Henry Morford ( )

A Wraith in the Scottish Highlands

UP to the North by the Highland Railway;
  And down to the South by the Great Mid-Glen,
The lake-linked canal of Caledonia,
  Historic track of her hero men;

By the woods of Dunkeld and sweet Blair Athole,
  By Garrys flow and Tummels side;
By haunted Urrard and Killiecrankie,
  Where Cavalier Claverhouse won and died;

Mid the orchard blooms of sunny Forres,
  Where a princely fugitive hidden lay;	
Mong the heather-bells of the Moor of Drummossie,
  That saw red Cullodens fatal day;

By the rushing and roaring Fall of Foyers,
  Ever singing requiems in its flow;
By the lordly ruins of Invergarry,
  That Duke William only half laid low;

Nay, even by storied Inverlochy,
  That is ever bright with Montroses name,
And through dark Glencoe, forever recalling
  The deadly assassins sword and flame,

What was it, through all, that walked beside me,
  Or sailed, or ran, or paused, or rode,
As if some old dim and haunting Presence
  Had been by my Highland blood bestowed?

So clear sometimes was its outlined seeming,
  That I half believed she had grown to two,
My winsome, brown-eyed Starlight lassie,
  With her tartan-plaid and her bonnet blue.

But the face was too pale and dim with sorrow;
  Too classic the shape, the form too tall.
No; something of old it was, half godlike,
  Like some Paladin dimmed by his coming fall.

Ah, I knew, at last! It was Charlie Stuart!
  Not as he landed on Moidarts shore,
With the memory of exiled years behind him,
  And the hope of a kingdom on before;

But broken, as faithful Flora Macdonald
  Sheltered him far away in Skye;
Rough-garbed, as when over moor and mountain
  He was forced alternate to hide and fly.

But still, ah, still the Scots-peoples darling,
  The Chevalier, with his winsome smile,
And the hope of a noble and kingly future,
  Though danger and want might exist the while.

What is it, I asked, when I knew the Presence,
  And unbonneted stood to the princely wraith,
What is it that holds, through so many ages,
  A loyalty useless, a hollow faith?

Ah, again came the answer, Beauty and Sorrow:
  The smile to win, with no hand to hold;
The might have been, waking endless pity:
  Given these, and the wondrous secret is told.

No more, from the houses or hills they haunted,
  Go those away who have touched the heart:
They win what success could never win them,
  They hold what could never be held by art.

The Babes in the Tower; young murthered Arthur;
  Lady Jane, who died for an unsought crown;
The Orleans Maid, falling, madly heroic;
  The Scottish Queen by her foes crushed down,	

Ah, these have a place beyond their deserving;
  Their stories linger when brighter fade;
And on every spot where they lived and suffered
  There walks, through all coming time, a shade.

O Charlie Stuart! poor Charlie Stuart,
  That you missed of a crown of gold and gems;
But blest, among men, to wear forever
  The proudest of mental diadems!

To be ever loved; to be ever pitied;
  To be ever gallant and fresh and young;
To keep, through the ages, a living presence,
  With a song and a sigh on every tongue!

Henry Morford's other poems:
  1. Two Queens in Westminster

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