
        On him whose feet are failing.
                                    Sleep on !


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
MY AULD GUDEWIFE.


COME in, gudewife, an' sit ye down,
    An' let the wark alane:
I'm thinkin' now o' youthfu' days
    An' times that lang ha'e gane;
An' o' the monie ups an' downs
    In life that we hae seen,
Since first beneath the trystin' tree
    I clasp'd my bonnie Jean.

How sweetly holy was the hour
    When first in love we met!
When first your breast was pressed to mine—
    That hour can I forget?
Wi' blessed love our hearts were fu'
    Beneath the hawthorn green:
'Twas then our happiness began,
    My ain—my bonnie Jean.

Sweet shone the moon aboon our heads
    When aff ye gaed wi' me,
And left your father in his sleep
    To wake and seek for thee—
Your mither left to flyte and ban
    Frae mornin' until e'en,
'Cause he whose poverty she scorn'd
    Was aff wi' bonnie, Jean.

Our marriage-day was bright and clear—
    Our marriage-day was fair:
For diamonds ye did daisies twine
    Amang your glossy hair.
I wealthless was at openin' morn;
    But at the closin' e'en
I had what mailins couldna buy—
    My ain—my bonnie Jean!

An', Jean, our proud friends scorn'd us sair,
    And coost their heads fu' hie—
They couldna ken twa bodies puir,
    Like senseless thee and me:
But we had wealth—our hands were good;
    And wealth to us they've been;
And love was sunshine over a',
    My ain—my bonnie Jean!

And mind ye, Jean, when we began
    To gather flocks and gear,
How friends grew up in ilka neuk,
    And came baith far and near?—
How we began to gather sense,
    An' wise folk grew, I ween,
As aye our wealth grew mair an' mair,
    My ain—my bonnie Jean!

And now around us flourish fair,
    Baith sons and dochters too:
You're happy in your bairns, gudewife,
    And happy I'm in you;
And though your head be growin' grey,
    And dimmer be your een
Than in our days of blythesome youth,
    You're aye my bonnie Jean.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
GOD IS EVERYWHERE.


A TRODDEN daisy, from the sward,
    With tearful eye I took,
And on its ruin'd glories I,
    With moving heart, did look;
For, crush'd and broken though it was,
    That little flower was fair;
And O!   I loved the dying bud—
    For God was there!

I stood upon the sea-beat shore—
    The waves came rushing on;
The tempest raged in giant wrath—
    The light of day was gone.
The sailor, from his drowning barque,
    Sent up his dying prayer;
I look'd amid the ruthless storm,
    And God was there!

I sought a lonely, woody dell,
    Where all things soft and sweet—
Birds, flowers, and trees, and running streams—
    'Mid bright sunshine did meet:
I stood beneath an old oak's shade,
    And summer round was fair;
I gazed upon the peaceful scene,
    And God was there!

I saw a home—a happy home—
    Upon a bridal day,
And youthfu' hearts were blythesome there,
    And aged hearts were gay:
I sat amid the smiling band,
    Where all so blissful were—
Among the bridal maidens sweet—
    And God was there!

I stood beside an infant's couch,
    When light had left its eye—
I saw the mother's bitter tears,
    I heard her woeful cry—
I saw her kiss its fair pale face,
    And smooth its yellow hair;
And O!   I loved the mourner's home,
    For God was there!

I sought a cheerless wilderness—
    A desert, pathless, wild—
Where verdure grew not by the streams,
    Where beauty never smiled;
Where desolation brooded o'er
    A muirland lone and bare,—
And awe upon my spirit crept;
    For God was there!

I looked upon the lowly flower,
    And on each blade of grass;
Upon the forests, wide and deep,
    I saw the tempests pass:
I gazed on all created things
    In earth, in sea, and air;
Then bent the knee—for God in love
    Was everywhere!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
MY ONLY SISTER.


THE wild-flowers, Marg'ret, round thee up are
        springing
And sending forth into the summer sky
Their pure hearts' incense.   Unto me they seem
Thy guardian angels ever watching thee,
And praying for thee in sweet nature's voice
                                                So purely holy!

The light of love is in thine eye, my sister!
The open smile of joy is on thy brow,
Thy floating hair falls o'er a little heart
As innocent, as loving, and as pure,
As e'er on earth was loved with love like mine—
                                                A brother's love!

Fair as the image of a poet's musings—
Pure as the dreams of childhood's vision hour—
Thou art to me; for thou dost love me so.
My heart shall never tire of loving thee ;
And what the heart doth love grows beautiful
                                                As a pure soul!

