The winter night is dark and drear,
No cheerful moon nor stars appear;
The scowling clouds are trailing on
To "sift their snows" o'er the arctic zone.
No sound is heard save the brawling din
Of shallow streamlet and mountain-linn;
Or the voice of the gale, now high, now low,
Tossing the heather to and fro,
Shaking the rushes and lady-fern
That grow round the buried warrior's cairn,
And seem like spectres to the eye
Of credulous fatuity.
In the cleft of a rugged, rifted rock,
Split by the howling thunder's shock,
An helpless Covenanter lay,
Who, fled from Bothwell's bloody fray,
Both wished and feared the coming day.
His war-worn limbs and aching head
Were wrapped in a damp and tattered plaid,
And famine, gaunt and grim, was there,
Ghastfully hovering o'er his lair;
And the brumal blast grew deadly chill,
And the night waxed darker, drearier still.
Horror, alas! had banished sleep,
He sobbed and moaned, but could not weep.
When in the twinkling of an eye,
From palpable obscurity
Tumultuous streams of glory gushed,
Ten thousand thousand rainbows rushed
And revelled through the boundless sky,
In jousting, flashing radiancy.
Careering around the welkin's brim
Like bright embattled Seraphim;
Or soaring up to the dome of Night,
Flooding the Milky-way with light;
Or streaming down on the mountain peaks,
On the muirland wastes, and the heather brakes;
On lake and river, on tower and tree,
Showering a sky-born galaxy,
Like a storm of pearls and diamonds driven,
Imbued with the gorgeous hues of heaven!
The persecuted arose from his lair,
And poured forth his soul in praise and prayer;
His faith waxed strong, and his hope grew high,
As he upward gazed with intensity
On the lambent flames that blazed around,
And he deemed that he stood on holy ground!
"What mind," he said, "can conceive aright
The floods of uncreated light,
Which from eternity hath shone
Around the Everlasting's throne,
When such refulgent glories glow
Upon his footstool here below!"