Alexander Anderson

1845-1909 / Scotland

A Dream Of Yarrow

Upon the rails I work away,
The rails sae slim an' narrow,
But in my heart this summer day
I hear the rush o' Yarrow.
I hum the sang, the auld, auld sang,
That thrills us to the marrow,
An' as I sing I lie in thocht
Upon the Banks o' Yarrow.
What care I for the ringin' clank
O' rail, an' key, an' hammer;
The engines roarin' up an' doon,
Wi' shriek an' dusty clamour?
Up Mail an' doon Express may pass
Wi' roar, an' shriek, an' rattle,
An' smoke an' steam may whirl aboot,
As over some wild battle;
But I have still my double life
To cheer me in my sorrow,
An' so within my heart to-day
I hear the rush o' Yarrow.
I see the birks wave in the win',
The simmer sunshine glintin',
The flowers that keek frae oot each nook,
Wi' a' their gowden tintin';
I hear the birds amang the trees
Sing with a touch of sorrow,
For still I think that as they sing,
They ken they lilt in Yarrow.
O, sweet love-sang o' auld, auld days,
What hauntin' magic hovers
Around each simple note an' line,
An' speaks of love and lovers!
Hush, who is this frae Tinnis' Bank,
That comes with wail an' weeping,
An' kneels to clasp within her arms
A form that still seems sleeping?
Her hair hings doon upon his face—
(He never heeds his marrow):
Her pale lips redden wi' the blood
O' him that lies in Yarrow.
Wha can it be that lifts his heid,
An' kisses his lips thorough?
But Mary Scott, the boast o' a',
The bonnie Flower o' Yarrow.
The very birks they ken her name,
They sigh it in their sorrow;
It's in the win' frae Yarrow braes;
It's in the rush o' Yarrow.
O, sweet love-sang o' auld, auld days,
What hauntin' magic hovers
Around each simple note an' line,
An' speaks of love an' lovers!
That as I work an' toil away
Upon the rails sae narrow,
I hear far down within my heart
The soughin' o' the Yarrow.
But as I dream within my ear,
The engines as they thunder
Along the gleaming of the rail
Shriek out in smoky wonder:—
'What! in this time of rail and wheel,
When brain meets brain to marrow,
Can there still be a single fool
Who thinks and dreams of Yarrow?'
Ah, yes, I whisper to myself,
The music that has bound us,
Has tones that will not chord with those
The past has flung around us.
The solo of the sounding wire,
The smoky engine's whistle,
Have drowned the sound of Yarrow stream,
The green trees' waving rustle.
But I have still my double life
To cheer me in my sorrow,
An' so within my heart to-day
I hear the rush o' Yarrow.
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