Ages ago, when I was a young thing – probably before high school so you know it was a LONG time ago – I discovered Sir Walter Scott and his poems. I have many of his that I enjoy tremendously but for some reason the portion of Lay of the Last Minstrel below has always been one of my favorites. No matter how often I read it, it makes me sad. I’ve never read the entire poem for fear that, placed within context, this excerpt would lose its magic for me.
I’m not quite sure why this rings such a chord – perhaps because of when I read it/found it.
Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored , and unsung.
[by Sir Walter Scott]