I would that I the dusky veil could sever
Which shades the future from my longing sight,
That I might watch thy onward way through life—
That I might know how best to save thy heart
From woe, thy feet from snares, thy eye from tears,
                                                My darling sister!

O! can that silver light which aye is flowing
From watching-stars, as flows unfailingly
A river from its source, which looks upon
Thy childhood's glee—e'er see thee lone with woe,
A dweller in the dungeon home of grief
                                                With none to comfort?

I know not, sister; but if purity
Be ever watching o'er thy virgin soul,
And if thy heart be filled with steadfastness—
With trusting love, with truth that knows not guile,
Grief may be grevious, but thou'lt sternly bear,
                                                My beautiful!

Who spake of grief?   Can eyes so brightly beaming
With love, and hope, and joy, be filled with tears?
There is no heart so hard as do thee wrong,
Thou art so innocent: So brightly trusting
Would be thy smile into the face of pain,
                                                It could not harm!

My sister! friends may fail, and thy affections
On instability may all be laid:
But, in thy hour of loneliness, when those
Thou lovest most have left thee—then through tears
Remember that thy brother's heart and hand
                                                Are ever open!

The love of all may change ; but his!—O! never
While time is flowing, nor beyond the grave.
Dishonour ne'er shall cast its shadow o'er thee
While life is in his heart:—Thy head shall rest
For ever on his breast, and he will guard thee
                                                As doth thy mother!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
A DAY AMONG THE MOUNTAINS.


"COME, sit by your father's knee,
                                 My son,
On the seat by your father's door,
And the thoughts of your youthful heart,
                                 My son,
Like a stream of gladness pour
For, afar 'mong the lonely hills,
                                 My son,
Since the morning thou hast been;
Now tell me thy bright day-dreams,
                                 My son,—
Yea, all thou hast thought and seen!"

"When morn aboon yon eastern hill
    Had raised its glimmering e’e,
I hied me to the heather hills,
    Where gorcocks crawing flee;
And ere the laverock sought the lift,
    Frae out the dewy dens,
I wandering was by mountain-streams
    In lane and hoary glens.

"Auld frowning rocks on either hand,
    Upreared their heads to heaven,
Like temple-pillars which the foot
    Of time had crush'd and riven;
And voices frae ilk mossy stane
    Upon my ear did flow,—
They spake o' nature's secrets a'—
    The tales o' long ago.

"The daisy, frae the burnie's side,
    Was looking up to God—
The crag that crown'd the towering peak
    Seem'd kneeling on the sod:
A sound was in ilk dowie glen,
    And on ilk naked rock—
On mountain-peak—in valley lone—
    And holy words it spoke.

"The nameless flowers that budded up,
    Each beauteous desert child,
The heather's scarlet blossoms, spread
    O'er many a lanely wild,—
The lambkins, sporting in the glens—
    The mountains old and bare—
Seem'd worshipping ; and there with them
    I breathed my morning prayer.

"Alang o'er many a mountain-tap—
    Alang through monie a glen—
Wi' nature haudin' fellowship,
    I journey'd far frae men.
Now suddenly a lonely tarn
    Would burst upon my eye,
An' whiles frae out the solitudes
    Would come the breezes' cry.

"At noon, I made my grassy couch
    Beside a haunted stream,—
A, bonnie bloomin' bush o' broom
    Waved o'er me in my dream.
I laid me there in slumberous joy
    Upon the giant knee
Of yonder peak, that seem'd to bend
    In watching over me.

"I dream'd a bonnie, bonnie dream,
    As sleepin' there I lay:—
I thought I brightly round me saw
    The fairy people stray.
I dreamt they back again had come
    To live in glen and wold—
To sport in dells 'neath harvest moons
    As in the days of old.

"I saw them dance upo' the breeze,
    An' hide within the flower—
Sing bonnie and unearthly sangs,
    An' skim the lakelets o'er!
That hour the beings o' the past,
    Of ages lost an' gone,
Came back to earth, an' grot an' glen
    Were peopled every one!

"The vision fled, and I awoke—
    The sun was sinkin' down;
The mountain-birds frae hazels brown
    Had sung their gloamin' tune;
The dew was sleepin' on the leaf,
    The breezes on the flower;
And nature's heart was beating calm,—
    It was the evening hour.

"And, father, when the moon arose,
    Upon a mountain-height
I stood and saw the brow of earth
    Bound wi' its silver light.
Nae sound came on the watching ear
    Upon that silent hill;
My e'en were filled with tears, the hour
    Sae holy was and still!

