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


Elegy Written in a Wood near Roslin Castle, 1762

By William Julius Mickle (1734–1788)

THE PEACEFUL evening breathes her balmy store;

The playful school-boy swanton o’er the green;

Where spreading poplars shade the cottage door,

The villagers in rustic joy convene.

Amid the secret windings of the wood,

With solemn meditation let me stray;

This is the hour when, to the wise and good,

The heavenly maid repays the toils of day.

The river murmurs, and the breathing gale

Whispers the gently-waving boughs among;

The star of evening glimmers o’er the dale,

And leads the silent host of heaven along.

How bright, emerging o’er yon broom-clad height,

The silver empress of the night appears!

Yon limpid pool reflects a stream of light,

And faintly in its breast the woodland bears.

The waters, tumbling o’er their rocky bed,

Solemn and constant, from yon dell resound;

The lonely hearths blaze o’er the distant glade;

The bat, low-wheeling, skims the dusky ground.

August and hoary, o’er the sloping dale

The Gothic abbey rears its sculptured towers;

Dull through the roofs resounds the whistling gale;

Dark solitude among the pillars lowers.

Where yon old trees bend o’er a place of graves,

And, solemn, shade a chapel’s sad remains;

Where yon scathed poplar through the window waves,

And, twining round, the hoary arch sustains;

There oft, at dawn, as one forgot behind,

Who longs to follow, yet unknowing where,

Some hoary shepherd, o’er his staff reclined,

Pores on the graves, and sighs a broken prayer.

High o’er the pines, that with their darkening shade

Surround yon craggy bank, the castle rears

Its crumbling turrets: still its towery head

A warlike mien, a sullen grandeur wears.

So, midst the snow of age, a boastful air

Still on the war-worn veteran’s brow attends;

Still his big bones his youthful prime declare,

Though, trembling, o’er the feeble crutch he bends.

Wild round the gates the dusky wall-flowers creep,

Where oft the knights the beauteous dames have led;

Gone is the bower, the grot a ruined heap,

Where bays and ivy o’er the fragments spread.

’T was here our sires, exulting from the fight,

Great in their bloody arms, marched o’er the lea,

Eying their rescued fields with proud delight;

Now lost to them! and, ah, how changed to me!