Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Dreary Change

The normally positive Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) is in very sombre mood in this poem - perhaps at the time he was wrestling with his financial problems arising from the construction of Abbotsford and building his large collection of Scottish artefacts. In 1826 he found himself 100,000 in debt and had to work furiously for the rest of his life to pay off his creditors.

The Dreary Change

The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill,
   In Ettrick's vale, is sinking sweet;
The westland wind is hush and still,
   The lake lies sleeping at my feet.
Yet not the landscape to mine eye
   Bears those bright hues that once it bore;
Though evening, with her richest dye,
Flames o'er the hills of Ettrick's shore.

With listless look along the plain
   I see Tweed's silver current glide,
And coldly mark the holy fane
   Of Melrose rise in ruin'd pride.
The quiet lake, the balmy air,
   The hill, the stream, the tower, the tree, -
Are they still such as once they were,
   Or is it the dreary change in me?

Alas, the warp'd and broken board,
   How can it bear the painter's dye!
The harp of strain'd and tuneless chord,
   How to the minstrel's skill reply!
To aching eyes each landscape lowers,
   To feverish pulse each gale blows chill;
And Araby's or Eden's bowers
   Were barren as this moorland hill.

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