To Gette and to Espy

Map of Scotland from John Hardyng’s Chronicle, MS Eng 1054, Houghton Library, Harvard.
John Hardyng’s map of Scotland, c. 1450, Lansdowne MS 204, British Library.

O soverayne lord, be it to youre plesance
This book to take of my symplicité
Thus newly made for rememorance,
Whiche no man hath in worlde bot oonly ye.
Whiche I compiled unto youre rialté
And to the quenes hertes consolacioun
To know the state of youre domynacioun.

And for the prynce to have playne conyshance
Of this regioun, in what nobilité
It hath been kept alway of greet pushance,
With baronage and lordes of dignyté
The whiche alway God graunte that ye and he
May so kepe forth undir youre governance
To Goddes plesire withouten variance.

Thus to yow thre rials in unyté
This book with hert and lowly obeishance
I present now with al benygnyté
To been everemore within youre governance
For soveraynté and youre inherytance
Of Scotland hool, whiche shuld your reule obaye
As sovereyn lorde, fro whiche thay prowdly straye.

Wythin thre yere thaire grete rebellioun
Ye myght oppresse and uttirly restrayne
And have it alle in youre possessioun
And to obeye youre myght make thaym ful fayne
As Kynge Edward the first with hungir and payne
Thaym conquerde hool to hys subjeccioun
To byde forevere undir his hool proteccioun.

Who hath an hurte and wille it nought diskure
And to his leche can nought his sore compleyne
In wo evermore withouten any cure
Alle helples forth he muste comporte his peyne.
And who his own erande forgatte to seyne
As alle thise wise men say alway and wote
Men calle a fool or elles an idyote.

Wherfore to yow, as prince moste excellent
I me compleyne, as resoun techeth me
That youre fadir gafe me in commaundement
In Scotlonde ryde for his regalyté
To seke his ryght thare of hys sovereynté
And evydence to gette and to espy
Appurtenant unto hys monarchy.

— Chronicle of John Hardyng, Prologue.

Red and Strong Is the Blood

The Lamont Harp, Clàrsach Lumanach, presented c. 1460-1464 to Charles Robertson of Lude, National Museum of Scotland.
The Lamont Harp, Clàrsach Lumanach, presented c. 1460-1464 to Charles Robertson of Lude, National Museum of Scotland.

THE HARP OF THE GAEL.

GAELIC MOD PRIZE POEM.

BY REV. DUGALD MACECHERN, B. D.
(Translated by Author.)

HARP of my own dear country,
Trembling against my bosom,
Sweeter to me are thy strains
Than all of the wide world’s music,
Shapely thy curving neck
Like the wild swan afloat on the ocean,
Gleaming thy sun-bright strings,
Like the golden hair of my dear one.
What ah! what can express
Like the harp’s wild tender trembling,
Love that lies in the heart
Like a precious jewel hidden?
Sweet to me is the viol
When move in the dance the maidens,
Dear to me are the pipes
When my sword is red in the battle,
But ’tis the harp should be tuned
With slender and swift-moving finger,
When in her song my dear one,
Sweet-throated, her love confesseth.
Tell me thy secret, my harp,
Who taught thee to tremble in music?
Was it the ocean crooning
To th’ yellow sands and the sea-wrack?
Say, were thy tutors the lark
And the tuneful thrush of the wild-grove,
Blast of the giant bens
And whisper of wind-kissed forest,
Chant of the waterfall where
The stream leaps down from the mountains,
These, and in glens of our love
The songs of the sweet-throated maidens,
Say, were thy tutors these?
Who taught thee to tremble in music—
Music of kings in the times
When the Sun in his youth was shining,
Music of more than heroes
In the days of Fingal and Ossian.

Coll of the waves! Eilean Chola,
Musical were thy children,
Thine was the last of the line
Of the old-time harpers of Albyn,
Sad was thy heart, oh Murdoch!
When last thou tunedst the harp-strings,
Sad was thy heart, and the ship
Like a seagull out on the ocean,
Passing tby spray-swept island,
Bearing the Prince of thy bosom,
Bearing Prince Charlie an exile
Out on the sorrowful ocean,
Saying good-bye to Albyn
And to the crown of his fathers—
The golden crown of his fathers
Lost on the field of battle,
And to the land of the heroes
Who unto death were faithful.
Passed thy prince from thy view
Till the sail seemed merged in the ocean,
Passed—and together that hour
Thy harp and thy heart were broken.

Never again did thy song
Rise in the halls of the chieftains,
Never in Coll of the waves
In the eyrie of Tighearn Chola.
Even as the rose will shut
When her lover the Sun is departed,
So didst thou close thy heart,
The music, the glory departed.
Music with thee was laid
In thy grave in Mull of the mountains.
How could the strings be tuned
When lost were the rights of our fathers.
Banned was the tartan plaid
And they cursed the tongue of the mountains;
Who, who could tune thy strings
And the land of the Gael dishonoured?

Harp of the kings, let us sing
In the ears of the wise of the nation,
Standing on steps of the throne
Of the Scot-descended Edward,
Close to the Destiny Stone,
The stone of the Scots and of Aidan—
Sing how a nation alone
May stand forever unshaken.
Red and strong is the blood
Where the wind is scented with heather,
Races of heroes are bred
On the purple breasts of mountains,
Often the heroes of hills
Have hurled back doom from a nation—
Have we forgotten Omdurman
And Hector in crisis of battle?
Sing how the blood of the cities,
Swiftly degenerate, faileth,
Sing of proud kingdoms that fell
Their children forsaking the mountains.

