The Burn.

I sat on a grey crag of Scotland’s shore,1
A book upon my knee, wherein I read2
Of that thrice-happy English Brook that found3
A sacer vates in the laurelled bard4
Who sang of Arthur and of Wellington.5
And as I read a gurly Scottish Burn,6
Torn in its struggling with the hornèd rocks,7
That fenced the margin of the jealous brine,8
Disturbed me with its noise, and dashed its spray9
Upon the page, until I raised my head,10
And, not without some touch of patriot shame,11
O Burn ! ” I cried, “ be still, that I may hear12
The fine crisp accents, dainty, musical,13
Of your south-country cousin. What have you14
To set against that gaily chattering tale15
Of lawns, and garden-plots, and level fields ?16
Whence come you ?  Speak, if you have aught to say.”17


I come from distant sunset peaks18
Where eagles track their quarry,19
My fountain-head the red-deer seeks20
In the lone mountain corrie.21
By stormy cliff and frowning crest22
My infant waves go streaming,23
By lichened crags in ruby drest,24
With frosted silver gleaming.25
From ledge to ledge I flash and spring26
Of shelving precipices,27
A million diamond gems I fling28
To deck the fir-tree’s tresses.29
Down splintered chasms I rave and reel,30
A torrent madly foaming ;31
And then through witching glens I steal,32
By lovers in the gloaming.33
Upon my banks in fairy bands.34
The blue-bells sing together ;35
For very joy I clap my hands.36
Among the blooming heather.37
In shimmering dusk of wooded glade38
The branches meet above me ;39
For lights come glinting through the shade,40
For well the sunbeams love me.41
I smooth my ripplings as I pass42
Below the daisied green,43
The solitary birch to glass,44
The long-haired forest-queen.45
Her willing slave, I kiss her feet,46
And,—guerdon sweet of duty !—47
She shields me from the fierce noon-heat,48
And glads me with her beauty.49


Sometimes, well pleased, I break my course,50
And sleep from night to morning ;51
The miller wants my gathered force52
To set his old wheel turning.53
He lifts, when dawn is on the hill,54
The sluice; then forth I sally,55
And with the music of the mill56
I wake the slumbering valley.57
And oh, the happiness to see58
The miller’s children’s faces,59
When out they rush to sport with me60
In gambollings and races.61
By broomy knowes and hazel scrub62
In windy upland passes,63
I form, Ha ! ha ! the washing-tub64
For gleesome Highland lasses.65
In rock-hewn basin, glittering bright,66
I curl, and glance, and eddy67
Round fair feet treading linen white,—68
To think on’t makes me giddy.69


In tranced calm of summer night,70
When cloudless moonlight fills71
With chastened splendour, gently bright,72
The circuit of the hills ;73
When dew lies deep on bower and brake,74
And on the sparkling fern,75
And ghost-like thistles seem to shake76
Upon the haunted cairn ;77
Through silver gleam, through purple gloom,78
In that enchanted hour,79
Slow glide I by the martyr’s tomb,80
Pale church, and feudal tower.81
With low, melodious lulling tune,82
I steal by cliffs and scaurs,83
In measured music with the moon84
And with the rolling stars.85
And when the crimson glimpse of day86
Fires rowan-tree and willow,87
I bound at last into the bay,88
To battle with the billow.89