In the Highlands
In the highlands, in the country places,
Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
And the young fair maidens
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
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.