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Return to Nature
by John Campbell Shairp
circa 1870

On the braes around Glenfinnan
Fast the human homes are thinning,
And the wilderness is winning
To itself these graves again.
Names or dates here no man knoweth,
O'er grey headstones heather groweth,
Up Loch-Shiel the sea-wind bloweth
Over sleep of nameless men.  

Who were those forgotten sleepers?
Herdsmen strong, fleet forest-keepers,
Aged men, or widowed weepers
For their foray-fallen ones?
Babes cut off 'mid childhood's prattle,
Men who lived with herds and cattle,
Clansmen from Culloden battle,
Camerons, or Clandonald's sons?  

Blow ye winds, and rains effacing!
Blur the words of love's fond tracing!
Nature to herself embracing
All that human hearts would keep:
What they knew of good or evil
Faded, like the dim primeval
Day that saw the vast upheaval
Of these hills that hold their sleep.

Editor's Notes: Principal John Campbell Shairp of St. Andrews University (1819-1885.)  This poem may be found in his "Glendessary and Other Poems, Lyrical and Elegiac," which was posthumously released in 1888.

The date of origin listed for this poem is a "best guess," and may be off by a decade or so, either way.