THE DEER PASS
THERE hangs a noble picture on my wall,
A matchless landscape of the Scottish land,
A Landseer poem of the mountain-range!
A stream, now crystal-clear, now halcyon-calm,
Leaps madly, rushing down the ravines dark,
'Mid boulders of the splinter'd granite rock,
Foaming and flashing on its stormy way.
In foreground of the picture stands a group
Of the red deer that haunt the Scottish hills;
A stately stag, with branching antlers crown'd,
With ears erect, as looking for his foes,
And round him flocks of browsing brindled does,
And their shy fawns of graceful, slender limb;
With their small heads erect, as if they caught
Some taint of danger poisoning all the air.
These stand on ample plateau of the cliffs,
Where sight may all the dim horizon scan,
The verdant valleys and the heathery downs,
The gray old castles and baronial halls,
And plains with farms and villas overspread,
So that no daring mountaineer might climb
The rugged fastnesses and 'scape their view;
Nor unseen might the chieftain of these hills,
With all his tartan'd, kilted clansmen come
With rifle and with hound to work them harm.
Beneath that foremost group, a darkling tarn,'
A rock-girt pool of inky water spreads,
O'er which no clump of gloomy fir-trees rise,
But only the lush ferns, by autumn touch'd,
And moss and heath embroider the low marge.
In rear, a winding road of beaten track
Runs up the hills, where, scatter'd, cropping herds
Wander at will; here half hid 'mid the crags,
Here full in view, reclin'd upon the turf.
In the far distance, soaring high in air,
The beetling summits of the mountains sweep,
Half hid, half seen amid the floating clouds
And misty vapors of the empty air.
Tis a grand scene, majestic and sublime!
Worthy the painter's brush, the poet's pen;
A vast assemblage of high-soaring peaks,
Granitic slopes, and dark defiles and dells,
And falling torrents, glistening in the light;
Roam'd by the graceful deer-herds of the wilds.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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