Monday, August 29, 2016

OLD SCOTTISH POEMS AND SONGS - ( from Celtic Magazine - The Scottish Highlander 1875 - 1876)


From the Gaelic, by Professor Blackie.

H o! my bonnie Mary,
My dainty love, my queen,
The fairest, rarest Mary
On earth was ever seen !
Ho! my queenly Mary,
Who made me king of men,
To call thee mine own Mary,
Born in the bonnie glen.

Young was I and Mary,
In the windings of Glensmoil,
When came that imp of Venus
And caught us with his wile;
And pierced us with his arrows,
That we thrilled in every pore,
And loved as mortals never loved
On this green earth before.

Ho ! my bonnie Mary, &c.

Oft times myself and Mary
Strayed up the bonnie glen,
Our hearts as pure and innocent
As little children then;
Boy Cupid finely taught us
To dally and to toy,
When the shade fell from the green tree,
And the sun was in the sky.

Ho ! my bonnie Mary, &c.

If all the wealth of Albyn
Were mine, and treasures rare,
What boots all gold and silver
If sweet love be not there ?
More dear to me than rubies
In deepest veins that shine,
Is one kiss from the lovely lips
That rightly I call mine.

Ho ! my bonnie Mary, &c.

Thy bosom's heaving whiteness
With beauty overbrims,
Like swan upon the waters
When gentliest it swims;
Like cotton on the moorland
Thy skin is soft and fine,
Thy neck is like the sea-gul
When dipping in the brine.

Ho ! my bonnie Mary, &c.

The locks about thy dainty ears
Do richly curl and twine;
Dame Nature rarely grew a wealth
Of ringlets like to thine:
There needs no hand of hireling
To twist and plait thy hair,
But where it grew it winds and falls
In wavy beauty there.

Ho ! my bonnie Mary, &c.

Like snow upon the mountains
Thy teeth are pure and white;
Thy breath is like the cinnamon,
Thy mouth buds with delight.
Thy cheeks are like the cherries,
Thine eyelids soft and fair,
And smooth thy brow, untaught to frown,
Beneath thy golden hair.

Ho! my bonnie Mary, &c.

The pomp of mighty kaisers
Our state doth far surpass,
When 'neath the leafy coppice
We lie upon the grass;
The purple flowers around us
Outspread their rich array,
Where the lusty mountain streamlet
Is leaping from the brae.

Ho! my bonnie Mary, &c.

Nor harp, nor pipe, nor organ,
From touch of cunning men,
Made music half so eloquent
As our hearts thrilled with then.
When the blythe lark lightly soaring,
And the mavis on the spray,
And the cuckoo in the greenwood,
Sang hymns to greet the May.

Ho! my bonnie Mary, &c.


This is the claymore that my ancestors wielded,
This is the old blade that oft smote the proud foe;
Beneath its bright gleam all of home hath been shielded,
And oft were our title-deeds signed with its blow.
Its hilt hath been circled by valorous fingers;
Oft, oft hath it flashed like a mountaineer's ire,
Around it a halo of beauty still lingers
That lights up the tale which can ever inspire.

The Highland Claymore ! The old Highland Claymore,
Gleams still like the fire of a warrior's eye,
Tho' hands of the dauntless will grasp it no more
Disturb it not now, let it peacefully lie.

It twinkled its love for the bold chieftain leading,
It shone like a star on the moon-lighted heath;
As lightning in anger triumphantly speeding
Its keen edge hath swept on the pinions of death:
Wild-breathing revenge o'er the corse of a kinsman,
Dark-vowing their ancient renown to maintain;
Its sheen hath been dimmed by the lips of brave clansmen,
Unwiped till the foe was exultingly slain.

The Highland Claymore! The old Highland Claymore, &c.

It baffled the Norseman and vanquished the Roman,
'Twas drawn for the Bruce and the old Scottish throne,
It victory bore over tyrannous foemen,
For Freedom had long made the weapon her own.
It swung for the braw Chevalier and Prince Charlie,
'Twas stained at Drummossie with Sassenach gore:
It sleeps now in peace, a dark history's ferlie,
Oh! ne'er may be wakened the Highland Claymore.

The Highland Claymore! The old Highland Claymore, &c.





The homes long are gone, but enchantment still lingers,
These green knolls around, where thy young life began,
Sweetest and last of the old Celtic singers,
Bard of the Monadh-dhu', blithe Donach Bàn!

Never mid scenes of earth, fairer and grander,
Poet first lifted his eyelids on light;
Free mid these glens, o'er these mountains to wander,
And make them his own by the true minstrel right.

