* David Gray, Author of The Luggie, and other Poems [Buchanan's note].

Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

                             I.

I would not be lying yonder,
    Where thou, beloved, art lying,
Though the nations should crown me living,
    And murmur my praises dying.

Better this fierce pulsation,
    Better this aching brain,
Than dream, and hear faintly above me
    The cry of the wind and the rain;

Than lie in the kirkyard lonely,
    With fingers and toes upcurled,
And be conscious of never a motion
    Save the slow rolling round of the world.

I would not be lying yonder,
    Though the seeds I had sown were springing!
I would not be sleeping yonder,
    And be done with striving and singing!

For the eyes are blinded with mildew,
    The lips are clammy with clay,
And worms in the ears are crawling, —
    But the brain is the brain for aye!

The brain is warm and glowing,
    Whatever the body be;
It stirs like a thing that breatheth,
    And dreams of the Past and To be!

Ay! down in the deep damp darkness
    The brains of the dead are hovelled!
They gleam on each other with radiance,
    Transcending the eye that is shrivelled!

Each like a faint lamp lighteth
    The skull wherein it dwelleth!
Each like a lamp turneth brighter
    Whenever the kirk-bell knelleth!

I would not be lying yonder
    Afar from the music of things,
Not were my green grave watered
    By the tears of queens and kings.

If the brain like a thing that breatheth
    Is full of the Past and To be,
The silence is far more awful
    Than the shriek and the agony;

And the hope that sweetened living
    Is gone with the light of the sun,
And the struggle seems wholly over,
    And nothing at all seems done;

And the dreams are heavy with losses,
    And sins, and errors, and wrongs,
And you cannot hear in the darkness
    If the people are singing your songs!

There's only the slow still rolling
    Of the dark world round and round,
Making the dream more wondrous,
    Though it render the sleep more sound.

'Tis cold, cold, cold and weary,
    Cold in a weary place:
The sense of the sin is present
    Like the gleam of a demon's face!

What matter the tingling fingers
    That touch the song above you?
What matter the young man's weeping,
    And longing to know you and love you?

Nought has been said and uttered,
    Nought has been seen or known, —
Detraction, the adder above you,
    Is sunned on the cold grave-stone.

                             II.

Yet 'tis dark here, dark,
    And the voices call from below!
'Tis so dark, dark, dark,
    That it seems not hard to go!

'Tis dark, dark, dark,
    And we close our eyes and are weary!
'Tis dark, dark, dark,
    And the waiting seems bitter and dreary!

And yonder the sun is shining,
    And the green, long grass hath grown,
And the cool kirk-shade looks pleasant,
    And you lie so alone, so alone!

The world is heartless and hollow,
    And singing is sad without you,
And I think I could bear the dreaming
    Were mine arms around about you;

Were thy lips to mine, belovèd,
    And thine arms around me too,
I think I could lie in silence,
    And dream as we used to do!

The flesh and the bones might wither,
    The blood be dried like dew,
The heart might crumble to ashes,
    Till dust was dust anew;

And the world with its slow still motion
    Might roll on its heavenward way, —
And our brains upon one another
    Would gleam till the Judgment Day!

(From North Coast, and Other Poems, 1867-68)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 26 September 2002