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


Cathair Fhargus

By Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826–1887)

  • Fergus’s Seat
  • A mountain in the Island of Arran, the summit of which resembles a gigantic human profile.

  • WITH face turned upward to the changeful sky,

    I, Fergus, lie, supine in frozen rest;

    The maiden morning clouds slip rosily

    Unclasped, unclasping, down my granite breast;

    The lightning strikes my brow and passes by.

    There ’s nothing new beneath the sun, I wot;

    I “Fergus” called,—the great preadamite,

    Who for my mortal body blindly sought

    Rash immortality, and on this height

    Stone-bound, forever am and yet am not,—

    There ’s nothing new beneath the sun, I say.

    Ye pygmies of a later race, who come

    And play out your brief generation’s play

    Below me, know, I too spent my life’s sum,

    And revelled through my short tumultuous day.

    O, what is man that he should mouth so grand

    Through his poor thousand as his seventy years?

    Whether as king I ruled a trembling land,

    Or swayed by tongue or pen my meaner peers,

    Or earth’s whole learning once did understand,—

    What matter? The star-angels know it all.

    They who came sweeping through the silent night

    And stood before me, yet did not appall:

    Till, fighting ’gainst me in their courses bright,

    Celestial smote terrestrial.—Hence, my fall.

    Hence, Heaven cursed me with a granted prayer;

    Made my hill-seat eternal; bade me keep

    My pageant of majestic lone despair,

    While one by one into the infinite deep

    Sank kindred, realm, throne, world: yet I lay there.

    There still I lie. Where are my glories fled?

    My wisdom that I boasted as divine?

    My grand primeval women fair, who shed

    Their whole life’s joy to crown one hour of mine,

    And lived to curse the love they coveted?

    Gone,—gone. Uncounted æons have rolled by,

    And still my ghost sits by its corpse of stone,

    And still the blue smile of the new-formed sky

    Finds me unchanged. Slow centuries crawling on

    Bring myriads happy death:—I cannot die.