The Lost Licht (A Perthshire Legend)

A poem by Violet Jacob

The weary, weary days gang by,
The weary nichts they fa',
I mauna rest, I canna lie
Since my ain bairn's awa'.

The soughing o' the springtide breeze
Abune her heid blaws sweet,
There's nests amang the kirkyaird trees
And gowans at her feet.

She gae'd awa' when winds were hie,
When the deein' year was cauld,
An noo the young year seems to me
A waur ane nor the auld.

And, bedded, 'twixt the nicht an' day,
Yest're'en, I couldna bide
For thinkin', thinkin' as I lay
O' the wean that lies outside.

O, mickle licht to me was gie'n
To reach my bairn's abode,
But heaven micht blast a mither's een
And her feet wad find the road.

The kirkyaird loan alang the brae
Was choked wi' brier and whin,
A' i' the dark the stanes were grey
As wraiths when I gae'd in.

The wind cried frae the western airt
Like warlock tongues at strife,
But the hand o' fear hauds aff the he'rt
That's lost its care for life.

I sat me lang upon the green,
A stanethraw frae the kirk,
And syne a licht shone dim between
The shaws o' yew and birk.

'Twas na the wildfire's flame that played
Alang the kirkyaird land,
It was a band o' bairns that gae'd
Wi' lichts in till their hand.

O white they cam', yon babie thrang,
A' silent o'er the sod;
Ye couldna hear their feet amang
The graves, sae saft they trod.

And aye the can'les flickered pale
Below the darkened sky,
But the licht was like a broken trail
When the third wee bairn gae'd by.

For whaur the can'le-flame should be
Was naither blink nor shine -
The bairnie turned its face to me
An' I kent that it was mine.

An' O! my broken he'rt was sair,
I cried, "My ain! my doo'!
For a' thae weans the licht burns fair,
But it winna' burn for you!"

She smiled to me, my little Jean,
Said she, "The dule and pain,
O mither! frae your waefu' een
They strike on me again:

"For ither babes the flame leaps bricht
And fair and braw appears,
But I canna keep my bonnie licht,
For it's droukit wi' your tears!"

There blew across my outstreeked hand
The white mist o' her sark,
But I couldna reach yon babie band
For it faded i' the dark.

My ain, my dear, your licht shall burn
Although my een grow blind,
Although they twa to saut should turn
Wi' the tears that lie behind.

O Jeanie, on my bended knee
I'll pray I may forget,
My grief is a' that's left to me,
But there's something dearer yet!

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