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Poems and Translations


Descriptive of Scenes in the West of Scotland


Inscribed on a View of Castrammon [1]

 Lone abbey! in these woods’ neglected shade
I see thee still thy ruin’d pomp enclose,
’Midst flow’r-clad knolls where mitred saints repose,
 Low in forgotten dust for ever laid:
 Still Fancy loves thee; still thy sunny glade
Dim dell, and tangled bow’r and thicket green
She fondly visits; still on every scene
Her magic hand its richest tint bestows!
She paints there now as when thy moss-grown height
 Glow’d with the western sun’s departing beam,
 While on the bosom of thy placid stream
Rose the brief splendors of refracted light:
As o’er the sacred wreck of long-lost days
Gleam our past joys, with rich tho’ broken rays!



On a View of the River Dee [2], near Kircudbright

 Let me, meek pilgrim! in some shelter’d vale
Steal my untroubled way, like thee, unseen;
Not deep, yet clear; not languid, yet serene;
 Far from the torrid blaze and stormy gale:
And tho’ sequestr’d from its pageant pride,
 Still to the world my willing tribute pay;
Still like the music of thy silver tide,
 Beguile the humble wand’rer’s weary way.
Nor ever in oblivious deserts sleep,
 But oft, like thee, emerging from their gloom
’Midst Nature’s sylvan pomp my revel keep,
 While summer suns my flow’ry path illume:
Then, in these calm recesses let me rest,
Heav’n’s purest image dwelling in my breast!



On a View of the Fleet [3], near Gatehouse

 Sweet stream! I envy not thy calm repose,
Nor those aspiring hills which round thee rise,
 Nor the rich sweets thy painted side bestows,
Nor the soft azure of thy placid skies:
 For here [4] the sun with purer lustre glows,
O’er sky-crown’d hills and vallies cloth’d in gold;
 Imperial Thame thro’ nobler channels flows,
Where Pleasure’s sons their gayest revels hold:
 I ask thee for the joys which Fancy gave
When by thy side, a careless guest, I stray’d
 With kindred hearts, now mould’ring in the grave—
When life’s bright morning never knew a shade,
 Joys which no airy revels can restore
 To joys of youthful Hope, and Friendships now no more!



On a View of Raeberie Hill [5]

Stern monarch of this hospitable shore,
Imperial Raeberie! thy summer hoar
Bows to the western wave, as those who reign
Above the clouds on Glory’s height sublime,
Bend to the dark and silent tide of time.
Bright in the smile of heav’n, they rev’rend brow
Scorns the frail honours of the humbler plain;
And while the baffled torrent raves in vain,
Looks down, illustrious, on the war below.
Thus Virtue triumphs; thus, ’midst flow’r-clad slaves,
Bold in majestic poverty, she braves
The drear abyss of fate, the blasts of woe:
Thus to the skies erects her awful form,
Smiles thro’ assembled clouds, and towers above the storm.



On a View of Ross Isle[6], near Balmae

Forsaken exile in yon wat’ry waste!
Torn from thy parent shore and rudely hurl’d
Like orphan Beauty to a ruthless world
By no kind shade, no kindred guards embrac’d!
Thou too hast smiles and triumph when the pride
Of Summer decks thee; and the frolic tide,
Wooing with slow advance and whispers bland,
Showers diamonds at thy feet; and on thy breast,
By sighing gales in faithless courtship fann’d,
The fierce and fickle sunbeam loves to rest.
Short hour of triumph! soon with clamors loud
Round thy pale form the ruffian billows croud,
Then leave thee, wonder of unpitying eyes,
The heedless wand’rers wreck, the beacon of the wise!



On Balmae House

Tho’ these dark shores, these column’d hills disdain
Th’ embroider’d drapery of Spring to wear;
Tho’ Flora wooes these hermit rocks in vain,
And yon wild bow’rs no lavish garlands bear;
The pilgrim leaves his fondest blessing here;
Lov’d mansion! from yon cliff, abrupt and drear,
He sees the smile, in peaceful pomp, alone
On this smooth-swelling lawn, thy velvet throne,
And hails the realm of Health and Pleasure near.
Be thou their temple still, majestic dome!
And oft resplendent in the mild moon’s light,
May they fair form the weary pilgrim cheer:
Or sternly graceful ’midst the storms of night,
Guide the wreck’d sailor to a joyful home!

  1. This beautiful ruin ornaments the estate of the Murray family, in Galloway. 
  2. The long arcade of rocks through which this river meanders, is known and admired by every traveller to this part of Scotland. The Dee pours itself into the spacious bay, in the centre of which, St. Mary’s Isle (the seat of the Selkirk family) rises like a floating grove. 
  3. The Fleet begins its course among a pile of barren mountains, and after long windings through a dark and deep glen, gradually widens among rich slopes and romantic knolls till it falls into the sea. 
  4. Written in London, after a long absence. 
  5. This hill, distinguished by its lofty and graceful curve over the sea which washes its base, commands one of the most romantic bays in the south-west of Scotland. Tradition says, a castle once stood on its brow, where M‘Clellan, Lord of Bomby (now called Balmae) was confined by the Earl of Douglas for refusing to acknowledge his supremacy — See Heron’s Tour, and Pittscottie’s Remarks. 
  6. This little isle terminates the point of land which forms the harbour near Kircudbright; covered with dark turf, and contrasted by the brilliance of a calm sea, it affords a most picturesque object from the opposite shores of Balmae.