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.
Ayr, the River
Joaquin Miller (1837–1913)
I LINGER in the autumn noon,
I listen to the partridge call,
I watch the yellow leaflets fall
And drift adown the dimpled Doon.
I lean me o’er the ivy-grown        5
Old brig, where Vandal tourists’ tools
Have ribbed out names that would be known,
Are known,—known as a herd of fools.
Down Ailsa Craig the sun declines,
  With lances levelled here and there,—        10
The tinted thorns! the trailing vines!
  O braes of Doon! so fond, so fair!
So passing fair, so more than fond!
The Poet’s place of birth beyond,
  Beyond the mellow bells of Ayr!        15
  I hear the milkmaid’s twilight song
Come bravely through the storm-bent oaks;
Beyond, the white surf’s sullen strokes
  Beat in a chorus deep and strong;
I hear the sounding forge afar,        20
And rush and rumble of the car,
  The steady tinkle of the bell
Of lazy, laden, home-bound cows
That stop to bellow and to browse;
  I breathe the soft sea-wind as well,        25
And now would fain arouse, arise;
I count the red lights in the skies;
  I yield as to a fairy spell.
  Heard ye the feet of flying horse?
Heard ye the bogles in the air        30
That clutch at Tam O’Shanter’s mare,
  That flies this mossy brig across?
*        *        *        *        *
  O Burns! another name for song,
Another name for passion,—pride;
For love and poesy allied;        35
For strangely blended right and wrong.
  I picture you as one who kneeled
A stranger at his own hearthstone;
One knowing all, yet all unknown,
One seeing all, yet all concealed;        40
The fitful years you lingered here,
A lease of peril and of pain;
And I am thankful yet again
The gods did love you, ploughman! peer!
  In all your own and other lands,        45
I hear your touching songs of cheer;
The peasant and the lordly peer
Above your honored dust strike hands.
  A touch of tenderness is shown
In this unselfish love of Ayr,        50
And it is well, you earned it fair;
For all unhelmeted, alone,
You proved a ploughman’s honest claim
To battle in the lists of fame;
You earned it as a warrior earns        55
His laurels fighting for his land,
And died,—it was your right to go.
O eloquence of silent woe!
The Master leaning reached a hand,
And whispered, “It is finished, Burns!”        60
  O sad, sweet singer of a Spring!
Yours was a chill, uncheerful May,
And you knew no full days of June;
You ran too swiftly up the way,
And wearied soon, so over-soon!        65
You sang in weariness and woe;
You faltered, and God heard you sing,
Then touched your hand and led you so,
You found life’s hill-top low, so low,
You crossed its summit long ere noon.        70
Thus sooner than one would suppose
Some weary feet will find repose.

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