The Poems of Henry Kendall

Heath from the Highlands

Henry Kendall

HERE, where the great hills fall away
    To bays of silver sea,
I hold within my hand to-day
    A wild thing, strange to me.

Behind me is the deep green dell
    Where lives familiar light;
The leaves and flowers I know so well
    Are gleaming in my sight.

And yonder is the mountain glen,
    Where sings in trees unstirred
By breath of breeze or axe of men
    The shining satin-bird.

The old weird cry of plover comes
    Across the marshy ways,
And here the hermit hornet hums,
    And here the wild bee strays.

No novel life or light I see,
    On hill, in dale beneath:
All things around are known to me
    Except this bit of heath.

This touching growth hath made me dream—
    It sends my soul afar
To where the Scottish mountains gleam
    Against the Northern star.

It droops—this plant—like one who grieves;
    But, while my fancy glows,
There is that glory on its leaves
    Which never robed the rose.

For near its wind-blown native spot
    Were born, by crags uphurled,
The ringing songs of Walter Scott
    That shook the whole wide world.

There haply by the sounding streams,
    And where the fountains break,
He saw the darling of his dreams,
    The Lady of the Lake.

And on the peaks where never leaf
    Of lowland beauty grew,
Perhaps he met Clan Alpine’s chief,
    The rugged Roderick Dhu.

Not far, perchance, this heather throve
    (Above fair banks of ferns),
From that green place of stream and grove
    That knew the voice of Burns.

Against the radiant river ways
    Still waves the noble wood,
Where in the old majestic days
    The Scottish poet stood.

Perhaps my heather used to beam
    In robes of morning frost,
By dells which saw that lovely dream—
    The Mary that he lost.

I hope, indeed, the singer knew
    The little spot of land
On which the mountain beauty grew
    That withers in my hand.

A Highland sky my vision fills;
    I feel the great, strong North—
The hard grey weather of the hills
    That brings men-children forth.

The peaks of Scotland, where the din
    And flame of thunders go,
Seem near me, with the masculine,
    Hale sons of wind and snow.

So potent is this heather here,
    That under skies of blue,
I seem to breathe the atmosphere
    That William Wallace knew.

And under windy mountain wall,
    Where breaks the torrent loose,
I fancy I can hear the call
    Of grand old Robert Bruce.

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