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


Yarrow Unvisited

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

FROM Stirling castle we had seen

The mazy Forth unravelled;

Had trod the banks of Clyde and Tay,

And with the Tweed had travelled;

And when we came to Clovenford,

Then said my “winsome marrow,”

“Whate’er betide, we ’ll turn aside,

And see the braes of Yarrow.”

“Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,

Who have been buying, selling,

Go back to Yarrow; ’t is their own,—

Each maiden to her dwelling!

On Yarrow’s banks let herons feed,

Hares couch, and rabbits burrow!

But we will downward with the Tweed,

Nor turn aside to Yarrow.

“There ’s Galla Water, Leader Haughs,

Both lying right before us;

And Dryborough, where with chiming Tweed

The lintwhites sing in chorus;

There ’s pleasant Teviot-dale, a land

Made blithe with plough and harrow:

Why throw away a needful day

To go in search of Yarrow?

“What ’s Yarrow but a river bare,

That glides the dark hills under?

There are a thousand such elsewhere,

As worthy of your wonder.”

Strange words they seemed, of slight and scorn;

My true-love sighed for sorrow,

And looked me in the face, to think

I thus could speak of Yarrow!

“O, green,” said I, “are Yarrow’s holms,

And sweet is Yarrow flowing!

Fair hangs the apple frae the rock,

But we will leave it growing.

O’er hilly path and open strath

We ’ll wander Scotland thorough;

But, though so near, we will not turn

Into the dale of Yarrow.

“Let beeves and homebred kine partake

The sweets of Burn-mill meadow;

The swan on still St. Mary’s Lake

Float double, swan and shadow!

We will not see them; will not go

To-day, nor yet to-morrow;

Enough, if in our hearts we know

There ’s such a place as Yarrow.

“Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown!

It must, or we shall rue it:

We have a vision of our own;

Ah! why should we undo it?

The treasured dreams of times long past,

We ’ll keep them, winsome marrow!

For when we ’re there, although ’t is fair,

’T will be another Yarrow!

“If care with freezing years should come,

And wandering seem but folly,—

Should we be loath to stir from home,

And yet be melancholy,—

Should life be dull, and spirits low,

’T will soothe us in our sorrow,

That earth has something yet to show,—

The bonny holms of Yarrow!”