Thy home at the meeting and green interlacing
Of clear-flowing waters and far-winding glens,
Lovely inlaid in the mighty embracing
Of sombre pine forests and storm-riven Bens.

Behind thee these crowding Peaks, region of mystery,
Fed thy young spirit with broodings sublime;
Each cairn and green knoll lingered round by some history,
Of the weird under-world, or the wild battle-time.

Thine were Ben-Starrav, Stop-gyre, Meal-na-ruadh,
Mantled in storm-gloom, or bathed in sunshine;
Streams from Corr-oran, Glash-gower, and Glen-fuadh
Made music for thee, where their waters combine.

But over all others thy darling Bendorain
Held thee entranced with his beautiful form,
With looks ever-changing thy young fancy storing,
Gladness of sunshine and terror of storm

Opened to thee his heart's deepest recesses,
Taught thee the lore of the red-deer and roe,
Showed thee them feed on the green mountain cresses,
Drink the cold wells above lone Doire-chro.

How did'st thou watch them go up the high passes
At sunrise rejoicing, a proud jaunty throng ?
Learn the herbs that they love, the small flow'rs, and hill grasses,
And made them for ever bloom green in thy song.

Yet, bard of the wilderness, nursling of nature,
Would the hills e'er have taught thee true minstrel art,
Had not a visage more lovely of feature
The fountain unsealed of thy tenderer heart ?

The maiden that dwelt by the side of Maam-haarie,
Seen from thy home-door, a vision of joy,
Morning and even the young fair-haired Mary
Moving about at her household employ.

High on Bendoa and stately Ben-challader,
Leaving the dun deer in safety to bide,
Fondly thy doating eye dwelt on her, followed her,
Tenderly wooed her, and won her thy bride.

O! well for the maiden that found such a lover,
And well for the poet, to whom Mary gave
Her fulness of love until, life's journey over,
She lay down beside him to rest in the grave.

From the bards of to-day, and their sad songs that dark'n
The day-spring with doubt, wring the bosom with pain,
How gladly we fly to the shealings and harken
The clear mountain gladness that sounds in thy strain.

On the hill-side with thee is no doubt or misgiving,
But there joy and freedom, Atlantic winds blow,
And kind thoughts are there, and the pure simple living
Of the warm-hearted folk in the glens long ago.

The muse of old Maro hath pathos and splendour,
The long lines of Homer majestic'lly roll;
But to me Donach Bàn breathes a language more tender,
More kin to the child-heart that sleeps in my soul.




A health to thee, Stuart Blackie !
(I drink it in mountain dew)
With all the kindliest greetings
Of a heart that is leal and true.
Let happen what happen may
With others, by land or sea;
For me, I vow if I drink at all,
I'll drink a health to thee.

A health to thee, Stuart Blackie !
A man of men art thou,
With thy lightsome step and form erect,
And thy broad and open brow;
With thy eagle eye and ringing voice
(Which yet can be soft and kind),
As wrapped in thy plaid thou passest by
With thy white locks in the wind!

I greet thee as poet and scholar;
I greet thee as wise and good;
I greet thee ever lord of thyself
No heritage mean, by the rood!
I greet thee and hold thee in honour,
That thou bendest to no man's nod
Amidst the din of a world of sin,
Still lifting thine eye to God!

Go, search me the world and find me;
Go, find me if you can,
From the distant Farœs with their mists and snows,
To the green-clad Isle of Man;
From John O' Groats to Maidenkirk,
From far Poolewe to Prague
Go, find me a better or wiser man
Than the Laird of Altnacraig.

Now, here's to the honest and leal and true,
And here's to the learned and wise,
And to all who love our Highland glens
And our Bens that kiss the skies;
And here's to the native Celtic race,
And to each bright-eyed Celtic fair;
And here's to the Chief of Altnacraig
And hurrah! for the Celtic Chair!



"How are the mighty fallen !"

Can this be the land where of old heroes flourished ?
Can this be the land of the sons of the blast ?
Gloom-wrapt as a monarch whose greatness hath perished,
Its beauty of loneliness speaks of the past:
Tell me ye green valleys, dark glens, and blue mountains,
Where now are the mighty that round ye did dwell ?
Ye wild-sweeping torrents, and woe-sounding fountains,
Say, is it their spirits that wail in your swell ?

Oft, oft have ye leaped when your children of battle,
With war-bearing footsteps rushed down your dark crests;
Oft, oft have ye thundered with far-rolling rattle,
The echoes of slogans that burst from their breasts:
Wild music of cataracts peals in their gladness,
Hoarse tempests still shriek to the clouds lightning-fired,
Dark shadows of glory departed, in sadness
Still linger o'er ruins where dwelt the inspired.

