1825 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

David Macbeth Moir, "Lines on a Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by C. R. Leslie, Esq. R.A." 1825 ca.; Poetical Works of David Macbeth Moir (1852; 1860) 2:213-17.



Pride of my country! I delight,
As from the Painter's canvass bright
Thy placid smile beams cheerily,
Musing alone, to gaze on thee,
Imagination's mightiest son,
And, marvelling at thy triumphs won,
Think what may be achieved by man,
Even in this life's contracted span!

Ennobler of man's name! thy mind
Is as the free air unconfined;
Thou wav'st thy wand — and from the tomb
Long-vanish'd spirits trooping come;
Tradition's shadowy ages pass
Before our thoughts, as in a glass;
The past is as the present seen;
And hoar Antiquity looks green.
There glide they on — revived once more,
The feelings and the forms of yore—
The cuirassed warrior, stern and high;
Beauty, with soul-subduing eye;
Religion's choir in cloisteral nave;
The hermit in his mossy cave;
The warder on the bastion's brow;
The peasant at his peaceful plough;
The simple serf, the lettered sage,
Soul-glowing youth, and chastened age;
The loftiest and the lowliest birth;
The pomp and poverty of earth!

Prime lustre of our age! with glow
Of grateful pride, I thrill to know
That I am countryman of thine:
Thy fame to Scotland is a mine
Of glory, wealthier than Peru
Can boast her golden regions through.
Thy tale is on our hills — thy tale
Re-echoes through each verdant vale;
From southland borders, where the Tweed
Flows murmuring to the shepherd's reed,
And, by the cairn and crested steep,
Ruin and Silence empire keep;
To where the Arctic billow foams
Round Shetland's sad and silent homes,
And weeps the rain, and wails the surge,
As 'twere of living things the dirge.

Kind benefactor of thy race,
The whole world seems thy dwelling-place!
Where'er flows blood of human-kind,
Man will in thee a brother find.
Thou hast not used thy genius high
Life's motley scenes to bid us fly;
Thou hast not told us that our fate
Is to be hated, and to hate;
That faith is falsehood; that within
Man's heart dwells nought save thoughts of sin;
That eyes were only formed to weep;
That death is an eternal sleep:
No! — thou hast taught us that the air
Is sweet, the green earth very fair;
That on the mount and on the main,
That in the forest and the plain,
Nature's boon gifts are richly strewn;
That peace dwells with the good alone;
That man's heart is a lonely place,
And man of an immortal race!

Thy soul-born greatness can deride
Illustrious Bard! all paltry pride,
And 'midst thy fellows might'st pass
As not apart, but of the mass;
Yet who hath won a fame like thee,
Throughout the world, by land or sea?
With it Time's empire is allied,
And the world rings from side to side:
'Tis fame, the loftiest and the best
That ever mortal genius blest:
'Tis pure — that fame owes not a jot
From pandering to unworthy thought:
It ne'er awakened virtue's sigh,
Nor flushed the cheek of modesty:
'Tis bloodless — from another's woe
Thy laurels were not trained to grow;
And thou canst lay thee down at eve,
Nor with the boast thy heart deceive
That thou hast done thy best to throw
Hope's healing balm o'er human woe;
In south and north, in east and west,
That thou hast made some bosom blest;
Lighted the cheerless home of grief;
To wearied spirits breathed relief;
Stirred youth's ambitious pulse to rise;
And drawn sweet tears from Beauty's eyes.

Brother of Homer, and of him,
By Avon's shore, 'mid twilight dim,
Who dreamed immortal dreams, and took
From Nature's hand her pictured book,
Time hath not seen, Time may not see,
Till ends his reign, a third like thee.