The Hills of Ruel by Fiona MacLeod

Taken from The Book of Fairy Poetry, published in 1920:

“Over the hills and far away”–

That is the tune I heard one day,

When heather-drowsy I lay and listened

And watched where the stealthy sea-tide glistened.

Beside me there on the Hills of Ruel

An old man stooped and gathered fuel–

And I asked him this: if his son were dead,

As the folk in Glendaruel all said,

How could he still believe that never

Duncan had crossed the shadowy river?

Forth from his breast the old man drew

A lute that once on a rowan tree grew;

And speaking now words, began to play

“Over the hills and far away.”

“But how do you know,” I said, thereafter,

“That Duncan has heard the fairy-laughter?

How do you know he has followed the cruel

Honey-sweet folk of the Hills of Ruel?”

“How do I know?” the old man said,

“Sure I knew well my boy’s not dead,

For late on the morrow they hid him, there

I saw him alow on the moor close by,

I watched him low on the hillside lie,

An’ I heard him laughin’ wild up there,

An’ talk, talk, talkin’ beneath his hair–

For down his face a long hair lay

But I saw it was cold and ashen-gray,

Ay, laughin’ and talkin’ wild he was,

An’ that to a Shadow out on the grass,

A Shadow that made my blood go chill,

For, never its like have I seen on the hill.

An’ the moon came up, and the stars grew white,

An’ the hills grew black in the bloom o’ the night.

An’ I watched till the death-star sank in the moon,

An’ the moonmaid fled with her moonwhite shoon,

Then the Shadow that was on the moorside there

Rose up and shook its shadowy hair;

And Duncan he laughed no more, but grey

As the rainy dust of a rainy day,

Went over the hills and far away.”
” Over the hills and far away”–

That is the tune I heard one day.

O that I too might hear the cruel

Honey-sweet fold of the Hills of Ruel.

NOTE:  Fiona Macleod was the alter ego of writer William Sharp (1855-1905)

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14 Responses to The Hills of Ruel by Fiona MacLeod

  1. clementine December 11, 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    ummmmmmm hey again i have another fairy sighting to talk about but my main purpose for this comment is the bad faries. Can they like kill you? and what “bad” things do they do? I dont have much money so i just printed out a picture of the fairy flag, is that ok? and I havent heard or seen any fairys. Do they speek english? Will i beable to see the human form of the fairys? How long will it take for them to come to my fairy shelf? Do they like Hip Hop and Rap music because thats what i lisen to? what objects have iron in it?
    PS my cusin is Angel and sorry for all the questions :)

    Your Truly Clementine

  2. admin December 12, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    Hi Clementine –

    I answered some of your questions on the Attracting fairies post so I won’t answer them here. As for your other questions:

    Sure, you can print out the fairy flag – just don’t sell it for money, ok?

    Iron is a type of metal. Sometimes it is coated with a black paint and called wrought iron.

    By the way, I love your questions so don’t feel bad about asking me anything. Sometimes it might take a day or so for me to get back to you depending on how busy it is around here though.


  3. xChiyux March 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    This is a really nice song, i like it a lot. Makes you think ^^.

  4. admin March 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Yes, it think this poem is one of my favorites….

  5. jenn April 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    how do u talkk and see fairies bacause i wanna talk and see fairies .. and yes i do balive in fairies.can u pleas hellp me =) thank you .

  6. admin May 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi Jenn,

    Thank you for your post…

    To answer your questions, we have a post on seeing fairies here and a post on communicating with fairies here.

    Hope this helps!


  7. Bri3 August 13, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    this is a beatiful and moving poem,were the fae described unseelie?

  8. Bri3 August 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    i added my own tune to it and turned it into a song,don’t worry,just for fun!:)

  9. admin August 13, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Bri3 – This is a really good question but I don’t think they were actually unseelie. I think maybe this points out how powerful they can be and how different from us they actually are. Just my thoughts….


  10. Bri3 August 13, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    oh cool but i don’t quite understand the small details of this as i am only ten years old but i have done a bit of poetry myself so i understand most of it. :D

  11. Bri3 August 15, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    the sweet song of fairies singing,pixies dancing like light.
    the children do believe in them with all their might.
    the moments of which have been enchanted by their prescence,
    the natural beauty of a forest dappled with sunlight is their home.

  12. Bri3 August 15, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    oops in the first line it is supposed to say sound not song

  13. dante September 27, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    Hi natalie ,
    how do u do that here thing?

  14. dante September 27, 2009 at 10:11 am #


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