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

Loch St. Mary

St. Mary’s Lake

By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

(From Marmion)

WHEN, musing on companions gone,

We doubly feel ourselves alone,

Something, my friend, we yet may gain,—

There is a pleasure in this pain:

It soothes the love of lonely rest,

Deep in each gentler heart impressed.

’T is silent, amid worldly toils,

And stilled soon by mental broils;

But, in a bosom thus prepared,

Its still small voice is often heard,

Whispering a mingled sentiment,

Twixt resignation and content.

Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,

By lone St. Mary’s silent lake:

Thou know’st it well,—nor fen nor sedge

Pollutes the pure lake’s crystal edge;

Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink

At once upon the level brink;

And just a trace of silver sand

Marks where the water meets the land.

Far in the mirror, bright and blue,

Each hill’s huge outline you may view;

Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,

Nor tree nor bush nor brake is there,

Save where, of land, yon slender line

Bears thwart the lake the scattered pine.

Yet e’en this nakedness has power,

And aids the feeling of the hour;

Nor thicket, dell, nor copse you spy,

Where living thing concealed might lie;

Nor point, retiring, hides a dell,

Where swain, or woodman lone, might dwell;

There ’s nothing left to fancy’s guess,

You see that all is loneliness:

And silence aids—though the steep hills

Send to the lake a thousand rills;

In summer tide, so soft they weep,

The sound but lulls the ear asleep;

Your horse’s hoof-tread sounds too rude,

So stilly is the solitude.

Naught living meets the eye or ear,

But well I ween the dead are near;

For though, in feudal strife, a foe

Hath laid Our Lady’s chapel low,

Yet still, beneath the hallowed soil,

The peasant rests him from his toil,

And, dying, bids his bones be laid,

Where erst his simple fathers prayed.