Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Swallow

Thomas Aird was born at Bowden, Roxburghshire in 1802. While at Edinburgh University he was an acquaintance of both Thomas Carlyle and James Hogg.

Many of his poetic works are lengthy, narrative poems (such as The Captive of Fez published in 1830). He edited the Edinburgh Weekly Journal for a short spell and for 28 years he was editor of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Herald. When he published a collected edition of his poems Carlyle described them as "a healthy breath as of mountain breezes." Aird died in 1876.

The poem below was published in "A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895" edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman. Anyone who has seen a flock of swallows swooping over the fields after their long migration from Africa will respond to the sentiments Aird expresses.

            The Swallow

The swallow, bonny birdie, comes sharp twittering o’er the sea,
   And gladly is her carol heard for the sunny days to be;
She shares not with us wintry glooms, but yet, no faithless thing,
   She hunts the summer o’er the earth with wearied little wing.

The lambs like snow all nibbling go upon the ferny hills;
   Light winds are in the leafy woods, and birds, and bubbling rills;
Then welcome, little swallow, by our morning lattice heard,
   Because thou com’st when Nature bids bright days be thy reward!

Thine be sweet mornings with the bee that’s out for honey-dew;
   And glowing be the noontide for the grass-hopper and you;
And mellow shine, o’er day’s decline, the sun to light thee home:
   What can molest thy airy nest? sleep till the day-spring come!

The river blue that rushes through the valley hears thee sing,
   And murmurs much beneath the touch of thy light-dipping wing.
The thunder-cloud, over us bowed, in deeper gloom is seen,
   When quick reliev’d it glances to thy bosom’s silvery sheen.

The silent Power, that brought thee back with leading-strings of love
   To haunts where first the summer sun fell on thee from above,
Shall bind thee more to come aye to the music of our leaves,
   For here thy young, where thou hast sprung, shall glad thee in our eaves.

Meaning of unusual words:

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