Margaret Chalmers

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear.

Natives of Foula, oft my Muse
    Hath fondly wish'd your Isle to see,
But chance or fate seems to refuse
    That e'er indulg'd the wish shall be.

Then tell me of your rocky land,
    Round which the Western Ocean roars,
Where pleas'd you dwell in social band,
    Six leagues from Thulè's Mainland shores.

'Twould lonely seem, did not your hours
    A chain of needful aims employ;
Relative comforts too are yours,
    And you your hills and storms enjoy .

I ween oft flies the relish'd jest,
    While you employ the flail or wheel,
Or "link away," with sprightly zest,
    To Selma's or the Foula reel.

. . .

O! scale the dangerous cliff no more,
    Above you frowns the nodding steep,
Below the threat'ning billows roar,
    One movement gives you to the deep.

O say, can nestled eggs or down,
    The uncertain objects of the strife,
In the unequal balance thrown,
    One moment weigh against your life?

In slender cord, on slender hold,
    Why life and safety will you trust?
Son, father, husband, why so bold?
    Be to thyself--thy friends more just.

Why intrepidity debase,
    The cord may break--the hold give way--
Nay, see--the faithless rock, alas!
    Time-worn, in evil hour decay;

He sinks--he falls, to rise no more,
    Dash'd on the rugged flint beneath--
While we the spectacle deplore,
    It makes the wave a gentle death.

Too well you know that many a life
    From Foula's rocks is heedless flung,
The sireless babe, the widow'd wife,
    Sadly attest the truth now sung.

Superior objects to your aim,
    Your sea-girt site full oft unfolds,
When summer's reign your labours claim
    To draw the fish from Foula's Shoalds.

And, ah!--behold yon suffering bark!
    Mounts high upon the dreadful wave,
Now sinks--haste, launch your skiffs--ah, hark!
    What piteous shrieks--oh fly to save!