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Anna Jane Vardill

The Farewell Cup to the Dead at a Highland Funeral

We drink to thee—we drink to thee!
Thou who art from our world set free—
Thou whom Flora[1] has called to rest
In the Green Isle of the glorious West!
Blessings and peace are gone with thee
To the bowers of bliss beyond the sea.
The sword of thy fathers is on thy bed,
The son of thy love is at thy head:
The violets fresh from thy own dear land
Are laid on thy breast by a kinsman’s hand.
And when thou hast looked on the isle of bliss,
Thy spirit shall walk on a night like this,
When the moon is bright and the waters creep
Lowly and soft while their Kelpies sleep;
And thou shalt tell us if in the bower
Of joy and peace, there is left an hour
When the blessed may look on them they love,
And whisper them comfort from above.

O!—if there is not such a time
When the Spirit may come from its holy clime,
And hear the voices of love and mirth
As it heard them once while it dwelt on earth;
If it knows not again the ingle-seat
Where babes are smiling and brothers meet;
If it cannot linger when on the board
The yule-lamp burns and the cup is pour’d;
Then while we drink we will weep for thee,
Since Love lives not to eternity.

Yet lovely and rich is the Spirit’s lot,
If the pangs of manhood are all forgot!
If the burning heart and the evil eye,
And the sting of the false friend’s perjury,
Are hidden behind the cloudy screen
That spreads the living and dead between;
If the eye of the Spirit only sees
The bloom and the balm of household peace,
The smile when a lover’s troth is sealed,
Or the pledge of hands when strife is healed,
Or the kiss and the tear a mother gives
To the babe that on her bosom lives,
Then it is blessed, for only these,
And the feast of forgiven enemies,
Are the sights the angels are loth to leave
When they look thro’ the early stars at eve.

A boat that heeds nor wave nor wind,
And a pilot not of human-kind,
Waits unseen near thy house of clay,
To waft thy soul and its wealth away:
And thy pilot shall weigh that wealth in scales
Where the dust of the gold-mine nought avails.
Then the bread thou gavest the wandering guest,
And the green turf laid on thy mother’s breast,
Thy deeds of mercy and gifts of good
Made holier by ingratitude,
Shall weigh the dust of the world’s wealth down,
Tho’ every grain were a monarch’s crown.

We break this cup on thy dark hearth-stone,
Its warmth is quench’d and its light is gone;
But a light shall shine on thy stone of fame,
And our hearts in their warmth shall bless thy name.
If thou canst the sweet memory keep
Of love that lies for tears too deep,
Come again to thy father’s glens,
When the fox and the roe are in their dens,
And they who in quiet slumber lie,
Dream of a dear face flitting nigh—
We will feast together again with thee
In the isle of Life and Liberty!


  1. Flora is the name still given to the mistress of good spirits in the Green or Happy Island—a relic of superstition finely resembling the belief of the most ancient Greeks. Duty and decorum in Scotland require the eldest son to sit at the head of his dead father and to lay it in the grave. 

The European Magazine, Vol. 78, December 1820, p. 548