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

Lincluden Abbey

Lincluden Abbey

By George Gilfillan (1813–1878)

(From Night)

AGAIN, our evening’s meditation turns

Not upon God, but on God-gifted man:

Thus to Lincluden’s Abbey once we walked,

In the mild twilight of a burning day,

With one, a poet of the truest grain,

Who erst on Acksbeck’s Mount stood by the Fiend,

And probed the sultry secrets of his heart.

Autumn had barely touched the summer’s brow

With one cool finger of her matron hand;

The sky was clear and burnished in its depth,

While here and there an early star peeped through,

Perplexed and bashful in her solitude.

All in the vale was silent, save the Nith,

Singing, we thought, some “owreturn” from her bard,

Her long since dead but unforgotten Burns;

Her voice now “crooning,” in a lowly tone,

The old lament upon “Drummossie Moor”;

Now blithely breaking into “Auld Lang Syne”;

Now, as it met some bold and battling rock,

Rasping out “Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled”;

And now, as the lone Abbey drew anear,

Moaning some unintelligible dirge,

Like the “Bard’s Elegy” by river sung;

And then, the river left, the ruin rose,

The same as when the form of Liberty

Appeared, and dauntless met his kindling eye;

The while the fox was howling on the hill,

And the dim distant echo gave reply.

We entered with hushed hearts the ruined fane,—

When, lo! as if with sudden hand, a torch

Some spirit of the night had lifted up,

To show us all the secrets of the pile,

The full large yellow moon of harvest rose,

And filled the oriel window with her form,

And poured a soft and softening smile around.

Often we thought the poet’s troubled soul

Has held a tryste here with that lovely moon,

And oft his sad eye has been soothed by hers;

Till, as he turned his lingering footsteps home,

Came rushing back the joys of early youth,

And he his poverty and woe forgot,

And was again the happy boy of Doon,

In ’s hand the sickle, on his lips the song,

And in his heart the first pure gush of love.