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

Ben Arthur

The Cobbler

By Charles Mackay (1814–1889)

  • Ben Arthur, or the Cobbler, rises in great majesty and grandeur at the head of Loch Long to the height of 2,400 feet, his fantastic peak cracked and shattered into every conceivable form. From one point it resembles the figure of a cobbler. Hence the popular name of the mountain.—Tourists’ Guide.

  • FAR away, up in his rocky throne,

    The gaunt old Cobbler dwells alone.

    Around his head the lightnings play,

    Where he sits with his lapstone, night and day.

    No one seeth his jerking awl,

    No one heareth his hammer fall;

    But what he doth when mists enwrap

    The bald and barren mountain-top,

    And cover him up from the sight of man,

    No one knoweth, or ever can.

    Oft in the night, when storms are loud,

    He thunders from the drifting cloud,

    And sends his voice o’er sea and lake

    To bid his brother Bens awake;

    And Lomond, Lawers, and Venue

    Answer him back with wild halloo,

    And Cruachan shouts from his splintered peaks,

    And the straths respond when the monarch speaks,

    And hill with hill and Ben with Ben

    Talk wisdom—meaningless to men.

    And oft he sings, this Cobbler old,

    And his voice rings loud from his summits cold,

    And the north-wind helps him with organ-swell,

    And the rush of streams as they leap the fell.

    But none interprets right or wrong

    The pith and burden of his song,

    Save one, a weird and crazy wight,

    Oppressed with the gift of the second sight,

    Who tells the shepherds of Glencroe

    What the Cobbler thinks of our world below.