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

Loch Corriskin (Coruisk)

Loch Coruisk

By Robert Williams Buchanan (1841–1901)


HERE by the sunless lake there is no air,

Yet with how ceaseless motion, like a shower

Flowing and fading, do the high mists lower

Amid the gorges of the mountains bare.

Some weary breathing never ceases there,—

The barren peaks can feel it hour by hour;

The purple depths are darkened by its power;

A soundless breath, a trouble all things share

That feel it come and go. See! onward swim

The ghostly mists, from silent land to land,

From gulf to gulf; now the whole air grows dim,—

Like living men, darkling a space, they stand.

But lo! a sunbeam, like the cherubim,

Scatters them onward with a flaming brand.


I THINK this is the very stillest place

On all God’s earth, and yet no rest is here.

The vapors mirrored in the black loch’s face

Drift on like frantic shapes and disappear;

A never-ceasing murmur in mine ear

Tells me of waters wild that flow and flow.

There is no rest at all afar or near,

Only a sense of things that moan and go.

And lo! the still small life these limbs contain

I feel flows on like those, restless and proud;

Before that breathing naught within my brain

Pauses, but all drifts on like mist and cloud;

Only the bald peaks and the stones remain,

Frozen before thee, desolate and bowed.


GHOSTLY and livid, robed with shadow, see!

Each mighty mountain silent on its throne,

From foot to scalp one stretch of livid stone,

Without one gleam of grass or greenery.

Silent they take the immutable decree,—

Darkness or sunlight come,—they do not stir;

Each bare brow, lifted desolately free,

Keepeth the silence of a death-chamber.

Silent they watch each other until doom;

They see each other’s phantoms come and go,

Yet stir not. Now the stormy hour brings gloom,

Now all things grow confused and black below,

Specific through the cloudy drift they loom,

And each accepts his individual woe.


MONARCH of these is Blaabhein. On his height

The lightning and the snow sleep side by side,

Like snake and lamb; he waiteth in a white

And wintry consecration. All his pride

Is husht this dimly gleaming autumn day,—

He broodeth o’er the things he hath beheld,—

Beneath his feet the rains crawl still and gray,

Like phantoms of the mighty men of eld.

A quiet awe the dreadful heights doth fill,

The high clouds pause and brood above their king;

The torrent murmurs gently as a rill;

Softly and low the winds are murmuring:

A small black speck above the snow, how still

Hovers the eagle, with no stir of wing!


WATCH but a moment,—all is changed! A moan

Breaketh the beauty of that noonday dream;

The hoary Titan darkens on his throne,

And with an indistinct and senile scream

Gazes at the wild rains as past they stream,

Through vaporous air wild-blowing on his brow;

All black, from scalp to base there is no gleam,

Even his silent snows are faded now.

Watch yet!—and yet!—Behold, and all is done,—

’T was but the shallow shapes that come and go,

Troubling the mimic picture in the eye.

Still and untroubled sits the kingly one.

Yonder the eagle floats,—there sleeps the snow

Against the pale green of the cloudless sky.