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Anna Jane Vardill

The Lykewake Dirge [1]

Thou hast looked on the wimpling burn,
Thou hast gather’d the summer fern;
If there never was maiden then
Wept for thee in the trysting glen,
             Spirit, pass!

If there never was in thy youth
Thought of joy and speech of truth;
If thou hast sat beneath the aik,
And ne’er pu’d branch for true-love’s sake,
Nor linger’d at thy dear one’s knee,
Nor thought her beauty best to see,
Pass!—but thou has not in thy heart
One spark that can from earth depart.

If thou hast never turn’d away
From sunny cleft or greenwood brae,
To look upon the old roof tree
Where once thy brother dwelt with thee;
If that roof-tree is not more dear
Than marble halls and princely cheer,
O then in heav’n there will nothing be
That can claim brotherhood with thee!

If thou hast look’d on the starry skies,
And wish’d to have their thousand eyes,
To seek and find a lady rare,
That with thy fancy might compare;
Or if thou hast ever ask’d the sun
To lend thee of his day-beams one,
That thou might’st ev’ry day be bright,
And carry gladness to her sight;
Pass to heav’n!—for thy dreams have been
Of beauty such as there is seen:
Pass, for on earth thou could’st not find
One woman’s love to match thy mind.

If thou hast not thought thy feast was poor
When thy father’s friend forgot thy door;
If the hand of a stranger laid the clay
On thy mother’s head of silver grey;
If thy sister sat in her woe alone,
And thy brother mourn’d thy cold hearth-stone,
Pass away!—for the chill of death
Has been with thee since thou hadst breath;
Pass!—thy spirit alone will wait
Naked and cold at heaven’s gate!

If thou can’st not call an hour to mind
When thou didst love all human-kind.
Pass!—for thou hast not since thy birth
Once honour’d heav’n or hallow’d earth:
But if thou hast ever hoped and strove
To bind this world in one bond of love,
O keep that hope to eternity!
That hope must stay in heav’n with thee!
             Spirit, pass!


  1. Highlanders address such a song to those whose remains they watch. The first lines allude to ceremonies well known in the place of tryst, or assignation. 

The European Magazine, Vol. 75, February 1819, p. 148