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Poems About Scotland

Table of Contents

  1. The Battle of Stirling by William Sinclair
  2. My Heart ’s in the Highlands by Robert Burns
  3. Gathering of the MacGregors by Sir Walter Scott
  4. Gathering of the MacDonalds by Anonymous
  5. To Ailsa Rock by John Keats
  6. Birthplace of Robert Burns by Thomas William Parsons
  7. Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn by Robert Burns
  8. The Old Seaport by David Macbeth Moir
  9. On the Banks of the Dee by Anonymous
  10. Edinburgh by David Macbeth Moir
  11. Written in Edinburgh by Arthur Henry Hallam
  12. Edinburgh by William Drummond of Hawthornden
  13. A Highland Village by Mathilde Blind
  14. The Swan of Loch Oich by Eliza Gookin Thornton

  1. The Battle of Stirling

    by William Sinclair

    To Scotland’s ancient realm
    Believe it from me,
    Proud Edward’s armies came,
    To sap our freedom, and o’erwhelm Our martial force in shame.
    “It shall not be!” brave Wallace cried:
    “It shall not be!” his chiefs replied;
    “By the name our fathers gave her,
    Our steel shall drink the crimson stream,
    We ’ll all her dearest rights redeem,—
    Our own broadswords shall save her!”

    With hopes of triumph flushed,
    The squadrons hurried o’er
    Thy bridge, Kildean, and heaving rushed
    Like wild waves to the shore.
    “They come—they come!” was the gallant cry:
    “They come—they come!” was the loud reply;
    “O strength, thou gracious Giver!
    By Love and Freedom’s stainless faith,
    We ’ll dare the darkest night of death,—
    We ’ll drive them back forever!”

    All o’er the waving broom,
    In chivalry and grace,
    Shone England’s radiant spear and plume,
    By Stirling’s rocky base:
    And, stretching far beneath the view,
    Proud Cressingham! thy banners flew,
    When, like a torrent rushing,
    O God! from right and left the flame
    Of Scottish swords like lightning came,
    Great Edward’s legions crushing!

    High praise, ye gallant band,
    Who, in the face of day,
    With a daring heart and a fearless hand,
    Have cast your chains away!
    The foemen fell on every side,—
    In crimson hues the Forth was dyed,—
    Bedewed with blood the heather;
    While cries triumphal shook the air,—
    “Thus shall they do, thus shall they dare,
    Wherever Scotsmen gather!”

    Though years like shadows fleet
    O’er the dial-stone of Time,
    Thy pulse, O Freedom! still shall beat
    With the throb of manhood’s prime!
    Still shall the valor, love, and truth,
    That shone on Scotland’s early youth,
    From Scotland ne’er dissever;
    The Shamrock, Rose, and Thistle stern
    Shall wave around her Wallace cairn,
    And bless the brave forever!

  2. My Heart ’s in the Highlands

    by Robert Burns

    My heart ’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
    My heart ’s in the Highlands a chasing the deer;
    Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
    My heart ’s in the Highlands wherever I go.
    Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
    The birthplace of valor, the country of worth;
    Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
    The hills of the Highlands forever I love.

    Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
    Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
    Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
    Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
    My heart ’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
    My heart ’s in the Highlands a chasing the deer;
    Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
    My heart ’s in the Highlands wherever I go.

  3. Gathering of the MacGregors

    by Sir Walter Scott

    The moon ’s on the lake, and the mist ’s on the brae,
    And the Clan has a name that is nameless by day;
    Then, gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!
    Gather, gather, gather.

    Our signal for fight, that from monarchs we drew,
    Must be heard but by night in our vengeful halloo!
    Then, halloo, Grigalach! halloo, Grigalach!
    Halloo, halloo, halloo, Grigalach.

    Glen Orchy’s proud mountains, Coalchurn and her towers,
    Glenstrae and Glenlyon, no longer are ours:
    We ’re landless, landless, landless, Grigalach!
    Landless, landless, landless.

    But doomed and devoted by vassal and lord,
    MacGregor has still both his heart and his sword!
    Then, courage, courage, courage, Grigalach!
    Courage, courage, courage.

    If they rob us of name, and pursue us with beagles,
    Give their roofs to the flame, and their flesh to the eagles!
    Then, vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach!
    Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance.

    While there ’s leaves in the forest, and foam on the river,
    MacGregor, despite them, shall flourish forever!
    Come then, Grigalach, come then, Grigalach!
    Come then, come then, come then.

    Through the depths of Loch Katrine the steed shall career,
    O’er the peak of Ben Lomond the galley shall steer,
    And the rocks of Craig Royston like icicles melt,
    Ere our wrongs be forgot or our vengeance unfelt.
    Then, gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!
    Gather, gather, gather.

  4. Gathering of the MacGregors

    by Anonymous

    Come along, my brave clans,
    There ’s nae friends sae stanch and true;
    Come along, my brave clans,
    There ’s nae lads sae leal as you.
    Come along, Clan Donuil,
    Frae ’mang your birks and heather braes;
    Come with bold Macalister,
    Wilder than his mountain raes.

    Gather, gather, gather,
    From Loch Morar to Argyle;
    Come from Castle Tuirim,
    Come from Moidart and the isles.
    Macallan is the hero
    That will lead you to the field:
    Gather, bold Siolallain,
    Sons of them that never yield.

    Gather, gather, gather,
    Gather from Lochaber glen:
    Mac-Mic-Rannail calls you;
    Come from Taroph, Roy, and Spean.
    Gather, brave Clan Donuil,
    Many sons of might you know;
    Lenochan ’s your brother,
    Auchterechtan and Glencoe.

    Gather, gather, gather,
    ’T is your prince that needs your arm:
    Though Macconnel leaves you,
    Dread no danger or alarm.
    Come from field and foray,
    Come from sickle and from plough,
    Come from cairn and correi,
    From deer-wake and driving to.

    Gather, bold Clan Donuil;
    Come with haversack and cord;
    Come not late with meal or cake,
    But come with dirk and gun and sword.
    Down into the Lowlands,
    Plenty bides by dale and burn,
    Gather, brave Clan Donuil,
    Riches wait on your return.

  5. To Ailsa Rock

    by John Keats

    Hearken, thou craggy ocean pyramid!
    Give answer from thy voice, the sea-fowl’s screams!
    When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?
    When, from the sun, was thy broad forehead hid?
    How long is ’t since the mighty power bid
    Thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams?
    Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams,
    Or when gray clouds are thy cold coverlid?
    Thou answer’st not, for thou art dead asleep!
    Thy life is but two dead eternities,—
    The last in air, the former in the deep;
    First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies,—
    Drowned wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep;
    Another cannot wake thy giant size.

  6. Birthplace of Robert Burns

    by Thomas William Parsons

    A lowly roof of simple thatch,—
    No home of pride, of pomp, and sin,—
    So freely let us lift the latch,
    The willing latch that says, “Come in.”

    Plain dwelling this! a narrow door,
    No carpet by soft sandals trod,
    But just for peasant’s feet a floor,—
    Small kingdom for a child of God!

    Yet here was Scotland’s noblest born,
    And here Apollo chose to light;
    And here those large eyes hailed the morn
    That had for beauty such a sight!

    There, as the glorious infant lay,
    Some angel fanned him with his wing,
    And whispered, “Dawn upon the day
    Like a new sun! go forth and sing!”

    He rose and sang, and Scotland heard,—
    The round world echoed with his song,
    And hearts in every land were stirred
    With love, and joy, and scorn of wrong.

    Some their cold lips disdainful curled;
    Yet the sweet lays would many learn;
    But he went singing through the world,
    In most melodious unconcern.

    For flowers will grow, and showers will fall,
    And clouds will travel o’er the sky;
    And the great God, who cares for all,
    He will not let his darlings die.

    But they shall sing in spite of men,
    In spite of poverty and shame,
    And show the world the poet’s pen
    May match the sword in winning fame.

  7. Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn

    by Robert Burns

    At Bannockburn the English lay,—
    The Scots they were na far away,
    But waited for the break o' day
    That glinted in the east.

    But soon the sun broke through the heath
    And lighted up that field of death,
    When Bruce, wi' saul-inspiring breath,
    His heralds thus addressed:—

    "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled—
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led—
    Welcome to your gory bed.
    Or to victorie!

    "Now's the day, and now's the hour;
    See the front o' battle lower;
    See approach proud Edward's power—
    Chains and slaverie!

    "Wha will be a traitor knave?
    Wha can fill a coward's grave?
    Wha sae base as be a slave?
    Let him turn and flee!

    "Wha for Scotland's king and law
    Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
    Freeman stand or freeman fa'—
    Let him follow me!

    "By oppression's woes and pains!
    By your sons in servile chains!
    We will drain our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!

    "Lay the proud usurpers low!
    Tyrants fall in every foe!
    Liberty's in every blow!
    Let us do or die!"

  8. The Old Seaport

    by David Macbeth Moir

    When winds were wailing round me,
    And Day, with closing eye,
    Scowled from beneath the sullen clouds
    Of pale November’s sky,
    In downcast meditation
    All silently I stood,
    Gazing the wintry ocean’s
    Rough, bleak, and barren flood.

    A place more wild and lonely
    Was nowhere to be seen;
    The caverned sea-rocks beetled o’er
    The billows rushing green;
    There was no sound from aught around,
    Save, mid the echoing caves,
    The plashing and the dashing
    Of the melancholy waves.

    High, mid the lowering waste of sky,
    The gray gulls flew in swarms;
    And far beneath the surf upheaved
    The sea-weed’s tangly arms;
    The face of Nature in a pall
    Death-shrouded seemed to be,
    As by St. Serf’s lone tomb arose
    The dirges of the sea.

    In twilight’s shadowy scowling,
    Not far remote there lay
    Thine old dim harbor, Culross,
    Smoky and worn and gray;
    Through far-back generations
    Thy blackened piles had stood,
    And, though the abodes of living men,
    All looked like solitude.

    Of hoar decrepitude all spake,
    And ruin and decay;
    Of fierce, wild times departed;
    Of races passed away;
    Of quaint, grim vessels beating up
    Against the whelming breeze;
    Of tempest-stricken mariners,
    Far on the foamy seas.

    It spake of swart gray-headed men,
    Now dust within their graves,
    Who sailed with Barton or with Spens,
    To breast the trampling waves;
    And how, in shallops picturesque,
    Unawed they drifted forth,
    Directed by the one bright star
    That points the stormy North.

    And how, when windows rattled,
    And strong pines bowed to earth,
    Pale wives, with trembling children mute,
    Would cower beside the hearth,—
    All sadly musing on the ships
    That, buffeting the breeze,
    Held but a fragile plank betwixt
    The sailor and the seas.

    How welcome their return to home!
    What wondrous tales they told,
    Of birds with rainbow plumage,
    And trees with fruits of gold;
    Of perils in the wilderness,
    Beside the lion’s den;
    And huts beneath the giant palms,
    Where dwelt the painted men!

    Mid melancholy fancies
    My spirit loved to stray,
    Back through the mists of hooded Eld,
    Lone wandering, far away;
    When dim-eyed Superstition
    Upraised her eldritch croon,
    And witches held their orgies
    Beneath the waning moon.

    Mid melancholy fancies
    My spirit loved to stray,
    Back through the mists of hooded Eld,
    Lone wandering, far away;
    When dim-eyed Superstition
    Upraised her eldritch croon,
    And witches held their orgies
    Beneath the waning moon.

    Yes! through Tradition’s twilight,
    To days had Fancy flown
    When Canmore or when Kenneth dree’d
    The Celt’s uneasy crown;
    When men were bearded savages,
    An unenlightened horde,
    Mid which gleamed Cunning’s scapulaire,
    And War’s unshrinking sword.

    And, in their rusty hauberks,
    Thronged past the plaided bands;—
    And slanting lay the Norsemen’s keels
    On ocean’s dreary sands;—
    And on the long flat moorlands,
    The cairn, with lichens gray,
    Marked where their souls shrieked forth in blood,
    On Battle’s iron day.

    Between me and the sea loomed out
    The ivied Abbey old,
    In whose grim vaults the Bruces kneel
    In marble quaint and cold;
    And where, inurned, lies hid the heart
    Of young Kinloss deplored,
    Whose blood, by Belgium’s Oster-Scheldt,
    Stained Sackville’s ruthless sword.

    Waned all these trancèd visions;—
    But, on my eerie sight,
    Remained the old dim seaport
    Beneath the scowl of night;
    The sea-mews for their island cliffs
    Had left the homeless sky,
    And only to the dirgeful blast
    The wild seas made reply.

  9. On the Banks of the Dee

    by Anonymous

    The moon had climbed the highest hill
    That rises o’er the banks of Dee,
    And from her farthest summit poured
    Her silver light o’er tower and tree,

    When Mary laid her down to sleep,
    Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea,
    And soft and low a voice she heard,
    Saying, “Mary, weep no more for me.”

    She from her pillow gently raised
    Her head, to see who there might be;
    She saw young Sandy shivering stand,
    With pallid cheek and hollow ee.

    “O Mary dear, cold is my clay;
    It lies beneath the stormy sea;
    The storm is past, and I ’m at rest;
    So, Mary, weep no more for me.”

    Loud crew the cock; the vision fled;
    No more young Sandy could she see;
    But soft a parting whisper said,
    “Sweet Mary, weep no more for me.”

  10. Edinburgh

    by David Macbeth Moir

    From "Mary’s Mount"

    Traced like a map the landscape lies
    In cultured beauty stretching wide;
    There Pentland’s green acclivities;
    There ocean, with its azure tide;
    There Arthur’s Seat; and gleaming through
    Thy southern wing, Dunedin blue!
    While in the orient, Lammer’s daughters,
    A distant giant range, are seen,
    North Berwick Law, with cone of green,
    And Bass amid the waters.

  11. Written in Edinburgh

    by Arthur Henry Hallam

    Even thus, methinks, a city reared should be,
    Yea, an imperial city, that might hold
    Five times a hundred noble towns in fee,
    And either with their might of Babel old,
    Or the rich Roman pomp of empery
    Might stand compare, highest in arts enrolled,
    Highest in arms; brave tenement for the free,
    Who never crouch to thrones, or sin for gold.
    Thus should her towers be raised,—with vicinage,
    Of clear bold hills, that curve her very streets,
    As if to vindicate, mid choicest seats
    Of art, abiding nature’s majesty,
    And the broad sea beyond, in calm or rage
    Chainless alike, and teaching Liberty.

  12. Edinburgh

    by William Drummond of Hawthornden

    Installed on hills, her head near starry bowers,
    Shines Edinburgh, proud of protecting powers.
    Justice defends her heart; Religion east
    With temples, Mars with towers doth guard the west;
    Fresh nymphs and Ceres serving, wait upon her,
    And Thetis tributary doth her honor.
    The sea doth Venice shake, Rome Tiber beats,
    Whilst she but scorns her vassal water’s threats.
    For sceptres nowhere stands a town more fit,
    Nor place where town world’s queen may fairer sit.
    But this thy praise is, above all, most brave,
    No man did e’er defame thee but a slave.

  13. A Highland Village

    by Mathilde Blind

    Clear shining after the rain,
    The sun bursts the clouds asunder,
    And the hollow-rumbling thunder
    Groans like a loaded wain
    As, deep in the Grampians yonder,
    He grumbles now and again.

    Whenever the breezes shiver
    The leaves where the rain-drops quiver,
    Each bough and bush and brier
    Breaks into living fire,
    Till every tree is bright
    With blossom bursts of light.

    From golden roof and spout
    Brown waters gurgle and splutter,
    And rush down the flooded gutter
    Where the village children shout,
    As barefoot they splash in and out
    The water with tireless patter.

    The bald little Highland street
    Is all alive and a-glitter;
    The air blows keen and sweet
    From the field where the swallows twitter;
    Old wives on the doorsteps meet,
    At the corner the young maids titter.

    And the reapers hasten again,
    Ere quite the daylight wane
    To shake out the barley sheaves;
    While through the twinkling leaves
    The harvest moon upheaves
    Clear shining after the rain.

  14. The Swan of Loch Oich

    by Eliza Gookin Thornton

    Beautiful Bird of the Scottish lake,
    With plumage pure as the white snow-flake,
    With neck of pride and a wing of grace,
    And lofty air as of royal race—
    Beautiful Bird! may you long abide,
    And grace Loch Oich in your lonely pride.

    Bright was the breast of the Lake I ween,
    Its crystal wave and its sapphire sheen,
    And bright its border of shrub and tree,
    And thistle bloom in its fragraiicy,
    When to thy side thy fair mate prest,
    Or skimmed the loch with her tintless breast.

    But she is not!—and still to thee,
    Are the sunny wave and the shadowing tree,
    The mossy brink and the thistle flower
    Dear as they were in that blessed hour?
    What is the spell on thy pinion thrown
    That binds thee here, fair Bird, alone?

    Does the vision bright of thy peerless bride
    Still skim the lake and press thy side?
    And haunt the nook in the fir-tree's shade?
    And press the moss in the sunny glade?
    And has earth nothing to thee so fair
    As the gentle spirit that lingers there?

    Oh! 'tis a wondrous wizard spell!
    The human bosom its face can tell
    The heart forsaken hath felt like thine,
    A mystic web with its fibres twine,
    Constraining it still in scenes to stay,
    Whence all it treasured had passed away.

    Bird of Loch Oich! 'tis well, 'tis well,
    You yield your wing to the viewless spell;
    Oh who would seek with a stranger eye,
    For blooming shores and a brilliant sky,
    And range the earth for the hopeless art
    To find a home for a broken heart!

    So would I linger, though all alone,
    Where hallowed love its light has thrown,
    And heath and streamlet and tree and flower,
    Are linked in thought with a happy hour;
    Home of my heart, those scenes should be
    As thy Loch Oich, true Bird, to thee.

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