"There was a lowly mound o' green
    Beside me rising there,—
A pillow where a bairn might kneel,
    And say its twilight prayer.
The moonlight kiss'd the gladsome flowers
    That o'er that mound did wave;
Then I remember'd that I stood
    Beside the martyrs' grave!

"I knelt upon that hallow'd earth,
    While memory pictured o'er
The changing scenes—the changing thoughts
    That day had held in store;
And then my breast wi' gladness swell'd,
    And God in love did bless,—
He gave me, 'mong auld Scotland's hills,
    A day of happiness!"


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE WIDOW'S CHILD.


You said my lip was red, Mamma;
    You said my face was fair;
You said my brow was white, Mamma,
    And silken was my hair;

And you ca'd me your infant lassie sweet
While I sat on the green grass at your feet;
And you said, while laigh was your tearful mane,
I was like my father dead and gane:—


O! I would like to be, Mamma,
    What thou couldst love fu' weel;
And ever by your knee
    Your bairn would like to kneel, Mamma,
    Your bairn would like to kneel!

Do you mind the summer day, Mamma,
    When through the woods we went—
When the e'enin' sunlight red, Mamma,
    Wi' the leaves sae green was blent?

And ye showed me the wild-wood birdies a'—
The lintie green and the wren sae sma';
And I heard ilk singer chant its sang,
The green green leaves and buds amang:

And O! their sangs were sweet, Mamma,
    And their life was blithe and free:
And there's ane I there did meet
    Whilk I would like to be, Mamma,
    Whilk I would like to be!

It's no the lintie green, Mamma,
    And it's no the robin gray;
And it's no the little wren, Mamma,
    Nor the mavis on the spray;

But O! it's the bonnie wee croodlin' doo,
That charm'd its sang where the beeches grew—
Wi' its downy wing and its glossy breast,
And its loving heart, and its forest nest:—

And though my lip be red, Mamma,
    And though my face be fair,
I wish my hame were made
    Wi' the bonnie wild doo there, Mamma,
    Wi' the bonnie wild doo there!

If I had the wild doe's wing, Mamma,
    I far awa wad flee,
Where my father, whom ye mourn, Mamma,
    Is watchin' thee an' me!

An' I would press his lips to mine,
As ye aften press my cheek to thine—
I would say to him my e'enin' prayer,
An' drop to sleep on his bosom there!

Syne back your wee croodlin' doo, Mamma,
    Wad come to its mither's hand,
An' tidings bring to you
    Of that far an' better land, Mamma;
    Of that far an' better land!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE MOUNTAIN ORPHAN.


A PICTURE of some olden fay—
    A fairy in its charmed ring—
A creature all delight and joy—
                        Is that lone mountain-thing.

Around her widowed mother's home
    Among the muirs she roameth wild:
Free as their winds—fair as their flowers—
                        Is that pure joyous child.

Calmly at night she resteth here
    Upon her mother's downy knee;
And on her breast she sleepeth sweet—
                        An orphan infant she.

And up she riseth in the morn,
    And o'er the wilds she wanders lone,
And sitteth by the broom-hid streams:
                        Companions she hath none.

Companions! yes, the grass—the flowers—
    The sunlight blithe—the heather brown—
The very moss that on the moors
                        The wind-beat crags doth crown—

The living stars that gem the sky—
    The gales that soothing murmur on—
The golden broom—are unto her
                        Companions every one!

The grass springs freshly up where she
    The long, long summer-day is playing;
The flow'rets nod their heads in joy
                        Where she is blithely straying.

Yea, that old moorland desert wild
    That in its hoary age doth rest,
Seems smiling softly while she sits
                        Upon its rugged breast.

When on the hills that little maid
    Is straying, while her songs she sings,
The gladness of her little heart
                        Through Nature's silence rings.

The glens and stream-banks are her home,
    And Nature is a nurse to her;
The sounds that from her bosom come
                        Her infant spirit stir.

O'er moor, through glen, by rushy pool,
    Untended still she seems to go;
But God doth watch that infant's feet
                        While wandering to and fro.

Sweet moorland child ! my heart hath leapt
    While gazing on each sunny tress,
Thy glowing face, thy sparkling eyes,
                        Thy simple happiness.

The joy of hearts that know no guile
    Hath shed its glory over thee,
Thou art—what great and wise are not—
                        As happy as a bee.

Yea, many, who to gather gold
    And hoary wisdom, long have toil'd,
Would wish to be again like thee,
                        Thou pure and happy child.

