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

Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Castle

By David Macbeth Moir (1798–1851)


From the sea-murmur ceaseless, up between

The green secluding hills, that hem it round

As ’t were with conscious love, stands Kelburn House,

With its gray turrets, in baronial state,

A proud memento of the days when men

Thought but of war and safety. Stately pile

And lovely woods! not often have mine eyes

Gazed o’er a scene more picturesque, or more

Heart-touching in its beauty. Thou wert once

The guardian of these valleys, and the foe

Approaching heard, between himself and thee,

The fierce, down-thundering, mocking waterfall;

While, on thy battlements, in glittering mail,

The warder glided; and the sentinel,

As neared the stranger horseman to thy gates,

And gave the password, which no answer found,

Plucked from his quiver the unerring shaft,

Which, from Kilwinning’s spire, had oft brought down

The mock Papingo.
Mournfully, alas!

Yet in thy quietude not desolate,

Now, like a relic of the times gone by,

Down from thy verdant throne, upon the sea,

Which glitters like a sheet of molten gold,

Thou lookest thus, at eventide, while sets,

In opal and in amethystine hues,

The day o’er distant Arran, with its peaks

Sky-piercing, yet o’erclad with winter’s snows

In desolate grandeur; and the cottaged fields

Of nearer Bute smile in their vernal green,

A picture of repose. High overhead

The gull, far-shrieking, through yon stern ravine

Of wild, rude rocks, where brawls the mountain stream,

Wings to the sea, and seeks, beyond its foams,

Its own precipitous cliff upon the coast

Of fair and fertile Cumbrae; while the rook,

Conscious of coming eventide, forsakes

The leafing woods, and round the chimneyed roofs

Caws as he wheels, alights, and then anon

Renews his circling flight in clamorous joy.

Mountains that face bald Arran! though the sun

Now, with the ruddy lights of eventide,

Gilds every pastoral summit on which Peace,

Like a descended angel, sits enthroned,

Forth gazing on a scene as beautiful

As Nature e’er outspread for mortal eye;

And but the voice of distant waterfall

Sings lullaby to bird and beast, and wings

Of insects murmurous, multitudinous,

That in the low, red, level beams commix,

And weave their elfin dance,—another time

And other tones were yours, when on each peak

At hand, and through Argyle and Lanark shires,

Startling black midnight, flared the beacon lights,

And when from out the west the castled steep

Of Broadwick reddened with responsive blaze.

A night was that of doubt and of suspense,

Of danger and of daring, in the which

The fate of Scotland in the balance hung

Trembling, and up and down wavered the scales;

But Hope grew brighter with the rising sun,

And Dawn looked out, to see upon the shore

The Brace’s standard floating on the gale,

A call to freedom!—barks from every isle

Pouring with clumps of spears!—from every dell

The throng of mail-clad men!—vassal and lord,

With ponderous curtal-axe, and broadsword keen,

Banner and bow; while, overhead, afar

And near, the bugles rang amid the rocks,

Echoing in wild reverberation shrill,

And scaring from his heathery lair the deer,

The osprey from his island cliff of rest.