There are places made famous by song and by story;
There are names that are loved where our language is know;
Yet how few ever heard of my beautiful places,
Dear names so familiar in days that are gone.
There are Stromberry, Twiness, the Doocot, and Dishan,
Our harbour of Elwick, and dear Helliar Holm,
The old Sandy Hill with its crown of bright heather,
And Livaness Geo where we dipped in the foam.
Oh! the pictures I see as I name the old places,
The memories that come of the bright days of yore;
In fancy I hear now the sounds of the village,
The ripple of waves on the beach by our door.
Do the children still play on the banks of the Howan?
Do they run as we ran in the bonnie East Toon?
Do the big boys and girls play the games that we played once,
All round the haystacks by the light of the moon?
What rowing, what sailing I have seen in the summer,
What walks of the young folks up hill and down dale;
I know every spot where their footsteps would linger,
Each nook made for lovers to tell a love tale.
I can never forget coming home at sunsetting,
With primroses gathered away to the west,
While Rousay and Gairsay transfigured were lying,
Not Islands of Orkney, but "Isles of the Blest."
Were I but a singer I'd sing of these islands,
I'd sing of their beauty, though barren of trees;
I'd sing of their sunsets, the fair summer mornings,
And air that comes ever so fresh from the seas.
The Highlands are grand, and the Lowlands are lovely:
The beauty of Orkney is something apart:
To eyes that can see it, there's nothing else like it:
The love of it always must live in the heart.
Evie Williamson (1844-1912)