The poem “My native land” is more than just a wish to be there where you were born. Perfectly written by Sir Walter Scott.
An interesting opening. The poet introduces someone who is still alive, but his soul is dead. He breathes and that is basically all. We might assume that Scott is referring to someone who is emotionally dead.
My native land tells us about Scotland and it doesn’t. Scott doesn’t mention the name Scotland and there is no real reference to the county in this poem. When you take a look at the life of Scott, you can assume that it’s about Scotland. But, if you are willing to look beyond: this is all about the longing to be elsewhere. To be where you were born. This theme isn’t just related to the period in history when Scott lived. Nowadays there are many people that long to be there where they were born or where they really felt at home.
Interesting fact: the last five lines of this poem were used in the movie Groundhog Day (1993).
My native land
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.
— Sir Walter Scott
About the poet
Sir Walter Scott was born on 15 August 1771 in College Wynd, Edinburgh (Scotland). He grew out to become a historian, playwright and poet. His work is part of the English- and Scottish classic literature. Amongst the books he wrote are Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and The Lady of the lake.
The fame Scott got wasn’t just related to the literary world. He was a respected advocate, judge and a prominent member of the Tories.