A poem for Burns Night

Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, was passionate about the people and the landscapes of his homeland.    

Even if you’re not piping in the haggis tonight, you can appreciate the heartache behind the words of this poem, which could apply to almost any period of Scottish history.

Glen Coe

My Heart’s in the Highlands

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover’d with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Robert Burns, 1789

(photo of Rannoch Moor © Colin Woolf)

Comments

  1. There is real heartache & longing in these lines! I know very little about RB & now I must find out where he was when writing this poem. I do know that John Clare, the English poet of around the same period, very much admired RB & in Clare’s poetry there is also a great feeling of longing, of a lost landscape.

    • That would be interesting to know – I don’t know a great deal about Burns’ life but I know he spent much of his time in Dumfries and Ayrshire. Yes, John Clare captures that longing, too, one of my favourite poets!

  2. Lovely, I feel exactly the same 🙂

    • I know – who would ever want to leave the Highlands?! This struck a chord with me, too, maybe because I’ve been trying to piece together the Scottish side of my own family.

      • The trouble is I have no Scottish ancestry, I have a little welsh, but mostly along the south coast of England and on my fathers side the Isle of Wight, since the late 1300’s, and that is going from father to son, right the way through to the present time. Easy to do on a small Island, so I’m not sure where this love of the Highlands comes from, maybe its because is so beautiful. So I envy you your Scottish blood, I’m just an interloper 🙂

      • That’s wonderful to have such a long traceable line! But it sounds as if you also have a few drops of Highland blood in there somewhere! I am not sure if I can truly say I have Scottish blood, but a family with the name of ‘Scott’ must certainly have been rooted in Scotland in some distant past!

      • Could be, but it would have to be pre 16th century, as most of the other lines have been traced that far back…..I’ve been doing family history for the last 30 years, even before the help of the web…..gets you really hooked . Yes, with the name Scott there has to be a connection with Scotland somewhere 🙂

  3. Makes me feel quite patriotic. Lovely photo.

  4. Aye, the lecherous old sot wisnae too shabby wi’ a turn o’ the word! 😀 PS just finished scoffing Norwegian haggis!

  5. Gypsy Kiltbomb says:

    Reblogged this on Gypsy Kiltbomb and commented:
    My heart’s here with me tonight (and about to be fed a surprise Burns Night meal), but…yes.

  6. Ach, music to my heart. A very blessed Burns Night to you!

  7. I enjoy Burns Night in the Mess – I have toasted the Lassies on a couple of occasions

  8. Wonderful verse 🙂

    • I loved this – much of Burns’ poetry is written in the Scots tongue and is (for me) quite difficult to connect with, but this really speaks to the heart.

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