Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
I. The Lay of Sir William Wallace
By Menella Bute Smedley (1820–1877)
(From “Lays and Ballads from English History”)

THE GREY hill and the purple heath
  Are round me as I stand;
The torrent hoar doth sternly roar,
  The lake lies calm and grand;
The altars of the living rock        5
  ’Neath yon blue skies are bare,
And a thousand mountain-voices mock
  Mine accents on the air.
O loved most lovely and beloved,—
  Whether in morn’s bright hues,        10
Or in the veil, so soft, so pale,
  Woven by twilight dews,
God’s bounty pours from sun and cloud,
  Beauty on shore and wave,—
I lift my hands, I cry aloud,        15
  Man shall not make thee slave.
Ye everlasting witnesses,—
  Most eloquent, though dumb,—
Sky, shore, and seas, light, mist, and breeze,
  Receive me when I come!        20
How could I in this holy place,
  Stand with unstainèd brow,
How look on earth’s accursing face,
  If I forget my vow?
Not few nor slight his burdens are        25
  Who gives himself to stand,
Steadfast and sleepless as a star,
  Watching his fatherland;
Strong must his will be, and serene,
  His spirit pure and bright,        30
His conscience vigilant and keen,
  His arm an arm of might.
From the closed temple of his heart,
  Sealed as a sacred spring,
Self must he spurn, and set apart        35
  As an unholy thing;
Misconstrued where he loves the best,
  Where most he hopes, betrayed,
The quenchless watchfire in his breast
  Must neither fail nor fade.        40
And his shall be a holier meed
  Than earthly lips may tell;—
Not in the end, but in the deed,
  Doth truest honour dwell.
His land is one vast monument,        45
  Bearing the record high
Of a spirit with itself content,
  And a name that cannot die!
For this, with joyous heart, I give
  Fame, pleasure, love, and life;        50
Blest for a cause so high, to live
  In ceaseless, hopeless strife:
For this to die, with sword in hand,
  Oh, blessed and honoured thrice!
God, countrymen, and fatherland,        55
  Accept the sacrifice!

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