The voice of the silence for ever is breaking
Around the lone heaths of the glory-sung braves;
Dim ghosts haunt in sorrow, a land all forsaken,
And pour their mist tears o'er the heather-swept graves:
Can this be the land of the thunder-toned numbers
That snowy bards sung in the fire of their bloom ?
Deserted and blasted, in death's silent slumbers,
It glooms o'er my soul like the wreck of a tomb.



Dedicated by permission to the Rev. George Gilfillan.

When balmy spring
Has ceased to wring
The youthful bud from the old oak tree,
And the sweet primrose
No longer glows
On the glad hill-side by the sunfilled sea;
When the Cuckoo's wail
Has ceased to go
O'er hill and dale
In a pensive flow,
And the deepest shade
In the woods is made,
And the brightest bloom on the fields is laid;
When the lord of light
With a lover's pride
Pours a beauty bright
O'er his blushing bride,
That lies below
His glowing gaze,
In a woodland glow, and a flowery blaze;
When winter's gloom
Of wind and rain
Is lost in the bloom
Of the flower-lit plain,
And his ruins grey
Have died away
In the love-sent breath of the smiling day;
When the beauteous hours
Of the twilight still
With dewy tears in their joy-swelled eyes
See the peaceful flowers
On the cloudless hill
Send scented gifts to the grateful skies;
And the wave-like grain
O'er the sea-like plain
In peaceful splendour essays to rise;
From my silent birth in the flowery land
Of the sunny south
At time's command.
As still as the breath of a rosy mouth,
Or rippling wave on the sighing sand,
Or surging grass by the stony strand,
I come with odour of shrub and flower
Stolen from field and sunny bower
From lowly cot and lordly tower.
Borne on my wings the soul-like cloud
That snowy, mountain-shading shroud
That loves to sleep
On the sweet hill's crest,
As still as the deep
With its voice at rest,
Is wafted in dreams to its peaceful nest;
At my command
The glowing land
Scorched by the beams of the burning sun,
Listing the sounds of the drowsy bees,
Thirsting for rain, and the dews that come
When light has died on the surging seas,
Awakes to life, and health, and joy;
I pour a life on the sickening trees,
And wake the birds to their sweet employ,
Amidst the flowers of the lowly leas;
From the sweet woodbine
That loves to twine
Its arms of love round the homes of men,
Or laugh in the sight
Of the sun's sweet light
'Midst the flower gemmed scenes of the song-filled glen,
And the full-blown rose that loves to blush
'Midst the garden bowers
Where the pensive hours
Awaiting the bliss of the summer showers
List to the songs of the warbling thrush,
I steal the sweets of their fragrant breath;
From the lily pale
That seems to wail
With snow-like face
And pensive grace
O'er the bed that bends o'er the deeds of death,
I brush the tears
That she loves to shed
For the early biers
Of the lovely dead.
When still twilight with dew-dimmed eye
Sees the lord of light from the snow-white sky,
Descend at the sight
Of the coming night,
'Midst the waves of the deathful sea to die !
When glowing day
Has passed away
In peace on the tops of the dim-seen hills,
That pour from their hearts the tinkling rills
That dance and leap
In youthful pride,
To the brimming river, deep and wide,
That bears them in rest to their distant sleep;
And the gladsome ocean
That ever presses
The bridal earth in fond caresses,
Rages no more in a wild commotion;
When the distant hills appear to grow
At the touch of evening bright,
And the sunless rivers seem to go
With a deeper music in their flow,
Like dreams thro' the peaceful night,
I fade away
With the dying day,
Like the lingering gleam of the sun's sweet ray !



Grey Blavin in grandeur gold-crested appears,
As swift sinks the sun in the west,
Whose gleams of departure, as love-guarding spears,
Skim over the blue ocean's breast:
The lav'rock pours sweetly his ev'ning joy song,
Lone cushats croon soft in each vale,
Pale gloaming's low melodies linger among
The beauties of loved Armadale:

It is the hour when raptures reign,
It is the hour when joys prevail,
I'll hie away to meet again
My Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale:

The dim robe of night over Knoydart's brown hills,
Comes weirdly with dark-shading lour,
Slow-stealing it shrouds the repose it full fills
With calm's hallowed, heart-clinging, pow'r:
It tells of a maiden whose heart I have got,
It whispers the love-longing tale,
It bids me away to yon heather-thatched cot,
Snug nestling by sweet Armadale:

It is the hour of Nature's peace,
It is the hour when smiles unveil
The beauty which bids love increase
For Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale:

Her eyes are as dark as the gloom of Loch Hourn,
Yet soft as the gaze of a fawn,
Still darker the tresses that crown to adorn
A brow like a light-mellowed dawn.
Her voice is a fountain of summer's dream-song,
Her smiles can the budding rose pale,
O! rare are the graces which humbly belong
To Flora of dear Armadale:

It is the hour of love's alarms,
It is the hour when throbs assail
This heart which glows beneath the charms
Of Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale.





