FROM THE PENTLANDS LOOKING NORTH AND SOUTH
Around my feet the clouds are drawnIn the cold mystery of the dawn;No breezes cheer, no guests intrudeMy mossy, mist-clad solitude;When sudden down the steeps of skyFlames a long, lightening wind. On highThe steel-blue arch shines clear, and far,In the low lands where cattle are,Towns smoke. And swift, a haze, a gleam,—The Firth lies like a frozen stream,Reddening with morn. Tall spires of ships,Like thorns about the harbour's lips,Now shake faint canvas, now, asleep,Their salt, uneasy slumbers keep;While golden-grey, o'er kirk and wall,Day wakes in the ancient capital.
Before me lie the lists of strife,The caravanserai of life,Whence from the gates the merchants goOn the world's highways; to and froSail laiden ships; and in the streetThe lone foot-traveller shakes his feet,And in some corner by the fireTells the old tale of heart's desire.Thither from alien seas and skiesComes the far-questioned merchandise:—Wrought silks of Broussa, Mocha's wareBrown-tinted, fragrant, and the rareThin perfumes that the rose's breathHas sought, immortal in her death:Gold, gems, and spice, and haply stillThe red rough largess of the hillWhich takes the sun and bears the vinesAmong the haunted Apennines.And he who treads the cobbled streetTo-day in the cold North may meet,Come month, come year, the dusky East,And share the Caliph's secret feast;Or in the toil of wind and sunBear pilgrim-staff, forlorn, fordone,Till o'er the steppe, athwart the sandGleam the far gates of Samarkand.The ringing quay, the weathered faceFair skies, dusk hands, the ocean raceThe palm-girt isle, the frosty shore,Gales and hot suns the wide world o'erGrey North, red South, and burnished WestThe goals of the old tireless quest,Leap in the smoke, immortal, free,Where shines yon morning fringe of seaI turn, and lo! the moorlands highLie still and frigid to the sky.The film of morn is silver-greyOn the young heather, and away,Dim, distant, set in ribs of hill,Green glens are shining, stream and mill,Clachan and kirk and garden-ground,All silent in the hush profoundWhich haunts alone the hills' recess,The antique home of quietness.Nor to the folk can piper playThe tune of "Hills and Far Away,"For they are with them. Morn can fireNo peaks of weary heart's desire,Nor the red sunset flame behindSome ancient ridge of longing mind.For Arcady is here, around,In lilt of stream, in the clear soundOf lark and moorbird, in the boldGay glamour of the evening gold,And so the wheel of seasons movesTo kirk and market, to mild lovesAnd modest hates, and still the sightOf brown kind faces, and when nightDraws dark around with age and fearTheirs is the simple hope to cheer.—A land of peace where lost romanceAnd ghostly shine of helm and lanceStill dwell by castled scarp and lea,And the last homes of chivalry,And the good fairy folk, my dear,Who speak for cunning souls to hear,In crook of glen and bower of hillSing of the Happy Ages still....