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

Kilda, the Island


By David Mallet (c. 1705–1765)

(From Amyntor and Theodora)

FAR in the watery waste, where his broad wave,

From world to world, the vast Atlantic rolls

On from the piny shores of Labrador

To frozen Thulé east, her airy height

Aloft to heaven remotest Kilda lifts;

Last of the sea-girt Hebrides, that guard,

In filial train, Britannia’s parent coast.

Thrice happy land! though freezing on the verge

Of arctic skies, yet blameless still of arts

That polish to deprave each softer clime;

With simple nature, simple virtue blest!

Beyond Ambition’s walk; where never War

Upreared his sanguine standard, nor unsheathed

For wealth or power the desolating sword;

Where Luxury, soft siren, who around

To thousand nations deals her nectared cup

Of pleasing bane, that soothes at once and kills,

Is yet a name unknown. But calm content

That lives to reason; ancient faith that binds

The plain community of guileless hearts

In love and union; innocence of ill

Their guardian genius: these the powers that rule

This little world, to all its sons secure;

Man’s happiest life; the soul serene and sound

From passion’s rage, the body from disease.

Red on each cheek behold the rose of health;

Firm in each sinew vigor’s pliant spring,

By temperance braced to peril and to pain

Amid the floods they stem, or on the steep

Of upright rocks their straining steps surmount,

For food or pastime. These light up their morn,

And close their eve in slumbers sweetly deep,

Beneath the north, within the circling swell

Of ocean’s raging sound. But last and best,

What avarice, what ambition shall not know,

True liberty is theirs, the heaven-sent guest,

Who in the cave, or on the uncultured wild,

With independence dwells; and peace of mind,

In youth, in age, their sun that never sets.