The mountain-winds have taught thee joy;
    The flowers have taught thee purity;
Love, hope, and truth, the lips of earth
                        Have sweetly taught to thee.

Child of the mountain! may deceit
    Ne'er darken that blithe heart of thine?
May thou aye be a star of love
                        Upon this earth of ours to shine!

May God aye guard thee, infant sweet!
    While on the moorlands thou dost tarry,
And keep thee in thy mother's home,
                        Thou bright young mountain fairy!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE MOTHER'S MONODY.


O! SHE was the joy of her father's home—
    The light of her mother's eye;
Yet she moulders now in the lonesome grave;
    For the pure and good can die.
She was more akin to the land above
    Than the tearful earth below;
And there lives not a fairer spirit now
    In the bliss she hath wander'd to.

I saw her bud, like a precious flower,
    From infancy to youth,
As fair and pure as the rosy sky
    Of the bright and fragrant south;
And I saw her loved in her father's house,
    With a love earth ne'er surpass'd;
And I saw decay, drear, dark, and cold,
    O'er her youth its blighting cast.

But O! she murmur'd not to leave
    This earth and the dwellers there,
Her parents loved or her sisters young,
    With whom she had knelt in prayer:
But she droop'd with a smile upon her brow,
    Which, meekly seem'd to say,
Why weep ye, mother dear, for me?
    It is best to be away!

And she would chant the lovesome songs
    She had wont in joy to sing;
Their tones doth yet in her mother's ear
    With a woeful cadence ring:
And she would kiss the cheek and lip
    Of her sisters, loved so well;
And the joys of yon future land of love
    To their infant ears would tell.

O! I saw her wither day by day,
    And nightly saw her pine;
Yet I could not save—was e'er a lot
    So woeful sad as mine?
I saw her grow more beauteous still,
    As the day of death came near,
Till my daughter a spotless angel was
    Ere she left her dwelling here!

And the last sad glance from her dear dark eye,
    On her grieving parents fell;
And she was away to the better land
    She had ever loved so well:
And her sisters wept; and her father's eyes
    With tears of grief were full;
But they forgot,—while her mother's heart
    Remembers her daughter still!

O! I had hoped that her kindly hand
    My dying eyes should close;
That upon my grave she would often sit
    Where the grass of the churchyard grows;
And when long, long years had pass'd away,
    And her hour of death had come,
That her mother's voice in that better land
    Should welcome her daughter home!

But I am left in this vale of tears,
    And she to the good hath gone;
And my daughter's eye, 'mid her holiness,
    My grief is looking on:
And I would weep, for my heart is sore;
    But her soul would my sorrow see;
And I dry my tears, and I seek to go,
    My Mary, unto thee!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
MY LILY.


AE modest, winsome, little flower
    Within a humble garden grew;
It cheered a lonely woman's hame—
    But cauld decay the flower did pu'.
My orphan bairn, my only ane,
    Ran round her widowed mother's knee,
And sleepit on her mother's breast,
    Yet she is reft awa' frae me!

Fu' meek and gentle was her face,
    And sweeter far my lassie's heart;
She wasna made for care nor toil—
    Her saft, laigh voice hath made me start;
She was my last ; but pale she grew—
    Pale as the summer's fading day;
I grat in secret; for I saw
    My Lily fading fast away!

She couldna sleep when winds were bauld,
    And frost was hard upon the yird;
She couldna die till spring came green,
    And singing was each happy bird.
When flowers were busking everywhere,
    And blackbirds sang in dean and shaw,
Like the last breath of even's wind
    My Lily faded fast awa'!

And then they tried to comfort me,
    And hard and bitter words they spake,
And said it was a sinfu' thing
    To greet and mane for Lily's sake.
I greet not now—this is her grave—
    Earth has ae pleasure yet for me;
For I can sleep, and I can dream
    That Lily's come again to me.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE PRIMROSE.


THE milk-white blossoms of the thorn
    Are waving o'er the pool,
Moved by the wind that breathes along
    So sweetly and so cool.
The hawthorn clusters bloom above,
    The primrose hides below,
And on the lonely passer by
    A modest glance doth throw!

The humble primrose' bonnie face—
    I meet it everywhere;
Where other flowers disdain to bloom
    It comes and nestles there.
Like God's own light, on every place
    In glory it doth fall:
And where its dwelling-place is made,
    It straightway hallows all!

Where'er the green-winged linnet sings
    The primrose bloometh lone;
And love it wins—deep love—from all
    Who gaze its sweetness on.
On field-paths narrow, and in woods
    We meet thee near and far,
Till thou becomest prized and loved,
    As things familiar are!

