To Orkney

Land of the whirlpool – torrent – foam,

Where oceans meet in madd’ning shock;

The beetling cliff – the shelving holm –

The insidious rock:

Land of the bleak, the treeless moor –

The sterile mountain, sered and riven;

The shapeless cairn, the ruined tower

Scathed by the bolts of heaven:

The yawning gulf – the treacherous sand –

I love thee still, my native land.


Land of the dark – the Runic rhyme –

The mystic ring – the cavern hoar;

The Scandinavian seer – sublime

In legendary lore:

Land of a thousand Sea-kings’ graves,

– Those tameless spirits of the past,

Fierce as their subject Arctic waves,

Or hyperborean blast;

Tho polar billows round thee foam,

I love thee! Thou wer’t once my home.


With glowing heart, and island lyre,

Ah! would some native bard arise

To sing with all a poet’s fire

Thy stern sublimities;

The roaring flood – the rushing stream,

The promontory wild and bare,

The pyramid where sea-birds scream

Aloft in middle air;

The Druid temple on the heath

Old, even beyond tradition’s breath.


Though I have roamed thro’ verdant glades,

In cloudless climes, ‘neath azure skies;

Or plucked from beauteous orient meads

Flowers of celestial dyes;

Though I have laved in limpid streams,

That murmur over golden sands;

Or basked amid the fulgid beams

That flame o’er fairer lands;

Or stretched me in the sparry grot, –

My country! Thou we’rt ne’er forgot.

Author: David Vedder in ‘Orcadian Sketches’ 1832

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