A time will come with feeling fraught,
For, if I fall in battle fought,
Thy hapless lover’s dying thought
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary.
And if returned from conquered foes,
How blithely will the evening close,
How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!
Not faster o’er thy heathery braes
Balquidder, speeds the midnight blaze,
Rushing in conflagration strong
Thy deep ravines and dells along,
Wrapping thy cliffs in purple glow,
And reddening the dark lakes below;
Nor faster speeds it, nor so far,
As o’er thy heaths the voice of war.
The signal roused to martial coil
The sullen margin of Loch Voil,
Waked still Loch Doine, and to the source
Alarmed, Balvaig, thy swampy course;
Thence southward turned its rapid road
Adown Strath-Gartney’s valley broad
Till rose in arms each man might claim
A portion in Clan-Alpine’s name,
From the gray sire, whose trembling hand
Could hardly buckle on his brand,
To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow
Were yet scarce terror to the crow.
Each valley, each sequestered glen,
Mustered its little horde of men
That met as torrents from the height
In Highland dales their streams unite
Still gathering, as they pour along,
A voice more loud, a tide more strong,
Till at the rendezvous they stood
By hundreds prompt for blows and blood,
Each trained to arms since life began,
Owning no tie but to his clan,
No oath but by his chieftain’s hand,
No law but Roderick Dhu’s command.
That summer morn had Roderick Dhu
Surveyed the skirts of Benvenue,
And sent his scouts o’er hill and heath,
To view the frontiers of Menteith.
All backward came with news of truce;
Still lay each martial Graeme and Bruce,
In Rednock courts no horsemen wait,
No banner waved on Cardross gate,
On Duchray’s towers no beacon shone,
Nor scared the herons from Loch Con;
All seemed at peace.—Now wot ye wily
The Chieftain with such anxious eye,
Ere to the muster he repair,
This western frontier scanned with care?—
In Benvenue’s most darksome cleft,
A fair though cruel pledge was left;
For Douglas, to his promise true,
That morning from the isle withdrew,
And in a deep sequestered dell
Had sought a low and lonely cell.
By many a bard in Celtic tongue
Has Coir-nan-Uriskin been sung
A softer name the Saxons gave,
And called the grot the Goblin Cave.