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

Preston Hill

The Lovely Lass of Preston Mill

By Allan Cunningham (1784–1842)

  • Preston Mill is a little rustic village in the parish of Kirkbean on the Galloway side of the Solway; it consists of some dozen or so of thatched cottages, grouped together without regularity, yet beautiful from their situation on the banks of a wild burn which runs or rather tumbles through it, scarcely staying to turn a mill from which the place takes its name.—Author’s Note.

  • THE LARK had left the evening cloud,

    The dew fell saft, the wind was lowne,

    Its gentle breath amang the flowers

    Scarce stirred the thistle’s tap o’ down;

    The dappled swallow left the pool

    The stars were blinking owre the hill,

    As I met, amang the hawthorns green,

    The lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    Her naked feet, amang the grass,

    Shone like twa dew-gemmed lilies fair;

    Her brow shone comely ’mang her locks,

    Dark curling owre her shoulders bare;

    Her cheeks were rich wi’ bloomy youth;

    Her lips had words and wit at will;

    And heaven seemed looking through her een,—

    The lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    Quo’ I, “Sweet lass, will ye gang wi’ me,

    Where blackcocks craw, and plovers cry?

    Six hills are woolly wi’ my sheep,

    Six vales are lowing wi’ my kye:

    I hae looked lang for a weel-faur’d lass,

    By Nithsdale’s holmes an’ monie a hill”;

    She hung her head like a dew-bent rose,—

    The lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    Quo’ I, “Sweet maiden, look nae down,

    But gie ’s a kiss, and gang wi’ me”:

    A lovelier face, O, never looked up,

    And the tears were drapping frae her ee:

    “I hae a lad, wha ’s far awa’,

    That weel could win a woman’s will;

    My heart ’s already fu’ o’ love,”

    Quo’ the lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    “Now wha is he wha could leave sic a lass,

    To seek for love in a far countree?”—

    Her tears drapped down like simmer dew:

    I fain wad kissed them frae her ee.

    I took but ane o’ her comely cheek;

    “For pity’s sake, kind sir, be still!

    My heart is fu’ o’ other love,”

    Quo’ the lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    She stretched to heaven her twa white hands,

    And lifted up her watery ee:

    “Sae lang ’s my heart kens aught o’ God,

    Or light is gladsome to my ee;

    While woods grow green, and burns rin clear,

    Till my last drap o’ blood be still,

    My heart shall haud nae other love,”

    Quo’ the lovely lass of Preston Mill.

    There ’s comely maids on Dee’s wild banks,

    And Nith’s romantic vale is fu’;

    By lanely Cluden’s hermit stream

    Dwells monie a gentle dame, I trow!

    O, they are lights of a gladsome kind,

    As ever shone on vale or hill;

    But there ’s a light puts them a’ out,—

    The lovely lass of Preston Mill!