Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Scotland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII.  1876–79.
Alexander Smith (1830–1867)
SING, Poet, ’t is a merry world;
That cottage smoke is rolled and curled
    In sport, that every moss
Is happy, every inch of soil;—
Before me runs a road of toil        5
    With my grave cut across.
Sing, trailing showers and breezy downs,—
I know the tragic hearts of towns.
City! I am true son of thine;
Ne’er dwelt I where great mornings shine        10
    Around the bleating pens;
Ne’er by the rivulets I strayed,
And ne’er upon my childhood weighed
    The silence of the glens.
Instead of shores where ocean beats,        15
I hear the ebb and flow of streets.
Black Labor draws his weary waves
Into their secret-moaning caves;
    But with the morning light
That sea again will overflow        20
With a long, weary sound of woe,
    Again to faint in night.
Wave am I in that sea of woes,
Which, night and morning, ebbs and flows.
I dwelt within a gloomy court,        25
Wherein did never sunbeam sport;
    Yet there my heart was stirred,—
My very blood did dance and thrill,
When on my narrow window-sill
    Spring lighted like a bird.        30
Poor flowers! I watched them pine for weeks,
With leaves as pale as human cheeks.
Afar, one summer, I was borne;
Through golden vapors of the morn
    I heard the hills of sheep:        35
I trod with a wild ecstasy
The bright fringe of the living sea:
    And on a ruined keep
I sat and watched an endless plain
Blacken beneath the gloom of rain.        40
O, fair the lightly sprinkled waste,
O’er which a laughing shower has raced!
    O, fair the April shoots!
O, fair the woods on summer days,
While a blue hyacinthine haze        45
    Is dreaming round the roots!
In thee, O city! I discern
Another beauty, sad and stem.
Draw thy fierce streams of blinding ore,
Smite on a thousand anvils, roar        50
    Down to the harbor-bars;
Smoulder in smoky sunsets, flare
On rainy nights, while street and square
    Lie empty to the stars.
From terrace proud to alley base,        55
I know thee as my mother’s face.
When sunset bathes thee in his gold,
In wreaths of bronze thy sides are rolled,
    Thy smoke is dusty fire;
And from the glory round thee poured,        60
A sunbeam like an angel’s sword
    Shivers upon a spire.
Thus have I watched thee, Terror! Dream!
While the blue Night crept up the stream.
The wild train plunges in the hills,        65
He shrieks across the midnight rills;
    Streams through the shifting glare,
The roar and flap of foundry fires,
That shake with light the sleeping shires;
    And on the moorlands bare        70
He sees afar a crown of light
Hang o’er thee in the hollow night.
At midnight, when thy suburbs lie
As silent as a noonday sky
    When larks with heat are mute,        75
I love to linger on thy bridge,
All lonely as a mountain ridge,
    Disturbed but by my foot;
While the black lazy stream beneath
Steals from its far-off wilds of heath.        80
And through thy heart, as through a dream,
Flows on that black disdainful stream;
    All scornfully it flows,
Between the huddled gloom of masts,
Silent as pines unvexed by blasts,—        85
    ’Tween lamps in streaming rows,
O wondrous sight! O stream of dread!
O long, dark river of the dead!
Afar the banner of the year
Unfurls: but dimly prisoned here,        90
    ’T is only when I greet
A dropt rose lying in my way,
A butterfly that flutters gay
    Athwart the noisy street,
I know the happy Summer smiles        95
Around thy suburbs, miles on miles.
’T were neither pæan now, nor dirge,
The flash and thunder of the surge
    On flat sands wide and bare:
No haunting joy or anguish dwells,        100
In the green light of sunny dells,
    Or in the starry air.
Alike to me the desert flower,
The rainbow laughing o’er the shower.
While o’er thy walls the darkness sails,        105
I lean against the churchyard rails;
    Up in the midnight towers
The belfried spire, the street is dead,
I hear in silence overhead
    The clang of iron hours:        110
It moves me not,—I know her tomb
Is yonder in the shapeless gloom.
All raptures of this mortal breath,
Solemnities of life and death,
    Dwell in thy noise alone:        115
Of me thou hast become a part,—
Some kindred with my human heart
    Lives in thy streets of stone;
For we have been familiar more
Than galley-slave and weary oar.        120
The beech is dipped in wine; the shower
Is burnished; on the swinging flower
    The latest bee doth sit.
The low sun stares through dust of gold,
And o’er the darkening heath and wold        125
    The large ghost-moth doth flit.
In every orchard Autumn stands,
With apples in his golden hands.
But all these sights and sounds are strange;
Then wherefore from thee should I range?        130
    Thou hast my kith and kin;
My childhood, youth, and manhood brave;
Thou hast that unforgotten grave
    Within thy central din.
A sacredness of love and death        135
Dwells in thy noise and smoky breath.

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