Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.



By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

(From The Lord of the Isles)

IN night the fairy prospects sink,

Where Cumray’s isles with verdant link

Close the fair entrance of the Clyde;

The woods of Bute, no more descried,

Are gone, and on the placid sea

The rowers plied their task with glee,

While hands that knightly lances bore

Impatient aid the laboring oar.

The half-faced moon shone dim and pale,

And glanced against the whitened sail;

But on that ruddy beacon-light

Each steersman kept the helm aright,

And oft, for such the king’s command,

That all at once might reach the strand,

From boat to boat loud shout and hail

Warned them to crowd or slacken sail.

South and by west the armada bore,

And near at length the Carrick shore.

As less and less the distance grows,

High and more high the beacon rose;

The light, that seemed a twinkling star,

Now blazed, portentous, fierce, and far.

Dark-red the heaven above it glowed,

Dark-red the sea beneath it flowed,

Red rose the rocks on ocean’s brim,

In blood-red light her islets swim;

Wild scream the dazzled sea-fowl gave,

Dropped from their crags on plashing wave,

The deer to distant covert drew,

The black-cock deemed it day, and crew.

Like some tall castle given to flame,

O’er half the land the lustre came.

“Now, good my liege, and brother sage,

What think ye of mine elfin page?”

“Row on!” the noble king replied,

“We ’ll learn the truth whate’er betide;

Yet sure the beadsman and the child

Could ne’er have waked that beacon wild.”