WHEN I ROVED A YOUNG HIGHLANDER
( First published in 1808 )
NOTE TO READER: The "Mary" referred to in this poem is Mary Duff , a distant cousin of Byron's.
When I rov'd a young Highlander o'er the dark heath,
And climb'd thy steep summit, oh Morven of snow !
To gaze on the torrent that thunder'd beneath,
Or the mist of the tempest that gather'd below;
Untutor'd by science, a stranger to fear,
And rude as the rocks, where my infancy grew,
No feeling, save one, to my bosom was dear;
Need I say, my sweet Mary, 'twas centered in you?
Yet it could not be Love, for I knew not the name, ---
What passion can dwell in the heart of a child?
But, still, I perceive an emotion the same
As I felt, when a boy, on the crag-cover'd wild:
One image, alone, on my bosom impress'd,
I lov'd my bleak regions, nor panted for new;
And few were my wants, for my wishes were bless'd,
And pure were my thoughts, for my soul was with you.
I arose with the dawn, with my dog as my guide,
From mountain to mountain I bounded along;
I breasted the billows of Dee's rushing tide,
And heard at a distance the Highlander's song:
At eve, on my heath-cover'd couch of repose,
No dreams, save of Mary, were spread to my view;
And warm to the skies my devotions arose,
For the first of my prayers was a blessing on you.
I left my bleak home, and my visions are gone;
The mountains are vanish'd, my youth is no more;
As the last of my race, I must wither alone,
And delight but in days, I have witness'd before:
Ah ! splendour has rais'd, but embitter'd my lot;
Though my hopes may have fail'd, yet they are not forgot,
Though cold is my heart, still in lingers with you.
When I see some dark hill point its crest to the sky,
I think of the rocks that o'ershadow Colbleen;
When I see the soft blue of a love-speaking eye,
I think of those eyes that endear'd the rude scene;
When, haply, some light-waving locks I behold,
That faintly resemble my Mary's in hue,
I think on the long flowing ringlets of gold,
The locks that were sacred to beauty, and you.
Yet the day may arrive when the mountains once more
Shall rise to my sight, in their mantles of snow;
But while these soar above me, unchang'd as before,
Will Mary be there to receive me? --- ah, no !
Adieu, then, ye hills, where my childhood was bred!
Thou sweet flowing Dee, to thy waters adieu !
No home to the forest shall shelter my head, ---
Ah ! Mary, what home could be mine, but