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Our fond regrets, insatiate in their grasp?
The sage's theory? the poet's lay?
Mere fibulae without a robe to clasp;
Obsolete lamps, whose light no time recalls ;
Urns without ashes, tearless lacrymals!
IF to tradition faith be due,
And echoes from old verse speak true,
Ere the meek saint, Columba, bore
Glad to Iona's shore,
No common light of Nature blessed
The mountain region of the west,
A land where gentle manners ruled
O’er men in dauntless virtues schooled,
That raised, for centuries, a bar
Impervious to the tide of war;
Yet peaceful Arts did entrance gain
Where haughty Force had striven in vain ;
And, mid the works of skilful hands,
By, wanderers brought from foreign lands
And various climes, was not unknown
The clasp that fixed the Roman gown;
The Fibula, whose shape, I ween,
Still in the Highland Brooch is seen,
The silver Brooch of massy frame,
Worn at the breast of some grave dame
On road or path, or at the door
Of fern-thatched hut on heathy moor:
But delicate of yore its mould,
And the material finest gold;
As might beseem the fairest fair,
Whether she graced the royal chair,
Or shed, within a vaulted hall,
No fancied lustre on the wall
Where shields of mighty heroes hung,
While Fingal heard what Ossian sung.
The heroic age expired-it slept
Deep in its tomb: the bramble crept
O'er Fingal's hearth; the grassy sod
Grew on the floors his sons had trod :
Malvina! where art thou ? Their state
The noblest-born must abdicate.
The fairest-while with fire and sword
Come spoilers, horde impelling horde-
Must walk the sorrowing mountains, dressed
By ruder hands in homelier vest.
Yet still the female bosom lent,
And loved to borrow, ornament;
Still was its inner world a place
Reached by the dews of heavenly grace;
Still pity to this last retreat
Clove fondly; to his favourite seat
Love wound its way by soft approach,
Beneath a massier Highland Brooch.
When alternations came of rage Yet fiercer, in a darker age; And feuds, where, clan encountering clan, The weaker perished to a man; For maid and mother, when despair Might else have triumphed, baffling prayer, One small possession lacked not power, Provided in a calmer hour, To meet such need as might befallRoof, raiment, bread, or burial : For woman, even of tears bereft, The hidden silver Brooch was left.
As generations come and go, Their arts, their customs, ebb and flow; Fate, fortune, sweep strong powers away, And, feeble, of themselves decay ; What poor abodes the heirloom hide, In which the castle once took pride! Tokens, once kept as boasted wealth, If saved at all, are saved by stealth. Lo! ships, from seas by nature barred, Mount along ways by man prepared ; And in far-stretching vales, whose streams Seek other seas, their canvas gleams. Lo! busy towns spring up, on coasts Thronged yesterday by airy ghosts; Soon, like a lingering star forlorn Among the novelties of morn, While young delights on old encroach, Will vanish the last Highland Brooch. But when, from out their viewless bed, Like vapours, years have rolled and spread; And this poor verse, and worthier lays, Shall yield no light of love or praise, Then, by the spade, or cleaving plough, Or torrent from the mountain's brow, Or whirlwind, reckless what his might Entombs, or forces into light, Blind chance, a volunteer ally, That oft befriends antiquity, And clears oblivion from reproach, May render back the Highland Brooch.
FROM Stirling Castle we had seen
The mazy Forth unravelled;
Had trod the banks of Clyde, and Tay,
And with the Tweed had travelled;
And when we came to Clovenford,
Then said my 'winsome marrow,
“Whate'er betide, we'll turn aside,
And see the Braes of Yarrow.
“Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,
Who have been buying, selling,
Go back to Yarrow, 'tis their own;
Each maiden to her dwelling!
On Yarrow's banks let herons feed,
Hares couch, and rabbits burrow!
But we will downwards with the Tweed,
Nor turn aside to Yarrow,
“There's Gala Water, Leader Haughs,
Both lying right before us;
And Dryburgh, where with chiming Tweed
The lintwhites sing in chorus;
There's pleasant Teviotdale, a land
Made blithe with plough and harrow:
Why throw away a needful day
in search of Yarrow ?
“What's Yarrow but a river bare,
That glides the dark hills under?
There are a thousand such elsewhere
As worthy of your wonder."
Strange words they seemed of slight and scord;
My true love sighed for sorrow:
And looked me in the face, to think
I thus could speak of Yarrow!
“are Yarrow's holms, And sweet is Yarrow flowing ! Fair hangs the apple frae the rock, But we will leave it growing. O’er hilly path, and open strath, We'll wander Scotland thorough; But, though so near, we will not turn Into the dale of Yarrow.
“Let beeves and home-bred kine partake
The sweets of Burnmill meadow;
The swan on still St. Mary's Lake
Float double, swan and shadow!
We will not see them; will not go,
To-day, nor yet to-morrow;
Enough if in our hearts we know
There's such a place as Yarrow.
“Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown !
It must, or we shall rue it:
We have a vision of our own;
Ah! why should we undo it?
The treasured dreams of times long past,
We'll keep them, 'winsome marrow!'
For when we're there, although 'tis fair,
'Twill be another Yarrow!
“If care, with freezing years should come,
And wandering seem but folly-
Should we be loth to stir from home,
And yet be melancholy;
Should life be dull, and spirits low,
'Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
That earth has something yet to show,
The bonny holms of Yarrow !"