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


Thomson’s Birthplace

By David Macbeth Moir (1798–1851)

“IS Ednam, then, so near us? I must gaze

On Thomson’s cradle-spot,—as sweet a bard

(Theocritus and Maro blent in one)

As ever graced the name,—and on the scenes

That first to poesy awoke his soul,

In hours of holiday, when boyhood’s glance

Invested nature with an added charm.”

So saying to myself, with eager steps,

Down through the avenues of Sydenham

(Green Sydenham, to me forever dear,

As birth-house of the being with whose fate

Mine own is sweetly mingled,—even with thine,

My wife, my children’s mother), on I strayed

In a perplexity of pleasing thoughts,

Amid the perfume of blown eglantine,

And hedgerow wild-flowers, memory conjuring up

In many a sweet, bright, fragmentary snatch,

The truthful, soul-subduing lays of him

Whose fame is with his country’s being blent,

And cannot die; until at length I gained

A vista from the road, between the stems

Of two broad sycamores, whose filial boughs

Above in green communion intertwined;

And lo! at once in view, nor far remote,

The downward country, like a map unfurled,

Before me lay,—green pastures, forests dark,—

And, in its simple quietude revealed,

Ednam, no more a visionary scene.

A rural church; some scattered cottage roofs,

From whose secluded hearths the thin blue smoke,

Silently wreathing through the breezeless air,

Ascended, mingling with the summer sky;

A rustic bridge, mossy and weather-stained;

A fairy streamlet, singing to itself;

And here and there a venerable tree

In foliaged beauty,—of these elements,

And only these, the simple scene was formed.