IN this still hour of
the shadows move
softly over the tired breasts of the hills.
dips muffled oars upon the dimming loch,
and dry reeds rustle eerily at the wan water's edge.
Now the awakening breeze
rings all the heather-bells. In the enchanted
moment of integration, the pale stars
freeze in their spheres, and Time forgets to tick,
while, silently, the hills
offer renewal to a weary world.
O quiet hills!
End of the wanderer's quest, and the heart's haven,
ageing not, changing not,
forever poised at peace among your clouds,
mantled in heather, crowned with silent snows,
and wreathed about with silver trails of mist,
with all your valleys brimmed with vast blue shadows,
your patient feet forever fringed with pines!
The leaves fade, and are shaken:
the bough bends, and is broken:
and Summer's fires die to a dull-red ember
and drift upon the dust of dark December.
Yet Spring shall come again
warily on the wind, her long hair blowing
in silken strands of gold her elfin fingers
hanging the trees with silver tassels of light.
And there will be
laughter, and a lilt of long-hushed voices,
and music where the burns burst into song:
old scents and sounds, unchanged yet ever new,
stirring the heart to hunger after dreams.
And those for whom the lamp remains undimmed
and those who sleep upon the far blue isles
may yet touch hands
here in the quiet gloaming, when the sun
sinks in'a sea of flame. Man, the ephemeral
creature of an hour, finding his soul
secretly in the spacious ways of peace,
the challenge of the everlasting hills.
Evening lights on Ben Hope and Loch Hope,