The stars are sweet at eventide,
    But cold, and far away;
The clouds are saft in summer time,
    But all unstable they;
The rose is rich—but proud of place,
    Is far too high for me—
God's simple common things I love—
    My primrose, such as thee!

I love the fireside of my home,
    Because all sympathies,
The feelings fond of every day,
    Around its circle rise.
And while admiring all the flowers
    That summer suns can give,
Within my heart the primrose sweet,
    In lowly love, doth live!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE NAMELESS RIVULET.


WE met within a highland glen—
    Where, wandering to and fro
Amid the rushes and the broom,
    A pilgrim thou didst go.
Tripping betwixt thy gowany banks
    I heard thy tinkling feet,
While with thy solitary voice
    The primrose thou didst greet!

Then, nameless stream, I imaged thee
    A pure and happy child,
Whose soul is filled with guileless love,
    Its brain with fancies wild;
Which wanders 'mid the haunts of men,
    Through suffering, care, and fear,
Pouring its waking thoughts and dreams
    In nature's faithful ear!

Like brothers, streamlet, forth we fared,
    Upon a July morn,
And left behind us rocky steep,
    And mountain wastes forlorn.
Where'er thy murmuring footstep strayed,
    Along with thee I went;
Thy haunts were nature's fanes, and I
    Was therewith well content.

Adown by meadows green we roved,
    Where children sweet were playing,
We glided through the glens of green,
    Where lambkins fair were straying.
We lingered where thy lofty banks
    Were clad with bush and tree,
And where the linnet's sweetest song
    Was sung to welcome thee.

Then came the forest dark and deep;
    As through its shade we went,
The leaves and boughs, with foliage bowed,
    Were with thy waters blent.
And through the leafy veil the sun
    Fell lone, and fitfully,
To kiss thy waves, that from the hills
    Came flowing on with me.

And when we left the wild-wood's shade,
    From fields of ripened grain
The reapers' song came sweetly down,
    And thine replied again.
Away we went by hut and hall,
    Away by cottage lone,
Now lingering by a patch of wood,
    Now moving heedless on!

Where praying monks had been we passed,
    And all was silent there,
Save when thy voice the echoes waked,
    Which heard the hermit's prayer.
We passed by thickets green and old,
    By craggy rocks so steep,
And o'er leaf-shadow'd waterfalls,
    We cheerily did leap!

And then a spot upon us burst,
    Where hills on either side
Rose up, all clad in coppice-wood
    Which rock and steep did hide.
The ivy clasp'd each stone and bush
    Thou flow'dst along between;
While rock and river, bird and flower,
    Filled up the glorious scene.

By happy homes of toiling men,
    We this sweet day have passed,
And have enjoyed each sight and sound,
    As though it were our last:
And now we loiter lazily
    Beneath the setting sun:—
My journey ends when starlight comes,
    Thine is not well begun!

Now, highland streamlet, ere we part,
    Which didst thou love the best
Of all we've seen, since, silently,
    We left thy highland nest?
Lovest thou best the meadow green,
    Or highland valley grey?
Or lovest thou best by hazel braes,
    At eventide to stray?

Or dost thou love where forest trees
    Thy little waves are laving?
Or wealthy fields, where golden grain,
    Ripe, to the sun, is waving?
The rustle of thy fleety foot,
    Upon my ear doth fall—
Thou stream, like this full heart of mine,
    Dost dearly love them all!

Without a name, and all unknown,
    Fair streamlet, though thou art,
Be still unchristen'd! but I'll keep
    Thy murmurs in my heart.
My story of thy pilgrimage
    Will to the careless tell
How much of love and beauty in
    Unnoted things do dwell.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE BRAMBLE.


BE the bramble in the berry,
    Or be it in the flower,—
Or be it bare of leaf and bud
    Waved by the winter shower;
That creeping bush that lowly is,
    As lowly well can be,
It hath a charm—a history—
    A tale that pleases me!

When black grew bramble-berries,
    Some twenty years ago,
The dawning often saw us set
    Where mountain waters flow;
And when the gruesome gloaming came
    To keek into our creel,
It found a fouth o' spotted trout
    Whilk we had tackled weel!

The bramble-berries were our food,
    And water was our wine,
The linnet to the self-same bush
    Came after us to dine.
As down the glen at e'en we gaed,
    The lammies round us bleated,
And we, wi' blithesome hearts, their word
    To ilka rock repeated!

