Below the braes o' heather, and far alang the glen,
The road rins southward, southward, that grips the souls o' men,
That draws their fitsteps aye awa' frae hearth and frae fauld,
That pairts ilk freen' frae ither, and the young frae the auld.
And whiles I stand at mornin' and whiles I stand at nicht,
To see it through the gaisty gloom, gang slippin oot o sicht;
There's mony a lad will ne'er come back amang his ain to lie,
An' its lang, lang waitin' till the time gangs by.
An far ayont the bit o' sky that lies abune the hills,
There is the black toon standin' mid the roarin' o' the mills.
Whaur the reek frae mony engines hangs 'atween it and the sun
An the lives are weary, weary, that are just begun.
Doon yon lang road that winds awa' my ain three sons they went,
They turned their faces southward frae the glens they aye had kent,
And twa will never see the hills wi' livin' een again,
An' it's lang, lang waitin' while I sit my lane.
For ane lies whaur the grass is hiech abune the gallant deid,
An ane whaur England's michty ships sail proud abune his heid,
They couldna' sleep mair saft at hame, the twa that sairved their king,
Were they laid aside their ain kirk yett, i' the flower o' the ling.
But whaur the road is twistin' through yon streets o' care an' sin,
My third braw son toils nicht and day for the gowd he fain would win,
Whaur ilka man grapes i' the dark to get his neebour's share,
An' it's lang, lang strivin' i' the mirk that's there.
The een o' love can pierce the mools that hide a sodger's grave,
An' love that doesna' heed the sod will naither hear the wave,
But it canna' see 'ayont the cloud that hauds my youngest doon
Wi' its mist o' greed an' sorrow i' the smokin' toon.
An whiles, when through the open door there fades the deein' licht,
I think I hear my ain twa men come up the road at nicht,
But him that bides the nearest seems the furthest aye frae me -
And it's lang, lang listenin' till I hear the three!