Here in the Uplands The soil is ungrateful; The fields, red with sorrel, Are stony and bare. A few trees, wind-twisted – Or are they but bushes? – Stand stubbornly guarding A home here and there. Scooped out like a saucer, The land lies before me; The waters, once scattered, Flow orderly now Through fields where the ghosts Of the marsh and the moorland Still ride the old marches, Despising the plough. The marsh and the moorland Are not to be banished; The bracken and heather, The glory of broom, Usurp all the balks And the fields’ broken fringes, And claim from the sower Their portion of room. This is my country, The land that begat me. These windy spaces Are surely my own. And those who here toil In the sweat of their faces Are flesh of my flesh, And bone of my bone. Hard is the day’s task – Scotland, stern Mother – Wherewith at all times Thy sons have been faced: Labour by day, And scant rest in the gloaming, With Want an attendant, Not lightly outpaced. Yet do thy children Honour and love thee. Harsh is thy schooling, Yet great is the gain: True hearts and strong limbs, The beauty of faces, Kissed by the wind And caressed by the rain.
A civil servant and Professor of Political Economy, Sir Alexander Gray’s reputation abides not only in his own field, but as a Scots poet – the author of some of the most-quoted lines in modern Scottish poetry: ‘This is my country, / The land that begat me ...'Read more about this poet