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


May-Eve; Or, Kate of Aberdeen

By John Cunningham (1729–1773)

THE SILVER moon’s enamored beam

Steals softly through the night,

To wanton with the winding stream,

And kiss reflected light.

To beds of state go, balmy sleep

(’T is where you ’ve seldom been),

May’s vigil while the shepherds keep

With Kate of Aberdeen.

Upon the green the virgins wait,

In rosy chaplets gay,

Till morn unbars her golden gate,

And gives the promised May.

Methinks I hear the maids declare,

The promised May, when seen,

Not half so fragrant, half so fair,

As Kate of Aberdeen.

Strike up the tabor’s boldest notes,

We ’ll rouse the nodding grove;

The nested birds shall raise their throats,

And hail the maid I love.

And see,—the matin lark mistakes,

He quits the tufted green:

Fond bird! ’t is not the morning breaks,

’T is Kate of Aberdeen.

Now lightsome o’er the level mead,

Where midnight fairies rove,

Like them the jocund dance we ’ll lead,

Or tune the reed to love:

For see, the rosy May draws nigh;

She claims a virgin queen;

And hark! the happy shepherds cry,

’T is Kate of Aberdeen.