Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;—
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for a vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt
Among Arabian sands;
No sweeter voice was ever heard
In springtime from the cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago,
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!
Whate’er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listen’d till I had my fill;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.