Born of earthquakes, lonely giant,
Sphinx and eagle couched on high;
Dumb, defiant, self-reliant,
Breast on earth and beak in sky:

Built in chaos, burnt out beacon,
Long extinguished, dark, and bare,
Ere life's friendly ray could break on
Shelvy shore or islet fair:

Dwarf to atlas, child to Etna,
Stepping-stone to huge Mont Blanc;
Cairn to cloudy Chimborazo,
Higher glories round thee hang!

Baal-tein hearth, for friend and foeman;
Warden of the mazy Clyde;
In thy shadow, Celt and Roman,
Proudly galley'd, swept the tide !

Scottish Sinai, God's out-rider,
When he wields his lightning wand;
From thy flanks, a king and spider
Taught, and saved, and ruled the land !

Smoking void and planet rending,
Island rise and ocean fall,
Frith unfolding, field extending
Thou hast seen and felt them all.

Armies routed, navies flouted,
Tyrants fallen, people free;
Cities built and empires clouted,
Like the world, are known to thee.

Science shining, love enshrining,
Truth and patience conquering hell;
Miracles beyond divining,
Could'st thou speak, thy tongue would tell.

Rest awhile, the nations gather,
Sick of folly, lies, and sin,
To kneel to the eternal Father
Then the kingdom shall begin !

Rest awhile, some late convulsion,
Time enough shall shake thy bed:
Rest awhile, at Death's expulsion,
Living green shall clothe thy head !


O autumn ! to me thou art dearest,
Thou bringest deep thoughts to me now,
For the leaves in the forest are searest,
And the foliage falls from each bough.

And then as the day was declining,
While nature was wont to repose,
A sage on his harp was reclining
Who sang of Lochaber's bravoes.

He played and he sang of their glory,
Their deeds which the ages admire;
Then softly, then wildly, their story
He told on the strings of his lyre.

While praise on the heroes he lavished,
And lauded their triumphs again,
A maid came a-list'ning, enravished
Enrapt by his charming refrain.

O! bright were the beams of her smiling,
I sigh for the peace on her brow,
Not a trace on her features of guiling
,My heart singeth songs to her now.

Inspired by the rapturous measure,
This fair one skipt over the lea:
One morning I sought the young treasure,
Now dear as my soul she's to me.


Member of the Gaelic Society of London.

Image result for claymore scotland


"After many years he returned to die."

The last of the clansmen, grey-bearded and hoary,
Sat lone by the old castle's ruin-wrapt shade,
Where proudly his chief in the bloom of his glory
Oft mustered his heroes for battle arrayed:
He wept as he gazed on its beauties departed,
He sighed in despair for its gloom of decay,
Cold-shrouded his soul, and he sung broken-hearted,
With grief-shaking voice a wild woe-sounding lay.
"Weary, weary, sad returning,
Exiled long in other climes,
Hope's last flame, slow, feebly burning
Seeks the home of olden times:
In my joy why am I weeping ?
Where my kindred ? Where my clan ?
Whispers from the mountains creeping,
Tell me 'I'm the only man.'
"Yon tempest-starred mountains still loom in their grandeur,
The loud rushing torrents still sweep thro' the glen,
Thro' low-moaning forests dim spirits still wander,
But where are the songs and the voices of men ?
Tell me, storied ruins! where, where are their slumbers ?
Where now are the mighty no foe could withstand ?
The voice of the silence in echoing numbers,
Breathes sadly the tale of fate's merciless hand.

"Ah me! thro' the black clouds, one star shines in heaven,
And flings o'er the darkness its fast waning light,
'Tis to me an omen so tenderly given,
Foretelling that soon I will sink in my night:
The coronach slowly again is far pealing !
The grey ghosts of kinsmen I fondly can trace !
Around me they gather! and silent are kneeling,
To gaze in deep sorrow on all of their race !
Slowly, slowly, sadly viewing
With their weird mysterious scan,
Desolation's gloomy ruin !
All of kindred ! all of clan !
Ah ! my heart, my heart is fainting,
Strangely shaking are my limbs,
Heav'nward see ! their fingers pointing,
And my vision trembling swims.
Slowly, slowly, all-pervading,
O'er me steals their chilly breath,
See! the single star is fading,
Ling'ring in the joy of death,
Darkness swiftly o'er me gathers,
Softly fade these visions wan,
Welcome give, ye spirit fathers,
I'm the Last of all the Clan !"