Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


YARROW REVISITED, AND OTHER POEMS

COMPOSED (TWO EXCEPTED) DURING A TOUR IN SCOTLAND AND ON THE ENGLISH BORDER, IN THE AUTUMN OF 1831.

XXVI. THE HIGHLAND BROACH

          IF to Tradition faith be due,
          And echoes from old verse speak true,
          Ere the meek Saint, Columba, bore
          Glad tidings to Iona's shore,
          No common light of nature blessed
          The mountain region of the west,
          A land where gentle manners ruled
          O'er men in dauntless virtues schooled,
          That raised, for centuries, a bar
          Impervious to the tide of war:                              10
          Yet peaceful Arts did entrance gain
          Where haughty Force had striven in vain;
          And, 'mid the works of skilful hands,
          By wanderers brought from foreign lands
          And various climes, was not unknown
          The clasp that fixed the Roman Gown;
          The Fibula, whose shape, I ween,
          Still in the Highland Broach is seen,
          The silver Broach of massy frame,
          Worn at the breast of some grave Dame                       20
          On road or path, or at the door
          Of fern-thatched hut on heathy moor:
          But delicate of yore its mould,
          And the material finest gold;
          As might beseem the fairest Fair,
          Whether she graced a royal chair,
          Or shed, within a vaulted hall,
          No fancied lustre on the wall
          Where shields of mighty heroes hung,
          While Fingal heard what Ossian sung.                        30
            The heroic Age expired--it slept
          Deep in its tomb:--the bramble crept
          O'er Fingal's hearth; the grassy sod
          Grew on the floors his sons had trod:
          Malvina! where art thou? Their state
          The noblest-born must abdicate;
          The fairest, while with fire and sword
          Come Spoilers--horde impelling horde,
          Must walk the sorrowing mountains, drest
          By ruder hands in homelier vest.                            40
          Yet still the female bosom lent,
          And loved to borrow, ornament;
          Still was its inner world a place
          Reached by the dews of heavenly grace;
          Still pity to this last retreat
          Clove fondly; to his favourite seat
          Love wound his way by soft approach,
          Beneath a massier Highland Broach.
            When alternations came of rage
          Yet fiercer, in a darker age;                               50
          And feuds, where, clan encountering clan,
          The weaker perished to a man;
          For maid and mother, when despair
          Might else have triumphed, baffling prayer,
          One small possession lacked not power,
          Provided in a calmer hour,
          To meet such need as might befall--
          Roof, raiment, bread, or burial:
          For woman, even of tears bereft,
          The hidden silver Broach was left.                          60
            As generations come and go
          Their arts, their customs, ebb and flow;
          Fate, fortune, sweep strong powers away,
          And feeble, of themselves, decay;
          What poor abodes the heir-loom hide,
          In which the castle once took pride!
          Tokens, once kept as boasted wealth,
          If saved at all, are saved by stealth.
          Lo! ships, from seas by nature barred,
          Mount along ways by man prepared;                           70
          And in far-stretching vales, whose streams
          Seek other seas, their canvas gleams.
          Lo! busy towns spring up, on coasts
          Thronged yesterday by airy ghosts;
          Soon, like a lingering star forlorn
          Among the novelties of morn,
          While young delights on old encroach,
          Will vanish the last Highland Broach.
            But when, from out their viewless bed,
          Like vapours, years have rolled and spread;                 80
          And this poor verse, and worthier lays,
          Shall yield no light of love or praise;
          Then, by the spade, or cleaving plough,
          Or torrent from the mountain's brow,
          Or whirlwind, reckless what his might
          Entombs, or forces into light;
          Blind Chance, a volunteer ally,
          That oft befriends Antiquity,
          And clears Oblivion from reproach,
          May render back the Highland Broach.                        90


CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors