If they should ask what makes the stuff of us
We should call up such idle things and gone!
The theatre we knew in Grindley Street,
The midnight bell vibrating in the Tron;
A church tower’s clock along the Lothian Road
Whose face lit up would turn a lemon moon,
Seen o’er the pallid bleakness of the street
In the chill dusks that harry northern June,
A Sunday morning over Samson’s Ribs,
The smoky grass that grows on Arthur’s Seat;
Turned yellow willow leaves in Dalkeith Road,
Dropt lanceheads on the pavement at our feet;
Glimpses got sometimes of the Forfar hills
With the white snows upon them or, maybe,
Green waters washing round the piers of Leith
With all the straws and flotsam of the sea.
A certain railway bridge whence one can look
On a network of bright lines and feel the stress,
Tossing its plumes of milky snow, where goes
Loud in full pace the thundering North Express
Behind its great green engine; or in Spring
Black-heaved the Castle Rock and there where blows
By Gordon’s window wild the wallflower still,
The gold that keeps the footprints of Montrose.
The Pentlands over yellow stubble fields
Seen out beyond Craigmillar; and the flight
Of seagulls wheeling round the dark-shared plough,
Strewing the landscape with a rush of white.
Such idle things! Gold birches by hill lochs,
The gales that beat the Lothian shores in strife,
The day you found the great blue alkanette,
And all the farmlands by the shores of Fife.