Lochnagar

Lochnagar
Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses,
In you let the minions of luxury rove,
Restore me the rocks where the snow-flake reposes,
Though still they are sacred to freedom and love.
Yet Caledonia, beloved are thy mountains,
Round their white summits though elements war,
Though cataracts foam ‘stead of smooth-flowing fountains,
I sigh for the valley of dark Lochnagar.

Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy wander’d,
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid.
On chieftains long perish’d my memory ponder’d
As daily I strode through the pine-cover’d glade.
I sought not my home till the day’s dying glory
Gave place to the rays of the bright polar star,
For fancy was cheer’d by traditional story
Disclos’d by the natives of dark Lochnagar!

Shades of the dead! Have I not heard your voices
Rise on the night-rolling breath of the gale?
Surely the soul of the hero rejoices,
And rides on the wind o’er his own Highland vale.
Round Lochnagar while the stormy mist gathers,
Winter presides in his cold icy car.
Clouds there encircle the forms of my fathers;
They dwell in the tempests of dark Lochnagar.
George Gordon, Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron

Lord Byron's mother was Scottish, and for his first ten years they lived in Aberdeen, where he attended the Grammar, until he succeeded to his title. The most glamorous member of the second generation of Romantic poets, he was a prolific writer, led a scandalous life, and died in the Greek war of independence, aged 34. He wrote in Don Juan: 'But I am half a Scot by birth, and bred /A whole one, and my heart flies to my head...'. Apart from his short lyrics, his poetry is perhaps less read now than his extraordinarily vivid letters and journals; his life continues to intrigue readers, scholars and film-makers.

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