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

Tweed, the River

Sonnets on the Scenery of the Tweed

By David Macbeth Moir (1798–1851)

AS we had been in heart, now linked in hand,

Green Learmonth and the Cheviots left behind,

Homeward ’t was ours by pastoral Tweed to wind,

Through the Arcadia of the Borderland:

Vainly would words portray my feelings, when

(A dreary chasm of separation past)

Fate gave thee to my vacant arms at last,

And made me the most happy man of men.

Accept these trifles, lovely and beloved,

And haply, in the days of future years,

While the far past to memory reappears,

Thou may’st retrace these tablets not unmoved,

Catherine! whose holy constancy was proved

By all that deepest tries, and most endears.


EMBLEM of strength, which time hath quite subdued,

Scarcely on thy green mount the eye may trace

Those girding walls which made thee once a place

Of succor, in old days of deadly feud.

Yes! thou wert once the Scotch marauder’s dread;

And vainly did the Roxburgh shafts assail

Thy moated towers, from which they fell like hail;

While waved Northumbria’s pennon o’er thy head.

Thou wert the work of man, and so hast passed

Like those who piled thee; but the features still

Of steadfast nature all unchanged remain;

Still Cheviot listens to the northern blast,

And the blue Tweed winds murmuring round thy hill;

While Carham whispers of the slaughtered Dane.


BENEATH, Tweed murmured amid the forests green:

And through thy beech-tree and laburnum boughs,

A solemn ruin, lovely in repose,

Dryburgh! thine ivied walls were grayly seen:

Thy court is now a garden, where the flowers

Expand in silent beauty, and the bird,

Flitting from arch to arch, alone is heard

To cheer with song the melancholy bowers.

Yet did a solemn pleasure fill the soul,

As through thy shadowy cloistral cells we trode,

To think, hoar pile! that once thou wert the abode

Of men, who could to solitude control

Their hopes,—yea! from ambition’s pathways stole,

To give their whole lives blamelessly to God!


SUMMER was on thee,—the meridian light,

And, as we wandered through thy columned aisles,

Decked all thy hoar magnificence with smiles,

Making the rugged soft, the gloomy bright.

Nor was reflection from us far apart,

As clomb our steps thy lone and lofty stair,

Till, gained the summit, ticked in silent air

Thine ancient clock, as ’t were thy throbbing heart.

Monastic grandeur and baronial pride

Subdued,—the former half, the latter quite,

Pile of King David! to thine altar’s site,

Full many a footstep guides and long shall guide;

Where they repose, who met not, save in fight,—

And Douglas sleeps with Evers, side by side!


THE CALM of evening o’er the dark pine-wood

Lay with an aureate glow, as we explored

Thy classic precincts, hallowed Abbotsford!

And at thy porch in admiration stood:

We felt thou wert the work, th’ abode of him

Whose fame hath shed a lustre on our age,

The mightiest of the mighty!—o’er whose page

Thousands shall hang, until Time’s eye grow dim;

And then we thought, when shall have passed away

The millions now pursuing life’s career,

And Scott himself is dust, how, lingering here,

Pilgrims from all the lands of earth shall stray

Amid thy cherished ruins, and survey

The scenes around, with reverential fear!


STERN, rugged pile! thy scowl recalls the days

Of foray and of feud, when, long ago,

Homes were thought worthy of reproach or praise

Only as yielding safeguards from the foe:

Over thy gateways the armorial arms

Proclaim of doughty Douglases, who held

Thy towers against the foe, and thence repelled

Oft, after efforts vain, invasion’s harms.

Eve dimmed the hills, as, by the Tweed below,

We sat where once thy blossomy orchards smiled,

And yet where many an apple-tree grows wild,

Listening the blackbird, and the river’s flow;

While, high between us and the sunset glow,

Thy giant walls seemed picturesquely piled.


AS speaks the sea-shell from the window-sill

Of cottage-home, far inland, to the soul

Of the bronzed veteran, till he hears the roll

Of ocean mid its islands chafing still;

As speaks the love-gift to the lonely heart

Of her whose hopes are buried in the grave

Of him whom tears, prayer, passion, could not save,

And Fate but linked that Death might tear apart,—

So speaks the ancient melody of thee,

Green “Bush aboon Traquair,” that from the steep

O’erhang’st the Tweed until, mayhap afar,

In realms beyond the separating sea,

The plaided exile, ’neath the evening star,

Thinking of Scotland, scarce forbears to weep!