Research article
Issue: № 1 (127), 2023


The paper investigates the landscape discourse in the nineteenth-century Scottish emigrational poetry of the United States. The landscape occupies a special place in every national poetic discourse as the reflection of the nation’s worldview. The importance of the landscape for the Scottish emigrational poetic context is determined by the ability to establish a connection between "old" and "new" Motherlands to show transformations and shifts in emphasis. National landscapes grew in importance as they began to play an important role in history and introduce characters on a personal level. Places of national importance not only form the chronotope, but also determine the landscape as part of the worldview. Such transformations could be possible because signs of landscape are placed not in relation to topography but in relation to cosmology: they have their own sky, land, and water, as well as natural refuges and wild places.

1. Introduction

Landscape occupies a paradoxical place in the poetry of all ancient people. On the one hand, nature for the paleo-human is much more powerful and, therefore, more important than people: plots of rivers, seas, lakes, mountains, specific peaks, forests, specific groves and trees, animals, birds, fish, etc. – the most archaic plots (in the form of myths, legends, worship rituals, etc.). On the other hand, this is why natural objects become anthropomorphic early on, gaining an anthropomorphic appearance and then a character.

Mythological representations evolve from impersonal "natural energies" to non-human "lords of the elements" and marked natural places, and then on to magical beings capable of entering into dialogue with human characters and also to "human" relationships (love, marriage, childbirth, rescue from enemies, quarrels, revenge, war, wounding, and death).

Scottish landscapes are no exception. The territory of Scotland itself is replete with faults in the earth's crust, water-fissure gorges (lochs), bizarre mountaintops and caves, swampy heaths, and dense forests. All of these natural (geophysical, hydrological, botanical, and zoological) observations have been included in Scottish pagan rituals since ancient times, later in myths, later in ballads, songs, and local legends. 

The purpose of the article is to analyse the artistic transformation of landscape in the nineteenth-century Scottish emigrant poets’ views of the world.


1) to analyse the sociohistorical background of Scottish emigrational discourse of the XIXth century;

2) to reveal specific landscape characteristics of emigrants’ visions of the landscapes;

3) to identify the way the natural landscape transforms into a national view of the world.

The poetic texts of the nineteenth-century Scottish emigrants containing landscape descriptions served as the material for this study.

The article’s novelty stems from the examination of specific aspects of the landscape discourse of Scottish poets and Scottish poet-emigrants to the United States in the nineteenth-century.

2. Research methods and principles

When conducting the research, the methods of comparative analysis, genre analysis, and content analysis were used.

3. Main results

Landscape discourse is relevant to the poetic works of many authors. The scientific approaches to landscape analysis and interpretation are determined by the research goals and objectives.

Scottish emigration in the XIXth century was predominantly economic

. The result of this emigration was the appearance of the nineteenth-century Scottish emigrational poetic discourse in the United States. According to research, this segment of Scottish-American literature is complex and multilayered, with duality being one of the key concepts
. Landscape became one of the most significant parts of Scottish emigrational literature.

By the end of the Middle Ages (in Scotland, by the XVth century), the main body of natural-mythological material about Scottish landscapes had already been formed. That is why the Scottish participants in the discovery of America, conquerors of the New World (the XV-XVII centuries), and founders (along with other Western Europeans) of the US state brought not only their newest but also their ancient ethnoculture "over the ocean" (over the sea). The importance of the landscape for the Scottish emigrational poetic context is determined by the ability to establish a connection between "old" and "new" Motherlands to show transformations and shifts in emphasis.

This circumstance made specific both the emigrant’s vision of the American landscape (the USA) and the nineteenth-century memories of the Scottish emigrants of their homeland and native nature. Such characteristic features can be distinguished:

1. In emigrational poetry, both Scottish and American landscapes quickly shift from local landscapes to a generalized view of the world (two worlds).

 There are poems mentioning several recognized places of national importance in both Scotland and the United States. These are Lake Erie

, Columbia
, Baltimore
, and Niagara Falls
in the USA; and Ochiltree
, Inch of Perth, Kinnol
, Culloden
, Stirling, Largs, Bannokburn
, Edinburg
, and Noran water
in Scotland. Such places-realias also contain lexical markers of their markedness: toponyms - names of texts, toponyms in refrains (songs and ballads); and personification of the mentioned places (they become certain living beings with personal characteristic features): "<...> Caledonia’s Blue Bells, O bonnie Blue Bells! <...>"

2. National landscapes become views of the world, because their signs are arranged in the poems not only (or not so much) topographically, but cosmologically. These landscapes have their own sky (with sun, sunset, sunrise, and stars): "<...> The moon shone clear her silv’ry light, / The Tay below went softly moanin’ <....>"


It has its own land and waters:: "<...> With a brother's warm love from far o’er the sea; / Fair flowerets! ye grew on a calm, sacred spot / The ruins alas! of my kind father’s cot <...>"

. There are higher peaks and forests:: "<...> An’ Kinnoul tap’s maist to the carie <...>"

There are deep natural refuges (caves, thickets, etc.): "<...> The last flower was dead, / The brown leaf had faw’n ; / Twas dark in the deep wood, / Hoary was the hill, / An' the wind frae the cauld north / Came heavy and chill <...>"


There are natural hazards or "wild" places: "<...>The marsh and the jungle to yield <...>"


As a result, the individual sketches of places, supported by global motifs of a lost old or a regained new homeland, grow to a large (sometimes enormous) scale, both physically and psychologically. They become part of the biography of the author (or his hero), part of the history of the country, and participants in happy or dramatic national stories.

3 As a result, the landscape shares the same imaginative and motif forms of presentation as the human heroes in nineteenth-century Scottish emigrational discourse in the United States. The landscape becomes the protagonist in all the dominant genres of this discourse (song, ballad). It supports (and sometimes reintroduces) the dominant motifs of the discourse, especially patriotic motifs. The landscape enlarges, heroises and cosmologises details of emigrant’s life in the past ("at home") and in the present (in the new land): "<...> It’s monie a day since first we left / Auld Scotland’s rugged hills / Her heath’ry braes and gow’ny glens, / Her bonnie winding rills <...>"


4. Conclusion

1. There is a consistent trend in the poetic texts of Scottish poets-emigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century to transform specific landscapes into a national view of the world.

2. Transformation occurs due to the transformation of realities into symbols and symbols into myths.

3. This allows us to conclude that the landscape became not just an obligatory element of emigrational discourse, but one of its nuclear, discourse-forming elements.

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