Song for a Highland Drover (1801)


Now, fare thee well England; no further I’ll roam,
But follow my shadow, that points the way home;
Your gay southern shores shall not tempt me to stay,
For my Maggy’s at home, and my children at play;
’Tis this makes my bonnet sit light on my brow, 5
Gives my sinews their strength, and my bosom its glow.
Farewell, mountaineers! my companions, adieu!
Soon, many long miles when I’m sever’d from you,
I shall miss your white Horns on the brink of the Bourne,
And o’er the rough heaths, where you’ll never return;10
But in brave English pastures you cannot complain,
While your Drover speeds back to his Maggy again.
O Tweed! gentle Tweed, as I pass your green vales,
More than life, more than love, my tir’d Spirit inhales;
There Scotland, my darling, lies full in my view;15
With her barefooted lasses, and mountains so blue;
To the mountains away! my heart bounds like the hind;
For home is so sweet, and my Maggy so kind.
As day after day I still follow my course,
And in fancy trace back every stream to its source,20
Hope cheers me up hills, where the road lies before,
O’er hills just as high, and o’er tracks of wild moor;
The keen polar star nightly rising to view;
But Maggy’s my Star, just as steady and true.
O Ghosts of my fathers! O Heroes, look down;25
Fix my wandering thoughts on your deeds of renown;
For the glory of Scotland reigns warm in my breast,
And fortitude grows both from toil and from rest;
May your deeds and your worth be for ever in view,
And may Maggy bear sons not unworthy of you.30
Love, why do you urge me, so weary and poor?
I cannot step faster, I cannot do more;
I’ve pass’d silver Tweed, e’en the Tay flows behind;
Yet fatigue I’ll disdain, my reward I shall find;
Thou, sweet smile of innocence, thou art my prize,35
And the joy that will sparkle in Maggy’s blue eyes.
She’ll watch to the southward, perhaps she will sigh,
That the way is so long, and the mountains so high.
Perhaps some huge rock in the dusk she may see,
And will say in her fondness, ‘That surely is he!’40
Good wife you’re deceiv’d; I’m still far from my home;
Go, sleep, my dear Maggy; to-morrow I’ll come.


*First published in The Monthly Mirror, 12 (September 1801), 195–96. Later collected in Rural Tales. BACK