Neil Munro (1864 – 1930) was born in Inveraray and worked as a journalist on various Scottish newspapers. He wrote a number of historical novels but is best known for his humorous stories about the fictional Clyde puffer the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy, written under the pen name of Hugh Foulis.
Although Neil Munro didn’t emigrate any further than Glasgow, his background (his grandmother was from a Gaelic-speaking part of the Highlands) would have given him an insight into emigration and what it felt like to be an exile. This poem is written more from the perspective of someone who stayed behind.
Are you not weary in your distant places,
Far, far from Scotland of the mist and storm,
In drowsy airs, the sun-smite on your faces,
The days so long and warm?
When all around you lie the strange fields sleeping,
The dreary woods where no fond memories roam,
Do not your sad hearts over seas come leaping
To the highlands and the lowlands of your Home?
Wild cries the Winter, loud through all our valleys
The midnights roar, the grey noons echo back;
About the scalloped coasts the eager galleys
Beat for kind harbours from horizons black:
We tread the miry roads, the rain-drenched heather,
We are the men, we battle, we endure!
God’s pity for you people in your weather
Of swooning winds, calm seas, and skies demure!
Let torrents pour then, let the great winds rally,
Snow-silence fall, or lightning blast the pine;
That light of Home shines warmly in the valley,
And, exiled son of Scotland, it is thine.
Far have you wandered over seas of longing,
And now you drowse, and now you well may weep,
When all the recollections come a-thronging
Of this old country where your fathers sleep.
They sleep, but still the hearth is warmly glowing,
While the wild Winter blusters round their land:
That light of Home, the wind so bitter blowing
Look, look and listen, do you understand?
Love, strength, and tempest-oh, come back and share them!
Here is the cottage, here the open door;
Fond are our hearts although we do not bare them,
– They’re yours, and you are ours for evermore.
One of the most amazing sights at this time of year is one of all the Wild Mushrooms that appear in our local forests and fields, Ireland has some approximately 5,500 known species found throughout the country, some very common and some very hard to find.
I just love finding them as they appear on the woodland floor and on the dead wood alone with the lower parts of trees.
Shadows fall on the Valley
Day is done and the sun
Is slowly fading out of sight
I can hear, oh, so clear
A call that echoes in the night
Yes, I hear sweet and clear
The call of the faraway hills
There’s no rest on the Valley
There’s no rest for a restless soul
That just was born to roam
Who can say, maybe way out there
My heart may find a home
And I hear sweet and clear
The call of the faraway hills
There are trails I’ve never seen
And my dreams are getting old
And beyond the sunset
There are brand new paths
When a new dream or two
May just be one star away
I must obey the call of the faraway hills
One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Far safer, of a midnight meeting
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.
Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.
Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.
The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
The Ocean Shipwreck
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(From Don Juan)
’T WAS twilight, for the sunless day went down
Over the waste of waters; like a veil,
Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown
Of one who hates us, so the night was shown,
And grimly darkled o’er their faces pale,
And hopeless eyes, which o’er the deep alone
Gazed dim and desolate; twelve days had Fear
Been their familiar, and now Death was here.
* * * * *
At half past eight o’clock, booms, hencoops, spars,
And all things, for a chance, had been cast loose,
That still could keep afloat the struggling tars,
For yet they strove, although of no great use:
There was no light in heaven but a few stars;
The boats put off o’ercrowded with their crews;
She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port,
And, going down head-foremost,—sunk, in short.
Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell!
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave;
Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawned around her like a hell,
And down she sucked with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he die.
And first one universal shriek there rushed,
Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
Of echoing thunder; and then all was hushed,
Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gushed,
Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek—the bubbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
“When I am gone, release me. Let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many beautiful years.
I gave to you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it’s time I traveled on alone.
So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must.
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near.
And if you listen with your heart,
You’ll hear all my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and say welcome home…”
On summer Hill
John K Trainer
The fragrance of a memory
From childhood long ago
I’m brought back
To a fenced in back yard
Crayola blue sky
Burnt umber ground
Islands of green and yellow grass
The scent of Summer Hill wafts
As the unseen is revealed
A dream remembered then forgotten
You say it didn’t happen
I recollect the aroma that says it did