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In the Highlands

In the highlands, in the country places,
Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
And the young fair maidens
Quiet eyes;
Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
And forever in the hill-recesses
Her more lovely music
Broods and dies.

O to mount again where erst I haunted;
Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,
And the low green meadows
Bright with sward;
And when even dies, the million-tinted,
And the night has come, and planets glinted,
Lo, the valley hollow

O to dream, O to awake and wander
There, and with delight to take and render
Through the trance of silence
Quiet breath;
Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses,
Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
Only winds and rivers,
Life and Death.


Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist.   This poem was retrieved from The Open Road:  A Little Book for Wayfarers, an anthology of various poets’ verses compiled by E.V. Lucas and published for the first time in 1899.

Some unfamiliar words to modern readers may be:  erst means formerly, or here, first; sward: a grass-covered portion of ground; even: short for evening; brood has several meanings listed in dictionaries, but here, and if the author is reflecting on a maiden’s “lovely music” (I’m not sure about this, though!  If you, dear reader, have a different interpretation, please do let me know!)to ruminate, to ponder…then gradually even this sound fades from the poet’s mind as he climbs.