Scottish Poetry Selection
- Nettles

Neil Munro (1864 - 1930), the author of this poem, worked as a journalist on various Scottish newspapers and for many years was the editor of the Glasgow Evening News. He also wrote a number of historical and contemporary novels, poetry and non-fiction. But he achieved lasting fame for his humorous stories, written under the pen name of Hugh Foulis, about the fictional Clyde puffer the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy.

His background (his grandmother was from a Gaelic-speaking part of the Highlands) meant that he would have seen many derelict buildings, deserted as a result of the Clearances, in which nettles are now growing.


O sad for me Glen Aora,
   Where I have friends no more,
For lowly lie the rafters,
   And the lintels of the door.
The friends are all departed,
   The hearth-stone's black and cold,
And sturdy grows the nettle
   On the place beloved of old.

O! black might be that ruin
   Where my fathers dwelt so long,
And nothing hide the shame of it,
   The ugliness and wrong;
The cabar and the corner-stone
   Might bleach in wind and rains,
But for the gentle nettle
   That took such a courtier's pains.

Here's one who has no quarrel
   With the nettle thick and tall,
That hides the cheerless hearthstone
   And screens the humble wall,
That clusters on the footpath
   Where the children used to play,
And guards a household's sepulchre
   From all who come the way.

There's deer upon the mountain,
   There's sheep along the glen,
The forests hum with feather,
   But where are now the men?
Here's but my mother's garden
   Where soft the footsteps fall,
My folk are quite forgotten,
   But the nettle's over all.

Meaning of unusual words:
cabar = fragment (of anything)

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