And when awa' we used to gang
    By fieldpaths green and lane,
The bramble flower'd beside our feet,
    And mantled tree and stane;
And wi' the hedgerow, oak, and thorn,
    Its branches twisted were,
That scarcely through the wall of leaves,
    Could breathe the caller air!

Then be the bramble-berry black,
    Or be it in the flower,
I love its humble lowliness,
    For sake o' days run ower;
And grow it in the woods sae green,
    Or grow it on the brae,
I like to meet the bramble bush
    Where'er my footsteps gae!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
ALICE.*


My breast is press'd to thine, Alice,
    My arm is round thee twined;
Thy breath dwells on my lip, Alice,
    Like clover scented-wind:
Love glistens in thy sunny e'e,
    And blushes on thy brow;
Earth's heaven is here to thee and me,
    For we are happy now!

Thy cheek is warm and saft, Alice,
    As the summer lavrock's breast;
And peace sleeps in thy soul, Alice,
    Like the laverock on its nest!
Sweet! lay thy heart aboon my heart,
    For it is a' thine ain;
That morning love it gi'es to thee,
    Which kens nae guile or stain!

Ilk starn in yonder lift, Alice,
    Is a love-lighted e'e,
Fill'd fu' o' gladsome tears, Alice,
    While watching thee and me.
This twilight hour the thoughts run back,
    Like moonlight on the streams,
Till the o'erladen heart grows grit
    Wi' a' its early dreams!

Langsyne amang the hills, Alice,
    Where wakes the breckans green,
I wander'd by the burn, Alice,
    Where fairy feet had been,—
While o'er me hang a vision sweet,
    My heart will ne'er forget—
A dream o' summer-twilight times
    When flowers wi' dew were wet!

I thought on a' the tales, Alice,
    O' woman's love and faith;
Of truth that smiled at fear, Alice,
    And love that conquer'd death;
Affection blessing hearts and homes,
    When joy was far awa'
And fear and hate; but love, O love!
    Aboon and over a'!

And then I thought wi' me, Alice,
    Ane walk'd in beauty there—
A' being made for love, Alice,
    So pure, and good, and fair—
Who shared my soul—my every hour
    O' sorrow and o' mirth;
And when that dream was gone, my heart
    Was lonely on the earth!

Ay, lonely grew the world, Alice—
    A dreary hame to me;
Without a bush or bield, Alice,
    Or leafy sheltering tree;
And aye as sough'd life's raging storm,
    Wi' keen and eerie blaw,
My soul grew sad, and cold my heart,
    I wish'd to be awa'.

But light came o'er my way, Alice,
    And life grew joy to me;
The daisy in my path, Alice,
    Unclosed its gentle e'e;
Love breath'd in ilka wind that blew,
    And in ilk birdie's sang;
Wi' sunny thoughts o' summer time
    The blithesome heart grew thrang.

My dreams o' youth and love, Alice,
    Were a' brought back again;
And hope upraised its head, Alice,
    Like the violet after rain:
A sweeter maid was by my side
    Than things of dreams can be,
First, precious love to her I gave,
    And, Alice, thou wert she!

Nae lip can ever speak, Alice,
    Nae tongue can ever tell
The sumless love for thee, Alice,
    With which my heart doth swell!
Pure as the thoughts of infants' souls,
    And innocent and young,
Sic love was never tauld in sangs,
    Sic sangs were never sung!

My hand is on thy heart, Alice,
    Sae place thy hand on mine;
Now, welcome weal and woe, Alice,
    Our love we canna tine.
Ae kiss! let others gather gowd
    Frae ilka land and sea;
My treasure is the richest yet,
    For, Alice, I ha'e thee!

* These lines were addressed by Nicoll to his wife.  They were
 sent  from Leeds to a friend in Edinburgh, some time after his
 marriage.


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
THE DYING MAIDEN.


THE winds are soughin' o'er the hills,
    The burns come gushin' doun—
The kelpie in the drumlie weil
    Is singin' his eerie croon!
Sae sharp an' cauld the nippin' sleet
    Blaws o'er the leafless lea.
An' death, frae out the darksome grave,
    Is callin' upon me!

O! mither, stand ye at my head—
    Gang, sister, to my feet;
An', Willie, sit by my bedside,
    But dinna moan an' greet.
I would like to look on those I love,
    Sae lang as I can see,—
As the snaw-drap fades 'mang the lave awa'
    Sae I would like to dee!

O! this is a bright an' glorious earth,
    An' I ha'e lo'ed it weel—
I ha'e lo'ed to sleep on my mither's breast,
    By my mither's knee to kneel:
An' I ha'e lo'ed thee, sister fair,
    Wi' mair than a sister's love;
An' how I lo'ed thee, Willie dear,
    The angels ken above!

