Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Songs in Minor Keys (1884)
II. The Highland Glens
By Christina Catherine Fraser-Tytler (Mrs. Edward Liddell) (1848– )
 
IN a dull cobwebbed street of a Scotch town
  I knew a woman once—she died last year—
The poorest, humblest of God’s creatures, she
  Had the great secret, and was happy here.
 
Her birth was Highland. As a comely girl—        5
  She often told the tale—her lad had come,
And out of the deep glen between the hills
  Had brought her with him to his city home.
 
“I laid my head upon the kist,” she’d say,
  “When we was merried, and the time drew on        10
For me to say farewell to all my folk
  To gae wi’ him the strange new way alone.
 
“‘Hout, tout,’ said Jean, ‘I niver seed the like,
  I niver seed you take on so before;
Rise up, rise up, the goodman’s waitin’ you;        15
  All these unclever ways ’ll vex him sore!’
 
“‘But still I cried upon the kist,’ she’d say,
  Till Jamie came and led me right awa’.
It’s a dour pleasurin’ is a wedding-day,
  Wi’ two strong loves a-pu’ing you in twa.        20
 
“The bonny glen, the wee wee burnie’s face
  I couldn’t say farewell wi’out a tear;
The hills and a’ the flowers were wide awake
  On thon sweet mornin’ o’ the youngling year.
 
“Maybe I think on these a great deal more,        25
  Now that the dear ones a’ are gone to rest.
That day I moaned like dove about her brood,
  As I lay sobbin’ on my mither’s breast.
 
“And oh for May and Angus—it was sair!
  Angus he hung about the place so dull,        30
And May and me—we never spake at a’
  That last long week, when hearts were at the full.
 
“Like some great roses kept agin a show
  We durstn’t touch our hearts lest they should break,
So each kept cheery in a cheerless way,        35
  Tried to keep hearty for the other’s sake.
 
“I span a plaid,” she’d say, “in those old days,
  When we were courtin’, my dear lad and I,
I span it green for the dear glen and trees,
  I span it blue for God Almighty’s sky;        40
 
“I span a twist o’ red to run a’ through,
  To show my heart’s blood beating was for him—
You’ll see the plaid upon the bed,” she’d say,
  “Although the bonnie colours are a’ dim.
 
“He wore it till he died. He liked his plaid;        45
  And he’s been dead and gone these twenty years,
And ever since it’s been upon my bed;
  It’s kept me warm, it’s dried a many tears.
 
“How do I fare? Oh, I—I fare right weel.
  I hae three pound a-year, and only me:        50
I niver had no bairns; and when he died,
  My man, he greets awhile, and says, says he,
 
“‘How’ll you fare, love, all left, and all alone?’
  I couldn’t answer. But at last says I,
‘My dear, the God ’as kept us both at once        55
  ’ll keep me easy now you’re goin’ on high.’
 
“He’s kept me all along. I’ve got no needs,
  There’s room enow in here for only me;
I has my three pounds regular: and I pays
  Into the coal club. I’ve enow for tea;        60
 
“Only I need be very moderate. When I make
  A cup o’ tea, that’s two, because I swill
The teapot out a second time, ye see;
  Oh, and I fares right well; I gets my fill.
 
“No, I don’t want for nothin’, though you’re kind;        65
  My blankets they are thin—but there’s the plaid;
I gets along right canty—gets to kirk
  Now and again on warm days. When I’m sad,
 
“And that’s not often, praise the Lord!—I go
  Awhiley down the street; and at the end        70
You’ll see a tree that’s bonny and that’s green,
  And that poor wee bit town-tree is my friend.
 
“For in these days, when I’m grown grey and bent,
  And a’ my kith and kin are gone to God,
My mind keeps turnin’ to the glen I left        75
  Forty long years ago. As through a cloud
 
“The things of later days go daze my brain,
  I’m no just clear about the how and when;
But every stick and stone and bit o’ wall
  And every cranny in the bonny glen        80
 
“Is plain afore me. I can think o’ him,
  My man, my sister May, and Angus too,
And o’ my mither, wi’out e’er a tear—
  I know God keeps them that are leal and true.
 
“But for the bonny glen my heart cries sair,        85
  I dream I’m standin’ knee-deep in the burn;
I see the rowans noddin’ overhead,
  I hear the mavis sing aboon the fern.
 
“And when I see the wee bit roomie here,
  My man’s auld Bible, and my father’s crook,        90
And when I see the plaidie on the bed,
  And see them a’ through this poor city’s smoke,
 
“I shut my een, and pray the Lord make haste,
  Tak’ me the shortest road to heaven’s stair;
And ’gin the shortest road were by the glen,        95
  Think you the Lord wad tak’ me round by there?”
 
 
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