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The Muse exclaimed; but Story now must hide
IN THE SOUND OF MULL. TRADITION, be thou mute! Oblivion, throw Thy veil, in mercy, o'er the records hung Round strath and mountain, stamped by the ancient
tongue On rock and ruin darkening as we goSpots where a word, ghost-like, survives to show What crimes from hate, or desperate love have sprung; From honour misconceived, or fancied wrong, What feuds, not quenched, but fed by mutual woe: Yet, though a wild vindictive race, untamed By civil arts and labours of the pen, Could gentleness be scorned by these fierce men, Who, to spread wide the reverence that they claimed For patriarchal occupations, named Yon towering Peaks, ‘Shepherds of Etive Glen.'
THE CAVE OF STAFFA.
And by one votary who at will might stand
THANKS for the lessons of this spot-fit school
THE HIGHLAND BROOCH. IF to tradition faith be due, And echoes from old verse speak true, Ere the meek saint, Columba, bore Glad tidings to Iona's shore, No common light of Nature blessed The mountain region of the west, A land where gentle manners ruled O'er men in dauntless virtues schooled, That raised, for centuries, a bar Impervious to the tide of war; Yet peaceful Arts did entrance gain Where haughty Force had striven in vain ; And, mid the works of skilful hands, By wanderers brought from foreign lands And various climes, was not unknown The clasp that fixed the Roman gown; The Fibula, whose shape, I ween, Still in the Highland Brooch is seen, The silver Brooch of massy frame, Worn at the breast of some grave dame On road or path, or at the door Of fern-thatched hut on heathy moor: But delicate of yore its mould, And the material finest gold; As might beseem the fairest fair, Whether she graced the royal chair,
Or shed, within a vaulted hall,
The heroic age expired-it slept
When alternations came of rage Yet fiercer, in a darker age; And feuds, where, clan encountering clan, The weaker perished to a man; For maid and mother, when despair Might else have triumphed, baffling prayer, One small possession lacked not power, Provided in a calmer hour, To meet such need as might befall Roof, raiment, bread, or burial : For woman, even of tears bereft, The hidden silver Brooch was left.
As generations come and go, Their arts, their customs, ebb and flow; Fate, fortune, sweep strong powers away, And, feeble, of themselves decay ; What poor abodes the heirloom hide, In which the castle once took pride! Tokens, once kept as boasted wealth, If saved at all, are saved by stealth, Lo! ships, from seas by nature barred, Mount along ways by man prepared ; And in far-stretching vales, whose streams Seek other seas, their canvas gleams. Lo! busy towns spring up, on coasts Thronged yesterday by airy ghosts; Soon, like a lingering star forlorn Among the novelties of morn, While young delights on old encroach, Will vanish the last Highland Brooch. But when, from out their viewless bed, Like vapours, years have rolled and spread; And this poor verse, and worthier lays, Shall yield no light of love or praise, Then, by the spade, or cleaving plough, Or torrent from the mountain's brow, Or whirlwind, reckless what his might Entombs, or forces into light, Blind chance, a volunteer ally, That oft befriends antiquity, And clears oblivion from reproach, May render back the Highland Brooch.