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Poems Of Skye

A Summer in Skye In 1864 Alexander Smith, poet and essayist, spent six weeks on the island of Skye. Inspired by his stay, this prose poem celebrates his life, the life around him and the history and nature of the island.

Lone Places Of The Deer

Lone places of the deer,
Corrie, and Loch, and Ben,
Fount that wells in the cave,
Voice of the burn and the wave,
Softly you sing and clear
Of Charlie and his men!

Here has he lurked, and here
The heather has been his bed,
The wastes of the islands knew
And the Highland hearts were true
To the bonny, the brave, the dear,
The royal, the hunted head.

by Andrew Lang.

Isle Of My Heart

O, would that I were in the Isle of my Heart,
My dear island where I grew up;
O, would that I were in the Isle of my Heart,
Isle of the high cold mountains.

Barefoot I'd run over moorland and heather
If I could cross over the ferry to Kyle,
I would go in a hurry to the village I love
To the home where I was raised.

O, would that I were ...

Content I would be if I were justnow
Beside the peat-stack on a hillock at rest
The most beautiful mist, wreathing and swimming
And falling o'er the shoulders of Blath-Bheinn

O, would that I were ...

My wish is to stay with the kin of my heart
In William's wee bothy by the waves on the beach,
Where forever we'd listen each night and each day
With but moorland and sea beside us.

O, would that I were ...

I see the Meall and I see the Sgorr
The side of Quirang and the hills of the Storr
Little Helaval and Big Helaval
The Three Streams delta and Gearraidh

by Donald A. Mackenzie.

Prince Charlie At Versailles

Backwards, backwards let me wander
To the noble northern land:
Let me feel the breezes blowing
Fresh along the mountain-side;
Let me see the purple heather,
Let me hear the thundering tide,
Be it hoarse as Corrievreckan
Spouting when the storm is high
Give me but one hour of Scotland
Let me see it ere I die!
Oh, my heart is sick and heavy
Southern gales are not for me;
Though the glens are white with winter,
Place me there, and set me free;
Give me back my trusty comrades
Give me back my Highland maid
Nowhere beats the heart so kindly
As beneath the tartan plaid!
Flora! when thou wert beside me,
In the wilds of far Kintail
When the cavern gave us shelter
From the blinding sleet and hail
When we lurked within the thicket,
And, beneath the waning moon,
Saw the sentry's bayonet glimmer,
Heard him chant his listless tune
When the howling storm o'ertook us,
Drifting down the island's lee,
And our crazy bark was whirling
Like a nutshell on the sea
When the nights were dark and dreary,
And amidst the fern we lay,
Faint and foodless, sore with travel,
Waiting for the streaks of day;
When thou wert an angel to me,
Watching my exhausted sleep
Never didst thou hear me murmur
Couldst thou see how now I weep!
Bitter tears and sobs of anguish,
Unavailing though they be:
Oh, the brave, the brave and noble
That have died in vain for me!

by W.E. Aytoun.

MacCrimmon's Lament

Round Coolin's peak the mist is sailin'
The Banshee croons her note of wailin'
But my blue e'en with sorrow are streamin'
for him that will never return, MacCrimmon

No more, no more, no more forever
in war or peace shall return MacCrimmon
No more, no more, no more forever
shall love or gold bring back MacCrimmon

The beasts on the braes are mournfully moanin'
The brook in the hollow is plaintively mournin'
But my blue e'en with sorrow are streamin'
for him that will never return, MacCrimmon

No more, no more, no more forever
in war or peace shall return MacCrimmon
No more, no more, no more forever
Shall love or gold bring back MacCrimmon

At Euston

Stranger with the pile of luggage proudly labelled for Portree, How I wish this night of August I were you and you were me! Think of all that lies before you when the train goes sliding forth. And the lines athwart the sunset lead you swiftly to the North! Think of breakfast at Kingussie, think of high Drumochter Pass. Think of highland breezes singing through the bracken and the grass. Scabious blue and yellow daisy, tender fern beside the train, Rowdy tummmel falling, brawling, seen and lost and glimpsed again! You will pass my golden roadway of the days of long ago: Will you realise the magic of the names I used to know; Clachnaharry, Achnashellash, Achnasheen and Duirinish? Ev'ry moor alive with coveys, every pool aboil with fish; Every well remembered vista more exciting by the mile Till the wheeling gulls are screaming round the engine at the Kyle Think of cloud on Bheinn na Cailleach, jagged Cuillins soaring high
Scent of peat and all the glamour of the misty Isle of Skye! Rods and gun case in the carriage, wise retriever in the van; Go, and good luck travel with you!
(Wish I'd half your luck, my man!)

by A.M. Harbord.

Flora MacDonald's Farewell

Far over yon hills of the heather so green,
And down by the corrie that sings to the sea,
The bonnie young Flora sat sighing her lane,
The dew on her plaid and the tear in her e'e.
She looked at a boat with the breezes that swung
Away on the wave like a bird on the main
And aye as it lessened she sighed and she sung
Farewell to the lad I shall ne'er see again.
Farewell to my hero, the gallant and young
Farewell to the lad I shall ne'er see again.

