Come when l’m lying

Restful at last:

Come when I’m dying

ls all over past.

With bearing -trees come

Down from the hill

All silent and still.

Carry me home

Where the breakers roar,

For l’m wishing to be

By the sound of the sea

For evermore.

Over the streaming

Rush of the Sound,

Sea-birds screaming

In circles around,

Over to Rousay;

I know l will feel

The lift of the keel

As you sail me to Rousay

Again as of yore;

For I wish to be laid

Where my forefathers prayed,

Near the shore.

Homeward from Rousay,

Homeward we fare,

Sailing from Rousay,

Leaving her there;

Leaving her sleeping

In hallowed ground.

By the edge of the Sound,

Where billows are leaping

And breakers roar,

We have laid her to rest

In the dust she loved best

Till time is o’er.

Mr Alexander wrote that poem in his Manse at Evie one January day in 1926. He had just returned from the funeral of Annie Leonard of Lowlands, who had been taken by boat to Rousay to be buried beside her husband in the Wasbister kirkyard. The verses were simple and spontaneous, and one can sense in them the deep impression that winter journey made on the sensitive mind of the author.

    The very rolling of the boat, getting nearer and nearer the island and then returning, worked itself into his poem.

[Thomas T. Alexander was Minister of the Free Church of Evie and Rendall, 1923-1926]


Inscription on tombstone in the Wasbister Kirkyard:


Erected by the Leonard family in beloved memory of their father

John Leonard who died 12th March 1912 aged 31 years,

their mother Annie Gibson who died 2nd Jan. 1926 aged 43 years,

also their brother James Marwick Leonard

who died 6th Oct. 1908 aged 4 months.



John Leonard was the son of James Leonard of Quoygray, later Cruannie, and Ann Marwick of Tou. Born in 1879 he married Annie Gibson of Langskaill, daughter of David Gibson, latterly of Hullion and Ann Sinclair of Newhouse. John and Annie had six children: Ann; Estelle; John, who died in infancy; Rose, who went to America; Peggy, twin of Rose; and James, who died at the age of 4 months.




My thanks to Tommy Gibson, owner of the original poem,

for allowing its reproduction.