An' I ha'e dream'd o' comin' years,
    When ane we twa should be,—
When grief should sadden, joy rejoice,
    Alike baith thee an' me—
When we should bear ae heart, ae hope,
    Ae burden an' ae name;
An' gang a-field thegither aye,
    An' come thegither hame!

An' I ha'e dreamed o' bairnies fair,
    Wi' een as blithe as thine—
An' hair like gowd, an' rosie lips,
    An' lovin' hearts like mine:
An' I ha'e heard their voices sweet
    Say "mither!" unto me,
An' seen them turn an', smilin', say,
    "My father!" unto thee!

An', Willie, ae fond wish ha'e I—
    Though I would like awa'—
To live, that I my love for thee
    Sae measureless might shaw.
My love for thee! it can be known
    To mine own heart alone,—
A star o' love an' gladness, thou
    For ever o'er me shone!

My voice is wearin' faint an' low;
    Sae, Willie, ere I gang,
You'll promise me, when I am laid
    The kirkyard yird amang,
To come at e'en, when o'er the glen
    The birks their shadows cast,
An' sit upon my grave, an' think
    O' me an' moments past.

Awa', awa', to yonder land,
    My soul is wearin' now;
But 'mid yon holiness an' joy,
    I'll aye be watchin' you.
An', if alane ye e'er be left,
    In sickness or in wae,
Mind, Willie, that a spirit's hand
    Doth lead ye night an' day.

Kiss ance again this burnin' brow;
    An' let me look upon
The lip—the cheek—the hazel eye
    I've prized in moments gone!
My mither! ope the casements wide
    That I may see the lea
Where gowans grow:—the gates of light
    Are open now to me!


_____________________

[Top of page]
 
A WOODLAND WALK.


THE blackbird's song is bursting from the brake,
    And morning breezes bear it far away;
The early sunbeam from its breast doth shake
    The floating veil of dewy mist so gray;
    The dun deer wanders, like a frightened fay,
Through dingles deep and wild, where linnets sing;
    Ah! who would slumber, who along could stray,
Where mighty oaks their branches o'er him fling,

To which the diamond dew, in pearlings bright, doth cling?


How beautiful!—the green corn-fields are waving,
    The clouds of dawn are floating on the sky;
The fearful hare its hidden couch is leaving,
    And, sporting, to the clover-field doth hie:
    Beneath the morning sun the waters lie,
Like treasur'd sunbeams in a woody nook!
    God's earth is glorious; and how blessed am I
Who love it all? On what I love I look,

And joys run through my heart, like yon calm, tinkling brook.


The cottage-hearths are cold, the peasants sleep,
    But all the mighty woodlands are awake;
Within its hermitage the primrose sleeps,
    And with the dew the beech-trees' branches shake,
    As through the wood my devious path I take;
The velvet grass a fairy carpet seems,
    On which, through leafy curtains, light doth break,
Now bright and strong, and now in fitful gleams,

As 'mid realities come fancy's fairest dreams.


Now stooping 'neath the branches wet with dew—
    Now o'er the open forest-glades I go—
Now listening to the cushat's wailing coo—
    Now starting from its lair the bounding roe;
    And now I hear the breezes, to and fro,
Making among the leaves a pleasant din;
    Or find myself where silent streamlets flow,
Like hermits, wandering these wild-woods within—

While hoar and aged trees bend o'er each little linn.


The lakelet of the forest I have left,
    Sleeping, like beauty, in a branchy bower:
The woodland opens:—crumbling all, and cleft,
    There stands the ruin'd abbey's lonely tower,
    To speak of vanish'd pomp, exhausted power—
To hear these winds among the leaflets blow
    With the same tone as in its proudest hour—
To see the flowers within the forest grow,

As when the fallen reigned—a thousand years ago!


Decaying, roofless walls! and is this all
    That desolation's blighting hand hath left
Of tower, and pinnacle, and gilded hall?
    The everlasting rocks by time are cleft—
    Within each crevice spiders weave their weft;
The wandering gipsy comes to hide him here,
    When he from plunder'd housewife's stores has reft
The needful elements of gipsy cheer;

For ghost of abbot old the gipsy doth not fear.


Where are the glancing eyes that here have beam'd?
    Where are the hearts which whilom here have beat?
Where are the shaven monks, so grim who seem'd?
    Where are the sitters in the abbot's seat?
    Where are the ceaseless and unnoted feet,
That wore a pavement-path with kneeling prayers?
    Where is the coffin-where the winding sheet,
And monuments which nobles had for theirs,

When death drew nigh, and closed, life's long account of
             cares?