Harp of the Scots, thou art kin
To the harp that is slumbering in Tara,
Shall we not therefore sing
Together our songs, O Erin?
Branches we are of the stem
Whose roots reach the ages forgotten,
Proudly the harp of the Gael
In the banner of Erin is floating,
Proudly in veins of the king
The blood of the Gael is flowing—
Blood of the Scots of Dalriad,
Blood of O’Neil and of Canmore.
Here in the hands of our love
Is balm for the wounds of thy bosom,
Thy deep, red wounds—and thy grief
Shall vanish like visions with morning.
Cease from your terrible tears,
O dark-haired daughters of sorrow,
Golden and beautiful breaks
The morn on the hilltops of Erin!

Harp of the world-scattered Gaels,
Sing how the Gaels are in number
Even as the stars; how in strength
They are sinew and muscle of empires.
Brothers they are, of our blood,
Though spread to the four winds of heaven,
Brothers, if exiles, still,
Though their white-sailed ships return not.
What if the straths are forlorn,
The Blood of the race is not passing,
What if the language should fail,
The Race of the Gael is not dying!
See how the Gaels are in number
As sands on the marge of the wild wave,
Conquering with hands of toil
The cities and lands of the stranger;
Under the sun of the Indies
And in the lands over ocean,
Wielding the axe of the settler
Far in the depths of the forest,
Digging the yellow gold,
Low in the depths of the canyon,
Struggling on far fields of battle
Struggling—and falling with glory!

Tell me, my harp beloved,
Shall the hope that I cherish fail me—
Shall I behold the Gaels
To the glens of their love returning,
Men at work on the crofts
As I saw in the times unforgotten,
The mother in musical Gaelic
To the babe at her bosom crooning.
Friendly at feast of the Old-Year,
Chieftain and clansmen together,
Cheeks of the youth aglow
At the Shinty on New-Year’s morning—
Every old custom so dear
To our beautiful glens returning,
Bagpipes on fields of battle
Chanting their war-notes defiant,
And, in the halls of peace
The harp with its wild sweet trembling,
Why should I thus drop tears
On the ruins of old homes broken—
Spanning the bens, behold!
The rainbow, the rainbow is shining!

Listen, my harp, my beloved!
When cometh the time of my changing,
When my hand white as the snow,
To dust in the grave shall crumble,
Do not let any man’s hand
Strike from thee chords of sorrow —
Shall I not rise again
To the wind my boat’s sail spreading,
For the beautiful Island of Youth
In the gold of the Sea of the Sunset.
There I shall practice thy music,
There in the Hall of the Noble—
Beloved! when I am dead,
For me let no wail of sorrow
Rise from thy sun-bright strings,
But a song—a song victorious.

MacFadyen’s Cave

Loch Awe and Creag an Aonaich at the Pass of Brander.
Loch Awe and Creag an Aonaich at the Pass of Brander.

MACFADYEN came from Ireland (Eirin) to Cantyre (Cinn-tìre), with a following of 1400 men, to assist King Edward in his efforts to conquer Scotland. From Cantyre he made his way to Lorne (Lathurna), where he was joined by a party of the MacDougalls. When the Knight of Lochow (Loch-odha) heard of his coming, he sent a messenger to inform Sir William Wallace of it, who was at the time in Perthshire (Siorramachd Pheairt). Sir William was not slow in marching to meet the enemy. The two hosts encountered each other in the Pass of Awe (Atha). MacFadyen and his men were defeated and routed. He, and as many of his officers as escaped with him, hid themselves in a cave in the face of a rock called Creag-an-aoinidh. Sir William sent the Knight of Lochow and a party of men in pursuit of the fugitives; and having found them in the cave, they cut off their heads, and placed them on stakes on the top of Creag-an-aoinidh. This cave is called MacFadyen’s Cave to the present day.

The battle between Wallace and MacFadyen took place in 1300.

Makfadyane fled, for all his felloun stryff
On till a cave, within a clyfft of stayne
Wnde Cragmore, with fyftene is he gayne
Dunkan off Lorn his leyff at Wallace ast;
On Makfadyane with worthi me he past
He grantyt him to put them all to ded:
Thai left nane quyk, syne brocht Wallace his hed;
Apon a sper throuch out the feild it bor.
The Lord Cambell syne hint it by the har;
Heich in Cragmore he maid it for to stand
Steild on a stayne for honour off Irland.

Henry the Menstrel, Buke Sewynd, 858-868.

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

A Great Hosting Against the Welsh

The King of the English made a great hosting against the Welsh. They encamped at Cannock Castle, and the King sent legates bearing letters to the Irish Galls and to Fedlimid mac Cathail Chrobdeirg, bidding them to attend him, to conquer the Welsh. Then the Justiciar and the Irish Galls repaired to the King, and Fedlimid O Conchobair with a great army went to the help of the King in Wales. They despoiled the whole country, but exacted no pledge or hostage from the Welsh at that time. Fedlimid was held in honour by the King then and was well pleased when he returned westwards.

Annals of Connaught, 1245.5.

I Owe Him No Allegiance

The National Wallace Monument (generally known as the Wallace Monument) stands on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling in Scotland.

I can not be a traitor, for I owe him no allegiance. He is not my Sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the other points whereof I am accused, I freely confess them all. As Governor of my country I have been an enemy to its enemies; I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English King; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he unjustly claimed as his own. If I or my soldiers have plundered or done injury to the houses or ministers of religion, I repent me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon.

William Wallace at his trial (23 August 1305), as quoted in Lives of Scottish Worthies (1831) by Patrick Fraser Tytler, p. 279.