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Mackrimmon, hereditary piper to the Laird of Macleod,
is said to have composed this Lament when the Clan was about to depart upon a distant and dangerous expedition. The Minstrel was impressed with a belief, which the event verified, that he was to be slain in the approaching feud ; and hence the Gaelic words, “ Cha till mi tuille; ged thillis Macleod, cha till Mackrimmon,” “ I shall never return; although Macleod returns, yet Mackrimmon shall never return !” The piece is but too well known, from its being the strain with which the emigrants from the West Highlands and Isles usually take leave of their native shore.
MACLEOD's wizard flag from the grey castle sallies,
The rowers are seated, unmoor'd are the galleys; Gleam war-axe and broadsword, clang target and
quiver, As Mackrimmon sings, “ Farewell to Dunvegan
Farewell to each cliff, on which breakers are
foaming; Farewell, each dark glen, in which red-deer are
roaming; Farewell, lonely Skye, to lake, mountain, and
river; Macleod may return, but Mackrimmon shall never
“ Farewell the bright clouds that on Quillan are
sleeping; Farewell the bright eyes in the Dun that are
weeping; To each minstrel delusion, farewell !—and for
everMackrimmon departs, to return to you never ! The Banshee's wild voice sings the death-dirge be
fore me, The pall of the dead for a mantle hangs o'er me; But my heart shall not flag, and my nerves shall
not shiver, Though devoted I go—to return again never!
6 Too oft shall the notes of Mackrimmon's bewail
Be heard when the Gael on their exile are sailing; Dear land ! to the shores, whence unwilling we
1 [See a note on Banshee, Lady of the Lake, ante, vol. iii. p. 120.]
Return-return-return shall we never !
Cha till, cha till, cha till sin tuille !
ON ETTRICK FOREST'S
On Ettrick Forest's mountains dun,
Along the silver streams of Tweed,
1 Written after a week's shooting and fishing, in which the Poet had been engaged with some friends. [The reader may see these verses set to music in Mr Thomson's Scottish Melodies for 1822.]
ON ETTRICK FOREST'S MOUNTAINS DUN. 289
'Tis blithe along the midnight tide,
'Tis blithe at eve to tell the tale,
1 [See the famous salmon-spearing scene in Guy Mannering.-- Waverley Novels, vol. iii. pp. 259–63.]
2 Alwyn, the seat of the Lord Somerville ; now, alas! untenanted, by the lamented death of that kind and hospitable nobleman, the author's nearest neighbour and intimate friend. [Lord S. died in February, 1819.]
3 Ashestiel, the Poet's residence at that time.