The ivy clings around the ruin'd walls
    Of cell, and chapel, and refectory;
An' oak-tree's shadow, cloud-like, ever falls
    Upon the spot where stood the altar high:
    The chambers all are open to the sky;
A goat is feeding where the praying knelt;
    The daisy rears its ever open eye
Where the proud abbot in his grandeur dwelt:

These signs of time and change the hardest heart might melt.


Is this a cell? Offended God to serve
    By the heart's crucifixion, here have tried
Self-immolated men, who would not swerve,
    But in the impious work serene have died:
    A glory on the lowly wall doth bide,
For though the hypocrite hath shuffled here,
    Here, too, from earnest lips did often glide
The words of men mistaken, but sincere,

Who, with pure spirits, tried to fight man's battles here.


The buttercups are lifting up their heads
    Upon the floors of the confessional,
Where came the worshipper, with counted beads,
    Upon his knees in penitence to fall—
    Where came the great to listen unto all,
And scoff or pray, as good or ill was he.
    Could words come forth of that time-stricken wall,
Some wondrous tales retold again would be:

The maiden's simple love—the feat of villany.


This is the chapel where the matin hymn
    Was chanted duly for a thousand years,
Till faith grew cold and doubtful, truth grew dim,
    Till earnest hope was wither'd up by sneers.
    Within it now no glorious thing appears:
But as the dewy wind blows swiftly by,
    Upon the thoughtful listener's joyful ears
Doth come a sweet and holy symphony,

And nature's choristers are chanting masses high!


Grow up, sweet daisies, on the silent floor;
    Fall down, dark ivy, over every wall;
Oak, send thy branches out at every door;
    Goat, from its chambers to thy mate do call,
    Power reign'd in might, and never feared a fall;
And where is it? And what is here to-day?
    Truth triumphs over mitre, crown, and all;
Mind rent its iron fetters all away—

The tyrants, proud and high—where, at this hour, are they?


Old walls and turrets, moulder silently,
    Till not a trace of all your state remain!—
The throstle's song, from yonder spreading tree,
    Doth call me to the woodlands once again;
    Louder doth rise the blackbird's passing strain,
And gladness from its sacred heart doth flow,
    Till music falls, like summer's softest rain,
On all that lives and suffers here below,

Making a flower upon the lonest pathway grow.


The sun is higher in the morning sky—
    His beams embrace the mossy-trunkëd trees;
Yonder the squirrel, on the elm so high,
    Frisketh about in the cool morning breeze—
    Down peeps his diamond eye—amazed, he sees
A stranger in his solitary home;
    And now he hides behind the oaken trees—
And now he forth upon a branch doth come,

To crack his beechen-nuts, and watch me as I roam.


The hawthorn hangs its clusters round me now,
    Through which the sky peeps sweetly, sweetly in;
Through the green glades doth come the cattle's low
    From the rich pastures of the meadow green,
    Look up!—aloft, the twittering birds are seen
Upon the branches, their wild matins singing:
    Look down! the grass is soft and thick, I ween;
And flowers around each old tree-root are springing,

Wood-fancies, wild and sweet, to the lone wanderer bringing.


And here are rich blaeberries, black and wild,
    Beneath the beech-tree's thickest branches growing;
This makes me once again a wayward child,
    A pilgrimage into the woodland going—
    The haunt of squirrel and of wood-mouse knowing,
And plucking black blaeberries all the day,
    Till eastward mountain-shadows night was throwing,
And sending me upon my homeward way,

Fill'd both in soul and sense, with the old forest grey.


I must away, for I have loiter'd long
    Amid the wood, and by the ruins old:
I must away, for far the sky along
    The sun doth pour his beams of brightest gold.
    Farewell, sweet glades, wild dingles, grassy wold—
Squirrel and blackbird, linnet and throstle, too—
    Farewell, ye woodland streamlets, pure and cold—
Sweet cooing cushat—primrose wet with dew—

To woodland thoughts and things a sweet, a short adieu! *


* It may be proper to mention that this poem, like all those
 composed in the last busy and suffering year of Nicoll's life,
 is written in pencil, and is what he must have considered
 unfinished.  Yet the Editor could not feel justified in
 suppressing a composition so rich in descriptive beauty, that
 it all but rivals some of his Scottish moorland landscapes.


_____________________

[Next page]

 



[Home] [Life & Writings] [Poems and Lyrics] [Editorials] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk