Sunset in the Western Highlands.

Oban, Argyleshire.

The bay is smooth as glass ; no breeze awakes1
To stir its silent depths. The white-sailed boats2
Are all as still, as though an angel’s hand3
Had painted them upon the sleeping sea.4
The Earth in deep, expectant silence, waits5
To catch the lingering rays of golden light6
Thrown fondly on her by her lord, the Sun.7
He sinks ! the king of the all-glorious Day !8
Flinging his lavish smiles on rock and glen,9
Till the grim peaks of Mull grow rosy red10
Beneath his glance ; as maiden’s blush replies11
To the first pressure of a lover’s kiss.12
Anon, he scatters streams of purple light13
Across the water, in such wantonness,14
That one small wave, elated with the sight,15
Bursts, rippling, from the calm of former rest16
And breaks, in bubbling laughter, on the shore.17
Sudden, a cloud, shaped like angelic wings,18
Of fiery crimson, stretches o’er the sky,19
As though some flying messenger of God20
Were spreading o’er the world his pinions wide21
To shelter ’neath them, wearied human-kind.22
Grey old Dunolly, on its rocky steep,23
Seems lit with golden glory. One by one,24
The bright tints fade in thin and tender lines25
Of palest pink, and softest emerald hue,26
While on the distant summits of Ardgour27
A glowing orange light shines suddenly,28
Then pales and dies in wreaths of purple mist.29
Scarce now is seen the radiant orb of Light,30
Lower he sinks, and lower ! he is gone !31
And tender Twilight steals on tip-toe soft32
Across the mountains. But the brilliant fires33
Lit by the Sun upon the tranquil sea,34
Defy her misty shadow for a time,35
And dance together on the crystal tide,36
Till all, uniting in a dimpled smile37
Of parting splendour, fade and die away.38
Mull shrouds herself in veils of violet mist,39
And from the sky, the faintly beaming stars40
Timidly peep, to see if they may shine41
In their own lustre, till the Queen of Night,42
The silver moon, steps out to shame them all.43
Pearl of the Highlands ! Scotland’s brightest gem44
Art thou, fair Oban, nestling ’neath the hills.45
Nature puts on her gayest robes for thee,46
And heather-bells fling amethystine light47
Over thy sternest crags and wildest glens48
Till thou art like a very Fairyland.49
Would I could dwell amid thy loveliness,50
Heedless of all the tumult of the world,51
And hear the music of thy leaping burns,52
And sail across thy mountain-sheltered bay,53
Thus, seeing naught but grandeur and delight,54
I’d live such life of perfect peace on Earth55
As should prepare me for the peace of Heaven !56