The moorcock that craws on the brow of Ben Connal
He kens o' his bed in a sweet mossy hame
The eagle that soars on the cliffs of Clanronald
Unawed and unhunted, his eyrie can claim
The solan can sleep on his shelve of the shore
The cormorant roost on his rock of the sea
But oh! There is one whose hard fate I deplore
Nor house, manor hame, in this country has he
The conflict is past and our name is no more
There's nought left but sorrow for Scotland and me.

The target is torn from the arm of the just
The helmet is cleft on the brow of the brave
The claymore forever in darkness must rust
But red is the sword of the stranger and slave
The hoof of the horse and the foot of the proud
Have trod o'er the plumes on the bonnet of blue Why slept the red bolt in the breast of the cloud
When tyranny revelled in blood of the true?
Farewell, my young hero! The gallant and good
The crown of thy fathers is torn from thy brow.

by James Hogg.


1O wonderful mountain of Blaavin,
How oft since our parting hour
You have roared with the wintry torrents,
You have gloomed through the thunder-shower!
But by this time the lichens are creeping
Grey-green o'er your rocks and your stones,
And each hot afternoon is steeping
Your bulk in its sultriest bronze.
O sweet is the spring wind, Blaavin,
When it loosens your torrents' flow,
When with one little touch of a sunny hand
It unclasps your cloak of snow.
O sweet is the spring wind, Blaavin,
And sweet it was to me
For before the bell of the snowdrop
Or the pink of the apple tree
Long before your first spring torrent
Came down with a flash and a whirl,
In the breast of its happy mother
There nestled my little girl.
O Blaavin, rocky Blaavin,
It was with the strangest start
That I felt, at the little querulous cry,
The new pulse awake in my heart;
A pulse that will live and beat, Blaavin,
Till, standing around my bed,
While the chirrup of birds is heard out in the dawn,
The watchers whisper, He's dead!
O another heart is mine, Blaavin,
Sin' this time seven year,
For Life is brighter by a charm
Death darker by a fear.
O Blaavin, rocky Blaavin,
How I long to be with you again,
To see lashed gulf and gully
Smoke white in the windy rain
To see in the scarlet sunrise
The mist-wreaths perish with heat,
The wet rock slide with a trickling gleam
Right down to the cataracts' feet;
While toward the crimson islands,
Where the sea-birds flutter and skirl,
A cormorant flaps o'er a sleek ocean floor
Of tremulous mother-of-pearl.

Ah me! as wearily I tread
The winding hill-road mute and slow,
Each rock and rill are to my heart
So conscious of the long-ago.
My passion with its fulness ached,
I filled this region with my love,
Ye listened to me, barrier crags,
Thou heard'st me singing, blue above.
O never can I know again
The sweetness of that happy dream,
But thou remember'st iron crag,
And thou remember'st falling stream!
O look not so on me, ye rocks.
The past is past, and let it be;
Thy music ever falling stream
Brings more of pain than joy to me.
O cloud, high dozing on the peak,
O tarn, that gleams so far below,
O distant ocean, blue and sleek,
On which the white sails come and go,
Ye look the same; thou sound'st the same,
Thou ever falling, falling stream
Ye are the changeless dial-face,
And I the passing beam.

As adown the long glen I hurried,
With the torrent from fall to fall,
The invisible spirit of Blaavin
Seemed ever on me to call.
As I passed the red lake fringed with rushes
A duck burst away from its heart,
And before the bright circles and wrinkles
Had subsided again into rest,
At a clear open turn of the roadway
My passion went up in a cry,
For the wonderful mountain of Blaavin
Was bearing his huge bulk on high,
Each precipice keen and purple
Against the yellow sky.

by Alexander Smith.

MacCrimmon's Lament

O'er Coolin's face
The night is creeping,
The banshee's wail
Is round us sweeping;
Blue eyes in Duin
Are dim with weeping,
Since thou art gone
And ne'er returnest.

Refrain:
No more, no more,
No more returning,
In peace nor in war
Is he returning;
Till dawns the great Day
Of Doom and burning,
MacCrimmon is home
No more returning.

The breeze of the bens
Is gently blowing,
The brooks in the glens
Are softly flowing;
Where boughs
Their darkest shades are throwing,
Birds mourn for thee
Who ne'er returnest.
Refrain:

Its dirges of woe
The sea is sighing,
The boat under sail
Unmoved is lying;
The voice of the waves
In sadness dying,
Say, thou art away
And ne'er returnest.
Refrain:

We'll see no more
MacCrimmon's returning,
Nor in peace nor in war
Is he returning;
Till dawns the great day
Of woe and burning,
For him, for him
There's no returning.
Refrain:

by Lachlan MacBean.

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