Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Heather and the Fern

There have been strong links for a long time between Scotland and New Zealand. The tartan created for Dunedin includes red to signify the blood ties that have been left behind. But there is also green, to signify new pastures. John Liddell Kelly (1850-1926) who wrote "The Heather and the Fern", part of which is shown below, left Scotland for New Zealand in 1880. While appreciating his new country, like many emigrants, before and since, he still had a yearning for the land of the heather.

from The Heather and the Fern

From this isle in the wide Southern Ocean,
How oft does my swift fancy flee,
On pinions of love and devotion,
Dear home of my father, to thee!
In a land lapped in bright summer weather,
I sigh for one rugged and stern;
I long for the bloom of the Heather
In the Land of the Kauri and Fern.

Though here there is nought to remind me
Of the dark, misty land of my birth,
Not tears and not distance can blind me
To scenes that are dearest on earth.
As I list to the Tui's clear whistle,
I sigh - 'Shall I ever return
To the Land of the Heather and Thistle
From the Land of the Kauri and Fern?'


Though dear to my heart is Zealandia,
For the home of my boyhood I yearn;
I dream, amid sunshine and grandeur,
Of a land that is misty and stern;
From the land of the Moa and the Maori
My thoughts to old Scotia will turn;
Thus the Heather is blent with the Kauri
And the Thistle entwined with the Fern.

Return to the Index of Scottish Poetry Selection

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