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


Margaret and Mary

By Allan Cunningham (1784–1842)

  • Miss Margaret Harley Maxwell, only daughter of the poet’s cousin, Alexander Harley Maxwell, of Portrack, Esq., and Mary, the poet’s only daughter.

  • YOUNG Margaret woke, and waking cried,

    Rise, Mary! lo, on Dunscore side,

    The morning sun shines bright; and hear!—

    The reapers’ horns ring far and near!

    The thrush sings loud in bush and bower,

    The doves coo loud on Isle old tower;

    The poet’s walk, by Ellisland,

    Is rife with larks that love the sand;

    The pars are leaping in the Rack,

    The cornecrake calls from fair Portrack;

    There ’s silver, sure, in yon sweet rill

    That flows ’tween this and blithe Cowehill;

    And see! from green Dalswinton’s lake,

    Their distant flight the herons take.

    I ’m glad I ’ve wakened—’t is so sweet

    To see the dew shine on our feet;

    To see the morn diffuse its wealth,—

    Light, life, and happiness, and health;

    And then the sounds which float abroad

    Are Nature’s, and come all from God!

    Young Mary thus: from London fair

    She came to Margaret for sweet air;

    Not sisters born, yet sisters they

    In heart, in spirit, and in play.

    See, see! the farmer quits his horn,—

    Fast ’neath the sickle sinks the corn!

    The bandsmen all with hoary locks

    Tie up the sheaves and set the shocks;

    The busy maids, with snooded tresses,

    Dish sweet milk pottage out in messes;

    E’en now upon Nith’s winding stream

    The glad sun sheds a brighter beam;

    Dark Blackwood smiles, and ’mongst her trees

    Carse lists the music of her bees;

    And from Dalswinton, broad and fair,

    The smell of fruit fills all the air:

    Old Age in sunshine walks abroad

    Thankful, and gives his thoughts to God!

    See, children, see!—’T was thus another

    Voice spoke, of aunt perchance, or mother,—

    That stream has run, yon sun has shone,

    Yon hills have stood, that wind has blown,

    Since first God framed them with his hand,—

    All else is changed within this land:

    Landmarks decay, tombs yield their trust,

    Youth fades, and old age sinks to dust!

    Ten ancient names have ceased in story,

    Ten ancient towers have lost their glory,

    Two kirks, where Learning’s lamp and cowl

    Were trimmed, now shelter bat and owl!

    For Seton’s soul, where monks said masses,

    The wandering gypsies graze their asses;

    Full sixty halls where Maxwells dwelt

    The sway of strangers’ hands have felt;

    The Douglas—but I shall not say

    What chances wrought their sad decay—

    Or stern Kirkpatrick, whose dread dirk

    Won Scotland’s freedom in her kirk;

    Or Charteris, whose proud feudal power

    From Tinwald reached to Liddel’s tower;

    Or Halliday, whose hounds could range

    From Solway sands to Moffat grange;

    All these—the brightness of their days

    Are gone—their power the stranger sways—

    Or sad on their diminished bounds

    They rule, nor hosts, nor deep-mouthed hounds.

    Fair children, this stern lesson learn:—

    What merit wins and worth can earn,

    May, in some inconsiderate hour,

    Be plucked—as now I pluck this flower!

    The flower will rise with sun and rain

    In summer, and bloom bright again:

    But when fame goes, its emblem see,

    My children, in yon stricken tree!

    It lies—it rots—nor from its side

    Sends shoots to be the forest’s pride!